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The Closer Catch-Up: Fantasy Baseball Week 17

The eternal reek of failure and mediocrity.

*Holds envelope to forehead*

What’s that stench coming from the Mets’ bullpen?


I’ve spent various parts of my weekend entrenched in amazement. Them amazin’ Mets caught my eye late last week, and they’ve been feeding me spoonful after spoonful of false hope and warm porridge of encouragement. For a bullpen that holds the third highest ERA this season (4.92) you might think I’m a little loco when I suggest that there are some promising… okay, half promising, signs coming from this dysfunctional lot. Aside from Jacob deGrom, the entire Mets pitching staff has been pretty ha ha. But just as quickly as Mr. Met flipped us the naughty, it’s important to recognize the baby steps when they finally happen.

In the last week, the Mets have still been awful. They rank in the Top 10 in home runs, walks and hits allowed, but they’re actually striking out 9.22 batters per nine innings. New York’s bullpen has also raised its strikeout rate to 22.8% over the last seven days, and all of that combined, is something we couldn’t say earlier in the season. I think even a cardboard cutout of Sandy Koufax could put up okay numbers in a 10 game home stand featuring the Oakland A’s and St. Louis Cardinals, but before someone poaches Addison Reed or even the hot handed Jerry Blevins before you’ve skimmed through this article, let’s give the Mets their p-r-o-p-s where they’re due.

Okay, enough of that. Here’s a catch-up on everything bullpen related from the past week. Debbie Downer alert: Most of it is negative.

 Team  Closer  Next in Line  Plan C
 Arizona Diamondbacks  Fernando Rodney  Archie Bradley  JJ Hoover
 Atlanta Braves  Jim Johnson  Aroydys Vizcaino  Jose Ramirez
 Baltimore Orioles  Zach Britton  Brad Brach  Mychal Givens
 Boston Red Sox  Craig Kimbrel  Joe Kelly  Matt Barnes
 Chicago Cubs  Wade Davis  Koji Uehara  Carl Edwards Jr.
 Chicago White Sox  Tyler Clippard  Anthony Swarzak  Dan Jennings
 Cincinnati Reds  Raisel Iglesias  Michael Lorenzon  Drew Storen
 Cleveland Indians  Cody Allen  Andrew Miller  Bryan Shaw
 Colorado Rockies  Greg Holland  Adam Ottovino  Jake McGee
 Detroit Tigers  Justin Wilson  Alex Wilson  Shane Greene
 Houston Astros  Ken Giles  Will Harris  Michael Feliz
 Kansas City Royals  Kelvin Herrera  Joakim Soria  Mike Minor
 Los Angeles Angels  Bud Norris  Cam Bedrosian  David Hernandez
 Los Angeles Dodgers  Kenley Jansen  Pedro Baez  Luis Avilan
 Miami Marlins  A.J. Ramos  Kyle Barraclough Junichi Tazawa
 Milwaukee Brewers  Corey Knebel  Jacob Barnes  Carlos Torres
 Minnesota Twins  Brandon Kintzler  Taylor Rogers  Matt Belisle
 New York Mets  Addison Reed  Paul Sewald  Jerry Blevins
 New York Yankees  Aroldis Chapman  Dellin Betances  David Robertson
 Oakland Athletics  Santiago Casilla  Blake Treinen  Liam Hendriks
 Philadelphia Phillies  Hector Neris  Pat Neshek  Luis Garcia
 Pittsburgh Pirates  Felipe Rivero  Juan Nicasio  Daniel Hudson
 St. Louis Cardinals  Trevor Rosenthal  Brett Cecil Seung Hwan Oh
 San Diego Padres  Brandon Maurer  Brad Hand  Ryan Buchter
 San Francisco Giants  Sam Dyson  Hunter Strickland  George Kontos
 Seattle Mariners  Edwin Diaz  Nick Vincent  Tony Zych
 Tamba Bay Rays  Alex Colome  Tommy Hunter  Brad Boxberger
 Texas Rangers  Alex Claudio  Jose Leclerc Keone Kela
 Toronto Blue Jays  Roberto Osuna  Ryan Tepera  Danny Barnes
 Washington Nationals  Sean Doolittle  Ryan Madson  Matt Albers

The Market Place

The Orioles can’t stop, won’t stop. If their bullpen actually stays intact I’ll be damned, but if B-more could B-more decisive on just how serious this “rebuild” is, that’d be really appreciated.

I’ve heard everything this week. There’s certainly a few good reasons for the Orioles to trade Manny Machado, but are they firmly in “get prospects, screw 2017” mode just yet? Beats me. As far as closers go, Zach Britton is the hottest piece of tail in the shop window. He’s been linked to the Yankees (who hasn’t?) as well as the Astros and Dodgers this week, but there’s certainly some fair weather bidding going on. Most of it comes down to contract stuff, forearm issues, and whether or not Britton is actually, y’know, good. If you’re an owner, he’s going to go to a big market team – that much we know. But if you value playing time and want more than just ratios, pray to whichever god you worship that he winds up anywhere other than the Big Apple.

On the flip, things could get a lot better, or a lot worse for Phillies closer Pat Neshek, depending on how you look at it. I think the Cubs have taken a good hard look at the Astros and Yankees’ bullpens and thought “Mmmmm stability, me need”, because all of a sudden, Chicago is hungry like the wolf. The Cubs have been in trade talks for Neshek, and this is a pretty good match. The Cubs bullpen holds the second highest walk rate this season, (11%) and Neshek currently holds the third lowest BB/9 behind only Roberto Osuna and Kenley Jansen. Don’t you just love it when problems solve ’emselves!

Neshek will have a much tougher task ahead of him if he winds up in the NL Central, but so will Addison Reed if he’s thrust into the La-la land spotlight. I touched on it earlier, but the Mets have to move somebody, and since they really only own, what… like three decent pitchers, they may as well go full fire sale mode and look toward next year (century maybe).

What I’ve Seen 

  • I’m convinced some of these pitchers have taken the George Constanza crash course on risk management. This is all pretty fitting since it involves the Yankees, but on Saturday, Adam Warren threw four straight pitches down and away to Nelson Cruz, which of course ended in a game winning RBI single in the 10th. Sunday was a little better for the Bronx Bombers, but don’t ask me to rank my faith in Aroldis Chapman anytime soon. He still earned the save after replacing David Robertson in the 9th, but gave up two hits in the process. Something tells me Chapman is looking over his shoulder and sleeping with one eye open quite a lot this week.
  • Matt Bush inched a little closer to .500 against the Rays on Sunday afternoon. So far so good for the 31-year old, and even though only four of his last 10 games have resulted in a hitless affair, he’s all of a sudden lowered his ERA down to a okay-ish 3.50. Not that any of that matters, though, Keone Kela is still a big time sleeper that you’ll want to get your paws on ASAP.
  • Kenley Jansen, you just made the list. He entered with a three run lead over the Braves, right before giving up back to back singles to Freddie Freeman and Matt Kemp. Eventually a three-run homer to Matt Adams did the trick, and in came Brandon Morrow. Jansen’s first blown save should warrant some kind of sponsorship donation to a charity somewhere. Papa John’s, where you at?
  • The Tigers bullpen has managed to stay on the d-low for a little while, but Justin Wilson’s first home run since June 13 can’t go unnoticed. He’s had a serious case of the wobbles this past week, allowing three earned runs in his last four starts. He did earn his 12th save on the year, but boy, that 10.6 walk-rate is tough to swallow.
  • No ifs or Bud’s about it from Norris. For whatever reason fantasy owners don’t want any part of this guy, but he’s earned four saves this month and given up just as many hits in the process.
  • Well how ’bout that, Sean Doolittle be doin’ big! He’s been a weapon in back to back days for the Nationals, and already has two saves since packing up his things. Dusty could still screw this up, mind you. He seems determined to share the playing time with Ryan Madson, but Doolittle and Madson are almost must-own if you’re in search of a closer at this point.
  • Everything else: Britton earned his first save since early April. Wade Davis earned his 20th, but is still somehow behind Fernando Rodney. Hector Neris keeps backpedaling, giving up an earned run in a tie game for the Phils. For the third consecutive game, Dellin Betances didn’t walk anybody.


Buy: I tweeted earlier in the week that Rivero is available in nearly 34% of leagues. He won’t gift you saves all that much, and he’s kind of like a poor man’s version of Edwin Diaz, but still, 30.8% strikeout rate, need I continue?

Since I don’t have a ‘sell’ option for this week, I shall. Rivero’s changeup is really the thing to focus on here, especially this month, since it is generating a 50% whiff rate after all. Of course, that kind of lethal breaking ball has resulted in a career high 58% ground ball rate, which has trickled down to a tidy 82.9% strand rate.

Rivero really is a last resort, no matter how enthusiastic you want to be about his numbers. He’s thrown in three consecutive games only once this season, so if you’re looking for a long term work horse, you’re fresh outta’ luck pal.

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