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The Closer Catch-Up: Fantasy Baseball Week 18

Great times are waiting. Grab some Bud.

Bud Norris gave up another four earned runs against the Blue Jays on Sunday. His total now sits at nine over the last seven days, so um, it’s not so great if you grabbed some Bud.

Perhaps the song “Who Can It Be Now” should play whenever Norris or Cam Bedrosian take the mound. These two are like the original Odd Couple, only you can’t forget Mike Scioscia. The steam coming out of his ears makes for fab-u-lous television, but if you’re a fantasy owner, relax! Thanks to baseball’s stupified rule book, Norris has a grand total of zero blown saves this week.

If the Angels could press ‘erase’ and trade their bullpen in for a bag of chips, I’d say go for it. Scioscia’s bullpen has combined for 25 hits in July alone, that’s six more than Craig Kimbrel has allowed all season. Anyway, here’s a look at the rest of the closers ahead of Week 18:

 Team  Closer  Next in Line  Plan C
 Arizona Diamondbacks  Fernando Rodney  Archie Bradley  Jorge de la Rosa
 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  Justin Wilson  Carl Edwards Jr.
 Chicago White Sox  Tyler Clippard  Gregory Infante  Jake Petricka
 Cincinnati Reds  Raisel Iglesias  Michael Lorenzon  Drew Storen
 Cleveland Indians  Cody Allen  Andrew Miller  Bryan Shaw
 Colorado Rockies  Greg Holland  Pat Neshek  Adam Ottavino
 Detroit Tigers  Alex Wilson  Shane Greene  Bruce Rondon
 Houston Astros  Ken Giles  Chris Devenski  Will Harris
 Kansas City Royals  Kelvin Herrera  Joakim Soria  Brandon Maurer
 Los Angeles Angels  Bud Norris  Cam Bedrosian  David Hernandez
 Los Angeles Dodgers  Kenley Jansen  Pedro Baez  Brandon Morrow
 Miami Marlins  Brad Ziegler Junichi Tazawa Dustin McGowan
 Milwaukee Brewers  Corey Knebel  Anthony Swarzak  Jacob Barnes
 Minnesota Twins  Brandon Kintzler  Taylor Rogers  Matt Belisle
 New York Mets  Addison Reed  A.J. Ramos  Jerry Blevins
 New York Yankees  Aroldis Chapman  Dellin Betances  David Robertson
 Oakland Athletics  Santiago Casilla  Blake Treinen  Ryan Dull
 Philadelphia Phillies  Hector Neris  Luis Garcia  Joaquin Benoit
 Pittsburgh Pirates  Felipe Rivero  Juan Nicasio  Daniel Hudson
 St. Louis Cardinals  Trevor Rosenthal  Brett Cecil Seung Hwan Oh
 San Diego Padres  Brad Hand  Kirby Yates  Phil Maton
 San Francisco Giants  Sam Dyson  Hunter Strickland  George Kontos
 Seattle Mariners  Edwin Diaz  David Phelps  Nick Vincent
 Tampa Bay Rays  Alex Colome  Tommy Hunter  Brad Boxberger
 Texas Rangers  Alex Claudio  Jose Leclerc Keone Kela
 Toronto Blue Jays  Roberto Osuna  Ryan Tepera Joe Smith
 Washington Nationals  Sean Doolittle  Ryan Madson  Matt Albers


The Market Place

Okay, hold my daiquiri, let’s talk Zach Britton one more time.

Everyone put their cards on the table Sunday night. In short, Jonathan Lucroy to the Rockies, Melky Cabrera to the Royals, and Justin Wilson and Alex Avila to the Cubbies. Britton is pretty much the last man standing as far as relievers go, and unless the Yankees make a mad dash for Sonny Gray/Yu Darvish in the next 24 hours, New York and possibly Los Angeles are the two most likely suitors for the Big Z.

The Cubs situation is definitely a cracker. Trading for Wilson over Britton screams “thanks but no thanks” on his outlandish price tag, and since he’s given up four earned runs over the course of a week, his lack of command isn’t really justifying anything other than concerns. I suppose if you’re an owner you’ll still win/win with Britton either way. You can rule out any non-playoff contending teams now, and since there’s only a handful of clubs scrambling for a lefty, you know he’s good for K’s somewhere.

The alternative to Britton is, of course, fellow southpaw Brad Hand. The Padres want a small army of prospects in return, and really, who can blame them? San Diego’s farm system ranks in the top half of the league, and it seems like the Padres front office has finally woken up and realized, “Hey, Hand could be a vital part of this figuring out how to win – thing”. If that’s the case, the Padres playing hard-to-get until the offseason could easily warrant a much heftier return. In the mean time, Hand is owned in less than 50% of leagues, just remember that. If he winds up somewhere else, it’s probably a moot point, though, because who knows if he’ll close anytime soon.

Finally, Addison Reed is another question mark I just can’t answer. He’s a taste-tester option for any club looking for a rental, and the similarities between him and the Twins’ Brandon Kintzler are crazy close. Both deserve a cold beer and a pat on the back considering the Mets/Twins offensive dramas but combined the pair have allowed just 21-hits in July and one home run. That’s some tasty value.

Weekend Wars

  • Pro tip: if ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Matt Barnes altered his mechanics earlier in July, and it worked, well kinda. He started off this month with nine strikeouts prior to last week, but then Sunday’s schmozzle came about. Barnes gave up four earned runs against the Royals in the eighth inning, enough to gift Jason Hammel his fifth win of the season. I watched Barnes throw Whit Merrifield four wobbly high fastballs during Saturday’s extra inning victory. It’s not what the Red Sox need right now, and obviously, the command is all of a sudden a big problem-o.
  • Sticking with the Sox, the plus side was Craig Kimbrel. He’s the only positive sign of life in Boston’s bullpen (news flash) and his seven strikeouts over the last seven days are impressive. Also on that list is the rebounding Andrew Miller.
  • I know this section is meant to focus on the weekend, but I just can’t go without talking about Corey ‘Evil’ Knebel. He gave up a grand total of zero hits and struck out four in two innings of work. Keep in mind, this comes against a Cubs team batting .271 in July.
  • The Twins had a wow moment on Sunday, or more specifically, Trevor Hildenberger did. He has as much fantasy relevance as I do right now, but against the heart of the Oakland A’s order, he attacked hard. Hildenberger gave up a double to Matt Joyce in the bottom of the ninth in a tied ball game. He then sat down two and struck out Khris Davis to send it to extras. In the 10th, he found himself in the exact same situation, only this time, he struck out Matt Chapman on a wicked outside breaking ball. With Kintzler on the market, he chose the right time to put up five strikeouts in two innings pitched.
  • It’s a good thing Chris Devenski is movin’ on up in the Astros bullpen because Tony Sipp was trippin’ Sunday afternoon against the Tigers. How does four earned runs in 0.1 innings sound? That’s what I thought.
  • If Drew Storen makes like Tom and Cruises in Cincinnati, I seriously fear for the rest of the Reds’ bullpen. Jose Iglesias nearly blew a five run lead against the Marlins, giving up four earned and nearly costing Luis Castillo a mighty, mighty win. Iglesias has been pretty much untouchable since June, so we’ll chalk this up to good ole’ bad luck.
  • We saw the awesome-foursome in New York Saturday afternoon. After Caleb Smith threw three innings of disaster ball, it was an early bullpen game for the Yankees. Dellin Betances walked someone (crazy, right!?), David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle combined for three strikeouts and an earned run, and then Aroldis Chapman did his thing to notch the win. It’s hardly smooth sailing just yet.
  • Supposedly the Braves are open to trading Jim Johnson, but I’ll be damned if someone takes the bait. His last five games have featured two earned runs, and after having nearly a week off, Saturday’s affair against the Phillies was pretty meh. Johnson gave up a bomb to Obdubel Herrera and has now allowed 11 hits in his last nine innings.
  • The Saves ListKenley Jansen, Edwin Diaz, Justin Wilson, Greg Holland, Wade Davis, Zach Britton.
  • The Winners CircleKelvin Herrera, Tyler Clippard, Andrew Miller, Matt Barnes, Hector Neris, Aroldis Chapman
  • With an ‘L’ On Their ForeheadAlbert Suarez, Tyler Duffey, Bryan Shaw, Matt Barnes, Bud Norris, David Phelps, George Kontos

Buy: Brandon Maurer

The switch to Kansas City won’t wave a magic wand over his disgusting 5.49 ERA, but the strikeout numbers are there, and he’s available in 70% of leagues. The good thing is the Royals look likely to throw Maurer into plenty of high leverage situations, and if his outing against the Red Sox on Sunday is any indication, he does have the stuff to make it work. In particular, Maurer’s slider has been slick, good for a 52% swing rate in the month of July. He’s great against lefties as well, surrendering only 16 hits and striking out 22 this season – if you look past the earned runs of course.

Sell: Archie Bradley

Sell, drop, whichever is easier. Really, you should have done this a century ago, because unfortunately, Bradley’s value is basically nonexistent. He gave up 11 hits in July, and until the Diamondbacks actually stop playin’ and make decisions in the bullpen, he’s basically a waste as far as fantasy value goes.

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