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The Closer Catch-Up: Fantasy Baseball Week 19

Things to do when you reach 40: rewatch M.A.S.H, enjoy the fact that all of your favorite movies are now re-released in color, recite “Hi hungry, I’m Dad” joke, despise all modern day music, suddenly claim that Sprite is “too spicy.”

Yeah, so turns out Fernando Rodney ain’t about that boring life. The 40-year-old righty has had one hell of a week, and if you wrote him off during the offseason, sucks to be you, because this old tom cat has plenty of purrrrr left in him.

In the span of three days, Rodney notched three saves, six strikeouts and gave up a grand total of zero hits. He’s well on pace to post over 30 saves this season, and while we all mocked Arizona’s bullpen schmozzle right before the All-Star break, the proof is in the Torey Luvollo pudding — maybe, just maybe, he knows what he’s doing.

If you’re quick, you can still get your hands on F-Rod (that doesn’t sound right). He’s available in 40% of leagues, and even though he might blow up in your face just like earlier in July, Rodney’s a must-own. This crazy closer world has aneurysm written all over it for fantasy owners, but before Rodney’s pitching gets goofy again (just like his hat), yes siree, ride that hot hand as long as you can.

Moving on, here’s what else is going on in bullpens all around America:

 Team  Closer  Next in Line  Plan C
 Arizona Diamondbacks  Fernando Rodney  Archie Bradley  David Hernandez
 Atlanta Braves  Aroydys Vizcaino  Jim Johnson  Jose Ramirez
 Baltimore Orioles  Zach Britton  Mychal Givens  Brad Brach
 Boston Red Sox  Craig Kimbrel  Addison Reed  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  Joe Smith  Bryan Shaw
 Colorado Rockies  Greg Holland  Pat Neshek  Adam Ottavino
 Detroit Tigers  Shane Greene  Alex Wilson  Daniel Stumpf
 Houston Astros  Ken Giles  Chris Devenski  Luke Gregerson
 Kansas City Royals  Kelvin Herrera  Joakim Soria  Brandon Maurer
 Los Angeles Angels  Bud Norris  Cam Bedrosian  Blake Parker
 Los Angeles Dodgers  Kenley Jansen  Tony Watson  Pedro Baez
 Miami Marlins  Brad Ziegler Junichi Tazawa Drew Steckenrider
 Milwaukee Brewers  Corey Knebel  Anthony Swarzak  Jacob Barnes
 Minnesota Twins  Matt Belisle  Taylor Rogers  Trevor Hildenberger
 New York Mets  A.J. Ramos  Paul Sewald  Jerry Blevins
 New York Yankees  Aroldis Chapman  Dellin Betances  David Robertson
 Oakland Athletics  Blake Treinen  Ryan Dull  Santiago Casilla
 Philadelphia Phillies  Hector Neris  Luis Garcia  Jessen Therrien
 Pittsburgh Pirates  Felipe Rivero  Juan Nicasio  Joaquin Benoit
 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  Steve Cishek
 Texas Rangers  Alex Claudio  Jose Leclerc Keone Kela
 Toronto Blue Jays  Roberto Osuna  Ryan Tepera Joe Biagini
 Washington Nationals  Sean Doolittle  Brandon Kintzler  Ryan Madson


The Calm After the Storm 

Zach Britton remained in Baltimore after all. The Orioles bullpen is still about as stable as the 2008 housing market, but for now, he’s the man in charge. Out of all the trades, I guess the most interesting remains the Minnesota/Washington exchange. Realistically, Brandon Kintzler should be numero uno, and he did earn the win on Sunday, but with each passing day, it looks like Dusty Baker is determined to give everyone their moment in the sun. You’d do well to own various shares in the Nats bullpen right now.

Meanwhile, in New York, the loss of Addison Reed has already been felt. It’s not doomsday just yet, but the Mets have given up nine earned runs over the last seven days, and the murmurs of Jeurys Familia’s potential return continue to buzz away in the background. Good luck figuring out this team. They take an eternity to call up Amed Rosario, but now they are actually considering bringing Familia back? For what? This is garbage time, people!

Anyway, on a calmer note, Pat Neshek’s welcome to Colorado has been a little (hate to do it) … rocky. He’s allowed two earned runs and struck out five since being traded, and even though you can play the Coors card, he’s given up five hits to a Mets team batting .240 over the last week. Really, his fantasy value diminished as soon as he moved, but it’s probably a good thing he’s stuck behind Greg Holland, at least until he figures out the aerodynamic atmosphere of Colorado.

The Worry Warts

[the_ad id=”384″]Chicago Cubs: Ugh, where to start? Wade Davis has earned a mulligan, so we’ll chalk up that two earned-run effort against the Diamondbacks to bad luck. Carl Edwards Jr., though? This one stings. If you thought Edwards was bad earlier in the week, get a load of his stink-show against the Nationals on Sunday. After Mike Montgomery gave up an easy single to Bryce Harper in the eighth, Edwards stepped in, and boy did things escalate quickly. Ryan Zimmerman hit an immediate double, Daniel Murphy was intentionally walked, and then Anthony Rendon was hit by a pitch to force in the tying run. But wait … there’s more! Casually, Matt Wieters stepped up to the plate and hit the grand slam to end all grand slams. It was an easy game winner for the Nats, and after such a convincing first half of the season, there’s plenty of calls for Edwards to be sent back down to Iowa after allowing seven earned runs in four days.

Los Angeles Angels: Now we’re into the dregs. I wrote about Bud Norris last week, but this really is the definition of insanity. Against the A’s on Sunday, Norris replaced Blake Parker in the eighth inning, right on the back of a Khris Davis homer and a Ryon Healy double. With a man on, Norris allowed a single to Chad Pinder that brought home Healy, and on the very next at bat, Matt Chapman delivered another double. The Angels were clinging to a 10-9 lead by this point, but Bruce Maxwell had other plans by hitting — yep, you guessed it — another single. Pinder and Chapman went on to score, the A’s grabbed the 11-10 lead, and although the Angels did go down with a fight, Norris was handed his fifth loss of the season. He’s now allowed more earned runs (10) than 15 Major League bullpens over the last eight days, and is pretty much a “must drop” at this point.

The Middle of the Pack (Middle Relievers)

  • Dellin Betances has found his footing again. He’s still walking people for fun, but he put up seven strikeouts last week and allowed a grand total of zero hits. The Yankees bullpen should still have some drama in store, but with Aroldis Chapman firing on all cylinders, the David Roberson/Betances/Chapman triple threat makes late innings hell for opposing teams.
  • Trevor Hildenberg was fire again on Sunday. Beats me why the Twins aren’t sold on this guy, but he certainly deserves an opportunity. Down 5-0 against the Rangers after a major Jose Berrios hiccup, Hildenberg came in to throw two scoreless (and flawless) innings of relief as the Twins fought back for a 6-5 win. His sinker created a 46% swing rate last month, and while the Twins still scramble for answers long term, Hildenberg is definitely worth placing on your watch list as we head towards the postseason.
  • Good for the A’s. They actually haven’t been that awful since clearing house before the trade deadline. Santiago Casilla ran into some trouble against the Angels in the eighth inning on Sunday, allowing a double to C.J. Cron, then plunking Andrelton Simmons with a nasty fastball smack bang on the ribs. Casilla then walked Ben Revere, but with two outs, he struck out Luis Valbuena swinging to end the inning. Casilla has struck out three in August and allowed zero hits in his three innings of work. He’s useless when it comes to fantasy, as it seems Bob Melvin is set on Blake Treinen. Still, for a 37-year-old, Casilla is showing some okay stuff.

Everything Else I’ve Seen

  • Craig Kimbrel is 10% worry and 90% awesome. His fastball reached 98.9 MPH against the White Sox on Sunday, and with stuff like that, it’s no surprise he earned his 27th save along with a pair of strikeouts. Matt Barnes also gets a mention here with a couple Ks of his own. After a shocking end to July, he’s allowed zero hits so far in August.
  • As a follow up to Hildenberger’s relief, Matt Belisle earned his first save of the season for the Twins. It’s a big confidence booster for the 13-year veteran, and with so many questions surrounding his command, the 5% of people who picked Belisle up from waivers this past week can sleep easy knowing that everything is so far, so good.
  • It was an early bullpen kinda day for the Mariners in Game 1 of their double-header against the Royals. Starter Marco Gonzales lasted all of four innings, forcing the trio of Nick Vincent, David Phelps, and Edwin Diaz to go to work. To make a long story short, Diaz is still the only guy I can see worth owning in Seattle. Vincent gave up two earned runs and two hits (one of which was a homer), and Phelps has pitched in only three innings since July 25 (and left Sunday’s outing with an elbow injury). Diaz earned his 23rd save for the M’s and extended his strikeout streak to five games.
  • Aroldis Chapman was phenomenal again on Saturday. The things that man can do with a baseball, mmph. With a man on, Edwin Encarnacion hit a blooper to right field that somehow Ronald Torreyes caught over his shoulder. The expression on Chap’s face was priceless, but when Carlos Santana’s slicing foul ball nearly turned into a home run, he got right back to business. On 3-2, Chapman laid out a dazzling breaking ball to catch Santana looking and ultimately end the game. We’re so used to seeing high heaters from Chapman, but when he pulls out that kind of stuff, it’s hard not to be amazed.
  • If you looked at the Phillies box score, you’d be forgiven for thinking they had major bullpen drama. Just quietly, though, Hector Neris has put up another great weekend, allowing zero earned runs and striking out three, good for his 11th save on Sunday. The other side to this is Greg Holland being dealt his second loss of the year. Two earned runs on two hits to gift the Phillies the win in the ninth? That just doesn’t happen. It seems every week one of these elite closers has a meltdown, though, so I guess it was Holland’s turn.
  • The Winner’s Circle: Dovydas Neverauskas, Francis Martes, Brandon Kintzler, James Pazos, 
  • With an ‘L’ On Their Forehead: Bud Norris, Greg Holland, Carl Edwards Jr.


Buy: Arodys Vizcaino

The Braves’ situation is a doozie. Jim Johnson is far from ol’ reliable, but Vizcaino has earned the last two saves for the Braves, and his fastball spells F-U-T-U-R-E for Atlanta. I doubt we’ve seen the last of Johnson, no matter what manager Brian Snitker says, but Vizcaino is the best available option on the waiver wire right now if you need saves and a hefty bag of strikeouts. After an ugly 2016 season, he’s finally figured out that walking hitters ain’t the way to go, instead lowering his walk rate from 14.3% last season all the way down to 7.8% this year. Vizcaino’s fastball is also generating a swing rate of 56% this month, the highest it’s been in his six-year career.

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