It’s the last weekend before the MLB Trade Deadline, and we are sure to see some high-leverage relievers get moved to other teams ahead of the Tuesday deadline.
We have already seen several moves that impact bullpens thus far:
- Lucas Giolito (not a reliever) and Reynaldo Lopez (high leverage reliever) to the Anaheim Angels for two top prospects, catcher Edgar Quero and LHP Ky Bush.
- The Miami Marlins traded RHP Dylan Floro to the Minnesota Twins for RHP Jorge Lopez.
- The New York Mets agreed to send closer David Robertson to the Miami Marlins for prospects Marco Vargas and Ronald Hernandez.
- The White Sox sent Lance Lynn and Joe Kelly to the Los Angeles Dodgers for OF Trayce Thompson, P Nick Nastrini, and P Jordan Leasure.
- In a white flag move, the White Sox also sent Kendall Graveman to the Houston Astros for catcher prospect Korey Lee an hour after the Lynn/Kelly move.
- There could be many more moves leading to the Tuesday, August 1 trade deadline; the St. Louis Cardinals’ Jordan Hicks is available if he does not sign an extension to stay, and the Seattle Mariners are said to be listening on closer Paul Sewald.
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Fantasy Baseball Bullpen Report
The Tampa Bay Rays are said to be looking for relief help, with a purported interest in Hicks. Interestingly and out of character, the Rays have turned to Pete Fairbanks when he is healthy, and he has 13 saves. Jason Adam has been their setup guy and has 11 saves while subbing for Fairbanks, who has struggled at times with complications related to his Raynaud’s syndrome, where his fingers tingle in colder weather. Perhaps they are looking for insurance as they plan a deep playoff run into October.
Toronto: Jordan Romano is not in danger of losing his job, but his back injury appears to be impacting him. Should he miss time, Erik Swanson would be the top candidate for saves at this time.
The Chicago White Sox have moved five pitchers in two days this week. Who does the closing in Chicago now? If you have been reading this weekly piece here, we suggested taking a look at the resurgent Gregory Santos going back a few weeks. Last night after the Sox traded five pitchers off their major league roster, Santos was called on for the save, and he converted it in a 3-0 shutout of the Cleveland Guardians. A war of attrition, but until Liam Hendriks is back from his sore elbow, Santos is the best option. Do not be surprised if the Sox continue to make moves and shed Keynan Middleton and Aaron Bummer too, and maybe even Hendriks, in what has been a lost season for them. Grab Santos if you need saves and have not yet added him.
The Los Angeles Angels add an experienced bullpen arm to their mix with the acquisition of Reynaldo Lopez. He will not depose closer Carlos Estevez, who has been a revelation this year. Lopez should pair nicely with lefty Matt Moore to bulk up the back end of the Angels’ bullpen. This allows Jacob Webb to pitch in a bridge role in the sixth and seventh innings. Lopez is yet to allow a run in July and has 11 strikeouts in eight innings this month. He’s a good get for the Angels and is rescued from the abominable Chicago White Sox.
Should Seattle decide to make some moves, Paul Sewald could be traded, which would leave the ninth-inning role, it would seem, to Andres Munoz. They have also used Justin Topa to earn saves, but this would seem to be a coronation of Munoz should the Mariners unload Sewald. Stay tuned.
This week I planned to research the usage pattern of co-closers Will Smith and Aroldis Chapman in Texas. Alas, the Rangers only had one save opportunity all week, and Chapman did not convert the chance into a save, instead surrendering three runs and a home run. That has been his only blemish since joining the Rangers. Chapman has two saves on the year thus far. Smith has 17 saves, and three on the month. My lean here continues to be Smith despite Chapman’s long-term success as a closer in the game and the fact that he converted the last two chances for the Rangers.
The Atlanta Braves acquired Pierce Johnson from the Colorado Rockies this week. He should slot in with Kirby Yates and Collin McHugh as another setup option. The Braves also acquired LHP Taylor Hearn from the Texas Rangers, adding a lefty with AJ Minter and Tyler Matzek both being injured at this time.
As alluded to above, the Marlins’ bullpen just got a bit more interesting. The Marlins acquired Jorge Lopez and David Robertson, surrendering only Dylan Floro off their current roster. The question becomes, who is the closer in Miami? I would think that it is Robertson. The 38-year-old Robertson was signed to setup Edwin Diaz, but then became the closer after Diaz’s knee injury in the World Baseball Classic. All Robertson has done since then is earn four wins and 14 saves with a tidy 2.05 ERA and 1.00 WHIP. More impressively, he is still striking out hitters at a 28% clip and kept the walk rate to 7.6%. Miami and GM Kim Ng (who should get tons of credit for rebuilding this roster with under-the-radar good players) are looking to adjust on the fly after a rough last ten days. This bullpen still had A.J. Puk and Tanner Scott in high-leverage roles, but I would bet my next meager paycheck they use Robertson to close unless it’s a situational matchup where Puk could be used to face a left-handed batter. So much for my Puk shares, I guess…he had been on my bench this month due to his sickly 9.82 ERA in July.
Switching gears to the New York Mets, the best guess here moving forward is that Adam Ottavino takes over the closer role for Robertson. Brooks Raley is here as well, but he profiles better as a higher leverage guy than a closer…although he did earn his second save Thursday night against the Washington Nationals. Maybe this becomes a timeshare, or maybe both relievers get traded between now and Tuesday. Closer Edwin Diaz may be able to return before the end of the season; he was spotted playing catch at Citi Field on Thursday. A more likely scenario would be Drew Smith or Trevor Gott.
It looks like the Chicago Cubs and manager David Ross have finally discovered that Adbert Alzolay is their best bet as closer. Alzolay has three saves this week and has been heavily used in July: 11 appearances, seven saves, and 15 strikeouts in 11 innings with only one walk.
It has been widely reported that Jordan Hicks and the St. Louis Cardinals were trying to connect on a contract extension, but there has been no news of it yet. If he signs, he’s obviously off the market. If he does not come to terms, he should be moved before the Tuesday deadline as well. Stay tuned. Should Hicks be traded, it would appear the next logical candidate would be former closer Giovanny Gallegos.
It looks like Kevin Ginkel is the closer for now in Arizona, having earned their last save this week. This has been a rollercoaster ride all season, as the Diamondbacks have cycled through Andrew Chafin, Miguel Castro and Scott McGough. At 55-49 and one game out of the Wild Card race right now, you could argue that a bullpen upgrade might be in order here if they are serious about contending. A stabilizer in the back end of the bullpen, like the aforementioned Paul Sewald or Jordan Hicks, would make sense here.
Looking at the Colorado Rockies, they would appear to be sellers, but we never seem to know with this team, do we? They did move Pierce Johnson to Atlanta, where his high-octane stuff settles in nicely in a setup role. They could also move Daniel Bard and Brad Hand among others. Justin Lawrence looks to remain the closer; he converted one save and blew another this week.
Could the San Diego Padres make Josh Hader available? It’s a distinct possibility. Might want to grab Robert Suarez if he is available to you.
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