This time of year, it's not uncommon to read through the boxscores and come across an unfamiliar name. These occurrences will only increase in September as rosters expand to include the entire 40-man roster. As focus shifts from baseball to football, it's easy to overlook recent changes in performance or call-ups. By now, most closer situations have pretty much stabilized after the trade deadline and it's usually a relatively quiet period for relievers. As a result, the biggest way to leverage relievers to help you win your championship is by taking fliers on the no-namers, the ones seeing higher leverage roles and excelling. Below is a profile on a few of the risers over the last month:
Nick Anderson (TB) - Of all the names on this list, Nick Anderson is probably the most well-known. He was in line to be the closer in Miami before getting dealt to Tampa at the trade deadline. Anderson has an elite 17.7% swinging strike rate paired with a 36% chase rate, a combination that shows just how difficult it is to pick up his pitches. Anderson gets by with simply a fastball and slider, but they're both nasty and both equally unhittable. He's a rising star.
Rowan Wick (CHC) - The Cubs rookie was called up mid-season to help bolster a Cubs bullpen that has been ravaged with injuries and ineffectiveness. Chicago is Wick's third organization and his numbers in the minor leagues are far from dominant, yet he's been an extremely effective reliever for the Cubs with slightly above average underlying metrics. Wick may continue to see higher leverage situations for the Cubs, but there probably isn't much of a path to saves here.
Colin Poche (TB)- Colin Poche has an impeccable 57:7 strikeout-to-walk ratio and succeeds by inducing fly balls - a lot of flyballs. Thanks to the cozy confines of the Trop, these fly balls (and his 40% hard fit rate) haven't burned him as frequently as they could, but with 8 home runs allowed as a reliever, it's definitely his achilles heel. Nonetheless, the lack of free passes does limit the damage and Poche should continue to hold good value in holds leagues.
Tyler Duffey (MIN) - While Duffey isn't currently involved in the late innings, he's provided plenty of value in mixed leagues, seeing action 3-4 times per week. Duffey doesn't walk many batters and his contact rate allowed is just 74%, so in head-to-head leagues, Duffey can provide a much needed assistance to ratios in lieu of a questionable spot starter.
Around The League:
-We lied when we told you most of the trade deadline fallout has already been settled. The closer situation in Seattle is anything but settled. Matt Magillhad been stepping up and saved a pair of games in a row before blowing a lead on Wednesday. Prior to that game, he had six straight scoreless appearances, so he's still the best one to own, but keep Anthony Bassclose by.
-Brad Handhas blown three straight games, but Indians manager Terry Francona gave his closer a vote of confidence. After all, have you seen the state of the Indians bullpen behind him? Since August, Hand has issued 5 walks, which is 1 more than the total he had in June and July combined. Don't panic yet, but if panicking is your thing, Nick Wittgrenis your target of choice.
-The Cubs announced Brandon Morrowwould be shut down for the rest of the year. He wasn't likely to factor into the late innings this season anyway, so continue banking on Pedro Stropand Steve Cishekas the primary set-up men for Kimbrel down the stretch, pending health of course.
-If there's anyone out there still hanging on to Wade Davisis any format, it's time to cut bait, lick your wounds and buy yourself a smoothie or avocado toast. Davis continues to be give up runs in bundles, allowing three in each of his last two outings. If qualified, he would have the second-worst ERA among all relievers this year.
-Edwin Diaz has been pitched better lately, but it was Paul Sewardwho got the latest save chance for the Mets since Seth Lugo needed a night off after going two innings. Lugo hit a speedbump last week, but there's no reason not to assume that he'll remain the best reliever to own for save chances moving forward.
-Craig Mish is reporting that Marlins Manager Don Mattingly told the media that Jose Urenacould serve as the team's closer upon his activation from the injured list next month. Urena is currently on a rehab assignment for a back injury that he's suffered since early June. Urena is an interesting choice since he's never been a dominant pitcher, even the first time through the batting order, but perhaps a move to the bullpen will allow him to use his best stuff up front, rather than having to feel the need to stay stretched out. Urena has a below average 8.7% swinging strike rate, but his 50% walk rate should buoy his ability to close games.
Closer Tiers and Handcuff Grades: