The trade deadline has come and passed and from a closer perspective, it turned out to be a lot of pomp and circumstance over nothing. Well, nothing is a strong term, but some of the tremors we felt leading up to the deadline involving top closers never amounted to an earthquake. That's not to say there wasn't activity on the reliever front, however, and to help you sort through some of the trade deadline noise, I included all the deals that involved players that have might have an impact on the 9thinning for their new or previous teams.
Trade Deadline Deals Impacting Closer Situations:
Tigers traded Shane Greeneto the Braves
Giants traded Mark Melanconto the Braves
Rangers traded Chris Martinto the Braves.
Mariners traded Roenis Eliasand Hunter Stricklandto the Nationals.
Blue Jays traded Daniel Hudson to the Nationals.
Rays tradedRyne Stanekto Marlins in return for Nick Anderson and Trevor Richards
Blue Jays traded Joe Biaginito the Astros.
Mets traded Wilmer Fontto the Blue Jays.
Twins DFA'd Blake Parker and Phillies signed him.
White Sox traded Nate Jonesto the Rangers.
Royals traded Jake Diekmanto the Athletics.
Giants tradedSam Dysonto the Twins.
Marlins traded Sergio Romo to the Twins.
Trade Deadline Implications:
Okay, so the Tigers traded their closer...now what? Right now it seems like Joe Jimenezis the guy to own. Jimenez has made big strides in his swinging strike rate this season, raising it to 15.3%, up from 13.4% in 2018 and 11.8% in 2017. This makes sense since his chase rate has soared to 34%, while his in-zone contact rate has fallen to 75% this season, or roughly 10% better than league average.
The Mariners also have a new closer, but their bullpen situation is far messier. The Mariners traded both Roenis Elias(current closer) and Hunter Strickland, leaving Anthony Bass the logical last man standing, although Cory Gearrinand Sam Tuivailala both could be members of the committee. Bass' best attribute is his high groundball rate because he's not much of a strikeout guy. Bass does a pretty good job at limiting hard contact and neither of the other two options are otherwise enticing, so Bass is the primary target.
The Rangers also made a trade involving their ninth inning, moving Chris Martin to the Braves. Martin was the short end of the committee, but the move does clear a path for Jose Leclerc to try to reclaim his job since Shawn Kelleyremains on the injured list with a strained bicep. Leclerc has the potential to be impactful in the saves standings down the stretch.
The Blue Jays didn't trade Ken Giles, but he continues to recover from an elbow injury and the team will need a closer in the interim. Since the team dealt both Joe BiaginiandDaniel Hudson, The Jays bullpen is far more shallow than it was a week ago. One interesting option to watch might be Wilmer Font,one of the primary pieces returned in the Marcus Stroman trade, but as of right now, he's being used as a starter, or opener, or a combination of both. Nonethless, he's the best arm in this bullpen, but if short-term is your primary objective, Tim Mayzaor Justin Shafer might have the best chances. Personally, I'm not actively targeting anyone from this team.
-The Braves' acquisition of Shane Greenewill allow the team to slide him immediately into the closer role, moving Luke Jacksoninto the set-up role and AJ Minterto Triple-A. Greene is an interesting candidate to rack up a lot of saves over the next 8 weeks, especially since unlike in Detroit, he actually has a competitive team. Stat-wise, there are definitely better closers, but from purely a category performer, Greene could be one of the best in August and September.
Around The League:
-Minnesota and Rocco Baldelli got more toys to play with in the ninth inning over trade deadline week, which equates to nothing but headache and heartache for fantasy owners. Sergio Romoand Sam Dysonjoined Minnesota and both have already been used in save situations, although the former was more successful than the latter. This situation and and probably always will be a committee between those two and Taylor Rogers. The best course of action is probably to avoid.
-TOR Ken Gilesis on track to return at the end of this weekend or early next week.
-The Phillies signed Blake Parkerafter getting DFA'd by the Twins, shortly after it was revealed that David Robertsonwould need season-ending elbow surgery. Parker isn't likely to compete with Hector Nerisin the short-term for saves, and for the most part, the Robertson news should only further strengthen Neris' hold on the job.
-Wade Daviscontinues to struggle mightily at home, taking yet another loss against the Dodgers by giving up 5 runs on 2 homeruns on Thursday. The blowup finally resulted in the team removing Davis and inserting Scott Oberginto the closing role. He must be universally owner - he may just run away with the gig.
-Marlins insider, Craig Mish, believes that the Marlins may use a committee, but Jose Quijadais both seeing the recent high leverage work and liked by manager Don Mattingly. He's well connected with the team and is our target for now, although it's worth noting that Drew Steckenrideris rehabbing from an injury and could be close to a return.
-Greg Holland was removed from the closer role before the trade deadline by the Diamondbacks and finally, after what seems like 84 years of waiting (subtle Titanicreference notwithstanding), Archie Bradley got the first save chance after the removal. Nothing is official and it sounds like Torey Lovullo is comfortable playing matchups in the 9thinning with Andrew Chafin, as well, but for now Bradley should be the one to own (plus he's good!).
Closer Tiers and Handcuff Grades:
Welcome to the first official edition of A Closer Look of the second half! As I wrote about two weeks ago and touched on in last week's first half awards ceremony, the trade deadline is looming and will be upon us in just under two weeks. There are several big name closers on the market and likely to be dealt, so today we'll focus heavily, not on the reliever being traded, but on the overall team bullpen picture without the closer involved.
San Francisco Giants:
We'll start with the hardest situation to predict, since Will Smith, Tony Watson and Sam Dyson are all drawing trade interest and potentially could all be on the move. Because of this, it's tough to recommend going out of your way to pick up Watson or Dyson in the event of a Smith trade. Luckily, there's a fourth arm in this bullpen who is under team control for four more years, has flirted with mixed league value all season, and likely is destined for a late-inning, high leverage role. The suspect? Reyes Moronta, a 26 year-old fireballer with a great fastball that he complements with a solid slider. The biggest concern for Moronta in 2019 is usage. He's already at 44.1 innings pitched, and just 20.2 innings away from last season's total (and his career high at any level). To further complicate matters, the Giants are surging and have won 9 of their last 10 games, putting them just 2.5 games out of the wild card. Will this hot streak prevent the Giants from breaking up their relief corps? My guess is they still move one of two relievers, but without the aforementioned trio being traded, Moronta will likely still be an understudy for saves.
Best Pickup: Reyes Moronta, Handcuff Grade: B
Current closer Sergio Romo seemed to have one foot out the door in draft season, but almost the entire bullpen seems to be drawing interest lately with Marlins beat writer Joe Frisaro reporting recently that Austin Brice, Jarlin Garcia and Nick Anderson as all players drawing interest from other teams. Like San Francisco, there are so many moving parts here that speculating on who will be left in the bullpen on August 1st is a near fruitless exercise. My official advice is not to waste a roster spot on anyone but Sergio Romo, but if you're an NL-only league, the rising 29 year old Nick Anderson has the most appealing arm of the bunch.
Best Pickup: Nick Anderson, Handcuff Grade: B
Toronto Blue Jays
Of this list, Ken Giles might be the biggest headliner of the group, assuming he proves he's over the nerve inflammation he dealt with the last couple weeks. The question is whether a contender will be willing to look past his 2017 post-season meltdown to pay market value for him. Should they find a suitor, Daniel Hudson or Joe Biaginiwould both be in the mix for saves. Biagini has make signficiant improvements this season and is in line to become the team's primary closer. Biagini upped his swinging strike rate this year and paired it with more chases outside the strikeout and consequently, this has led to lower contact rates across the board. As a heavy groundball pitcher and now a strikeout arm, Biagini might be a sneaky good option in the second half. Meanwhile Daniel Hudson has been used in higher leverage situations than Biagini this year, but his skillset is less enticing due to his excessive walks. How the Jays decide to deploy the duo is anyone's guess, however.
Best Pickup: Joe Biagini, Handcuff Grade: B / Daniel Hudson, Handcuff Grade: D
The Orioles will almost certainly be sellers over the next two weeks and included in that group will be pseudo-current closer Mychal Givens. Givens doesn't exactly have a stronghold on the job, so Shawn Armstrong should probably already be owned in leagues where any save on the waiver wire is valuable. Armstrong isn't a particularly exciting bullpen arm and his situation is one of the worst in the MLB for opportunities, but he could see the lionshare in the event of a Givens deal. Armstrong walks too many batters and gives up too much contact, but he has been a bit unfortunate with a 68% strand rate, so at least he can hang his hat on that.
Best Pickup: Shawn Armstrong, Handcuff Grade D
Shane Greene got off to an extremely quick start for the 2019 season, but has since slowed down considerably, partially due to the struggles of the Tigers bullpen. Greene likely won't land in a situation where he would close, and the Detroit bullpen has been pretty awful outside of him this season. Joe Jimenez has long been tagged as the closer-in-waiting, but while he has the strikeouts to justify it, he's far too hittable and gives up too many flyballs - a combination which has resulted in an ugly 2.06 homeruns per nine innings this season. He's worth adding in mixed leagues, but temper your expectations.
Best Pickup: Joe Jimenez, Handcuff Grade: C
The Mariners bullpen has been a mess since Hunter Strickland went down shortly after the start of the season, but Roenis Elias has come in and managed to stabilize the bullpen. Fantasy owners were slow to buy into the former starting pitcher as closer, but until this past week, he had settled down and was pretty effective. Elias probably won't be too expensive, so he might be a cheap addition to a contending team, but he almost certainly won't land anywhere that will see him serve as closer. There's a chance Strickland, who has been throwing live batting practice, could return before the trade deadline. In that scenario, it would allow the team to assess Strickland's readiness to contribute before pulling the trigger on an Elias deal. By the end of the season, we do expect Strickland to assume the closer role for the Mariners - with or without a trade involving Elias.
Best Pickup: Hunter Strickland, Handcuff Grade: C / Anthony Bass
Kansas City Royals
The Kansas City Royals have a surprisingly solid bullpen this season and both Ian Kennedy and Jake Diekman could attract suitors over the next two weeks. Former closer Wily Peralta would be the most likely candidate to land back in the closer role upon the trade of the top two arms, but he's not really worth spending too much in FAAB given the Royals struggles to create save chances.
Best Pickup: Wily Peralta, Handcuff Grade: C
Around the League:
-The Red Sox plan to activate Nate Eovaldi this weekend and seem to be planning to utilize him as closer upon his activation. This situation seems temporary, at best, until the Red Sox acquire one of the aforementioned possible relievers on the move, Eovaldi must be owned (although he probably already was)
-After singing his praises last week, Hector Neris has been awful (10 earned runs over his last 7 innings). After already dealing with a suspension, Neris was overheard swearing at the Dodgers dugout after his save on Thursday. Sharp Neris owners would be wise to keep tabs on Adam Morgan on the waiver wire. Morgan will likely also fill in for Neris once Neris' suspension is finalized.
Closer Rankings and Handcuff Tiers:
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