We're a mere three days away from the trade deadline and already our closers are dropping like flies! Over the last week, Jeurys Familia, Joakim Soria, and Zach Britton have found new homes and are gearing up for the playoff run. In this week's edition, we're going to pay special attention to the other closers that may get moved before the trade deadline, but more importantly, who are the handcuffs to grab on Sunday during FAAB so you can preempt the rush and inflation that will happen after a trade goes down.
Save Leaders This Week:
Blake Treinen - 3
Wily Peralta - 3
Blown Saves This Week:
Blake Treinen - 1
Keone Kela - 1
Cody Allen - 1
Brad Boxberger - 1
Around the League:
-Within a couple of hours of publishing last week's article, Jeurys Familia was, in fact, traded. The consensus was that Robert Gsellman would be the closer with Anthony Swarzak setting him up, however, Gsellman actually pitched in a high leverage situation in the 7th inning earlier this week, giving Swarzak an opportunity to earn his first save. Swarzak's 6.75 ERA jumps off the page when you first look at his profile, but with a sample size of just 18.1 innings, caution should be used when making decisions based off that number alone. With that said, he is giving up more contact this year (79%) than last year (71%) and hitters are making more quality contact while doing so (hard hit rate up to 35% from 28%). Gsellman remains a more effective reliever, which is possibly why he's being utilized as the fireman, putting out emergencies in any inning rather than just the 9th inning. The Mets' return for Familia is possibly intriguing in dynasty leagues since New York received Bobby Wahl, a triple-A closer for the Athletics, who saw his strikeout rate climb to 43% this year.
-The Cardinals are reportedly taking advantage of the opportunity to release Greg Holland while his unique statistical anomaly is still intact. So what's so strange? Currently, Greg Holland's ERA is sitting at 7.92, which is the same number as his BB/9 and K/9. He'll surely get picked up somewhere and perhaps a change of scenery will be good for him. The Cardinals also DFA'd Tyler Lyons. Rumors have been floating around about Boston inquiring on the avilability to Bud Norris, so if he gets dealt, Jordan Hicks would be a logical name to grab to speculate on him as the closer for St. Louis.
-Pedro Strop appears to have the leg up on anyone else in the Cubs' bullpen and should be universally owned. The Cubs will likely take their time with Brandon Morrow, so the job could remain Strop's for the foreseeable future. Strop's strikeout and walk rates are just average and he has seen a big dip in his groundball rate this season, but his role is one of the most coveted in all of baseball, so he'll continue to provide save chances for one of the best teams in the National League.
-While Zach Britton was sent out of town earlier this week, the Orioles current closer Brad Brach is rumored to be the next man out of town. The Orioles are tearing it down to the studs, and unfortunately I'm talking about the building material and not the all-stars. Brach remains with Baltimore for now, but should he get traded, Mychel Givens, is a logical choice to handle closing duties as he attempts to turn around his season. Subscribers might remember Givens from the pre-season as one of the players that I touted most heavily as a cheap closing option late in drafts. He struggled to ever take the closing gig and run with it and really had a challenging June, but has managed to pitch slightly better in July. He struggles with his command, which is a big reason for his inconsistency, but he does have the ability to miss bats. Givens shouldn't be regarded as an elite handcuff, but he's a handcuff, nonetheless.
-The Joakim Soria trade cleared room for another reliever to rise to the top. Most people who cover the White Sox seemed convinced that Jace Fry would get the first shot (admittedly, so did I), but he was used in a non-save situation on Thursday. Granted, Frye hadn't pitched in a game since Monday and with the team already trailing, it could have simply been an appearance to get him work to keep him sharp. Juan Minaya is another name to watch in this bullpen, but technically the only one with extensive closing experience is Jeanmar Gomez. Gomez has only been with the team for a couple of weeks, but considering that he has already served as a major league closer, he might have just as good of a shot at saves as Fry. We'd still put a preference on Fry simply because he has a more appealing skillset, but Gomez is a good consolation prize.
-The Braves acquired former star reliever Johnny Venters from the Rays, giving the Braves another quality left-handed reliever, meaning AJ Minter can now be safely reserved for the ninth inning. With Vizcaino struggling to stay on the mound, it wouldn't be shocking to see Minter simply take the job outright. Minter is a very intriguing piece in dynasty leagues.
-With Keone Kela continuing to have his name pop up in trade rumors, the Rangers would most likely turn to Jose Leclerc or Jake Diekman in the ninth inning for save situations. Diekman has struggled recently, so Leclerc is currently my favorite target in this bullpen, but I don't love anyone. Leclerc is a heavy flyball pitcher, which could burn him in Texas, but he does have the ability to miss bats.
-Fernando Rodney blew his 6th save of the season against the Red Sox on Friday night by allowing a solo home run to Rafael Devers. Rodney likely doesn't have a huge trade market, but he is a name that might be moved during the waiver trade period in August. Ryan Pressly is the best bet behind him, but he's not really one you'll want to speculate on weeks in advance of a trade for Rodney.
-While he's probably not the top of the market, Sergio Romo might be viewed attractively by contenders looking to add a guy with extensive experience in the ninth inning. Should he be traded, Jose Alvarado figures to be the first person in line for saves. Alvarado has pitched relatively well in his unconventional role, but like Pressly, he's not worth pursuing yet.
-Sean Doolittle underwent an MRI on his toe and the test reviewed a stress fracture. The new means that he will likely miss at least a couple more weeks and the Nationals may even shut him down completely, if they fall out of contention.
Closer Rankings and Tiers:
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