A Closer Look is back! After a weeklong respite, your friendly neighborhood closer column is back refreshed and ready to lead you into baseball's second half. Memorial Day week was relatively quiet on the closer front, so the closer landscape and status of most handcuffs remain pretty close to what is was heading into the holiday weekend. The biggest news was the official removal of Mychal Givens from the 9th inning for Baltimore, but then again, can someone be removed from a role they were never officially given? We'll dive into these mysteries and more as we take a deep dive into each team's scenarios below.
Around the League:
NY Yankees - Despite definitive signs of wear-and-tear, Aroldis Chapman has been excellent this year. Chapman is no longer averaging triple digits on his fastball, which is part of the reason we've seen two straight seasons of decreased reliance on the pitch. His current deployment is down to fastball about 61% of the time, followed by his slider at 29% and sinker at 9%. His swinging strike rate is down to 13% and many of his other indicator stats are worse than they were in his price, but short story here is that there's really nothing immediately concerning about Chapman. The Yankees' strong bullpen in front of him also helps protect him form overuse and in turn, helps him form getting exposed.
Tampa Bay - As a team, the Rays rank 10th in total team saves across all of MLB. Individually, just one of their relievers ranks in the top-25 of total saves. Over the last two weeks, just Jose Alvarado and Diego Castillo have closed out games, but it's truly anyone's guess who will get the next opportunity. The good news is that even without saves, these pitchers provide enough help in ratios to more than make up for their lack of save production.
Boston - To fantasy owner's chagrin, the Red Sox appear to be in all-out committee mode with Brandon Workman, Matt Barnes and Marcus Walden each saving games over the last two weeks. The most drafted reliever from this team, Ryan Brasier has struggled recently. Barnes is the one with the most saves from the aforementioned group, so he's the primary target, but Workman has an intriguing skillset and might be worth a handcuff in deeper AL-only formats.
Toronto - The sweet, sweet sounds of Kenny G have been playing in Toronto for most of the season, but with a lack of save opportunities, Ken Giles has provided little return on investment for those who drafted him in the 7th-8th rounds this spring. The stats have been outstanding with a 1.08 ERA and fantastic 42% strikeout rate, but the save production hasn't been there, leaving Giles owners to ponder "what could have been" if he would have been able to put together this season's performance while still being a member of the Astros.
Baltimore - While Mychal Givens is no longer in the picture, his loss was already pretty much accounted for by most teams who drafted him in the pre-season. Including Givens, four different Orioles have notched saves over the last 14 days and as much as I'd love to give you the name of the surefire answer the Baltimore's woes, the reality is that none of these pitchers are doing enough to stand out. With that said, Miguel Castro, who hasn't saved a game recently, has been the team's most effective pitcher lately. Castro has been used in multi-inning roles, so it's doubtful he would be in the mix consistently, but it's worth watching. Ultimately, none of these pitchers are worth wasting a roster spot on until they prove they are consistently given the 9th inning.
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