The Major League Baseball trade deadline is just about a week away, which means one of the wildest times of the year is just a couple weeks away for fantasy owners. The FAAB period after the trade deadline is usually the last official big spending week of the year and savvy fantasy owners my be able to save some money by going after potential replacements this week. Below is a summary of all the closers that could be dealt at the deadline, along with the best handcuff option to target as a potential replacement. Similarly, just as important in trading leagues is selling high on the closers that could be displaced on a contending team. You'll also find a list of those players below.
Players That Could Be Dealt:
Craig Kimbrel (CHC)
Replacement Options: Andrew Chafin, Rowan Wick
Heath Hembree / Brad Brach (CIN)
Replacement Options: Tejay Antone
Richard Rodriguez (PIT)
Replacement Options: David Bednar
Joakim Soria (AZ)
Replacement Options: Noe Ramiez
Paul Fry (BAL)
Replacement Options: Cole Sulser
Taylor Rogers / Hansel Robles (MIN)
Replacement Options: Alex Colome
Raisel Iglesias (CIN)
Replacement Options: Mike Mayers (LAA)
Ian Kennedy (TEX)
Players That Could Be Displaced:
Ryan Pressly (HOU)
Kendall Graveman (SEA)
Lou Trivino (OAK)
Around the League:
-A week ago, the Dodgers probably wouldn't have dreamed they would be in the market for a closer at the trade deadline, but after three straight blown saves from Kenley Jansen, there's a decent chance they will be calling teams just to check in. Right now manager Dave Roberts has had unwavering support for his closer, but obviously things change quickly in Major League Baseball. Blake Treinen should be owned in all formats, at least until Jansen works through his issues and/or the Dodgers get through the trade deadline. Craig Kimbrel could look good in Dodger Blue....
- The Rays are back to doing their old tricks, giving Diego Castillo the save opportunity on Thursday, his first since the trade deadline. It's particularly frustrating because Pete Fairbanks has pitched well and received the first two saves after the all-star break. This situation is clearly a committee and will continue to be so for the foreseeable future.
-After saving just three games in the months of June and May, Gregory Soto has now saved four straight games and has saves in five of his last six appearances. Soto seemed like the favorite for saves heading into the season, but he failed to run away with the job and it wasn't until Jose Cisnero blew a save on July 10th that once again gave him a clear path to saves.
-The Braves sent AJ Minter down to Triple-A earlier this week and at the time of the demotion, Minter led the league in holds. Minter has back-to-back outings with runs allowed, but in reality, he hasn't pitched awful. Nonetheless, the Braves seem to be committed to Minter for the long-term because they sent him down to work on his mechanics.
-Devin Williams was placed on the injured list last weekend with right elbow discomfort - uh oh. It's been a steep fall from grace for Williams this season and now it looks like he can be safely dropped in all leagues, if you need the roster spot.
-The Padres activated Drew Pomeranz from the injured list last weekend and ended up recording one hold this week. He should play a prominent role in the Padres bullpen down the stretch and is positioned to be a nice asset in holds leagues. It's possible he could be available on the waiver wire in some formats due to his long stay on the injured list.
-The Yankees bullpen remains a mess with Aroldis Chapman back, but still experiencing discomfort in his finger. Meanwhile, Zack Britton is also back, but has given up runs in every outing since he has returned. Chad Green needs to continue to be owned aross all formats until this situation settles down.
-Just when it looked like time to add another name into the Baltimore closing mix, Tyler Wells hit the injured list with right wrist tendonitis on Friday. He could be an option once he's activated if the Orioles move Fry and/or Sulser at the deadline.
Closer Charts and Handcuff Ratings:
Welcome to the 15th edition of A Closer Look. Tuesday marks the unofficial halfway mark in the major league baseball season as the All-Star Game shifts to Colorado, so in honor of halfway mile marker, here's a view of the current "on-pace for" leaderboards:
50+ Season: Mark Melancon
40+ Season: Liam Hendriks, Josh Hader, Craig Kimbrel, Kenley Jansen, Alex Reyes
Relievers on pace for 100+ Strikeouts: James Karinchak, Raisel Iglesias, Matt Barnes, Scott Barlow, Josh Hader, Mike Mayers, Liam Hendriks, Craig Kimbrel, Alex Reyes, Giovanny Gallegos, Aroldis Chapman, Taylor Rogers, Craig Stammen, Devin Williams, Rex Brothers, Jeffrey Springs
For those who lost count at home, that's 16 relievers. For context, 2019, 2018 and 2016 all had 8, while 2017 had 7. The fact this year has twice as many as any other year over the last 5 years is telling. Despite the volatility in saves this season, one overlooked positive is that any of the 100+ strikeout pitchers above can return enough value to be rostered in mixed leagues, regardless of their size.
Here's an update from across the league.
Around the League:
-Lou Trivino owners received good news on Friday at the expense of Trevor Rosenthal, who will now miss the rest of the season after undergoing hip surgery. Rosenthal's absence means that Trivino will likely remain the primary closer for the A's, despite the fact Jake Diekman saved the most recent opportunity for Oakland. The save was his first since May 26th. Trivino has greatly outperformed his underlying metrics this season - highlighted by his 4.38 xFIP compared to his 1.96 ERA. If you can take advantage of the Rosenthal news and shop Trivino across your league as a long-term closing option, now is the time to do it.
-It's been a nightmarish month for Aroldis Chapman, who has 4 blown saves since May 23rd and has allowed 10 earned runs over his last 6 appearances. Aaron Boone has suggested that Chad Green might see more save chances in the interim until Chapman turns things around, but Boone did indicate that he still views Chapman as the team's longterm closer. Chapman's problem hasn't been velocity or strikeouts - he's been walking batters at the highest levels of his career (17%) and giving up home runs at the highest rate of his career (31%).
-The Reds seem committed to giving the save chances to Heath Hembree, who isn't your big brother's Heath Hembree. The longtime Red Sox reliever has breathed new life into his career thanks to the development of his slider, which has contributed to his higher strikeout rate, although not necessarily the swinging strike variety. Interestingly, he's getting more called strikes despite posting his lowest zone% of his career. This is concerning from a continuation perspective, especially since his 16% barrel rate is also really high. Brad Brach continues to serve in the "fireman" role and has the more rock solid underlying metric. From a longevity perspective, he's probably the better value right now.
-The Giants seem to be settling on Jake McGee as their primary closer after he has converted four of the last five saves for the team. McGee has the bigger contract and he profiles as the more dominant reliever, so it's logical the team would look to him as their preferred option.
-After Scott Barlow took a loss and a blown save in two consecutive games and Greg Holland took a loss in his latest outing, it's logical Josh Staumont could see the next save chance for the Royals, whenever that might come for last place Kansas City.
-Emmanuel Clase blew his third save of the season on Friday after giving up the lead in the 8th. James Karinchak ended up with the win after pitching a scoreless 9th inning.
Relievers On The Rise:
-Anthony Bender continues to pitch well for the Marlins amid a rough month from current closer Yimi Garcia. Bender thrives from deception and movement on his pitches, which as you'd expect results in plenty of groundballs (52% GB rate) and a remarkable 38% called + swinging strike rate. The righty is pitching like one of the best relievers in baseball right now and could be one more Garcia blown save from moving into the closing role.
-A pair of late inning relievers were activated from the injured list this week. Daniel Hudson will slide back into the 8th inning duties ahead of Brad Hand and Mychal Givens will move back into the set-up role for Daniel Bard.
Closer Chart & Handcuff Ranking By Team:
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