September 18, 2017
Welcome back to the Closer Report. The season is coming to a close and, I won’t lie to you, the news is getting pretty thin these days are teams are just finishing out their years. That being said, those of you who are either in the playoffs or the thick of the race in your roto races still have some little advantages you can kind in bullpens. Before we get to that, just a reminder that you can keep up with any movement with the Closer Grid. Now, on to the news.
More changes in the ninth for the Royals
This past week, the Royals made a huge move in their bullpen by removing Kelvin Herrera from the closer role. The righty had been their closer all year, but was struggling of late. With the team still in the playoff chase but seeing their chances shrink every day, Kansas City clearly can’t afford to be complacent. They are going to be aggressive in the ninth and ride the hot hand. Unfortunately, it’s not entirely clear who the hot hand is right now. What is clear is who isn’t the hot hand, and that’s Herrera and Brandon Maurer. The two guys who have been the top two options out of the bullpen since the latter was acquired from San Diego at the trade deadline have both been struggling of late. Maurer was my favorite for save chances after Herrera was officially removed from the role given his closer experience, but he’s been horrendous of late with an ERA over 14.00 this month and runs allowed in his past two outings. Scott Alexander is the next man in line, and right now I’d say he’s the best Royal to own for those looking for late-season saves. The lefty has been solid this year, though he’s stayed under the radar. He did take the loss in one outing this past week, but that was the first time he had allowed any runs since Aug. 12. Also of note is Mike Minor, who picked up a save over the weekend and is No. 2 on the grid right now. He could be a savvy pickup for the last couple weeks in AL-Only leagues.
Blake Parker has company with the Angels
The Angels have had an uncertain closer situation for some time, but they finally seemed to be handing the job over to Blake Parker after the righty had been their best reliever all year long. He hasn’t done anything to lose the job, and I’d still expect him to get the bulk of the save chances down the stretch, but he has some company. As the Angels make a push towards the playoffs, Yusmeiro Petit has also stepped up and proven to be a viable late-inning option. The righty has an ERA of 1.02 in the second half and hasn’t allowed a run since Aug. 18. Petit is another arm who probably won’t help beyond ratios, but he’s good for a few token save chances. More importantly, if you’re still holding on to Cam Bedrosian it’s probably time to give up on him. I’ve been extremely high on the righty all year, but he’s clearly not going to emerge to the top of the chain at this point in the year.
Kyle Barraclough is struggling
One of the downsides of September baseball is that teams don’t use their DL slots unless they are putting someone on the 60-day in order to open up a 40-man spot. An example of this is Brad Ziegler, who has been out for a little over a week with a back injury. It’s unclear at this point when he’ll be able to return, but Kyle Barraclough has taken over in his stead. The righty has always been the most exciting potential closer for Miami, but he’s been struggling since taking over for Ziegler. With the Marlins out of it and Barraclough their likely closer of the future I don’t see them taking him out of the role. That being said, he’s hurting fantasy owners more than he’s helping right now.
• Keone Kela is also back. Like Miller, he won’t be a boost in saves. He also probably won’t do too much in the other areas, though I’m still a believer long-term. If anything, this is just a nice look to see what he looks like in the last couple weeks ahead of next season.
• David Price is coming back for the Red Sox as a reliever. While this is really interesting and he has a chance to thrive in this role, he won’t be a factor in fantasy. They’re going to try and ease him in to this role. He could put up big numbers, but I’m not sure he’ll pitch enough for it to matter much for fantasy owners. That could change in the postseason, but that won’t matter for our purposes.