With trade deadline season in full swing, it’s time for a review of the reliever trades that have happened so far.
Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson from OAK to WAS for Blake Treinen and prospects
David Phelps from MIA to SEA for prospects
David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle from CHW to NYY for Tyler Clippard and prospects
And...that’s pretty much it so far, but many more names are likely to move in the coming eight days. Notes on those guys are in the rankings below.
On to the updated closer rankings:
- Craig Kimbrel
- Kenley Jansen
- Aroldis Chapman
- Wade Davis
- Roberto Osuna (it’s time to move this elite closer up where he belongs)
- Corey Knebel
- Ken Giles (I’m moving him back up to this tier)
- Addison Reed (a reminder that he is on the trade block and the good Jerry Blevins is probably next in line)
- Greg Holland
The Good Leads
- Felipe Rivero
- Raisel Iglesias
- Edwin Diaz
The Weak Leads
- Brad Brach/Zach Britton (One of these two is going to be a great closer for a little while, maybe just until the deadline. If Britton looked fully healthy, he would be the no-brainer option, but he doesn’t and Brach is a great second option. Let’s track this over the week and see if Britton takes back his job)
- Fernando Rodney
- Justin Wilson (Have Bruce Rondon ready to go because Wilson’s on his way out soon.)
- Bud Norris (It’s time to bump him up a tier after keeping the job after Bedrosian’s return and being generally good)
- Cody Allen/Andrew Miller (Eddy wrote up a great post about how mediocre Allen has been this year. With these two splitting saves, limited opportunities, and Allen’s decline, this duo isn’t worth much)
- Kelvin Herrera (He’s been mediocre-to-bad lately. He’s sadly fallen from what he used to be. Maybe he’s been hurting all year. Who knows. He could lose his job to Joakim Soria at some point.)
- Jim Johnson (Still shaky, still trade bait. There’s Arodys Vizcaino behind him waiting to take the job.)
- Brandon Kintzler
- Brandon Maurer (Another rough outing for him, but he and Brad Hand are on the block, leading to Phil Maton taking over eventually, IMHO.)
- A.J. Ramos (Also on the trade block and not really very good right now. Kyle Barraclaugh and his sky-high walk rate would take over, but he’s just as shaky as Ramos.)
The Timeshares (these are just the lowest tier, they aren’t all in true committees)
- Seung Hwan Oh/Trevor Rosenthal/Brett Cecil (Cecil has most of the recent saves, Rosenthal has the best skills but recently blew a save and Oh has been bad. It’s kind of a mess, but I would go Cecil, Rosenthal, Oh right now with Rosenthal the long term play.)
- Alex Colome (Paging Brad Boxberger. It’s only a matter of time.)
- Hector Neris (Moving up a couple spots because he’s shown some stability.)
- Alex Claudio/Keone Kela/Matt Bush/Jose Leclerc (Kela is back and is the best long term play, IMHO, but Claudio has picked up all the recent opportunities and looks to be in charge of this committee, despite the lack of Ks.)
- Sean Doolittle/Ryan Madson (These two new co-closers in Washington are both good and are opposite handed from one another. That makes this a true committee for now with no clear leader.)
- Santiago Casilla
- Sam Dyson
- Tyler Clippard/Anthony Swarzak (Clippard blew a save already in his new home and Swarzak is far, far better. Swarzak is my pick to get the most saves the rest of the year if he doesn’t get traded.)
Here’s the big leverage versus skills graph, updated with the most recent stats.
My apologies to those on mobile, it doesn’t display well on small screens. You should be able to download it though and look at the whole thing. Also, if you are reading this 5+ days after it was posted, the graph will automatically update to the most recent data, so my commentary won’t make sense below.
As you can see, I tried to color code this graph to show four different groups: those that are in danger of losing their closer’s (or setup) job, those that are very safe and locked in, those that we just don’t care about at all, and the rest (“other”).
Anyone with a z-score over 2.0 is an above average or great reliever and anyone with a gmLI over 1.0 is being used in situations that are higher leverage than average. If a pitcher is used a lot in high leverage situations (high gmLI) but has a low z-score, it means he might not be a good enough pitcher to keep the job. Those guys are all in the upper left region. Guys with high gmLI and high z-scores are safe bets to keep their jobs all season, unless they get hurt. They have their manager’s full trust and are pitching very well. Kimbrel, Jansen, and Osuna are the leaders of this pack in the upper right.
The guys in between the groups in gray are ok. They aren’t bad and they aren’t great. They have z-scores over -1 and some are used in high leverage situations, but not all.
If you hover over a data point, it should give you the name of the player and their numbers. The “Highlight Name” search bar lets you find a specific player.
As I do every week, I’m just going to list the current closers that are “In Danger” to give you a heads up that you might want to handcuff them and prepare for them being removed from the job.
Here’s the list: Sam Dyson
Just outside the red danger zone: Santiago Casilla, Brandon Kintzler, Alex Colome, Fernando Rodney, Seung Hwan Oh, A.J. Ramos, Kelvin Herrera, Matt Bush
Sam Dyson is still digging himself out of the huge hole he dug himself early in the year, but he actually hasn’t improved as much as you might think. He has a 4.5 K/9 and 4.5 BB/9 in July, leading to a 5.32 xFIP. His groundball rate is elite at 64%, but everything else is extremely shaky. I don’t expect him to hold the job the rest of the year if for some reason Melancon doesn’t come back.
Colome continues to live on the edge and it wouldn’t surprise me if the Rays trade for a closer or move Boxberger into the role in the next few weeks and Matt Bush is at the back end of a four-person committee (that might not even be a committee anymore). Casilla now has an improved Blake Treinen behind him and is still a below average reliever, so he could easily lose his job. Kintzler always lives on the edge with his lack of strikeouts, but he’s in no danger right now.
Rodney continues to be just good enough overall to keep his job, but Archie Bradley is a better pitcher. It will take a few blown saves to cause a switch, but it shouldn’t be a shock, even if Rodney’s superficial numbers look good. Oh is struggling in a committee with two others. Ramos and Herrera are closers mostly by default right now because they haven’t been good but their managers trust them. Ramos is on the block and could easily be moved, though. Neither of these two are reliable options to keep your rates down anymore. Tschus!