Just as I did last week, I’m going to give you a chance to catch your breath and get caught up on all the reliever trades that have happened (as of Sunday afternoon). This is a crazy time of year for bullpens and roles change rapidly.
- 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
- Dodgers trade Sergio Romo to Rays for cash
- Mariners trade Jean Machi and Mark Lowe (who knew they were still in the league) to White Sox for cash
- Twins trade Nick Tepesch to Jays for cash
- Padres trade closer Brandon Maurer, reliever Ryan Buchter, and starter Trevor Cahill to Royals for Matt Strahm, Travis Wood, and a prospect
- White Sox trade short-lived closer Anthony Swarzak to Brewers for prospect
- Phillies trade Pat Neshek to Rockies for prospects
- White Sox (again) trade Dan Jennings to Rays for a prospect
- Mariners send Steve Cishek to Rays for SP/RP Erasmo Ramirez
- Marlins trade closer AJ Ramos to Mets for prospects
That’s all of them so far, but in the next 36 hours, I expect Addison Reed, Justin Wilson, and Brad Hand to be traded as well.
On to the updated closer rankings:
- Craig Kimbrel
- Kenley Jansen
- Aroldis Chapman
- Wade Davis
- Roberto Osuna
- Corey Knebel
- Ken Giles
- Felipe Rivero (Rivero is in the small group with Kimbrel, Jansen, and Osuna in the upper right of the leverage vs. skill graph below. That deserves a move to at least this tier.)
- Greg Holland
The Good Leads
- Raisel Iglesias
- Edwin Diaz
The Weak Leads
- Zach Britton (I can’t move him up to his usual tier until he shows he is fully healthy. He’s looked mediocre since coming back. His groundball rate remains a crazy 78% in July, but 7 Ks and 4 BBs in 9.1 innings isn’t going to cut it.)
- Fernando Rodney
- Justin Wilson (Wilson is as good as gone, but who will take his place? I thought it would be Rondon, but he’s been awful lately. I guess it’s Shane Greene by default, but his walk rate is scary. Wilson would only stay a closer if he goes to Washington and beats out Madson/Doolittle there. Otherwise, he’ll be a setup guy.)
- 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 as much as most think.)
- 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 (Awful lately, good overall season numbers, manager trusts him. There’s Arodys Vizcaino behind him waiting to take the job at some point.)
- Brandon Kintzler
- Addison Reed (A near lock to be traded, he probably won’t go to a team needing a closer. That puts him in the 8th inning and drops him a couple tiers. Newly acquired AJ Ramos is the best bet to close once Reed is traded until Jeurys Familia returns later this summer.)
- Brad Hand (Another trade lock as one of only two good lefties on the market, I expect him to be a setup guy somewhere on Tuesday. That leaves Kirby Yates as the favorite to take over after he got the save on Hand’s off day. Phil Maton is the dark horse, but Yates has been great.)
The Timeshares (these are just the lowest tier, they aren’t all in true committees)
- Trevor Rosenthal/Seung Hwan Oh (This committee seems to be mostly Rosenthal these days. He’s been the best pitcher in the ‘pen overall. He has cut his walk rate from 11.3% before the All-Star Break to 3.5% since. He’s poised to take over fully soon.)
- Alex Colome
- Hector Neris
- Bud Norris (He’s given up 8 ER in recent outings and is having some home run issues. He falls down here and is in danger of losing his job to Cam Bedrosian.)
- Alex Claudio (He’s been good enough even without strikeouts to take this job full time. He could move up soon.)
- Sean Doolittle/Ryan Madson (Doolittle seems to be the front runner for now, but a trade for Justin Wilson, Brad Hand, or Addison Reed could change all that.)
- Sam Dyson (Mark Melancon should be back this week, so Dyson’s run probably ends soon and Melancon will jump up to a much higher tier.)
- Santiago Casilla (He’s been bad. Bad enough that Blake Treinen looks poised to take the job from him. That being said, Bob Melvin still trusts Casilla for now.)
- Brad Ziegler (Early reports indicate that Ziegler will get the first shot at saves in Miami, but he’s been very bad this year, with career highs in FIP and xFIP and a seven-year high in walk rate. The grounders are still excellent, but everything else is in decline. My favorite reliever left in this ‘pen is Drew Steckenrider. I think he’s the favorite over even Kyle Barraclaugh to eventually take this job from Ziegler.)
- Tyler Clippard/Minaya/Petricka (Clippard has been awful, but no other main option has emerged with Swarzak going to the Brewers. This is a complete mess right now. The team isn’t going to win much, anyway, so it doesn’t matter too much.)
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: No current closers in the danger group, but all three leading candidates to close in Detroit once J. Wilson leaves are (Shane Greene, Alex Wilson, Bruce Rondon)
Just outside the red danger zone: Santiago Casilla, Brandon Kintzler, Alex Colome, Fernando Rodney, Seung Hwan Oh, A.J. Ramos, Kelvin Herrera, Addison Reed, Tyler Clippard, Brad Ziegler
Detroit will be a complete disaster once Justin Wilson is gone. They’ve got three guys “in danger” to choose from. Yikes. I will be avoiding in all leagues until something changes. The guys just outside the danger zone (Hiiiiiighwayyyyyyy tooooooo the DANGER ZONE!!!!!!) have all been discussed here in recent weeks. Kintzler, Colome, Rodney, and Herrera are all somewhat safe right now, despite mediocre or bad pitching.
Casilla is in a pseudo-committee already thanks to his poor pitching and Treinen’s improvements. Oh finds himself trailing Trevor Rosenthal in a committee in St. Louis. Ramos will probably be a closer again soon once Reed is traded, but he will continue to be shaky and could lose his job to a returning Familia in August. Clippard is a disaster and someone will probably emerge from the ooze to take that job from him, but I don’t know who. Ziegler just got the job but will probably lose it soon enough. Tschus!