Just as I did the last two weeks, I’m going to give you a chance to catch your breath and get caught up on all the reliever trades that happened just before the trade deadline. 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
- Tigers move closer Justin Wilson to Cubs for prospects (they also sent C Alex Avila)
- Mets send closer Addison Reed to Red Sox for prospects
- Astros get SP/RP Francisco Liriano (to use in relief) from Blue Jays for a prospect and Nori Aoki
- Indians trade for RP Joe Smith in exchange for prospects
- Pirates send Tony Watson to Dodgers for prospects
- Twins trade closer Brandon Kintzler to Nationals for a prospect and international $$$
- Reds give Tony Cingrani to Dodgers for a prospect and OF Scott Van Slyke
- David Hernandez moves from the Angels to the Diamondbacks for a prospect
- Jeremy Jeffress returns to Milwaukee, leaving Texas for a prospect
Surprisingly, Brad Hand was not among those dealt. Zach Britton also stayed home.
On to the updated closer rankings:
- Craig Kimbrel
- Kenley Jansen
- Aroldis Chapman
- Wade Davis
- Roberto Osuna
- Corey Knebel
- Ken Giles
- Felipe Rivero
- Greg Holland
The Good Leads
- Raisel Iglesias
- Edwin Diaz
- Brad Hand (I’m moving him up here because now that we know he won’t be traded, he’s an elite reliever with great job security and Kirby Yates just blew up.)
The Weak Leads
- Zach Britton
- Fernando Rodney
- Cody Allen
- Kelvin Herrera
- Arodys Vizcaino (The new closer in Atlanta is pitching much better than Jim Johnson in recent months and has rightfully taken the job. He should hold onto the job the rest of the year and should be owned in all leagues at this point.)
- Trevor Rosenthal (With Oh still shaky, Rosenthal looks like the clear closer in St. Louis. He’s been terrific most of the year with a 14.5 K/9 and reasonable 3.5 BB/9 complementing a 3.32 ERA and 2.34 xFIP. He moves up a tier.)
- AJ Ramos (With Addison Reed going to Boston, Ramos becomes a closer again. However, Jeurys Familia is due back later this month so his reign could be very short.)
- Hector Neris (This job appears to be entirely his now. He’s been good enough to move up a tier this week.)
The Timeshares (these are just the lowest tier, they aren’t all in true committees)
- Bud Norris
- Sean Doolittle (He seems to be in charge of this bullpen now. He’s pitched well in Washington, only allowing runs during one bad outing on July 26. He could run with this job the rest of the year if he stays healthy. Ryan Madson is clearly second in line.)
- Alex Claudio/Jose Leclerc (Claudio is the clear leader here, but Leclerc has picked up some saves lately as well, making this a committee. I like Claudio even without the Ks, and so does my skill vs leverage graph below. Leclerc is also good, but I think Claudio eventually wins out here.)
- Blake Treinen (It’s apparent that he’s now the full closer in Oakland. Since the arbitrary date of 7/23, he’s got a 2.84 ERA, 3.62 FIP, 2.41 xFIP, and a 22.2% K%-BB%. This is you A’s closer the rest of the way.)
- 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.)
- Shane Greene (I’m not a fan of his high walk rate, but I acknowledge that he is the clear closer in Detroit right now. I expect him to lose his job before the season is out, however. If Bruce Rondon can ever figure things out, maybe he would be the guy. Joe Jimenez is also around.)
- Alex Colome (His last 14.1 innings: 7 BB, 7 K, 5.21 xFIP. That’s not going to get it done. Tommy Hunter would be a good stash. This team is in a playoff race and won’t tolerate a few blown saves in a row and Colome could certainly crash and burn quickly if he keeps throwing like this. I moved him down.)
- Brad Ziegler (Doesn’t strike anyone out, gets lots of grounders, but not as good as Alex Claudio at making that work. I don’t know how long he will be able to hold this job over Tazawa and Steckenrider.)
- Matt Belisle/Taylor Rogers (With Kintzler gone, this becomes a mess of shaky options. I’m avoiding it entirely just like the White Sox ‘pen below, but if you must join in, Belisle is currently the leader.)
- Tyler Clippard/Minaya/Petricka
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: AJ Ramos, Shane Greene
Just outside the red danger zone: Matt Belisle, Brad Ziegler, Alex Colome, Kelvin Herrera, Sam Dyson
Ramos has had an awful walk rate all year, but he’s not in danger of losing his job until Familia comes back. At that point, I think he loses his job no matter what unless Familia is just awful. I discussed Greene above, and I think he is over rated in the fantasy community right now. Having said that, he is the closer for the near term without any good challengers so I understand owners picking him up. Just don’t be surprised if he hurts your rates.
Belisle is a 37-year-old journeyman reliever with a 7.38 K/9 and 4.01 BB/9. He should be at the bottom of a bullpen depth chart, not the top. His ERA, FIP, and xFIP are all in the low to mid 4s. So, yeah. He’s not the long term answer for the Twins, but they have a lot to sort out in that bullpen right now.
I already discussed Ziegler above, Colome as well. Neither are good options now unless you are desperate for saves. Colome has more manager trust right now, but that’s about all he has going for him. Herrera has been OK of late and is in no danger of losing his job. That being said, he’s a below average closer this year. Dyson will be losing his job soon, so it doesn’t really matter that the stats don’t like him. That’s all for this week. Tschus!