Each week I will breakdown closers and middle relievers in many different ways to provide you with all the information you need to have a successful fantasy bullpen. Let’s dive in!

Closers in Flux

Bud Norris (78% owned) – is starting to lose his grip on the Cardinals closing job. He has given up six earned runs over his last seven innings pitched and has picked up two blown saves (one this week) over the last two weeks. His overall numbers are still fine, but the problem for Norris is that Jordan Hicks is looming and has been on absolute fire as of late. Hicks has made shutout appearances in 12 of his last 13 outings, including his last five. Over his last five outings, he has stuck out 12 over six innings pitched and even picked up his first career save on June 9. Hicks, 21-years-old, will be the Cardinals closer soon and with his .160 BAA it’s a move that makes too much sense not to happen.

Quick Hits

Blown Saves

*Top 10

*Note: I track blown saves that happened by guys who were brought into finish the game. Such as guys in the closer role, or other pitchers who were brought in late in the game. A guy who picks up a “blown save,” for example, in the 6th inning is very irrelevant in my opinion, when tracking fantasy assets.

Player BS YTD   Player BS last 7 days
Jeurys Familia 4   Wade Davis 1
Felipe Vázquez 4   Brad Brach 1
Fernando Rodney 3   Bud Norris 1
Héctor Neris 3   Kelvin Herrera 1
Craig Kimbrel 3   Blake Parker 1
Shane Greene 3      
Edwin Díaz 3      
Wade Davis 3      
18 tied with  2      

Who’s Hot?

Edwin Díaz (98% owned) – Diaz had the rare four save this week and is now up to 25 for the year. He struck out six across 4.1 shutout innings and lowered his ERA down to 2.50. He has 58 strikeouts in 38 innings pitched this year and has easily been the best closer in baseball for fantasy purposes. He already has six saves in June and has not given up a run in his last six outings. He currently has a four save lead on the saves leader board and also leads all closers in strikeouts. There are just an endless amount of positive things to be said about the season the 24-year-old righty is having. He wasn’t drafted in the top-5 of closers so not only has he been elite, his value based on when he was drafted has been astronomical. Top-three. YTD stats: 36 innings, 25 saves, 58 Ks, 2.50 ERA.

Joakim Soria (50% owned) – Soria had lost the White Sox closing job to Nate Jones a few weeks ago, but a poor outing by Jones opened the door for Soria to reclaim the gig and he has run away with it. Soria, like Diaz, also put up his own four save week. He struck out three across 3.1 shutout innings and now has 10 saves. He has not given up an earned run since May 18, a span of 15.2 innings, and that has lowered his ERA from 5.65 to 3.12. He has six saves over the last nine days and deeper leagues (where he was owned still) are getting massive production from a guy who you wouldn’t expect to get much of anything from. Enjoy the ride while it lasts. Bottom-tier. YTD stats: 26 innings, 10 saves, 30 Ks, 3.12 ERA. 

Who’s Cold?

Wade Davis (92% owned) – Davis made just one outing this week, June 7, and it resulted in a blown save. He has now given up four earned runs over his last 3.1 innings pitched and has just two saves over the last 20 days. A closer giving up runs while also not producing any saves is not exactly ideal in fantasy. Despite the recent skid of hardly any saves, Davis still ranks fourth in baseball with 20 saves on the year; however, that comes with an unsightly ERA for a closer of 3.42. All-in-all Davis has been a pretty middle of the pack closer this season because of the 20 saves, but if the saves continue to be sparse, as they have been of late, he will continue to slide down the ranks of closers. The move to the Rockies, as yours truly predicted, seems to be a hard adjustment for Davis as he has a 5.91 ERA at home this year compared to a 1.72 road ERA. Above-average. YTD stats: 26.1 innings, 20 saves, 31 Ks, 3.42 ERA.

Middle Relievers of Note

This section will focus on closers in waiting or closer capable guys and how they are performing.

Erik Goeddel (0% owned) – Goeddel is a guy that most people likely have never heard of. He started the year in the minors before joining the Mariners, while with the Mariners he gave up just one run across 7.1 innings pitched with nine strikeouts. Despite that success, the Mariners designated him for assignment. The Dodgers liked what they saw and decided to claim him off waivers. He has quickly moved into a more prominent role with the Dodgers because he has yet to give up a run in 12.2 innings pitched with his new club. In total, he has pitched 20.0 innings on the year and given up just one run while striking out 23. The ex-met had some success in 2014 and 2015 when he was first called up, but struggled in the two following seasons. He is not going to be an elite reliever forever, but with how well he is pitching right now, he is worth a look in deep leagues and should be monitored in all leagues with holds. He has also moved his way into the mix for saves if something were to happen to Kenley Jansen

Justin Miller (12% owned) – Miller has come almost out of nowhere to be a dominant force out of the Nationals bullpen. In his first 10.2 innings with the big league club he has given up just two hits and no runs while striking out 21. That is a 0.19 WHIP and 17.72 K/9, sure it is a small sample size, but it is still impressive enough to where we have to pay attention to it. He is not going to be challenging Sean Doolittle for save chances, but in leagues with holds or in deep leagues, he is someone that may be worth an add. Be wary though, during his time in the Majors from 2014-2016 he posted ERA’s of 5.11, 4.05, and 5.70 respectively. This is a 31-year-old reliever with a poor history, so keep expectations in check; however, he has already racked up four wins and two holds in his first eight outings. YTD stats: 10.2 innings, two holds, 21 Ks, 0.00 ERA.

Holds

*Top 10

Player HLD YTD   Player HLD last 7 days
Archie Bradley 17   Dellin Betances 3
Matt Barnes 15   Álex Colomé 3
Tony Watson 14   Kirby Yates 3
Chaz Roe 14   Jace Fry 3
Juan Nicasio 14   Austin Gomber 3
Yoshihisa Hirano 13   Sam Tuivailala 3
Joe Kelly 13   James Pazos 3
Chris Devenski 13   Jordan Hicks 2
Jose Alvarado 13   A.J. Minter 2
Brandon Kintzler 13   15 more tied with 2

Stat Leaders

This simply provides the current top-5 closers in saves, strikeouts, ERA, and WHIP.  

Saves Strikeouts ERA WHIP
Edwin Díaz - 25 Edwin Díaz - 58 Blake Treinen - 0.87 Sean Doolittle - 0.57
Craig Kimbrel - 21 Brad Hand - 52 Kelvin Herrera - 1.05 Kelvin Herrera - 0.82
Brad Hand - 21 Aroldis Chapman - 50 Kyle Barraclough - 1.23 Kyle Barraclough - 0.82
Wade Davis - 20 Craig Kimbrel - 42 Aroldis Chapman - 1.26 Edwin Díaz - 0.86
Aroldis Chapman - 18 Two tied with - 41 Héctor Rondón - 1.50 Craig Kimbrel - 0.86

Team Bullpen ERA

This section will look into the best and worst bullpens in the league, which can be helpful for DFS. If a team has a weak starting pitcher throwing that day and also a poor bullpen it can make for big days for hitters. A bad bullpen ERA also has an effect on how likely a starting pitcher is to pick up a win.

Team ERA IP   Team ERA IP   Team ERA IP
Diamondbacks 2.50 226.2   Mariners 3.69 219.2   Twins 4.16 231.1
Brewers 2.65 251.2   Rays 3.74 298.1   Orioles 4.31 238.0
Cubs 2.67 242.2   Angels 3.74 257.1   Cardinals 4.39 227.1
Astros 2.94 190.0   White Sox 3.82 228.2   Tigers 4.44 245.1
Yankees 2.96 222.0   Braves 3.84 239.0   Mets 4.53 234.2
Red Sox 2.98 229.2   Phillies 3.88 213.1   Pirates 4.64 225.0
Padres 3.18 266.1   Dodgers 3.89 268.2   Marlins 5.20 258.0
Athletics 3.55 241.0   Giants 3.89 249.2   Rockies 5.21 226.1
Rangers 3.62 243.1   Reds 3.93 263.2   Indians 5.60 173.2
Nationals 3.67 196.1   Blue Jays 3.94 239.2   Royals 5.63 223.2

Recently Overworked

This highlights the bullpens that have been seeing both heavy usage and struggling over the last 7 days.

Team IP ERA
Orioles 27.1 5.27
Rockies 22.1 6.85
Philles 21.1 5.48
Pirates 20.2 7.84
Tigers 20.2 6.10

 

*Ownership percentages are based off Yahoo

Be sure to check out the Closer Grid which has regularly updated rankings. Also feel free to shoot me any questions on Twitter @JustinVreeland