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. For any information regarding recent trades and trades that will soon happen involving relievers, check out Fantasy Baseball Bullpen Report: Closers on the Move? Let’s dive in!

Closers in Flux

The Mets. When the Mets traded away Jeurys Familia , nearly everyone (excluding myself) assumed that Robert Gsellman would take over as the Mets closer. Given his recent struggles (6.59 ERA in June and three earned runs through six July innings prior to the trade), I felt it made more sense for the team to turn to Seth Lugo or even Anthony Swarzak (also struggling). However, Gsellman was in fact the first one to pick up a save. Not so fast though, as in the next save opportunity the team turned to Anthony Swarzak , who converted it. Gsellman was available and was used; he pitched in the seventh inning. This situation remains fluid and all three of the listed names could see save chances on any given day, making it tough to own any of them, especially since the Mets are not a good team and will not win often.

Tyler Clippard (21% owned) – Clippard blew a save on Friday (July 20) in which he was shelled for three earned runs while recording just two outs. In his prior outing to that one he gave up a run and it looked like the wheels were coming off for Clippard. Following the blown save, the Jays turned to Ryan Tepera for a save chance and it appeared that Clippard may have lost his lock on the job, but Toronto turned back to Clippard the very next day. He converted that save chance and is still the team’s closer but any struggles in the short-term for Clippard could lead to a change. Either way, he will be out as the team’s closer soon with the return of Roberto Osuna in August.

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
Fernando Rodney 5   Tyler Clippard 1
Brad Hand 5   Cody Allen 1
Wade Davis 4   Blake Treinen 1
Hunter Strickland 4   Kyle Barraclough 1
Jeurys Familia 4   Bud Norris 1
Felipe Vázquez 4   Brandon Maurer 1
Brad Boxberger 4   Keone Kela 1
Blake Treinen 4   Jose Leclerc 1
Nine tied with 3      

Who’s Hot?

Joakim Soria (62% owned) – Soria pitched three times this week and converted on both of his save chances. He struck out four across 2.2 shutout innings. Soria has made six straight scoreless appearances and has only given up two earned runs since May 18, a span of 24.1 innings. He has very quietly been fantastic for the White Sox, and has lowered his ERA from 5.65 to 2.56 with this strong stretch. He has 16 saves and 49 strikeouts in 38.2 innings pitched, making him one of, if not the most underrated closers in the league this season. Middle-tier. YTD stats: 38.2 innings, 16 saves, 49 Ks, 2.56 ERA.

Edwin Díaz (98% owned) – Diaz picked up two more saves this week, giving him 38 on the year. He struck out six across three shutout innings and now has 85 strikeouts across 51.0 innings pitched, inching closer to the 100 mark. Remarkably, his 2.12 ERA is actually worse than it should be and he has had bad luck. With a 0.80 WHIP and 1.40 FIP there is room for his stats to improve even more going forward. Diaz, despite lacking the track record of Kimbrel, Jansen, or Chapman, has done enough this year to move himself into the top spot of the closing ranks. Top-three. YTD stats: 51.0 innings, 38 saves, 85 Ks, 2.12 ERA.

Who’s Cold?

Kyle Barraclough (62% owned) – Barraclough pitched just two times this week and neither outing went well. He did convert a save, but gave up a run in that outing. In his second appearance he came in with the Marlins leading 4-1, but that lead wouldn’t last long, as Barraclough quickly gave up a run and loaded the bases before giving up a walk-off grand slam to Daniel Robertson . End result: two outs recorded, a blown save, and five earned runs against. Yikes. Barraclough still has a firm grip on the Marlins closing role and there is not much to worry about from a fantasy standpoint, but owners will be hopeful he can avoid weeks like this going forward. Middle-tier. YTD stats: 44.0 innings, 10 saves, 50 Ks, 2.45 ERA.

Cody Allen (95% owned) – Allen made three appearances this week and failed to convert on his lone save chance. In that save opportunity he gave up two earned runs. He struck out two across 2.1 innings pitched and gave up two runs for the week. His ERA is up to 4.83 and he just simply hasn’t been very good at all this season. When the Indians traded for Brad Hand , Manager Terry Francona stated that Allen would still see the bulk of the save chances. However, after the blown save by Allen, Hand was called upon for the next save chance with Allen available. It is a situation to keep a closer eye on. Bottom-half. 41.0 innings, 20 saves, 49 Ks, 4.83 ERA.

Middle Relievers of Note

This section will focus on closers in waiting or closer capable guys and how they are performing. This week we will look at a couple unheard of dark horses.

Jace Fry (1% owned) – Fry is another reliever you wouldn’t expect to be brought up in a save discussion, but with the recent setback of Nate Jones (currently on the DL), Fry has a firm grip on the “next in line” spot for saves. Joakim Soria is the White Sox closer and that is not changing unless he is traded or suffers an injury, but there is a solid chance of the former happening. He has been brought up in trade talks and the Sox are far out of the playoff hunt, so it makes sense to move him. Deeper leagues should stash Fry now, while shallow leagues should be ready to pounce if/when Soria is moved. YTD stats: 30.1 innings, 10 holds, 38 Ks, 3.86 ERA.

Drew Smith (0% owned) – You may be asking yourself “Who is that?” and that is completely reasonable. Smith has just three career innings pitched in MLB and all of them came in low-leverage innings. Why is he here then? He is a dark horse in the Mets bullpen, he was just recalled back up with the team, and with Familia gone there is no clear closer for the Mets. He has picked up a few saves in the minors this season and if he pitches well he can move himself into a bigger role. He is young and when the Mets traded Lucas Duda last season for him, it was with hopes that he could eventually take over as the teams closer. Do not go and rush to pick him up, but add him to the watch list and monitor him over the next month or so and we could see him closing out games by season’s end. YTD stats: 3.0 innings, 0 holds, 2 Ks, 3.00 ERA.

Holds

*Top 10

Player HLD YTD   Player HLD last 7 days
Archie Bradley 27   Carl Edwards Jr.  2
Tony Watson 22   Josh Hader 2
Yoshihisa Hirano 21   Álex Colomé 2
Matt Barnes 21   Adam Cimber 2
Adam Ottavino 21   Seunghwan Oh 2
Jose Alvarado   20   Kevin McCarthy 2
Chaz Roe 20   Steve Cishek 2
Tommy Hunter 19   Drew Steckenrider 2
Three Tied with 18   Tim Hill 2
      Three 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 - 38 Edwin Díaz - 85 Blake Treinen - 1.04 Sean Doolittle - 0.54
Craig Kimbrel - 32 Brad Hand - 69 Kirby Yates - 1.40 Seranthony Dominguez - 0.79
Kenley Jansen - 29 Aroldis Chapman - 68 Sean Doolittle - 1.45 Edwin Díaz - 0.80
Wade Davis - 28 Blake Treinen - 68 Will Smith - 1.45 Will Smith - 0.84
Two tied with - 26 Craig Kimbrel - 63 Brandon Morrow - 1.47 Kirby Yates - 0.85

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
Yankees 2.76 352.1   Nationals 3.69 324.1   Pirates 4.28 346.2
Diamondbacks 2.94 351.2   Dodgers 3.78 386.0   Tigers 4.39 356.2
Astros 2.96 295.0   Mariners 3.84 323.2   White Sox 4.53 331.2
Cubs 3.28 378.1   Angels 3.87 383.1   Twins 4.70 356.1
Brewers 3.31 378.0   Phillies 3.92 349.1   Mets 4.72 351.0
Red Sox 3.39 339.2   Reds 4.17 386.0   Cardinals 4.72 349.0
Athletics 3.54 376.1   Rangers 4.18 353.1   Marlins 5.00 403.1
Giants 3.57 372.2   Braves 4.20 349.1   Indians 5.19 279.1
Padres 3.60 397.0   Blue Jays 4.24 371.2   Rockies 5.26 325.0
Rays 3.64 477.2   Orioles 4.28 366.0   Royals 5.46 337.2

Recently Overworked

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

Team IP ERA
Cubs 31.2 5.40
Cardinals 27.1 7.57
Rangers 25.0 13.32
Blue Jays 24.1 9.25

 

*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