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Fantasy Baseball Week 6: AL Closer Report

Senior Fantasy Baseball Expert Shawn Childs takes an in-depth look at the backend of each team's bullpen in the American League.

AL East

Baltimore Orioles

After a slight scare for Fantasy owners due a possible ankle sprain, Zach Britton has thrown 3.1 shutout innings in his last three games with no runs or hits allowed and four Ks leading to a win and two saves. He’s 8-for-8 in save chances with a solid ERA (2.03) and 17 Ks in 13.1 innings. Darren O’Day picked up a win and a save in his last 2.2 innings with two Ks. O’Day continues to impressive in 2016 (17 Ks in 12.1 innings with two wins, two saves, and four holds). Brad Brach remains the 3rd best option in Baltimore’s bullpen. He’s only allowed one run in 18 innings this year with 19 Ks, but he’s given up the lead in three games. After 31 games, the Orioles have the second-best bullpen ERA (2.37) in the majors with nine wins, two losses, and ten saves.

Boston Red Sox

The Red Sox moved up to 11th in the majors in bullpen ERA (3.57) after 32 games with four wins, five losses, and nine saves. Craig Kimbrel hasn’t had a save chance since May 4th even Boston winning four of their last six games. The Red Sox have scored 43 runs over this stretch (7.2 per game) pushing them to first in the AL in runs scored (183) while only trailing the Cubs (192 runs) overall. Kimbrel has been successful in nine of his ten save chances with no runs and one hit allowed in his last five innings with eight Ks. On the year, Craig has 24 Ks in 14 innings with his ERA (3.21) moving closer to a winning area. Koji Uehara allowed a run and two baserunners on May 1st. His command has been off over his last 5.1 innings (four walks). Koji has a win, loss, and nine holds in his 13 appearances this season. Boston hasn’t pushed Carson Smith since activating him from the DL on May 3rd. In his two innings of work, Smith allowed one unearned run with no hits allowed and two Ks.

New York Yankees

The Yankees have their third ace in their bullpen back in action with Aroldis Chapman activated from his suspension. New York threw him right into the mix while moving him into the 9th inning. In his two games of work, Chapman allowed a run and three baserunners in two innings with three Ks and his first save. His fastball came in a tick below 100 mph (99.7). Andrew Miller didn’t allow run as closer. He gave up a game-tying HR in his last game in a setup role to end his 11.2 inning shutout streak. Miller has struggled a bit in his last two games (one run allowed and six baserunners in 2.1 innings). Andrew has 23 Ks in 12.2 innings with a plus ERA (0.71), two wins, and six saves in seven tries. Dellin Betances has only thrown 2.2 innings (no runs and three Ks) since May 1st. He has 27 Ks in 14 innings with six holds and two losses. New York remains below expected value in bullpen ERA (3.80 – 18th) with seven wins, six losses, and eight saves.

Tampa Bay Rays

Tampa ranks 10th in baseball in bullpen ERA (3.55) with nine wins, four losses, and nine saves. The window for Alex Colome as closer for the Rays may be closing with Brad Boxberger getting closer to the majors. Colome has converted all nine of his chances with a win and 2.08 ERA over 13 innings while striking out 16 batters. Over his last four innings, Alex hasn’t allowed a run with six Ks. Boxberger looks to be about a week away from a rehab assignment. I know Fantasy owners are holding onto Brad while expecting him to close and the Rays manager has supported that thought process with a confirmation statement, but Boxberger will need to be a lot better than 2015 (32 walks in 63 innings) to keep the job all season. Enny Romero has lost value over his last four games (four runs and seven baserunners allowed in four innings with two Ks). The lack of arms in the bullpen has forced Tampa to move Erasmo Ramirez to the bullpen. Over his last 15.2 innings in relief, Ramirez allowed one run with nine Ks and four wins.

Toronto Blue Jays

Roberto Osuna hasn’t allowed a run in his last seven innings with nine Ks. He’s 8-for-9 in save conversions with a plus ERA (1.76) and 18 Ks in 15.3 innings. Toronto placed Brett Cecil on the DL due to paternity leave. Over his five games covering one inning, Brett allowed three runs and eight baserunners. Cecil already has five losses on the season with a putrid ERA (5.59) and whip (1.97). The failure of Drew Storen continued for another week. Over his last six games, he’s allowed six runs and 11 baserunners in 3.2 innings with four Ks. Gavin Floyd has done an excellent job as a reliever for the Blue Jays (one runs in 14.3 innings with 16 Ks). He may be next in line for saves with Storen and Cecil pitching so poorly. After 35 games, Toronto is 16th in bullpen ERA (3.76) with three wins, ten losses, and ten saves.

AL Central

Chicago White Sox

Even with some regression, the White Sox bullpen still ranks 4th in ERA (2.61) after 33 games with five wins, one loss, and 11 saves. David Robertson blew his second save in 12 chances on May 9th when he allowed a run and three baserunners in 1.1 innings. It ended his six-inning scoreless streak. His ERA (1.23) remains an asset with 17 Ks in 14.2 innings. Nate Jones saw his 12.1 innings shutout streak end on May 9th when he allowed two runs and two baserunners in two-thirds of an inning. Nate has a 1.84 ERA over 14.2 innings with 14 Ks. The fraud alert just came in on Matt Albers. Over his last 3.2 innings, Matt allowed four runs and six baserunners which includes a pair of HRs. Even with his decline, Albers still has a 2.20 ERA over 16.1 innings.

Cleveland Indians

The Indians improved to 12th in bullpen ERA (3.63) over the last week. They have two wins, six losses, and eight saves over their first 32 games. Cody Allen has looked much better in his last three games (no runs and one hit allowed in three innings with five Ks and a save). Allen remains perfect in save situations (8-for-8). His WHIP (1.20) looks reasonable while his ERA (5.40) still needs a lot of correction. Bryan Shaw extended his scoreless streak to 7.1 innings with only two hits allowed and eight Ks. Unfortunately, he needs another 14 shutout innings or so to get his ERA (6.59) back in line. After struggling over a four-game stretch at the end of April and early May (two runs and ten baserunners in 2.2 innings), Zach McAllister tossed 1.1 shutout innings over the last week with two Ks.

Detroit Tigers

Francisco Rodriguez has been successful in his last eight save chances after blowing his first chance of the season. He’s allowed a run and six baserunners in his last four innings with four Ks. Mark Lowe was torched for seven runs and six baserunners in his last two innings including three HRs allowed. His ERA fell to 7.71 putting his role as a risk. Justin Wilson turned into a wood tick as well. His 2016 started with 11 shutout innings. Over his last four games covering 2.1 innings, Justin allowed five runs and six baserunners. Alex Wilson had a tough week as well (three runs and eight baserunners allowed in 3.1 innings). All of this adds up to a drop of seven spots in bullpen ERA (3.80 – 17th) with more regression expected. The Tigers relievers have two wins, three losses, and nine saves.

Kansas City Royals

The Royals still rank highly in bullpen ERA (2.95 – 6th) with four wins, two losses, and nine saves after 32 games despite falling below .500 on the season (15-17). Wade Davis only has one save chance since April 22nd. He’s only allowed two hits in 10.2 innings with no runs allowed and 11 Ks while being perfect in save conversions (8-for-8). The Yankees ended Kelvin Herrera’s 14.1 inning shutout streak when they scored two earned runs in one inning. The bad inning started with an error by their shortstop. After showing some improvement over his previous six games (no runs in 6.1 innings), Joakim Soria struggled as well against New York (two runs and three baserunners in one inning). On the positive side, Soria only issued one walk in his last 6.1 innings after allowing seven in his first ten innings or work.

Minnesota Twins

The life line as closer for Kevin Jepsen is getting pretty thin. Over his last five games, Kevin allowed four runs and ten baserunners in 4.2 innings with only one strikeout while picking up a loss in his last game. His ERA dropped to 5.40 with just as many blown saves (two) as saves (two) since taking over the 9th inning. Glen Perkins has started throwing loss toss, but he remains a month away from returning at the minimum. Trevor May is trending toward a shot in the 9th inning. He hasn't allowed a run in his last nine innings with improved command (two walks) and 11 Ks. His chance at saves should come over the next week. May’s ERA (1.89) looks elite while striking out 27 batters in 19 innings. It’s time to buy Trevor, and he may keep the job all season. Michael Tonkin struggled on May 6th when he allowed two runs and two hits in 1.2 innings. Over his last 7.2 innings, Tonkin allowed two runs and one walk with seven Ks. The Twins rank 22nd in the majors in bullpen ERA (4.21) with five wins, eight losses, and a league-low two saves.

AL West

Houston Astros

The Astros remain below the league average in bullpen ERA (4.19 – 21st) after 34 games with a win, six losses, and seven saves. Luke Gregerson has yet to blow a save chance in seven tries. Luke did pitch poorly on May 5th when he allowed three runs and four baserunners in one inning of work. His arm is more steady than explosive (3.29 ERA with 11 Ks).The Ken Giles experiment remains off the tracks. Over his last eight games, Giles allowed seven runs and 13 baserunners in six innings with seven Ks. Over 12.2 innings on the season, Ken has an 8.53 ERA with six holds and two losses. Michael Feliz struggled in his first two games in the majors in 2016 (nine runs and 15 baserunners in 5.1 innings) while his arm has looked electric in his last three games (five perfect innings with eight Ks).Feliz pitched at a high level in 2015 at AA (2.17 ERA with 70 Ks in 78.2 innings).

Los Angeles Angels

The Angels’ bullpen continues to overachieve in ERA (2.89 – 5th) after 32 games with five wins, five losses, and seven saves. Huston Street started throwing on the sidelines this week. He still looks to be a couple of weeks away from returning. Joe Smith has pretty much failed as a closing option in May (four runs and eight baserunners in four innings with three Ks), but he’s been successful in both of his save chances this year. I would keep an eye on Fernando Salas in this bullpen especially if Street has a setback. Salas hasn’t allowed a run in his last 9.1 innings with eight Ks leading to a pair of wins over this stretch. In 2011, Fernando picked up 24 saves in the Cardinals’ bullpen. Cam Bedrosian was called up on April 29th. Over his last six games, Cam has pitched at a high level (no runs and two hits allowed in 5.2 innings with 10 Ks).

Oakland A’s

Ryan Madson hasn’t had a save chance since April 30th. He extended his scoreless streak to 9.2 innings with six Ks. Madson is 8-for-8 in save conversions. As great as he’s been, Ryan walked five batters in his last three innings plus four hits. Over his last 8.1 innings, Sean Doolittle allowed two runs with nine Ks. His arm is trending in the right direction so he may get another chance to close if Madson starts to fade. The fun ride of John Axford crashed and burned over his last four games (six runs and nine baserunners in five innings). Ryan Dull pitched poorly as well in May (three runs and seven baserunners in four innings including two HRs allowed). Oakland dropped to 14th in bullpen ERA (3.75) after 34 games with five wins, three losses, and ten saves. Their failure was tied to two straight poor games in Boston.

Seattle Mariners

The Mariners surprisingly have the best bullpen ERA (2.37) in the majors after 32 games with eight wins, two losses, and 12 saves. Steve Cishek blew his first save on May 7th when he allowed a HR, but he did pick up the win. He’s been successful in 11 of 12 save tries with only two runs allowed in 18.1 innings with 22 Ks. Joaquin Benoit may throw off the mound the weekend putting him on pace to return to the majors in a week to 10 days. Joe Peralta allowed two runs over his last 10.1 innings with 17 Ks while picking up a win and ten holds. Vidal Nuno still hasn’t walked a batter in 10 innings with one run allowed in his last nine innings.

Texas Rangers

Shawn Tolleson is 11-for-13 in save chances. He allowed two runs and seven baserunners in his last 3.1 innings with three Ks. His 2016 resume continues to look sketchy (5.40 ERA and 1.50 WHIP). Sam Dyson allowed a run and five baserunners in his last three innings with a K. Most Fantasy owners feel he is next in line to close, but he’s allowed too many baserunners so far this season (21 in 16 innings). Tom Wilhelmsen pitched his way out of Fantasy owners thought process after getting drilled for five runs and five baserunners in two-thirds of an inning on April 15th. Over his last nine games, Tom allowed one run and eight baserunners with four Ks. As bad as he looks (7.71 ERA and 1.77 WHIP), Wilhelmsen has closing experience, and his arm is moving in the right direction. Texas has the 29th bullpen in ERA (5.09) after 34 games with six wins, ten losses, and 11 saves.

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