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Fantasy Baseball Week 10: 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

Zach Britton hasn’t allowed a run in his last 15.1 innings with five hits and 15 Ks to lower his ERA to 1.07. Britton has been successful in all 18 of his save chances. Darren O’Day landed on the DL with a hamstring issue, which is probably the reason for his failure over his last nine games (4.15 ERA and 1.62 WHIP with four HRs allowed in 8.2 innings). Brad Brach extended his scoreless streak to 10.2 innings while allowing 12 baserunners with 12 Ks. Brad is expected to take over the 8th inning. His ERA and WHIP are identical (0.88) after 30.2 innings. Mychal Givens has been impressive in his last three games (no runs in 5.1 innings with seven Ks). After 57 games, Baltimore has the lowest bullpen ERA (2.68) in the majors with 17 wins, four losses, and 21 saves.

Boston Red Sox

The Red Sox slipped a couple of spots in the bullpen rankings (3.64 ERA – 11th) after 55 games with 8 wins, 10 losses, and 15 saves. Craig Kimbrel picked up a couple of saves over the last week after coming up empty in saves over the two previous weeks. Kimbrel is 14-for-16 in save conversions with strength in his ERA (2.70) and WHIP (0.86). Koji Uehara continues to struggle with the long ball. In his last eight games, he’s allowed three HRs resulting in six runs and 11 baserunners in 7.2 innings. His K ability has been on the move in his last six games (13 Ks in 5.2 innings). After being ripped up for five runs and five baserunners in 1.3 innings over two games, Junichi Tazawa tossed a pair of perfect innings with two Ks in his last two games.

New York Yankees

Aroldis Chapman has struggled a bit in his last seven games (two runs and nine baserunners in six innings with 10 Ks) leading to his first blown save in 11 tries. On the year, Chapman has 19 Ks and three walks in 13 innings with a 2.08 ERA. Andrew Miller picked up a win and save in his last two games with no runs allowed in his last four innings with six Ks. He remains the best arm in the Yankees’ bullpen (46 Ks in 25.2 innings with a 1.05 ERA and 0.66 WHIP). Dellin Betances had a real bad run over four games where he allowed six runs and 10 baserunners in 4.2 innings with nine Ks. His ERA fell to 3.54 after picking up a win and two losses. On the positive side, Betances did throw a clean inning in his last outing with two Ks. His failure led to a slight decline in New York’s bullpen ERA (3.74 – 12th) with 10 wins, 8 losses, and 18 saves in 58 games.

Tampa Bay Rays

The Rays slid to 15th in bullpen ERA (3.92) after 56 games with 11 wins, 10 losses, and 16 saves. Alex Colome extended his shutout streak to 17 innings with 11 baserunners allowed and 24 strikeouts. Alex converted all 16 of his save chances in 2016 to seize the closing opportunity in Tampa. His length of success will make it real tough for Brad Boxberger to work his way back into the 9th inning after his recent setback. Boxberger is expected to miss a month or two due to his an oblique issue. Over his last seven games, Xavier Cedeno allowed two runs and six baserunners in 6.1 innings with seven Ks. The struggles of Erasmo Ramirez added another weak to his failure (five runs and 12 baserunners in 5.1 innings with four Ks).

Toronto Blue Jays

Roberto Osuna saw his 17 inning scoreless streak end on June 5th when he allowed two runs and four hits in one inning of work. Over his last 5.1 innings, Osuna allowed two runs and 10 baserunners with seven Ks. Roberto is 13-for-15 in save chances even with no runs allowed in both of his blown saves. Jason Grilli hasn’t allowed a run in his last 6.1 innings with 11 Ks. After throwing 4.1 shutout innings with four Ks, Drew Storen puked up again in his last outing when he allowed two runs and three baserunners in one inning. Drew has allowed a hit in 12 straight games. Joe Biagini allowed 3 runs and 10 baserunners in his last 5.1 innings with five Ks. The Blue Jays dropped to 19th in the majors in bullpen ERA (4.04) after 60 games with seven wins, seven losses, and 17 saves.

AL Central

Chicago White Sox

The White Sox have started to bleed away their early edge in bullpen ERA (3.43 – 10th). After 55 games, they have 7 wins, 7 losses, and 14 saves. After his disaster game (six runs and six baserunners in two-thirds of an inning), David Robertson tosses three shutout innings over the last week with three Ks. Robertson has been successful in 13 of his 15 saves chances. Nate Jones also rebounded from a bad week to throw three shutout innings with one strikeout. Zach Putnam extended his shutout streak to 8.2 innings with eight baserunners allowed and 10 Ks.

Cleveland Indians

After allowing one run in 13 innings with 18 Ks and four saves in May, Cody Allen allowed a run in his first appearance in June to end his 7.2 inning shutout streak. He’s 12-for-13 in save chances with some risk in his upside due to 15 walks allowed in 25.1 innings. The long road back from Bryan Shaw after his bad start to the season is starting to resemble his previous success. His ERA over his last 20 innings is 1.35 with 19 baserunners allowed and 20 Ks. His overall stats (4.63) still need about 13 more innings to match his previous success. Zach McAllister hasn’t allowed a run in his last 4.1 innings with five Ks. The Indians now rank 9th in baseball in bullpen ERA (3.37) after 56 games with seven wins, nine losses, and 13 saves.

Detroit Tigers

The Tigers still has one of the worst bullpens in the majors (4.48 ERA – 27th) after 57 games with six wins, six losses, and 18 saves. Francisco Rodriguez has three saves over the last week with no runs allowed in 1.2 innings and three Ks. Rodriguez is 17-for-18 in save chances with his only failed outing coming in his first appearance of the season. Anibal Sanchez has been downgraded to bullpen arm after struggling in his 11 starts this year (6.67 ERA and 1.68 WHIP). In his only appearance in relief, he threw one clean inning with one strikeout. Justin Wilson hasn’t allowed a run in his last 6.2 innings with two hits and 11 Ks. Shane Greene will try to earn his way back into the starting rotation via the bullpen as well. Since being activated from the DL, Shane gave up one run in 3.2 innings with six Ks. He did throw the ball well in his two minor league rehab starts at AAA (one run in eight innings with 12 Ks).

Kansas City Royals

Wade Davis has only pitched one inning over the first eight days of June (no runs and a save) while extending his scoreless streak to 7.2 innings. Davis has been successful in 17 of his 18 save appearance with a rock solid ERA (0.89) and WHIP (1.03). Kelvin Herrera pitched poorly in three of his last four games (three runs and seven baserunners allowed in four innings with five Ks). His ERA (1.61) remains in a winnable area with strength in his strikeouts (35 in 28 innings). After throwing nine shutout innings, Joakim Soria gave up a pair of runs in his last outing to take a loss. Luke Hochevar also struggles in two of his last three outings (two runs and five baserunners in 2.2 innings with two Ks). The Royals sit second in the majors in bullpen ERA (2.76) after 58 games with 12 wins, three losses, and 17 saves.

Minnesota Twins

Minnesota ranks 25th in baseball in bullpen ERA (4.33) after 56 games with nine wins, 13 losses, and seven Ks. I’m still mystified that Kevin Jepsen is the closer for the Twins with a 6.17 ERA and 1.76 WHIP. Despite his struggled over his last eight games (seven runs and 15 baserunners in seven innings), Jepsen converted all five of his save chances. I’ve been trying to kick the chair out from under him for a couple of weeks, but Kevin keeps avoiding the noose. Minnesota obviously doesn’t have trust in Michael Tonkin in the late innings as he pitched in the 5th inning in his last game. He struggled on June 4th when Tonkin allowed two runs and four baserunners in two innings. Over his last 6.7 innings, Michael has a 2.70 ERA and 1.05 WHIP with five Ks. Trevor May is back on the uptick (one run and no hits allowed in his last four innings with eight Ks) as he tries to battle back from a brutal stretch in the middle of May (10 runs and 15 baserunners in 3.1 innings). Fernando Abad continues to be the best arm in this bullpen (one runs in 20.2 innings with 21 Ks). Glen Perkins threw in the bullpen on Tuesday as he works his way back to the majors. I don’t have a ton of faith that Glen will stay healthy, but he may be back with Minnesota in the next couple of weeks.

AL West

Houston Astros

After allowing five runs and five baserunners in three innings leading to a pair of blow saves, Luke Gregerson has been removed as the closer for the Astros. He only converted 13 of his 18 chances while pitching poorly in his last 16 games (5.02 ERA). Will Harris picked up a save on June 5th, so Fantasy owners were all giddy about his upside over this past weekend in the high-stakes market. Harris hasn’t allowed a run since his first outing of the season (25.2 innings with 29 Ks). His game has been much improved in 2016 due to much better command (four walks in 26.2 innings). The transition to the 9th inning can take a toll on weak-hearted relievers so high-flying Willy is far from being a long-term option in the 9th. For now, it’s his job to lose with Michael Feliz being a reasonable consideration. Feliz struggled in his last outing on June 6th when he allowed a run and two hits in 1.2 innings with two Ks. His lack of success ended his 11.2 inning shutout streak with two hits allowed and 18 Ks. Ken Giles continues to pitch his way out of contention for saves (four runs and 11 baserunners in his last 5.2 innings with six Ks). Houston has live arms in their pen if they ever get everyone’s role straighten out. They moved to 8th in bullpen ERA (3.33) after 59 games with nine wins, nine losses, and 16 saves.

Los Angeles Angels

The Angels slid to 16th in bullpen ERA (3.93) after 57 games with 10 wins, 9 losses, and 14 saves. LA has only needed Huston Street for two games (no runs in 2.1 innings with no Ks, a win, and a save) since returning from the DL in late May. Street has yet to blow a save in six tries. Joe Smith was placed on the DL with a hamstring issue on June 7th. Fernando Salas should be next in line for saves, but he did struggle over a three-game stretch (six runs and eight baserunners in four innings with two Ks) in late May and early June. Cam Bedrosian tossed three shutout innings over the last week with six Ks to lower his ERA to 1.86.

Oakland A’s

Sean Doolittle has been electric in his last 13 games (one run, four hits, and three walks allowed in 12 innings with 21 Ks), but he’s only picked up one save during this stretch. His ERA (2.59) and WHIP (0.99) are now in a winnable area. It could be the A’s are positioning to move Doolittle as his lefty arm with help many contending teams. He looks poised to take over the 9th if he stays in Oakland. Ryan Madson only has one save since May 16th while allowing five runs and 10 baserunners in his last six innings. His job is clearly at risk as Ryan has two losses and a blown save during his recent slide. John Axford improved his shutout streak to 4.2 innings with eight Ks. The A’s are 17th in the majors in bullpen ERA (3.95) with eight wins, six losses, and 16 saves after 16 games.

Seattle Mariners

The Mariners still have one of the best bullpens in baseball after 57 games (2.91 ERA – 4th) with 11 wins, five losses, and 14 saves. Steve Cishek hasn’t allowed a run in his last six innings with no walks and 10 Ks. He’s 13-for-16 in save conversions with his ERA (2.39) falling in line with his success with Miami. Joaquin Benoit allowed a HR in his last outing. Over six games since returning from the DL, Benoit has a 3.00 ERA with six Ks in six innings. He’s yet to pitch in back-to-back days, so he has no real upside at this point of the season. Mike Montgomery saw his 14.2 innings scoreless streak end on June 2nd when the Padres beat him for three runs and five baserunners in one-third of an inning. Over his last 12 games, Montgomery has a 1.93 ERA with 17 Ks in 18.2 innings. Vidal Nuno also had his shutout streak (9.2 innings) end in his last outing on June 4th when he allowed two runs and five baserunners in two innings.

Texas Rangers

Sam Dyson hasn’t blown a save in eight tries since taking over the 9th inning. In his last nine games, Sam allowed two hits in 8.2 innings with 12 Ks, a win, and four saves. Jake Diekman last allowed a run on May 9th (9.2 innings with 11 strikeouts). Batters only have one hit against him in his last eight innings. Matt Bush pitched 1.2 perfect innings over the last week with three Ks. Since being called up from the minors, Bush allowed two runs in 11.2 innings with 12 strikeouts. The Rangers continue to have one of the worst bullpens in the baseball after 58 games (4.97 ERA with 11 wins, 12 losses, and 20 saves).

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