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Fantasy Baseball Week 18: American League Closer Report

Senior Fantasy Baseball Expert Shawn Childs examines the backend of each teem's bullpen in the American League!

AL East

Baltimore Orioles


The smooth ride of Zach Britton added another level last week. Britton hasn’t allowed a hit over his last six innings with five strikeouts. He extended his scoreless streak to 33.2 innings. Zach has been successful in all 32 of his save chances. Brad Brach faded over his last five appearances (three runs and ten baserunners over 4.1 innings) to push his ERA to 1.27. Darren O’Day regained his elite level in his four appearances since returning from the DL (no runs and one in 4.2 innings with eight Ks). Baltimore sits 3rd in the major in bullpen ERA (3.07) after 105 games with 26 wins, nine losses, and 37 saves.

Boston Red Sox

The Red Sox remain 14th in bullpen ERA (3.74) after 100 games with 15 wins, 18 losses, and 26 saves. Craig Kimbrel returned from the DL on Monday when he threw one shutout inning with three Ks and a save. Kimbrel is 18-for-20 in save opportunities with some work to do to correct his ERA (3.44). Since returning from the DL, Junichi Tazawa tossed four shutout innings with three Ks. Brad Ziegler picked up a pair of losses over the last week with one coming after a blown save. Over his last three games, Brad allowed two runs and six baserunners in 2.1 innings.

New York Yankees


The Yankees went from one of the best bullpens in baseball to mid-level after moving Aroldis Chapman and Andrew Miller over the last couple of weeks. Dellin Betances finally gets a chance to close. In his first opportunity, he threw one shutout inning with one K and a converted save. Over his last 14 innings, Betances allowed two runs and 17 baserunners with 23 Ks. New York acquired Tyler Clippard to fill some of the void. Clippard pitched poorly in his last two games with Arizona (six runs and seven baserunners in 1.1 innings with four Ks). He threw one shutout inning with two strikeouts in his first game with the Yankees. It looks like Luis Severino will spend some time in the bullpen before shifting into the starting rotation. In his two appearances back in the majors, Luis didn’t allow a run or hit in four innings with five Ks. New York enters the last two months of the season ranked 6th in bullpen ERA (3.34) after 106 games with 20 wins, 11 losses, and 32 Ks.

Tampa Bay Rays

The Rays still haven’t figured out a winning structure in their bullpen. They are 26th in bullpen ERA (4.50) after 104 games with 13 wins, 20 losses, and 27 saves. Alex Colome earned four saves over the last week when he pitched 3.2 shutout innings with no baserunners allowed and six Ks. Alex improved to 25-for-26 in save conversions with 50 strikeouts in 38.1 innings. Brad Boxberger was activated off the DL on July 31st. In his two appearances back in the majors, Brad didn’t allow a run over two innings with four baserunners allowed and two Ks. Kevin Jepsen has been a much better arm since returning to Tampa. Over his last six innings, Kevin allowed one run and four hits with three Ks.

Toronto Blue Jays

Roberto Osuna has been electric over his last 12.2 innings (no runs and seven baserunners with 13 Ks). He’s been a success in 22 of his 24 save tries with an edge in ERA (1.86) and WHIP (0.87). Jason Grill picked up a save in his last appearance when Osuna needed a night off. Over his last seven innings, Jason allowed only one hit. Unfortunately, that hit left the ballpark. Over his last 25 games, Grilli has 1.96 ERA over 23 innings with 35 Ks. Joaquin Benoit picked up the pace after his trade to the Blue Jays. Over his last five innings, Benoit didn’t allow a run with one hit and four walks. Toronto remains 20th in bullpen ERA (4.03) after 107 games with 12 wins, 23 losses, and 28 saves.

AL Central

Chicago White Sox


The White Sox faded to 18th in bullpen ERA (3.89) after 102 games with 16 wins, 14 losses, and 29 saves. David Robertson rebound after a tough start to July (eight runs and 12 baserunners in 6.1 innings with 10 Ks) to throw three shutout innings with two Ks and two save in his last two appearances. David has 25 save in his 29 chances with risk in his ERA (4.15) and WHIP (1.38). Nate Jones allowed two runs and ten baserunners in his last 7.2 innings with nine strikeouts. If Robertson continues to show failure risk, Jones will get a chance at saves. There isn’t another viable arm in this bullpen after Zach Duke was traded last week.

Cleveland Indians

The Indians made a bold move that they hope clears a path for a World Series title by acquiring Andrew Miller at the trade deadline. Cleveland has yet to have a save chance since the trade so Fantasy owners have to speculate that Miller will take over the 9th inning. Andrew allowed a HR over one-third of an inning in his only appearance with the Indians. He is 9-for-11 in save conversions with New York with 77 Ks in 45.2 innings. Cody Allen allowed a HR in two of his last five appearances leading to one earned run and four baserunners in 4.1 innings. His arm has been exceptional over his last 24 games (1.48 ERA with 32 Ks in 24.1 innings). Cody has been successful in 20 of his 22 save chances. Bryan Shaw continued his up and down battle last week. Over his last seven innings, Bryan didn’t allow a run with six Ks. Cleveland is 12th in bullpen ERA (3.64) after 99 games with 15 wins, 16 losses, and 21 saves.

Detroit Tigers

The Tigers drifted upward slightly to 23rd in bullpen ERA (4.30) after 104 games with 17 wins, 13 losses, and 32 saves. Francisco Rodriguez only threw one shutout inning over the last week with one save. Over his last 11 games, Francisco allowed one run with nine Ks. He’s converted 29 of his 31 save opportunities. Justin Wilson continues to bleed backwards over his last four games (three runs and seven baserunners in 3.1 innings with four Ks). Alex Wilson extended his scoreless streak to 9.2 innings with four strikeouts.

Kansas City Royals


Wade Davis was placed back on the DL with an elbow issue. The last report suggested it was minor, and Wade would be back in a couple of weeks. I don’t trust him going forward. In his last appearance, David allowed two runs and five baserunners in one inning with one K. He converted 21 of his 23 save tries with his only real negative being his 15 walks in 33.2 innings. Kelvin Herrera picked up a pair of saves in his first two appearances in August. He improved his shutout streak to eight innings with eight strikeouts. Herrera has an elite arm, and he will get many saves for the Royals going forward. After getting blasted for six runs and eight baserunners over two innings, Joakim Soria pitched three shutout innings with four Ks. Kansas City continues to fade in bullpen ERA (3.39 – 7th) after 105 games with 20 wins, 10 losses, and 25 saves.

Minnesota Twins

The Twins are 22nd in bullpen ERA (4.24) after 103 games with 19 wins, 19 losses, and 17 saves. Brandon Kintzler hasn’t had a save since July 23rd. He blew his first save in nine chances on July 30th when Brandon allowed a run and two baserunners in one inning. Over his last 25.2 innings, Kintzler has a 2.10 ERA with 15 strikeouts. Taylor Rogers has allowed more hits (41) than innings (37.2) in 2016, but his plus command (six walks) has led to an edge in ERA (2.63). Over his last 15.1 innings, Taylor has 1.17 ERA with 18 Ks. Trevor May is back on the uptick (no runs in his last 6.2 innings with nine Ks).

AL West

Houston Astros


After climbing to first overall in bullpen ERA last week, the Astros slipped to 4th in Week 18. After 105 games, they have a 3.08 ERA with 19 wins, 12 losses, and 28 saves. Will Harris pitched his way out of the closer role after allowing seven runs and 13 baserunners over 5.2 innings with nine Ks. Harris was successful in 11 of his 14 save conversions. Ken Giles extended his shutout streak to 13.1 innings with 23 Ks to put himself in a position to pitch in the 9th inning. It’s his job to lose with Luke Gregerson placed on the DL with an oblique issue. Gregerson had a 1.46 ERA over his last 12.1 innings with 15 Ks.

Los Angeles Angels

The Angels fell to 17th in bullpen ERA (3.88) after 103 games with 15 wins, 16 losses, and 18 saves. LA finally put Huston Street out of his misery by placing him on the DL with a right knee issue. The last nail in his coffin came on the last day in July when Street allowed five runs and six baserunners in a blown save vs. the Red Sox. Over his last nine games, Huston allowed 10 runs and 20 baserunners in 7.2 innings with six Ks. His injury clears the path for Cam Bedrosian to close over the last two months of the season. Bedrosian handled himself well in his first save opportunity (perfect inning with three Ks). He extended his scoreless streak 23.2 innings with 33 Ks. The Angels traded Joe Smith to the Cubs forcing Los Angeles to use Fernando Salas in the 8th inning. Over his last seven innings, Salas allowed one run and 11 baserunners with six Ks.

Oakland A’s

I’m still waiting for the ball to drop on Ryan Madsen as the closer for the A’s. Over his last two games, Ryan allowed three runs and four baserunners in 1.2 innings. He has a 7.62 ERA over his last 13 innings with 21 baserunners allowed including five HRs. Madsen is 22-for-28 in save chances. Ryan Dull hasn’t allowed a run in his last four innings with two Ks. Dull has a 0.86 ERA over his last 31.1 innings with 30 Ks. Liam Hendriks pitched very well over his last 16.1 innings with a 1.10 ERA and 15 Ks. John Axford has looked better over his last ten games (three runs and 13 baserunners in 10 innings with 14 Ks). Oakland is 19th in bullpen ERA (4.03) after 105 games with 19 wins, 14 losses, and 29 saves.

Seattle Mariners

Over the last week, there have been multiple changes in the 9th inning in major league baseball. Steve Cishek blew his sixth save in 31 opportunities on July 31st when he allowed three runs and three baserunners leading to Cishek losing the closing the job. Over his last ten innings, Steve allowed eight runs and 14 baserunners with 16 Ks. Edwin Diaz has been too dominating not to pitch in the 9th inning. He extended his shutout streak to 9.1 innings with 20 Ks. Over his last 25 games, Diaz has a 1.73 ERA with 52 Ks in 26 innings. Edwin was impressive in his first save opportunity (no runs in one innings with three Ks). Tom Wilhelmsen allowed two runs and five baserunners in his last 1.2 innings with one K. Seattle fell to 15th in bullpen ERA (3.79) after 104 games with 15 wins, 17 losses, and 29 saves.

Texas Rangers


The Rangers tried to improve their bullpen at the trade deadline. They rank 28th in bullpen ERA (4.81) after 106 games with 24 wins, 18 losses, and 36 saves. Sam Dyson only allowed one run over his last 5.2 innings, but he did walk four batters. Over his last 11 games, Dyson has a 4.50 ERA and 1.70 WHIP. His slight decline may lead to newly acquired Jeremy Jeffress stealing the closing job. Sam has been successful in 22 of his 24 save opportunities. Over his last 6.1 innings, Jeffress allowed one run and five baserunners with seven Ks. Jeremy is 27-for-28 in save tries with 35 Ks in 44.2 innings. Matt Bush had his worst appearance of the year on July 27th when he allowed four runs as a result of two home runs.

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