Anthony Gruppuso, USA Today

Fantasy Baseball: Week 4 American League Closer Report

Senior Fantasy Baseball Expert Shawn Childs takes an in-depth look at the bullpen for every team in the American League!

AL East

Baltimore Orioles

Brad Brach hasn’t missed a beat since moving into the closer role. He’s 4-for-4 in save conversions with no runs and only one hit allowed over ten innings in 2017 while striking out 13 batters. Darren O’Day pitched better over his last five games (no runs and three hits over five innings with five Ks). He picked up a save and a win over the last week, but Darren still needs plenty of clean innings to correct his ERA (5.87) and WHIP (1.83). Zach Britton progressed enough where he’ll begin his rehab in the minors this weekend. With no setbacks, Britton should be back in the majors next week. Baltimore is 5th in the majors in bullpen ERA (2.73) after 19 games with six wins, two losses, and ten saves.

Boston Red Sox

Batters have hit only .189 vs. the Red Sox bullpen after 19 games leading to the third ranking in bullpen ERA (2.21). Their relievers have five wins, one loss, and seven saves. Craig Kimbrel blew his first save in eight chances when he allowed a game-tying home run to Kendrys Morales, but he did pick up a win. On the year, Kimbrel issued only two walks and allowed two runs and four hits over 9.1 innings. His arm looks electric. Matt Barnes lost his luster in his last two games (four runs and four baserunners over 2.2 innings with one K) after starting the year with 7.1 shutout innings with five walks and ten strikeouts. Heath Hembree could be a dark horse in this bullpen. Over his last 9.1 innings, he hasn’t allowed a run with 11 Ks. Heath has 123 saves on his minor-league resume with a 3.00 ERA and 315 Ks over 254.2 innings. Joe Kelly looks more the long man in this bullpen. In four of his seven outings, he pitched two innings or more. Kelly extended his scoreless streak to 5.1 innings with only one strikeout.

New York Yankees

http://www.scout.com/player/142323-aroldis-chapman?s=532

Aroldis Chapman has yet to blow a save in four chances while tossing 6.1 shutout innings with nine Ks. Over his last 4.2 innings, Dellin Betances has eight strikeouts with no runs allowed. Tyler Clippard struggled in two of his last three outings (one runs and five baserunners over 2.2 innings with six strikeouts). After 18 games, the Yankees have the best bullpen in the majors (1.39 ERA with three wins, two losses, and five saves).

Tampa Bay Rays

The Rays sit 14th in bullpen ERA (3.50) after 22 games with five wins, five losses, and five saves. Alex Colome has been successful in five of his six save opportunities with no runs allowed over ten innings with five strikeouts. Tampa lost Tommy Hunter to the DL with a calf injury. This will put the pressure on Jumbo Diaz, who faded in his last seven games (four runs and ten baserunners over 6.1 innings with five Ks) and Danny Farquhar (five runs and eight baserunners over his last 4.2 innings with five strikeouts). This bullpen has plenty of disaster risk so a daily owner may get paid by stacking against the Rays over the next week.

Toronto Blue Jays

Roberto Osuna allowed a hit in all five games pitched in 2017, which led to two blown saves in three chances. He’s allowed a run in three of his last four innings. If I owned him, I would make sure I buy insurance before it’s too late. Jason Grilli remains erratic. The Red Sox drilled him for three runs and four baserunners over two-thirds of an inning on April 20th. Overall, his numbers (5.40 ERA and 1.44 WHIP) don’t look closer-worthy. Joe Biagini saw his 7.2 inning shutout streak end on April 25th when he allowed two runs via the home run against the Cardinals. Joe Smith continues to throw the ball well for Toronto (two runs over 9.2 innings with 13 Ks and one walk). He has some closing experience so I would keep an eye on him. Toronto is 20th in baseball in bullpen ERA (4.30) after 18 games with three wins, four losses, and four saves.

AL Central

Chicago White Sox

The White Sox continue to get solid innings from their relievers. They remain the second-best bullpen in the majors (2.05 ERA) after 19 games with four wins, one loss, and four saves. David Robertson allowed his first run on April 23rd to end his streak of 5.2 shutout innings. On the year, David has 12 Ks in 6.2 innings with four successful saves. Nate Jones threw the ball much better over his last 5.1 innings (no runs, two hits, and 10 Ks). Zack Putnam landed on the DL with a bum right elbow, which is too bad after his nice start to the year (one run and two hits over 8.2 innings with nine Ks). This will give Tommy Kahnle a step up in role. His stuff has been much improved in 2017 (one run over 6.2 innings with one walk and 14 Ks).

Cleveland Indians

Cody Allen is off to a solid start for the Indians. Over 6.2 innings, he’s allowed one run and one walk with 15 Ks while securing all three saves. Andrew Miller hasn’t allowed a run over nine innings with nine Ks. Bryan Shaw hasn’t been sharp over his last 6.1 innings (four runs and 12 baserunners over 6.1 innings with six Ks). Cleveland is 6th in bullpen ERA (2.77) after 18 games with three wins, no losses, and four saves.

Detroit Tigers

The Tigers have the worst bullpen ERA (6.90) after 19 games with three wins, two losses, and eight saves. They’ve walked 37 batters over 60 innings. The long career of Francisco Rodriguez as closer looks to be winding down. He’s converted six of eight save opportunities, but his arm looks dead in the water over his last seven games (five runs and 14 baserunners over 6.2 innings with eight Ks). Detroit called back up Joe Jimenez over the last week. He’s struggled in two of his three appearances (four runs and four baserunners over 2.1 innings). I like him long term with closing upside, but he needs a good run of productive innings in the majors. Justin Wilson extended his scoreless and hitless streak to 8.2 innings with 12 strikeouts. Alex Wilson is the only other viable arm in this bullpen (one run allowed over his last seven innings with four Ks).

© Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Kansas City Royals

Kelvin Herrera is 3-for-4 in save conversions with no runs or hits allowed over his last five innings. Joakim Soria improved his shutout streak to nine innings with 11 Ks. His command (six walks) does invite some downside risk. Kansas City recalled Matt Strahm after he struggled over his first three appearances in the majors in 2017 (seven runs and ten baserunners over 1.1 innings). His failure was due to his command (six walks). Strahm threw five shutout innings at AAA with no walks and seven Ks with 1.1 shutout innings with the Royals over the last week. Peter Moylan saw his 8.1 innings shutout streak end in a big way on April 24th when he allowed five runs and five hits over one-third of an inning. The Royals fell to 27th in bullpen ERA (5.87) after 20 games with two wins, six losses, and three saves.

Minnesota Twins

Somehow the Twins rank eighth in the majors in bullpen ERA (3.04) after 19 games with one win, four losses, and six saves. Brandon Kintzler improved his shutout streak to 9.1 innings with five Ks, and five successful save conversions. Matt Belisle is holding steady behind him in the bullpen (two runs and nine baserunners allowed over 8.1 innings). Taylor Rodgers has no strikeouts over his last four innings with one run allowed. Tyler Duffey remains a dark horse for saves (two runs and ten baserunners over his last 9.2 innings with nine strikeouts). Overall, this bullpen has overachieved its skill set.

AL West

Houston Astros

Ken Giles stabilized over his last four games (no runs over four innings with three saves). This came after a three-game disaster stretch when he allowed five runs and eight baserunners over three innings. Ken remains perfect in save situations (5-for-5). The arm of Chris Devenski remains special in 2017. He has 25 Ks over 13.1 innings with only one walk allowed leading to a 1.35 ERA and 0.60 WHIP. Will Harris saw his seven-inning scoreless streak end on April 22nd when he allowed a run and three hits over one-third of an inning. Luke Gregerson improved his shutout streak to six innings with five Ks. Houston will end up with one of the best bullpens in baseball. They currently rank fourth in bullpen ERA (2.66) after 19 games with six wins, two losses, and six saves.

Los Angeles Angels

The Angels are 17th in bullpen ERA (4.20) after 22 games with six wins, four losses, and five saves. Cameron Bedrosian landed on the DL with a groin injury after starting off the year with 6.2 shutout innings with no walks and nine Ks. Cam converted three of his four save chances. Bud Norris was the recipient of the first two save chance, which he converted, with Bedrosian out. Over his last nine innings, Bud allowed two runs and eight baserunners with nine Ks. Blake Parker is a live option for saves in LA as well after throwing the ball at a high level over his last nine innings (one run and nine baserunners with 14 strikeouts). Los Angeles made a move to acquire David Hernandez from the Braves for bullpen depth. In his first two appearances, Davis tossed 1.2 perfect innings with two Ks.

Oakland A’s

The coin flip for saves in Oakland still has too many sides to place a winning bet. Santiago Casilla blew his first save in four chances on April 25th when he allowed a home run. Over his last five games, Casilla has shown downside risk (four runs and six baserunners over five innings). Sean Doolittle has been perfect over his last 3.2 innings with four Ks. His best bet for a save will come when the opposing team sends up multiple lefties in the 9th. Ryan Madson had a save and two losses in his last five games when he allowed two runs and six baserunners over 4.2 innings. Ryan Dull improved his shutout streak to six innings with four walks and five strikeouts. Oakland is 19th in bullpen ERA (4.28) after 20 games with a win, four losses, and five saves.

Seattle Mariners

http://www.scout.com/player/170290-edwin-diaz?s=532

The Mariners have the second-worst bullpen ERA (6.52) after 21 games. Their relievers have two wins, five losses, and only two saves. Over his last 3.2 innings, Edwin Diaz allowed four runs and eight baserunners with three Ks. Diaz is 2-for-3 in save chances. Tony Zych quickly moved to next in line for saves after tossing 2.2 shutout innings with two Ks. Steve Cishek is working his way back to the majors after pitching two games in the minors (two runs and seven baserunners over 2.1 innings). Cishek doesn’t look ready to make an impact in the majors when he returns. Nick Vincent has been almost perfect (one walk) over his last 5.2 innings with eight Ks.

Texas Rangers

So far, so good on the Matt Bush front in the 9th inning. The Rangers have struggled to win games of late leading to minimal save opportunities. Matt extended his scoreless streak to four innings with no walks, seven Ks, a win, and a save. Jeremy Jeffress allowed one run over his last five innings with only one strikeout. The mental break for Sam Dyson resulted in two innings at AAA (one run and three baserunners). Jose Leclerc continues to throw the ball well (one run over nine innings with a walk and 15 Ks). Keone Kela still hasn’t allowed a run or hit since being called back up from the minors (4.1 innings with five Ks). Texas moved to 23rd in bullpen ERA (4.88) after 21 games with three wins, five losses, and two saves.


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