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Fantasy Baseball: Week 8 American League Closer Report

Tired of digging through the waiver wire for closers? Shawn Childs breaks down each team's bullpen in the American League in Week 8 of the Fantasy Baseball season!

AL East

Baltimore Orioles

After driving off the tracks for three games (five runs and nine base runners over 2.1 innings), Brad Brach tossed two perfect innings with three Ks and a save. Baltimore continues to struggle to get good innings late in games so it’s looks like they will need to ride Brach out. Brad is 9-for-12 in save conversions. Zach Britton picked up a baseball this week, but he remains weeks away from returning to the mound in the majors. Even with his resume trending up in May (one run over seven innings with 10 Ks), Darren O’Day hasn’t pitched since May 20th due to shoulder fatigue. The Orioles sit 14th in the majors in bullpen ERA (4.00) after 44 games with13 wins, eight losses, and 16 saves.

Boston Red Sox

The Red Sox dropped a couple of spots in bullpen ERA (3.15 – 6th) after 44 games with eight wins, four losses, and 13 saves. Craig Kimbrel still hasn’t allowed a hit to a right-hand batter (37 plate appearances). He’s been special over his last 9.1 innings (no runs, one hit, no walks, and 16 strikeouts) leading to a win and four saves. Craig’s been successful in 12-of-13 save chances with batters hitting 0.092 against him. Best of all is the no walks allowed over his last 16.2 innings while striking out 31 batters. His only two walks came on April 9th. Joe Kelly has been sharp over his last eight games (one run over 7.1 innings with eight Ks). Matt Barnes is trending back in the right direction over the last two weeks (one run over 6.2 innings with 10 strikeouts).

New York Yankees

Dellin Betances converted all three of his save chances since taking over the closing job last week. He extended his shutout streak to 13.1 innings with eight walks and 25 Ks. Tyler Clippard allowed a run on May 19th ending his scoreless run at 10.2 innings. Over his last 19 games, Clippard has a 1.02 ERA with 24 Ks over 17.2 innings. Jonathan Holder started to fade over his last four games (three runs over 3.1 innings with five Ks). Since being called up from the minors, Chad Green has been exceptional (no runs and three hits over 9.1 innings with 11 Ks). The Yankees remain one of the top teams in the league in bullpen ERA (2.94 – 3rd) after 42 games with eight wins, five losses, and 11 saves.

Tampa Bay Rays

The Rays continue to surprise in bullpen ERA (3.80 – 11th) after 48 games with eight wins, 11 losses, and 12 saves. Alex Colome is 11-for-13 in save chances with one run and two hits allowed over his last eight innings with nine Ks. Danny Farquhar improved his scoreless streak to 11.2 innings with 10 Ks while picking up two wins and four holds. Over his last 7.2 innings, Jose Alvarado allowed a run and two hits with three Ks. He has an elite fastball (98.3) with his command being the key to his upside.

Toronto Blue Jays

After a slow start to the year in save conversions, Roberto Osuna picked up his game at the end of April leading to six straight successful saves (7-for-10 on the year) and a win. He allowed one run over his last 11.1 innings with two walks and 13 Ks. Joe Smith continues to be a nice addition to the Jays’ bullpen. He has a 2.45 ERA and 1.09 WHIP on the year over 22 innings with high-level success over his last 9.2 innings (two runs and 17 Ks). After trending back in the right direction (no runs over 4.2 innings with four Ks), Jason Grilli stumbled in his last outing on May 19th (two runs, two hits, and a HR over two-thirds of an inning). Ryan Tepera is in a great rhythm over his last 17.1 innings (no runs, five hits, and 20 Ks). Toronto is 15th in bullpen ERA (4.03) after 44 games with 10 wins, 10 losses, and 10 saves.

© Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

AL Central

Chicago White Sox

The strength in the White Sox bullpen ERA (2.57 – 2nd) added another week to their 2017 resume. Their relievers have nine wins, three losses, and five saves after 44 games. David Robertson only made one appearance (two perfect innings with two Ks) over the last week, which led to a win. He has three wins in his last six games with no save chances in May. On the year, Robertson is 5-for-6 in save conversions. Tommy Kahnle remains on the rise in this bullpen (two runs and seven hits over his last 14.1 innings with 26 Ks). Nate Jones is getting closer to his return after throwing a bullpen session and simulated game over the last week. Anthony Swarzak saw his 19.2 inning shutout streak to start the year end on May 17th when he allowed three runs and three hits without recording an out.

Cleveland Indians

Cody Allen has been perfect in his 13 save opportunities in 2017. He’s allowed two runs over his last 16.2 innings with 24 Ks. Andrew Miller remains one of the top set up men in baseball. On the year, Miller has allowed one run over 22.1 innings with 31 Ks and three wins. The Indians haven’t given him a save chance this season. Bryan Shaw saw his 14.1 inning shutout streak end in his last outing on May 23rd when he allowed two runs via the home run. Cleveland has the best bullpen ERA (2.11) after 43 games with six wins, one loss, and 14 saves.

Detroit Tigers

The Tigers climbed to 25th in bullpen ERA (4.85) after 44 games with four wins, eight losses, and 12 saves. Justin Wilson is 2-for-3 in save conversions since taking over the 9th inning role. He’s only allowed six hits over 18 innings with 30 Ks. Over his last 7.1 innings, Justin has a 1.23 ERA with 13 Ks. Alex Wilson improved his scoreless streak to 12.1 innings with five Ks. Francisco Rodriguez is trying to save his major-league job. He threw two shutout innings over the last week with a strikeout, but his ERA (7.16) and WHIP (1.78) still have plenty of correction needed.

Kansas City Royals

I know there has been talk of the Royals trading Kelvin Herrera to a contender, but I doubt he pitches in the 9th if he gets moved. He’s been successful in nine of his 11 save chances in 2017 while struggling over his last four games (four runs and 11 base runners over four innings). Joakim Soria looks positioned to pitch in the 9th after allowing no runs over his last seven innings with five Ks. Kansas City doesn’t want to push Mike Minor into the starting rotation too quickly after missing the last two seasons in the majors. His arm looks to be back and he’s pitching the best ball of his career. Over his last 12.1 innings, Minor hasn't allowed a run and only permitted four hits while striking out 16 batters. The Royals are 24th in the majors in bullpen ERA (4.84) after 45 games with seven wins, nine losses, and nine saves.

© Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Minnesota Twins

The Twins are 19th in bullpen ERA (4.84) after 40 games with five wins, five losses, and 12 saves. Brandon Kintzler continues to get the job done in the 9th for Minnesota. He’s converted 11 of his 12 save opportunities with no runs allowed in his last 6.2 innings of work. Despite allowing a run or more in three of his last seven games (four runs and eight base runners over 10 innings with 12 Ks), Tyler Duffey remains the second-best arm in this bullpen. Taylor Rogers allowed two runs over his last eight innings with five Ks.

AL West

Houston Astros

Ken Giles pitched at a high level over the last five weeks (two runs over 12.1 innings with 12 Ks) leading to eight saves in his last nine chances. On the year, he has converted 12 of his 13 opportunities. Will Harris has only one bad outing (three runs over one-third of an inning on May 14th) in his 19 appearances in 2017. After struggling on May 14th (three runs) as well, Chris Devenski tossed 3.2 shutout innings over the last week with no hits allowed, three Ks, and a win. The Astros are 5th in the majors in bullpen ERA (3.10) after 45 games with 10 wins, five losses, and 15 saves.

Los Angeles Angels

The Angels rank 16th in the majors in bullpen ERA (4.04) after 48 games with 10 wins, eight losses, and 13 saves. The window for Bud Norris to close is getting shorter with Cameron Bedrosian getting closer to returning. Bud may not give up the job with a fight after earning nine saves in 10 chances since taking over the job while posting a 1.80 ERA and 0.93 WHIP with 21 Ks over 15 innings. Bedrosian was scheduled to throw off the mound earlier this week. Other than his disaster game when asked to earn a save (three runs and four hits with recording an out on May 16th), David Hernandez has only allowed one other run over 11 innings with 11 Ks. Blake Parker improved his shutout streak to 7.1 innings with three hits allowed and 10 strikeouts.

Oakland A’s

Over his last three games, Santiago Casilla allowed five runs and seven base runners over 2.1 innings with two Ks. His ERA (4.96) looks out of line while his WHIP (1.16) remains in a respectable area. Santiago is 6-for-8 in save chances. On the year, Ryan Madson has a 2.08 ERA with 16 Ks over 17.1 innings, but he did struggle a bit in his last four games (two runs and six base runners over four innings). Madson remains next in line for saves. Liam Hendriks allowed two runs over his last 15.2 innings with 17 Ks. Hidden behind some crooked numbers, Frankie Montas is starting to find his rhythm in the majors. Over his last 7.1 innings, he didn’t allow a run with 12 Ks. I’m sure he’ll be moved to the starting rotation soon. Oakland is 22nd in bullpen ERA (4.73) after 45 games with six wins, seven losses, and eight saves.

Seattle Mariners

This bullpen has plenty of disaster risk. Seattle fell to 29th in bullpen ERA (5.31) after 46 games with nine wins, 11 losses, and eight saves. After blowing up over two games the previous week (three runs and five base runners over one inning), the Mariners removed Edwin Diaz from the closing job. After three days off, he threw two shutout innings with two Ks. Diaz is 7-for-9 in save chances and he still looks like the best man for the job. He is a buy-low candidate if you’re looking for saves. Over his first three games back in the majors, Steve Cishek allowed three runs and four base runners over 1.2 innings with his disaster outing (three runs and three base runners over one-third of an inning) coming in a save situation. Cishek needs a lot of good innings in the major before he’s ready to pitch in the 9th. Tony Zych is an option for saves for Seattle, but he’s struggled over his last 7.2 innings (four runs and 13 base runners).

Texas Rangers

Matt Bush hasn’t allowed a run over his last 12.2 innings with 16 Ks leading to two wins and five saves. He hasn’t pitched in a game since May 19th after pitching in back-to back games with high usage in the second outing (33 pitches). Sam Dyson lowered his ERA to 9.42 after allowing one run over his last seven innings with three Ks. Keone Kela picked up a save on May 21st when Bush wasn’t available. Over his last 7.1 innings, Kela has looked electric (one run, one hit, and 11 Ks). The Rangers moved to 27th in bullpen ERA (4.95) after 45 games with nine wins, eight losses, and eight saves.

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