The Closer: Post-Trade Deadline Celebration

The Closer Logo 1Good day to you all and welcome to what they call the “Dog Days of August.” Me, I’m excited that August is here – if only because that means the stupid trade deadline has passed! Last week I made a joke about reporters squeezing out every column inch they could on trade speculation and other deadline related nonsense, and the circus came to town this week for sure.

Maybe it’s the nature of modern media where reporters have to put stuff out there with increasing frequency, but this time around so little of what they offered was good stuff. Reporters were linking the Blue Jays to every available reliever and they stood pat on that front. Meanwhile, no one had any speculation or lead on Toronto’s interest in Troy Tulowitski. The Cubs were linked to Craig Kimbrel (with Tyson Ross in a “mega-deal”) and a few other relievers, and as the deadline hit there was still talk of an acquisition. It turns out it was Tommy Hunter they were after.

We thought Ken Rosenthal had announced Cole Hamels to the Giants, but then it turned out it was a fake Ken Rosenthal. When Johnny Cueto was sent to the Royals, Peter Gammons tweeted to hold the phone because the Yankees were swooping in, and I’m pretty sure that was from the real Peter Gammons. The Mets didn’t need much help from the media to get everything all confused, but those missteps were actually fun to read about.

There was a ton of speculation, but when the reporting becomes lousy it is kind of a drag. And since there’s so much of it, I don’t even know who the Dodgers gave up and who they got.  Well I know they got Jim Johnson for sure because the bullpen is my beat. On that note, let’s take a look at the bullpen risers and fallers as we clear out the trade deadline rubble.

Deadline Fantasy Winners

Ken Giles – I have great news for those of you who have probably moved on to fantasy football: Ken Giles will be closing games for the Phillies for the next two months! Aren’t you glad that you held onto him? Just think, you could have dropped him for Shawn Tolleson in late May and gotten 18 saves already. Or A.J. Ramos. Or Brad Zeigler. All these guys were available on your waiver wire. They have pitched just as well as Giles and have been getting saves on top of it. At any rate, here we are. If you are still in contention, you have a chance to pick up a few points in saves. He’d be the best of the newly-annointed closers to grab, but I’m guessing he’s already rostered (available in 45% of Yahoo, 54% of ESPN and 51% of CBS leagues).

Arodys Vizcaino – Those of you who are faithful readers of the column will not have to spend big FAAB bucks or rush out to the wire to grab Vizcaino because you went out and got him last week. But if he is sitting out there I would go get him over the other pitchers who have fallen into the closer role this week. Vizcaino posted impressive strikeout numbers in the minors; while we haven’t seen that translate to the majors yet, he has pitched well enough to hang onto this role for a while (available in 68% of Yahoo, 85% of ESPN and 74% of CBS leagues).

Edward Mujica – With Tyler Clippard shipped to the Mets, there were a number of interesting candidates for saves in the Oakland pen. Unfortunately, most of them (Fernando Rodriguez, Eric O’Flaherty, Drew Pomeranz) blew up this week, so it seems the closer baton is handed to presumed favorite Mujica. There are no guarantees that he will hold onto it, however, as Mujica has been inconsistent this season and for most of his career. He should be owned in all leagues for now, so if you have an expendable part to drop for him, do it. Just be prepared to make another move soon when things change (available in 78% of Yahoo, 81% of ESPN and 79% of CBS leagues).

Deadline Fantasy Losers

Drew Storen – We’ve seen this happen before, but it is a bummer to see it happen again. Storen has exceeded expectations this season. However, the Nats were determined to get a more established arm at the back-end of the pen. Speculation linked them to Kimbrel and Chapman before word came down that they acquired Papelbon. To be fair, Papelbon has been brilliant himself this year and this makes the Nats a better team. Unfortunately this wipes out almost all of Storen’s fantasy value outside of holds leagues. There is almost no chance that Storen gets another save this year and I wouldn’t own him over the top setup men in baseball like Carter Capps or Jake McGee. There is probably a better option than Storen on your waiver wire.

Joakim Soria – Soria was excellent in the early going but he has faded recently, so owners will have an easier time dropping him as he will be setting up Mark Melancon in Pittsburgh. If you are in a holds league, then by all means hold Soria, but otherwise let him go. Meanwhile, back in Detroit, the Tiger bullpen is in total shambles. Alex Wilson got the first post-Soria save and while he has been effective this year, I don’t know if that will last. I actually like Bruce Rendon to lead the team in saves from here on out, but if you look at his numbers after I say that you’ll never read my articles again.

Tyler Clippard – I’ve been down on Clippard for most of the year and while he’s gathered some saves, he has hardly been dominant. In fact, he’s been below Storen and Soria in my rankings by about 10-15 slots for months. However, out of the three of them I’m most inclined to hold on to Clippard right now. Papelbon basically has to close in Washington. Melancon has been lights out after a rough April and has been fairly dominant since 2013. On the other hand, Mets closer Juerys Familia has blown three saves in a row after a brilliant run. Familia came out of nowhere to assume the closer mantle and he does not have the track record of Papelbon or Melancon. And we know that track records goes a long way with managers. The Mets need every win they can get to remain in the playoff race and can’t afford to be patient, so I could see Clippard getting save opportunities soon. I bumped Familia down to a 2 in job security on the grid, and was tempted to move him lower.

Jim Johnson – After a brief stint in the ninth for Atlanta, Jim Johnson was shipped to Los Angeles. The Dodgers bullpen is a mess beyond Kenley Jansen so they can use the help. And if you are a Johnson owner you will need some help as well because he’s not getting saves anymore and is not strong enough to help with ratios.

The Closer LogoThe Closer Grid

As you’d expect based on what we’ve read so far, lots of movement to check out on the Grid this week. After you read the grid, be sure to check out the notes as well. For first-timers, closers are ranked from best to worst and we’ve included ratings for job security:
1 = solid, 2 = secure for now, 3 = shaky, and 4 = worrisome.

Rank Team Security Closer Set Up Lurker
1 Reds 1 Aroldis Chapman J.J. Hoover Ryan Mattheus
2 Dodgers 1 Kenley Jansen Jim Johnson Yimi Garcia
3 White Sox 1 David Robertson Jacob Petricka Zach Duke
4 Padres 1 Craig Kimbrel Joaquin Benoit Brandon Maurer
5 Yankees 1 Andrew Miller Dellin Betances Justin Wilson
6 Orioles 1 Zach Britton Darren O’Day Chaz Roe
7 Twins 1 Glen Perkins Blaine Boyer Kevin Jepsen
8 Royals 1 Greg Holland Wade Davis Kelvin Herrera
9 Angels 1 Huston Street Joe Smith Fernando Salas
10 Nationals 1 Jonathan Papelbon Drew Storen Casey Janssen
11 Pirates 1 Mark Melancon Joakim Soria Tony Watson
12 Cardinals 1 Trevor Rosenthal Kevin Siegrist Steve Cishek
13 Red Sox 1 Koji Uehara Junichi Tazawa Alexi Ogando
14 Indians 1 Cody Allen Bryan Shaw Zach McAllister
15 Phillies 1 Ken Giles Luis Garcia Jeanmar Gomez
16 Marlins 2 A. J. Ramos Carter Capps Mike Dunn
17 Rangers 2 Shawn Tolleson Keone Kela Tanner Scheppers
18 Rays 2 Brad Boxberger Jake McGee Steve Geltz
19 Brewers 2 Francisco Rodriguez Jeremy Jeffress Will Smith
20 Mets 2 Jeurys Familia Tyler Clippard Bobby Parnell
21 Astros 2 Luke Gregerson Pat Neshek Will Harris
22 Dbacks 2 Brad Ziegler Daniel Hudson David Hernandez
23 Blue Jays 3 Roberto Osuna Aaron Sanchez LaTroy Hawkins
24 Giants 3 Santiago Casilla Sergio Romo Hunter Strickland
25 Mariners 4 Carson Smith Fernando Rodney Vidal Nuno
26 Braves 4 Arodys Vizcaino David Aardsma Jason Frasor
27 Cubs 4 Hector Rendon Jason Motte Rafael Soriano
28 Athletics 4 Edward Mujica Fernando Rodriguez Sean Doolittle-(DL)
29 Tigers 4 Alex Wilson Bruce Rondon Al Alburquerque
30 Rockies 4 John Axford Rafael Betancourt Tommy Kahnle

While there wasn’t as much movement at the top of the grid, there were rumors surrounding Chapman, Kimbrel, and the Yankee pen. I was nervous as an Andrew Miller owner, but now I am relieved.

There was also some movement for guys that were third in line at this deadline. Mark Lowe looked like he had an outside chance at saves in Seattle, but he has been shipped to Toronto. Kevin Jepsen had a couple of saves in Tampa early this year, but now he will be setting up Glen Perkins in Minnesota. Jonathan Broxton hasn’t been on the grid in a while, but he has closer experience so you can never fully discount him. He has relocated to St. Louis where he and Steve Cishek will probably team up with Trevor Rosenthal to become the new Nasty Boys.

You may remember Aaron Sanchez from your preseason sleeper list; he is back in Toronto and handled the eighth inning earlier this week. Suddenly with Sanchez, Lowe, and even LaTroy Hawkins, the Jays have a much better pen than they did a few weeks ago. I still think Roberto Osuna is fairly safe and has done little wrong, but it’s best to keep an eye on things here.

I had been having trouble coming up with people to rank as 4s in recent weeks, but the trade deadline has given us a bunch of misfit toys. Note that Hector Rondon has gotten the last 2 saves for the Cubs and apparently has reclaimed the role he didn’t do anything to lose in the first place. It only took one slip for Jason Motte to lose his job and Rondon is in a similar situation, but he is more capable. I’d pick up Rondon over a guy like Mujica and hope he pitches to his potential.

It is midnight for John Axford in Colorado and we knew it was coming. I’m not certain who is next in line; I’m suggesting Rafael Betancourt, but he has been in trouble since a nice stretch earlier this year. Tommy Kahnle might make the better pickup, but with so many other options out there you probably don’t need to resort to this situation.

Former Mets closer Jenrry Mejia tested positive for a banned substance again and received a 162-game suspension.  See you next year – but not on my fantasy team.

Fantasy Rundown BannerNeed more closer news, waiver wire picks, 2-start pitchers, prospects and general fantasy baseball goodness, head on over to Fantasy Rundown.

Michael Zakhar

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Michael lives in New Jersey with his beautiful wife Virginia and his adorable son Johnny. We enjoy going to see the Lakewood BlueClaws, who play 20 minutes from home. In addition to baseball, Mike loves reading, music and professional wrestling.