I decided to reshuffle the first tier this week, which shouldn’t mean a whole lot or change much for you, but it was time to give Josh Hader the top spot back. When the Brewers first announced they would only use Hader for one inning at a time, I originally thought that could hurt his value since he won’t log as many innings. While that part may still be true, Hader looks fresh in every outing now and is seeing career-high in fastball velocity with the change. He’s also sporting 41.5% CSW, 23.6% SwStr and 52% Whiff rates, all of which are first amongst relievers. I still believe in Edwin Diaz as one of the true top-end RP talents, but right now he’s just not on quite the same level as Hader.
- Richard Rodríguez remains one of the more underrated relievers in all of a baseball, and I hope the Pirates are able to move him to a contender this year so he can get more exposure. For the time being, he’s as locked into the closer role as anyone else on this list, and while the Pirates won’t win most of their games, when they do win I’d expect the score to be close. He should be good for a save chance or two a week, a couple of strikeouts, and won’t kill your ratios.
- The old-timers club moved up to tier 3 this week, and while I’m wary of their long-term success, they are all currently full-time closers for their team and are not close to losing their jobs anytime soon. Yimi García stays around with this group this week, and fits perfectly into the “is it sustainable though?” motto for the tier. It’s crazy to think that this guy averages 85 MPH with his fastball and throws a 78 MPH changeup 81% of the time, but César Valdez continues to defy logic.
- Jordan Romano returned to the Toronto bullpen this past Saturday, but it was still Rafael Dolis who earned a save Sunday, working 1.1 scoreless innings against the Rays. Perhaps Romano was just getting the day off after pitching the day before, but I’m leaning towards Dolis being the “closer” for now. Speaking of the Rays, I think we could see a very similar situation here in Toronto, where Romano is kind of in that Nick Anderson role, with Dolis as Diego Castillo and Julian Merryweather (when/if healthy) as Pete Fairbanks.
- The Royals’ closer carousel continues, as Josh Staumont became the team’s sixth reliever to record a save on Saturday and perhaps could be the teams closer going forward? I still wouldn’t put a ton of stock into that with how Mike Matheny has been so unpredictable this year, but Staumont does theoretically have the closer type stuff Matheny likes in that role (see Trevor Rosenthal).
- The Cardinals continue to walk a tightrope with Alex Reyes as their closer, but as long as Jordan Hicks keeps being inconsistent, they probably will just stick with what they have going. They really shouldn’t though because Reyes is bound to lose this team some games at some point with his tightrope act. He has yet to throw a clean inning over nine innings of work, as his 1.61 WHIP can attest to. Giovanny Gallegos had a two-inning save on Saturday, and don’t be surprised to see more of that moving forward.
- I had originally planned on Jake Diekman being on the list this week, but then Bob Melvin had to go and change things up again last night. So it seems pretty clear here that between Lou Trivino and Diekman, the A’s are going to fully split the closer duties making it a headache for fantasy managers. Both have some value, as Trivino probably sees a slight majority of save chances while Diekman is the better pitcher of the two.
- The Red’s closer situation did not gain any more clarity this past week as I had hoped, in fact, it just got even murkier. The one thing I’d imagine that is safe to say is that Amir Garrett will probably not get the team’s next save chance. He allowed another HR last night and is clearly not right, perhaps an IL stint is in store for him next? That said, I don’t know who would be next in line at this point, so I kept Garrett on the list…for now. Lucas Sims and Tejay Antone have both looked great, but their usage is kind of all over the place and they definitely like the ability to use Antone for multiple innings if needed. My guess is that this turns into a full-on committee, with Antone getting some 2-3 inning saves, with Sims and possibly still Garrett finishing off games here and there too.
- The Twins have a similar situation, but the answer to how to fix their late-inning woes seems pretty simple. Alex Colomé lost another game last night after allowing a walk-off homerun on a very non-competitive pitch and now leads all relievers in blown saves and losses with three apiece. The team needs to move Taylor Rogers back into the closer role, at least for the time being, because they can not afford to keep losing games like this.