Outside of a major blow-up from Koda Glover, it was a fairly quiet week for closers once again. No injuries or changes were made, however the Angels situation is now with monitoring very closely this week. With Cam Bedrosian due back on Thursday, we finally will get a look at how the Angels and Mike Scioscia plan on handling their closer situation. To this point, there haven’t been any hints as to whether or not Bedrosian or Huston Street will be thrown back into the role, or if Bud Norris will continue to have a chance to run with the job long-term. It may be wise for an Angels team that isn’t making any real noise anytime soon and that has a lackluster farm system to consider selling high on Norris at the deadline while handing Bedrosian the keys to the 9th inning.
TIER 1: Nothing Compares 2 U
- Craig Kimbrel was once again the best closer over the past 7 days, as he fired 5 innings allowing just 1 run and 5 baserunners while racking up a ridiculous 13 K’s and 4 saves. He continues to be a monster for fantasy owners this year, proving last season was strictly just a fluke.
TIER 2: Save Tonight
- Right behind Kimbrel for closer of the week was Roberto Osuna, who has really bounced back nicely after a bit of a rough return from the DL earlier in the year. I was worried entering the season given his high fly ball rate combined with just average swing and miss stuff, thinking it would lead to an uptick in ERA and WHIP. Now his SwStr% is sitting at a career high 19.4%, which can be attributed to less fastball/changeup use, and increase reliance on his slider/cutter. It’s certainly an encouraging sign, and is making me a believer that his dominance since the beginning of May is for real.
- Corey Knebel also found himself having a huge week, and is really growing into a Kimbrel-lite closing option. His fastball velocity has continued to grow over the past few years, now sitting at an average of 96.7 mph and touching 99. His knuckle-curve has also been much more effective this year, having a 63.6% K rate, with that number being under 30% the past 2 seasons. As long as the Brewers keep giving him opportunities, expect him to make the most of them.
TIER 3: Bound for the Floor
- Bud Norris has completely turned his career around this season, mostly due to refining his cutter. The pitch has become his featured offering which has limited hard contact and induced some swings and misses. That being said, he has been fortunate to have some luck as well. His FIP ranks 25th among active closers over the past month and he’s still not missing bats at a preferred closer rate . He probably deserves a chance to keep the job going forward, I just am finding it hard to believe he can keep up this kind of production the rest of the season.
- I had such high hopes for Hector Neris entering the season, and so far it’s been a real major letdown. Last night he was pulled from his save chance after allowing 2 hits, while Pat Neshek came in to finish the game and earn the save. It’s still too early to read much into this, but regarding Neris, Pete Mackanin did say after the game “when he’s got that real good split, he’s unhittable. He doesn’t have that right now”. We could be looking at a temporary break from closing duties for Neris, who hasn’t exactly been terrible lately (outside of a lack of save chances). I still won’t give up hope for Neris, but if Neshek is dubbed the closer tomorrow, he won’t be much of an intriguing waiver option except for extreme closer needy teams in deeper leagues.
TIER 4: Better Days (and the Bottom Drops Out)
- These first 3 all happened to pitch well this past week, but still have limited upside and could lose their job’s at almost any moment it feels. Fernando Rodney actually hasn’t allowed an earned run since April, but he still just doesn’t feel like a safe or recommendable option, despite the 14 saves he has on the year. Tony Watson blew his 4th save of the season last night and it’s almost certainly Felipe Rivero time soon in Pittsburgh.
Arolids Chapman (New York Yankees)
Zach Britton (Baltimore Orioles)
Joaquin Benoit (Philadelphia Phillies)
Houston Street (Los Angeles Angels)
Glenn Perkins (Minnesota Twins)
Xavier Cedeno (Tampa Bay Rays)