The big news of the week is the unfortunate injury to the league’s best closer Félix Bautista as he will likely miss the remainder of the season with a UCL injury. In his absence, expect to see Yennier Cano receive the bulk of the save chances moving forward, and while Cano was fading up until August, he has turned things back around this month with a 12/1 K/BB ratio, and 0.69 WHIP over 11.2 innings without allowing an earned run. It’s not exactly April-level Cano, but those are still great numbers no one would argue with.
- Pete Fairbanks has quietly been on a tear lately, and we are seeing a similar second-half surge from him as we did last season. Since returning from the IL in June, Fairbanks has 40.2% K and 35% CSW rates to go with a 0.90 WHIP and 2.64 xFIP over his last 21 IP (plus 12 saves). This is the Fairbanks we were hyped up for this offseason and the one that is a top-five closer in baseball as long as he can remain healthy.
- Raisel Iglesias is another closer we were a bit concerned about in May, but since mid-June, he’s been exceptional. Actually, over that same time frame as Fairbanks (since June 15th), Iglesias has a 32% K-BB, 18.7% SwStr, and 34% CSW rates to go along with a 2.25 xFIP over 25 IP (16 saves). Fairbanks gets a slight edge due to his bat-missing ability as well as the possibility the Braves could slow Iglesias down in September, as there’s not much for the team to play for having all but clinched a 1st round bye already.
- I feel like Adbert Alzolay has been a staple each week as someone rising up the ranks, and it continues this week as his consistency has really been amazing to watch. Alzolay and Pete Fairbanks are the only closers with just one blown save on the season, and Alzolay still leads all relievers in saves since the start of July with a whopping 17.
- Camilo Doval has stumbled a bit here since the All-Star break, but I don’t think we are ready to talk about him losing his job yet and he should be a fine RP 1 or 2 for the rest of the season. Since the break, Doval has just a 20% K-BB and 28.6% CSW rates to go with a 3.86 ERA (3.71 xFIP) and 1.22 WHIP.
- After it looked like Andrés Muñoz may wind up sharing the closer committee more so than original though, he came back this past week with two saves to Matt Brash’s zero. He also has 7 K’s over his past 3 outings which is encouraging as the decline in K rate had been a noticeable concern.
- The Marlins have made a switch in the closer role as David Robertson has not been very effective since coming over from New York. Tanner Scott finally gets a chance to close out games for the Marlins in the midst of his breakout season. Scott had a 4.29 ERA and 1.19 WHIP as of May 23rd this year, but since then has a 1.62 ERA (2.22 xFIP) and 1.05 WHIP to go with 37.2% K, 19.5% SwStr, and 35.3% CSW rates.
- Craig Kimbrel has been very mediocre since the All-Star break, and with the return of José Alvarado to that bullpen, I do wonder just how tight Kimbrel’s hold on the closer role is. Since the break, Kimbrel has struggled to get swings and misses with just 22.1% K and 10.5% SwStr rates while also walking 9.1% of batters. The 2.84 ERA is fine on the surface, but the 4.47 xFIP is saying otherwise and there’s a chance Kimbrel is just getting worn down at this point.
- Jordan Romano has looked relatively fine since returning from the IL with his back injury, but I still don’t love the command issues here and the 9 walks he’s allowed over 13 IP since July started. He could still be in for a big last month, but the shaky command and back injury have me a little more worried.
- JoJo Romero has been operating as the Cardinals closer for a few weeks now, and I’d honestly expect that to continue even after Ryan Helsley returns tomorrow. The current plan is for Helsley to pitch on a schedule once he returns, only working in clean innings. This at the very least should give Romero the chance to get a save chance or two each week (more or less) so I think I’d still prefer him over Helsley at this point.
- The Rangers bullpen has been a mess lately, leading to José Leclerc picking up his first save since April 5th last night. I have no idea how things will shake out here but Leclerc has been pretty good since July started with a 29% K rate, 1.40 ERA, and 0.83 WHIP. Despite the good numbers, his 4.39 xFIP over that span suggests not all is fixed with Leclerc, but he’s clearly a better option than Will Smith at the moment, and Aroldis Chapman is even becoming tough to trust lately.
And if you want more daily reliever updates, please check out our Reliever Ranks series
|1.||Aroldis Chapman||TEX||The situation is still fluid in Texas; both he and Smith should be rostered.|
|2.||Alex Lange||DET||Not closing games now, but if BB issues get fixed he has elite upside.|
|3.||Ryan Helsley||STL||Returns tomorrow, but role is still TBD.|
|4.||Reynaldo López||LAA||Could see him replacing Estevez in the closer role.|
|5.||José Alvarado||PHI||Back from the IL but no threat to Kimbrel yet.|
|6.||Brooks Raley||NYM||Timeshare with Ottavino for now seems likely.|
|7.||Matt Brash||SEA||Could be more involved in the 9th inning as option 1B.|
|8.||Danny Coulombe||BAL||Could factor into some save chances as Cano’s top setup man.|
|9.||Jason Adam||TB||No closer is more injury-prone than Fairbanks.|
|10.||Hunter Harvey||WAS||As good as Finnegan has been, could Harvey still regain the job?|