Now that the MLB trade deadline has come and gone, lets assess some of the damage done to the fantasy closer market. This group certainly got weaker, especially in the back half of the list which see’s a lot of new names. However it looked like it was going to be worse, with Zach Britton and Brad Hand both being heavily rumored to be dealt on Monday, but neither team could find a deal worth pulling the trigger on. Hand especially looks like the biggest fantasy winner, as he could be in line to be a top 10-12 closer over the final two months of the season, as long as the Padres can give him opportunities.
TIER 1: Nothing Compares 2 U
- Aroldis Chapman was flawless this past week (4.2 IP, 0 baserunners, 6 K’s, 2 W, 2 SV), and hopefully that means he has turned the corner and put his struggles behind him. On the flip side, Roberto Osuna has completely imploded in his last two outings, as he suffered loses after blowing saves each time out. There’s no reason to think this is a major concern going forward, but after being close to unhittable for the past few months, it’s worth monitoring closely to make sure everything is OK physically and mechanically.
TIER 2: Save Tonight
- Sure Greg Holland and Wade Davis have both been 2 of the top 5 RP’s up until this point in the season, but how likely is that to hold up from here on out? Both haven’t been as sharp this past month and have an extensive injury history so we may keep seeing less usage in order to preserve them for two, possibly three more months. Neither has seen a big enough decrease in velocity yet to suggest any imminent problem, but I am trying to be a bit proactive here, and would prefer the younger, fresher arms in Corey Knebel, Ken Giles and Edwin Diaz for the stretch run.
- No major changes to this tier post trade deadline, except for Zach Britton. He still doesn’t look entirely right, and he hasn’t had the pinpoint location we saw from him last season, which is making it more and more likely for batters to square him up. Perhaps the high risk of being dealt by Monday has played a part and he will turn it around for the final two months. Until he proves that, its tough to trust him as anything more than a low-end RP1 on an Orioles team that will probably finish the year under .500. If he shows some positive signs in the coming weeks, he’ll make his way back into the top 5 discussion for sure.
TIER 3: Bound for the Floor
- And here is where the madness begins. At the moment, no one from 16-30 is trustworthy, as anyone of these guys could essentially be displaced from closing duties after just one or two bad outings. I’ll try to give a quick update on each players situation in a sentence or two.
- Brad Hand should hang onto the job for the remainder of the season, but the Padres, who have nothing to play for, could decide to give future closer Phil Maton a taste of what its like the be a closer in Major League Baseball. Trevor Rosenthal was good for the majority of the month of July and given how dominant he has been in the K department, seems likely to hold onto the closer role. Even after the addition of Brandon Kintzler, Sean Doolittle still makes the most sense as the Nats closer given his ability to attack the zone while getting swings and misses. That being said, I’m sure Kintzler gets some chances to preserve the somewhat fragile Doolittle. Hector Neris has quietly been the 3rd best RP in standard leagues the past 2 weeks. His stock hopefully continues to trend upward. I’m also excited to see what Arodys Vizcaino does in two months as the Braves closer after replacing Jim Johnson. He should be a valuable fantasy contributor with low ratios, solid K numbers and a few saves a week. Ditto for Shane Greene, although I’m not quite as high on his overall skill set in the role. He also has Joe Jimenez behind him to fend off. Fernando Rodney is still pitching well enough to be of some fantasy use, just be aware that his innings could continue to be limited. Bud Norris is starting to fall apart and it’s becoming close to inevitable that Cam Bedrosian will reclaim his job soon. Blake Treinen is still shaky, and in a bad spot, but he still has 2 pitches that we’re in my opinion good enough to win our GIF tourney. He could be the ultimate second half sleeper RP candidate if he puts it all together in Oakland. A.J. Ramos will be a blah closing option until Jeurys Familia returns, which should be later this month.
TIER 4: Better Days (and the Bottom Drops Out)
- This will more than likely be Sam Dyson’s last week on this list, with Mark Melancon in the middle of his rehab assignment. Alex Claudio isn’t exactly the Rangers “closer”, but he is Brian Bannisters most trusted reliever so he should continue to see some save chances. Brad Ziegler is closing in Miami, sweet. Kyle Barraclough should take over at some point following his return from the DL, whenever that may be. Tyler Clippard atleast has some solid job security, right? At this point, I really don’t have a clue who the favorite to close in Minnesota is, but the 37-year-old Matt Belisle seems the favorite. Hopefully you are not in a position where you’d be considering adding him.