As of 7 PM ET last night, the Anaheim Angels sit just a half game back of a wild card spot. Bud Norris gave them stability in the 9th inning up until the early days of August, but now has left the team scrambling for answers at the back-end of ball games. It would be a borderline miracle if they win that final playoff spot, given Mike Scioscia’s reluctance to trust in any of his relievers right now. I’m a clear believer that players will perform better, relief pitchers in particular, when they have a clear set role for their specific team. Instead, they have now used 4 different closers during their past 7 save chances. It’s not like the options at their disposable have pitched all that poorly either. They actually do have talent back there, enough so that they should be fine from the 7th inning on at the very least. We’ll see how it plays out for the rest of the season, and if Scioscia can make it work somehow and they make the wild card game, he probably becomes a likely Manager of the Year candidate. But for now, all things considered, there is no one reliever that is trustworthy or worth owning for fantasy purposes here.
TIER 1: Nothing Compares 2 U
- There’s a legitimate argument to be made that Craig Kimbrel deserves to be ahead of Kenley Jansen, which I get. I just still feel a slight bit more confident in Jansen. They really are 1A and 1B anyway, with the 2 being closer than possibly any other 2 consecutive name on this list.
TIER 2: Save Tonight
- Joe Giriardi was finally forced to pull the plug on Aroldis Chapman as his closer after his latest embarrassment on the mound against Boston over the weekend. Giriardi has yet to announce who exactly his replacement will be, but the odds on favorite should be Dellin Betances at this point. He earned the save on Saturday night and could be a potential game changer for fantasy owners if he can hold the role for the rest of the season.
- Arodys Vizcaino has been one of the better under the radar closers since taking over for Jim Johnson at the beginning of the month, allowing just 1 hit and 1 walk with a solid 7 K’s in 7.2 IP. He makes for a high quality 2nd RP to own for the stretch run.
TIER 3: Bound for the Floor
- The Cardinals got some tough news this past week, losing Trevor Rosenthal to a potential UCL injury. It’s a shame as he had been pitching like his old dominant self prior to the injury and now leaves the team in a tough spot as they try to keep their dim playoff hopes alive. Seung Hwan Oh is definitely the favorite for now to get the bulk of the save chances, and has pitched well enough recently to be worth an add in most leagues.
- Even with Jeurys Familia returning to the Mets bullpen within the next week or two at the latest, it sounds as though A.J. Ramos could continue to be the teams closer for the remainder of the season. I’m a bit skeptical on that, since the Mets won’t activate Familia unless he is fully healthy, and as long as he is healthy, he is by far the teams best option in the 9th inning. Nevertheless, it gives Ramos a nice boost for the time being, and makes Familia only an option for deeper leagues looking for saves to stash.
TIER 4: Better Days (and the Bottom Drops Out)
- Sam Dyson continues to serve well as the Giants closer, and there is a possibility he will continue to do so for the rest of the season. Mark Melancon is contemplating surgery which would shut him down, although it is worth noting he was basically perfect his past week in 4 appearances. Melancon will probably finish out the year, and if I were to guess, would take back the closers gig by the end of the month.
Trevor Rosenthal (St. Louis Cardinals)
Ryan Madson (Washington Nationals)
Matt Bush (Texas Rangers)
Joakim Soria (Kansas City Royals)