The back-end of the list gets a bit of an overhaul this week, as things become more clear for some teams and murkier for others. The revolving door also known as the Nationals set up role sees a new name on the list while Andrew Miller and Dellin Betances get some company in tier 1. Entering the season, there were only 2 representatives on this list from the Diamondbacks, White Sox and Angels. One month in and we now have 5.
TIER 1: Good Vibrations
- While Brad Brach may not rack up the K totals like the 2 guys listed prior, he still is good for over a K per inning and a low ERA/WHIP. He was awesome in his stint as the Orioles closer while Zach Britton was out, and should slide in to being a dominant set up guy now going forward.
TIER 2: I’ll Be There For You
15. Cory Knebel (Milwaukee Brewers)
- Will Harris may have leapfrogged Luke Gregerson as the 3rd RP to own in Houston, as he bailed out Gregerson the other night to record a save while Ken Giles rested. I still have faith in Gregerson, but he needs to figure things out before being a trustworthy 2nd tier type option.
- Mychal Givens has been one of the better relievers in baseball thus far, and should continue to be used in hold situations despite the return of Zach Britton. The biggest difference this year for him has been his improved command, only walking 3 batters in 14+ innings.
- Corey Knebel definitely has earned a jump up the rankings, racking up 8 holds to go along with 18 K’s in 13.1 innings. His walk total is still high but his being basically unhittable so it hasn’t hurt him yet. A few Neftali Feliz blown saves could easily put him in the closer discussion as well.
TIER 3: Torn
18. Joaquin Benoit (Philadelphia Phillies)
23. Derek Law (San Francisco Giants)
24. Darren O’Day (Baltimore Orioles)
28. Drew Storen (Cincinnati Reds)
- I was originally going to call Archie Bradley the poor the poor mans Chris Devenski, but that would be downplaying how effective he actually has been. I think the Diamondbacks should make a decision soon on whether or not Bradley will stay in the bullpen for the rest of the year or be moved into the rotation. My decision would be to keep him in the pen and potentially work him into save situations given Fernando Rodney’s (predictable) struggles. He has really excelled as a reliever and been a weapon for them, so why mess that up now?
- Blake Parker and Bud Norris have combined to be the leagues most surprisingly successful 8th/9th inning shutdown duo the past 2 weeks. Cam Bedrosian is still a ways a way from returning, so those in holds leagues should feel confident rolling Parker out there for the time being.
- Brett Cecil is starting to turn things around and be what the Cardinals had hoped when they gave him that 4 year 30 million dollar contract. After struggling early in the year, that bullpen has really pitched well the past 2 weeks. Cecil should be second in line for holds more often than not for a team that typically delivers a lot of save/hold chances.
TIER 4: You Get What You Give
43. Michael Lorenzen (Cincinnati Reds)
44. JJ Hoover (Arizona Diamondbacks)
45. Tommy Kahnle (Chicago White Sox)
46. Sam LeClerc (Texas Rangers)
- JJ Hoover has been solid for the Diamondbacks, and should be considered as a possible replacement for the disintegrating Fernando Rodney. I’d give him the slight edge of Jorge De La Rosa due to him being right handed and having closing experience. The situation could turn in to something similar to what we were seeing in Oakland, with Lovullo just playing matchups in the last 1-2 innings. Of course, this is all contingent on what the club has planned for Archie Bradley (as well as Jake Barrett who just started his rehab assignment).
- I have no idea how to pronounce his last name (Conley or Con-el or Cainlee?) but Tommy Kahnle has been an absolute stud out of the White Sox bullpen this season. 19 K’s in 9 IP, while only allowing 6 hits and 1 walk would usually place you in one of the top tiers, but he has never shown this type of ability at any level. It’s certainly questionable if he can continue this output and he has only earned 2 holds, but he is worth riding while he’s hot.
- Jose Ramirez has 5 holds and a sub 2 ERA/sub 1 WHIP on the year so he definitely is worth looking at right now. He was really good last season after the All-Star break and was once a top prospect so it’s not unreasonable to think these numbers could be for real.
TIER 5: There She Goes
64. Jerry Blevins (New York Mets)
65. Alex Wilson (Detroit Tigers)
66. Carlos Esteves (Colorado Rockies)
67. Sergio Romo (Los Angeles Dodgers)
68. Keone Kela (Texas Rangers)
69. Tony Zych (Seattle Mariners)
70. Jose Alvarez (Los Angeles Angels)
- Chase Whitley is another former high-ranking prospect who fizzled out for a while but may have found themselves a career as a late inning option. There’s a chance he gets some starts this year but he has been a nice addition to that bullpen that’s been ravaged by injuries.
- I really have no idea who the Nationals primary set up man is right now with how bad Blake Treinen and Joe Blanton have been, so I’m assuming Matt Albers is. He has been good in limited work, but it’s still Matt Albers.
- A little over a year ago, I was really high on Keone Kela and Tony Zych, thinking both were going to be future closers. While their star has dimmed a bit since then, they both still possess nice upside and are in positions to be valuable fantasy assets in SV+HD leagues down the stretch this season.
Sean Doolittle (Oakland Athletics)
Houston Street (Los Angeles Angels)
Glenn Perkins (Minnesota Twins)
Xavier Cedeno (Tampa Bay Rays)
JP Howell (Toronto Blue Jays)