While Victor Gonzalez was a popular sleeper pick in holds leagues heading into the year, it’s been a different Dodgers lefty dominating on the mound, that being Alex Vesia. While Gonzalez was sent to AAA yesterday, Vesia continues to position himself for a setup role as the team’s top left-handed reliever, a role that certainly has fantasy value as long as Dave Roberts is the manager. Vesia’s first stint in LA did not go so well, but since being recalled in July, he’s been one of the best relievers in baseball, with his .8 WAR actually being tied for second-highest. Over those 19.1 innings, Vesia has a .47 ERA (2.74 SIERA) .52 WHIP, plus 34.3% K and 17.7% SwStr rates. His slider holds a 57.1% Whiff rate on the year, one of the highest in baseball, and his 39.6% overall Whiff rate is good for sixth-best amongst relievers who have faced at least 100 batters. With three holds over the past week, it looks like Vesia may be locked into a high leverage role in LA, making him as close to “must roster” as possible. And while Dylan Floro has been solid in Miami, Marlins fans probably want this one back, as an Anthony Bender/Vesia late-inning duo would be so fun to watch.
- There are a few relievers who have moved up the top of the ranks this week almost by default, with Seth Lugo being one of them. He hasn’t picked up a hold in exactly a month but over his last 15.1 innings, he’s only allowed just one run, to go with a .97 WHIP, and 32.9% CSW. This is closer to the Lugo we have become accustomed to, and it should be just a matter of time for the holds to start trickling in.
- With Matt Barnes out as the Red Sox closer, for now, the rest of the bullpen gets a small bump with Garrett Whitlock perhaps the biggest beneficiary. Whitlock only has one hold over the past month but will need to be relied upon now for more consistent high leverage work. It’s not like he hasn’t had his struggles lately as well (4 ER, 4 BB over his last 6.1 IP), but the team really has nowhere else to turn to at the moment.
- It looks like Jake Cousins will be the odd man out in the Milwaukee late-inning triumvirate, with Brad Boxberger, Devin Williams, and Josh Hader locking things down from the seventh inning on. That’s not to say Cousins won’t get the occasional hold or maybe even a win or two, but his value does take a small hit with that bullpen at full health now. He’s also shown some cracks in the armor lately, allowing four hits and five walks over his past 5.1 innings.
- While Vesia was mentioned at the top, we shouldn’t forget about Phil Bickford who has been an unsung hero for the Dodgers this season and has even picked up three holds in the past ten days. With the bullpen back at nearly full health with the return of Joe Kelly, it remains to be seen where Bickford will figure in, but he’s certainly deserving of more high leverage work.
- Sergio Romo has been great over the past four months for the A’s, but that bullpen is a bit crowded at the moment so it may be hard for him to get consistent hold opportunities. That being said, Lou Trivino has struggled lately so if he loses his grip on the closer role, Romo becomes a near must add in most SV+HLD leagues. The trio of Jake Diekman, Andrew Chafin, and Romo could be handling the team’s late-inning high leverage work sooner rather than later considering Trivino’s 4.50 xFIP/SIERA and lack of swing and miss ability.
- Josh Staumont’s season has been a bit of a disappointment as many had expected him to really break out this year as he’s just been “very good” but not great. The strikeout numbers have dropped (as has his velo), but so has the walk rate leading to a 17.3% K-BB rate, down just 1.5% from last year. While the swing and miss stuff isn’t the same as last year, Staumont still holds a 3.42 ERA and 1.18 WHIP and should be in line for set up work with Greg Holland and Jake Brentz on the IL. EDIT: Staumont landed on the IL this afternoon and has since been removed.
Photo by Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)