Well, the trade deadline has officially come and gone. We successfully predicted many of the situations that changed – with freshly minted closers Dellin Betances, Kelvin Herrera, Tony Watson, Tyler Thornburg, and Jake Barrett all occupying top 10 spots on the Speculative Saves page. We also had former closers Hector Rondon, Jonathan Papelbon, and Tyler Clippard ranked low in the Closer Rankings due to the excessive risk that they carried in losing their jobs. We also had Jeremy Jeffress ranked as a somewhat high risk guy who – despite the lack of rumors recently – had been tabbed as a guy who could be moved… and he was. Hopefully if you needed saves you acted accordingly and ended up with a new closer or 2 after the deadline.
Dellin Betances immediately goes into the elite tier of closers. His ERA/WHIP are great but the strikeouts make him elite. He has 0 competition in New York for his job as well. Herrera would also be in the elite tier if not for the fact that we don’t know how long Wade Davis will be out. It sure sounds like it’ll be a lengthy stint on the DL though. Watson is a guy who I am very confident will hold onto the job in Pittsburgh despite the presence of former closer Neftali Feliz. The Pirates feel Watson has paid his dues and deserves his shot so he’ll only lose the job if he really implodes. Thornburg is a guy who is having a breakout season – great ERA/WHIP and tons of Ks. If you’re in a league that runs their waivers weekly on Sunday, then he hadn’t become closer yet because Jeffress was still around so make sure to add him this weekend if you can. He also has very little competition in Milwaukee for the job right now. Barrett is the other newly-minted closer of the group. While he isn’t as skilled as the other new closers, he’s still a good reliever and should be able to hold down the fort in Arizona where there’s also 0 competition with Daniel Hudson looking like he completely forgot how to pitch over the last month or so.
The other big thing to happen that hasn’t technically resulted in the gain or loss of a closer role yet was the Andrew Miller to Cleveland trade. While many people incorrectly jumped out and proclaimed Miller the new closer (bumping Cody Allen to a set-up role), Indians manager Tito Francona is staying vague on the subject. He says they will leverage both relievers in situations that call for it. What that seems to imply is that Miller and Allen will share the closer role depending on who is coming up to bat in the 8th/9th innings. It looks like a closer timeshare – which is hell for fantasy owners. Normally I’d say wait a week and see how it shakes out then drop them if it stays a timeshare, but Miller and Allen are both elite relievers – so even getting a save or 2 per week still gives them value. It’s a tough break for fantasy owners of Allen and Miller, but you have to hold them for now. Keep in mind, too, that Miller is the only lefty in the Tribe bullpen (Kyle Crockett has been up and down but he’s hardly reliable) so it would make more sense to me to deploy Miller when tough lefties are coming to bat in the 7th/8th innings than it would to just designate him the closer. Keep an eye on this situation moving forward.
There are two speculative guys who might be available in your leagues who I would pick-up if possible – Cam Bedrosian and Ken Giles. With Huston Street pitching HORRIFICALLY it seems like it’s only a matter of time before Bedrosian takes over. Street recently got a vote of confidence from his manager, but we all know that’s just the last step before you’re replaced. Bedrosian is an absolute stud who would immediately go into the elite tier of closers. Also, Street is a candidate to be traded before the August 31st trade deadline because no one wants his contract for how little production he offers – he’d have no problem getting through waivers. Ken Giles is the guy who was supposed to start the season as the Astros closer… however he got bombed in Spring Training and had a rough start to the year forcing the Astros to go to their incumbent closer – Luke Gregerson. After pitching well for awhile, eventually Gregerson‘s mediocre stuff caught up with him and he started blowing games. However, Giles was still not pitching all that well at the time either so they decided to turn to journeyman Will Harris instead as Will had been virtually untouchable at that point. However, it has long been thought that the Astros have been looking for a legitimate reason to install Giles as the closer. And now Harris has given them one. He’s blown 4 games since July 8th including back-to-back games on July 30th and August 1st. With his ridiculously low ERA at the time Harris became closer, we knew regression would eventually hit him pretty hard. He’s still a good reliever, but I think this is going to be the justification for the Giles trade that the Astros needed and he’ll become their new closer shortly. Giles would also be in the elite tier of closers based on how he’s pitched since June. In fact, he hasn’t even allowed a single hit in 7 of his last 8 outings! Yeah – Ken Giles is back. Go get him if he’s available in your league NOW.
If those two aren’t available in your league, there’s a couple others I’d keep an eye on. Steve Cishek just blew another save… and despite pitching well overall this season, he’s blown 7 games now. Normally this might not be that big of an issue if not for the fact that the strikeout BEAST Edwin Diaz is breathing down his neck. If Diaz were to take over at closer he might be the best closer in baseball – so yeah, he’s probably worth picking up in case Cishek blows another one or two down the stretch. The Mariners might also try Diaz out at closer in the final month if they either feel like he’s the better closing option and they’re competing or if they’re throwing in the towel and want to install Diaz as their closer for next year. Either way, it’s probably a good idea to pick him up if you have an available bench slot. Next up is Ryan Dull. Dull, like Bedrosian, is sitting behind an aging closer (Ryan Madson) with mediocre at best skills who could also be an August waiver trade casualty. Thus, Dull has two ways he can become a closer – through Madson‘s continued suckage, or through a Madson trade. If Dull does become a closer, he’d be solid. He has very good skills, though his strikeouts aren’t phenomenal like a lot of these other guys… he’d still definitely be worth a pick-up.