Alex Reyes Melts Down

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·13 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.



The App is Back! Don’t forget to download the NBC Sports EDGE app to receive real-time player news, mobile alerts and track your favorite players. Plus, now you can check out articles and player cards. Get it here!

For a second straight week, a top-performing closer’s job is in peril. Last time, it was Matt Barnes on the hot seat. He’s now sidelined on the COVID-list. Elsewhere, Cardinals closer Alex Reyes has lost his mojo. While he’s improved his walk rate, he’s also run into all manner of issues. Since August 5, he’s allowed an 8.68 ERA that excludes an additional five unearned runs. Home runs have proven an issue of late. Giovanny Gallegos recorded the Cards most recent save. He’s been a better closer candidate than Reyes all along. He could finally run with the role after years of unjustly playing second fiddle.

In keeping with the 2021 season, only two relievers recorded more than two saves this week. Both Ryan Pressly and Alex Colome notched three saves in four appearances. Pressly was his usual dominate self, holding opponents scoreless. Colome began the week with a blown save vulture win. He coughed up a two-run home run to Kyle Schwarber while protecting a two-run lead. The Twins charged back with five runs in the top of the 10th. Colome’s other three outings were comparatively cleanly affairs.

Now, shall we go to the tiers?

Closer Tiers

Tier 1: The Elite (7)

Josh Hader, Milwaukee Brewers
Liam Hendriks, Chicago White Sox
Ryan Pressly, Houston Astros
Emmanuel Clase, Cleveland Indians
Kenley Jansen, Los Angeles Dodgers
Edwin Diaz, New York Mets
Raisel Iglesias, Los Angeles Angels

Craig Kimbrel received a save last Thursday. Fear not, Hendriks was unavailable after recording five outs a couple days earlier. Kimbrel has pitched poorly since joining the White Sox, compiling a 6.57 ERA thanks to four home runs in only 12.1 innings. Besides the dingers, his peripherals suggest he’s fine.

The Indians closer committee is seemingly dead. James Karinchak was optioned to Triple-A to work on resolving command issues in a lower pressure setting. Clase, meanwhile, is thriving. He hasn’t allowed a run since July 16. His 68.7 percent ground ball rate with close to 10.00 K/9 should lead to continued dominance.

Jansen has worked three of the last four days. So has Blake Treinen. Anyone hoping to catch an odd save will need to sort through their plentiful depth. Joe Kelly, Corey Knebel, Shane Greene, Brusdar Graterol, and Alex Vesia are plausible candidates.

Diaz is on a hot streak. Since striking out the side on July 25, he has a 1.29 ERA with 12.86 K/9 in 14 innings. That represents a stark decline in whiffs from previous seasons. As consolation, he’s running his fastball up to an average of 98.9-mph. Only five pitchers with 40 or more innings have allowed less hard contact than Diaz.

Like his Los Angeles-based rival, Iglesias has worked three of the last four days. Mike Mayers or Steve Cishek could be on call.

Tier 2: Nearly Elite (5)

Aroldis Chapman, New York Yankees
Jordan Romano, Toronto Blue Jays
Jake McGee, San Francisco Giants
Will Smith, Atlanta Braves
Mark Melancon, San Diego Padres

Chapman received the Yankees only save opportunity of the last week. I was hoping to see him pitch twice or more so I could better evaluate his recovery. Since Chad Green and Jonathan Loaisiga are back to working earlier innings, it doesn’t appear his role is in jeopardy. Another clunker or two could change things. If he pitches well, he’ll bounce back into the first tier – likely adjacent to Pressly.

It was a tame week for the rest of the tier. Romano and Melancon pitched well in three appearances apiece. McGee and Smith help opponents scoreless in their lone outing of the week.

Tier 3: Core Performers (5)

Scott Barlow, Kansas City Royals
Adam Ottavino, Boston Red Sox
Andrew Kittredge, Pete Fairbanks, Collin McHugh, Tampa Bay Rays
Alex Reyes, Giovanny Gallegos, St. Louis Cardinals
David Bednar, Pittsburgh Pirates

The Royals are liable to spawn closer committee members to share the job with Barlow. Since the last batch hit the injured list, he was able to pick up a couple saves without challenge. Josh Staumont could work his way into the picture. If the Royals weren’t so committed to keeping Barlow from saves earlier in the season, he would rank in the second tier somewhere between Romano and Melancon.

Ottavino took over as the Red Sox closer prior to Barnes’ placement on the COVID-IL. The 35-year-old right-hander is an effective pitcher who battles occasional spats of bad command. Occasional meltdowns are part of the bargain. He’s a contact management pitcher who induces one of the soft exit velocities in the league. His current 9.69 K/9 is by far his worst rate since 2014.

For now, Kittredge is in a good place to get most of the Rays saves. That’s mostly because the secondary alternative isn’t established at the moment. Fairbanks recently returned from the injured list and worked the eighth inning on Monday. They prefer to use McHugh earlier in games. Meanwhile, Nick Anderson is rehabbing in Triple-A to mixed results. Kittredge is an able closer candidate who’s doing a close approximation of Pressly this season.

Ranking the Reyes/Gallegos duo is challenging. If Gallegos does step in, he would slot adjacent to McGee in the second tier. This melting version of Reyes belongs in the fourth or fifth tier. After years of screwing Gallegos out of saves, I have no faith in the Cardinals to promote their best reliever. I remain hopeful all the same.

The problem with Bednar is that the Pirates just don’t produce save opportunities with any consistency. They don’t want him to just sit on his hands for the final month, so they’ll work out some sort of usage plan irrespective of saves. As a result, he might be unavailable when opportunities do arise. Chris Stratton might sponge a save or three.

Tier 4: Upside (8)

Alex Colome, Minnesota Twins
Dylan Floro, Miami Marlins
Drew Steckenrider, Paul Sewald, Seattle Mariners
Gregory Soto, Detroit Tigers
Joe Barlow, Texas Rangers
Ian Kennedy, Philadelphia Phillies
Tyler Clippard, Arizona Diamondbacks
Kyle Finnegan, Washington Nationals

Anthony Bender is consistently working the eighth inning ahead of Floro. While Bender has the more desirable fantasy profile, Floro is a steady ground ball pitcher who has a knack for limiting hard contact. The statistical profile is similar to a poor man’s Melancon – with far fewer save opportunities.

The Mariners only save of the week went to Steckenrider with Sewald playing the role of setup man. Sewald actually faced the heart of the order. Steck mopped up the scrubs. Mariners personnel would probably readily admit Sewald is their best fireman. It’s also clear they’re taking things inning by inning. They’d prefer to lose because they ran of good pitchers rather than not taking a threat in the seventh inning seriously. In any event, it makes our jobs as fantasy managers messy.

Besides a couple disasterpieces, Soto has pitched well this season. Walks and home runs remain a problem, ensuring future meltdowns. He’s added velocity throughout the season and now sits at 99-mph with regularity.

In the month since joining the Phillies, Kennedy has a luck-neutral 6.30 ERA. I’ve repeatedly expressed concern about his pitching profile at Citizen’s Bank Park. Over the same month, Hector Neris posted a 0.61 ERA with 12.89 K/9. He should be the closer. The Phillies have surged to 2.5 games back from the Braves and can’t afford to give away leads.

Finnegan will be out a couple days on paternity leave. In his absence, Andres Machado, Ryne Harper, and Austin Voth could get a couple chances. Machado and Harper are likely unavailable today after pitching on back-to-back days.

Editor’s Note: Drafting is only half the battle! Get an edge on your competition with our MLB Season Tools - available in our EDGE+ Roto tier for $3.99/mo. (annually) or $9.99/mo. (monthly) - that are packed with rankings, projections, a trade evaluator, start/sit tools and much more. And don't forget to use promo code SAVE10 to get 10% off. Click here to learn more!

Tier 5: Mess Hall (5)

Lou Trivino, Sergio Romo, Andrew Chafin, Oakland Athletics
Manuel Rodriguez, Codi Heuer, Rowan Wick, Adam Morgan, Chicago Cubs
Carlos Estevez, Colorado Rockies
Mychal Givens, Michael Lorenzen, Cincinnati Reds
Cole Sulser, Paul Fry, Baltimore Orioles

Trivino’s collapse continued last Thursday. These little slumps are par for the course with him. He’s miscast as a closer, and his 2.55 ERA still overstates his talent. He’s more accurately considered a 4.00 ERA pitcher with a modest strikeout rate. Romo, one of the few pitchers to induce less hard contact than Edwin Diaz, recorded the A’s save on Saturday. It wasn’t without indigestion. He allowed two runs while protecting a three-run lead. Chafin was called upon Sunday. His outing was clean.

We have to consider the Cubs late-innings mess to be a committee until some sort of consistent usage pattern emerges. As fantasy managers, we should root for Rodriguez or Heuer to walk away with the most save opportunities. They’re the guys who could positively affect other categories too.

Daniel Bard was nudged from the ninth inning after one too many flops. His last three came on the road, although there were mitigating factors. He twice fell to the Cubs, a team now built on all-or-nothing power. If memory serves, the wind was gusting out on both days. His latest fail came at the hands of the Dodgers which… yeah, that happens. Of course, Estevez has dealt with the same factors as Bard and outperformed him. He’s a usable option for emergency saves as long as you recognize the explosive risk.

The Reds seem incapable of finding a closer while the Orioles are unwilling. They’re committed to committees. Givens and Sulser both have interesting traits if saves are forthcoming. Watch out for Givens at Great American Ballpark. Like Kennedy in Philly, Givens’ profile doesn’t fit his new venue (or any of his old ones).

Injured

Trevor Rosenthal, Oakland Athletics (out for season)
Julian Merryweather, Toronto Blue Jays (oblique)
Tejay Antone, Cincinnati Reds (elbow)
Taylor Rogers, Minnesota Twins (finger)
Diego Castillo, Seattle Mariners (shoulder)
Matt Barnes, Boston Red Sox (COVID)

Deposed

Anthony Bass, Miami Marlins
Greg Holland, Kansas City Royals
Rafael Montero, Seattle Mariners
Cesar Valdez, Baltimore Orioles
Stefan Crichton, Arizona Diamondbacks
Hector Neris, Philadelphia Phillies
Kendall Graveman, Houston Astros (via trade)
Yimi Garcia, Houston Astros (via trade)
Richard Rodriguez, Atlanta Braves (via trade)
Craig Kimbrel, Chicago White Sox (via trade)
Joakim Soria, Toronto Blue Jays (via trade)
Brad Hand, Toronto Blue Jays (via trade)
Hansel Robles, Boston Red Sox (via trade)
Ranger Suarez, Philadelphia Phillies (promoted to rotation)
Amir Garrett, Cincinnati Reds
Heath Hembree, Cincinnati Reds
Craig Kimbrel, Chicago White Sox (via trade)
Daniel Bard, Colorado Rockies

Steals Department

Weekly Leaderboard

Leody Taveras, 4 SB (6 SB total)
Jose Ramirez, 3 SB (19 SB)
Cedric Mullins, 3 SB (25 SB)
Shohei Ohtani, 3 SB (22 SB)
Starling Marte, 3 SB (42 SB)

After a third straight week among the stolen base leaders, Marte is starting to build some padding in his lead over Whit Merrifield (38 SB). Marte still has 170 fewer plate appearances than Merrifield. At the pace he’s running, he’s nab around 67 bases in a full 650 plate appearance season. We haven’t had an over-60 steal season since 2016 Jonathan Villar. Of course, we won’t be getting that many swipes from Marte since he missed a chunk of time.

Three others are regular base thieves. Ramirez, Mullins, and Ohtani can be counted upon to be among the weekly leaders several times a season. Mullins, 26, hadn’t proven an ability to run consistently prior to this season. Of course, reaching base at a .368 OBP clip might have something to do with it. Previously, his career-high was a .315 OBP and seven steals in 153 plate appearances. Ohtani is having the magical season we all warned was possible. He’s a nine-category monster. Ramirez is quietly earning his first-round price tag.

Taveras topped the week while batting eighth or ninth. Considering he posted a .150/.227/.500 batting line in 23 plate appearances with two home runs and a double accounting for all of his hits, it’s a bit of surprise he found four swipeable bags. Although he has 99th-percentile sprint speed, Taveras may not have enough bat to help fantasy managers. Even in a much-diminished Triple-A setting, he managed a meager .245/.343/.475 batting line. Remember, the pitching in today’s Triple-A is on par with pre-COVID High-A.

Speed Spotlight

Sometimes, it takes years for a player to land in the right system. Speed-centric utility men like Jorge Mateo belong with second division clubs – the sorts of places that have regular reps for those with a gap between their physical talent and on-field results. Mateo spent his formative years in the Yankees and Athletics farm systems. When Oakland finally gave up, he was shipped to San Diego where he was a glorified pinch runner. After batting .207/.250/.322 in 93 plate appearances with the Padres this season, they finally cut him loose.

Catching on with the Orioles is the perfect situation for Mateo. He’s one of the five fastest players in the league. Only Trea Turner and Tim Locastro have posted definitively faster sprint speeds. Since joining Baltimore, he’s batting .324/.359/.473 while taking on an every day role. There are flies (multiple) in the ointment. His current success requires a .442 BABIP. He does have an approach which should yield a high BABIP – just not this high. Think closer to the .330-.360 BABIP range. His swing is geared for line drive contact, and he can use all fields. While he can put a charge into the ball (109.5-mph max exit velocity), he generally makes soft contact (86.9-mph average exit velocity).

Two additional issues go hand-in-hand: plate discipline and contact. He doesn’t work counts yet also struggles with strikeouts. It’s possible something will give here. It’s rare for a hitter to post such low walk rates and a 30 percent strikeout rate. Although aggressive on the whole, this appears to be an early-count passivity problem. Pitchers challenge him because he isn’t viewed as a threat. He falls behind then makes meek contact or strikes out. Experience could lead to more walks, fewer strikeouts, better contact, or all three.

The key going forward is to continue reaching base. He needs to be on to swipe bases. The other items we discussed are how he makes the jump from waiver wire streamer to regular fantasy contributor. In Triple-A during the 2019 campaign, he posted 19 home runs and 24 stolen bases with a modest .289/.330/.504 batting line. That’s effectively Amed Rosario. For now, try to ride the wave if you’re in desperate need of steals and batting average. Don’t be surprised when Mateo turns to smoke.