A lot has happened in the last week. As expected, the Yankees have re-crowned Aroldis Chapman as their ninth inning savior. Meanwhile, Dellin Betances has allowed runs in four of his last six appearances. He's fallen out of favor while he recovers his command. The Yankees are trying to claw their way to the top of the AL East. They're four games behind the Red Sox. I'm sure they'd love to avoid the Wild Card game.
Elsewhere in the majors, Angels manager Mike Scioscia continues to intentionally spite fantasy owners by refusing to stick with a closer. Scioscia-run teams have been a fantasy headache forever. Marlins closer Brad Ziegler is dealing with a sore back, opening the door for Kyle Barraclough. A high pitch count for Barraclough forced Miami to reach even deeper into the bullpen too. Kelvin Herrera is out in Kansas City due to a mix of poor performance and injury. As I warned last week, Juan Nicasio appears to have ousted Tyler Lyons and friends in St. Louis.
Alex Colome remains the saves leader with 44. Greg Holland (40) and Kenley Jansen (37) round out the top three. Corey Knebel and Holland had the most saves in the last week – three apiece. Over in stolen base land, Billy Hamilton leads with 58 swipes, followed by Dee Gordon (52) and Trea Turner (39). Alas, Hamilton is done for the season. Injuries have consistently prevented Hamilton from winning the stolen base crown. Gordon has just enough time to catch up. Five runners tied for the weekly lead with three steals – Eduardo Nunez, Tim Anderson, Gordon, Phillip Ervin, and Jose Peraza. Ervin and Anderson are good waiver wire targets.
Tier 1: The Gods (2)
Kenley Jansen, Los Angeles Dodgers
Craig Kimbrel, Boston Red Sox
Jansen allowed a solo home run while protecting a 4-5 deficit. It was a costly run. The Dodgers wound up losing 5-6. He rebounded Tuesday night with a four-out save. Kimbrel struck out the side in his only appearance.
Tier 2: The Elite (8)
Cody Allen, Cleveland Indians
Aroldis Chapman, New York Yankees
Corey Knebel, Milwaukee Brewers
Wade Davis, Chicago Cubs
Felipe Rivero, Pittsburgh Pirates
Ken Giles, Houston Astros
Brad Hand, San Diego Padres
Roberto Osuna, Toronto Blue Jays
Allen had a typically superb week including another save today. Andrew Miller is expected to return to action tomorrow.
Chapman has returned to closing duties. I'm prepared to forgive and forget. He has three straight perfect appearances and hasn't walked a batter in six outings. During his slump, he walked six batters in 5.2 innings.
Knebel allowed a solo home run in a meaningless game last Wednesday. It was his first run since mid-July. He recovered with three easy saves and six strikeouts.
I find that I never have anything to say about Davis. He had another ho-hum week, picking up a save in two scoreless appearances.
The Athletics dinged Giles for a blown save loss on Friday. He locked down a clean save last night. Hand nabbed two saves and three strikeouts in two innings. He had to work around a few base runners.
Osuna missed the week with a stiff neck and paternity leave. He should return to action soon. Ryan Tepera has temporarily moved up from setup duties.
Tier 3: The Core Performers (4)
Raisel Iglesias, Cincinnati Reds
Sean Doolittle, Washington Nationals
Edwin Diaz, Seattle Mariners
Alex Colome, Tampa Bay Rays
Once again, I feel compelled to point out that these guys have a lot more in common with the second tier than the fourth tier.
Iglesias converted his only opportunity, a two-inning appearance. Doolittle picked up two saves early in the week and hasn't appeared since then. Ryan Madson was used in a save situation on Sunday. I worry Doolittle's shoulder could be acting up. That's just my speculation.
Diaz was saddled with a blown save loss last Wednesday. He's seemingly homer prone – not exactly an ideal trait for a closer. He picked up a save on Friday. Colome tossed a pair of perfect innings. He would rate higher, but I'm still concerned by his peripherals. Frequently thrown sliders (or cutters if you prefer) can only solve so much.
Tier 4: Steady... Steady... (7)
A.J. Ramos, New York Mets
Fernando Rodney, Arizona Diamondbacks
Shane Greene, Detroit Tigers
Greg Holland, Colorado Rockies
Zach Britton, Baltimore Orioles
Arodys Vizcaino, Atlanta Braves
Sam Dyson, San Francisco Giants
A minor organizational note – I've merged the fourth and fifth tiers from last week.
Jeurys Familia has pitched terribly since returning from injury. Ramos' job appears very secure. He earned one save in two appearances.
After beginning the week with an easy save, Rodney let things get out of hand on Saturday. He took the loss. Archie Bradley snagged a save on Sunday, but word out of Arizona is that Rodney's job is secure. For postseason purposes, the Diamondbacks surely prefer Bradley in a flexible, multi-inning role.
Holland managed three saves and three strikeouts in three innings. He did allow a solo home run. Fortunately, the Rockies had given him an insurance run courtesy of Jansen.
Britton failed to protect a 2-1 lead last night. Although the sinker ball specialist is inducing his typical rate of grounders, the whiffs just haven't been there. Part of the issue is that he's only used his slider in a fraction of recent appearances. Although always a rarely used pitch, it was a big swing-and-miss weapon when used.
Vizcaino had a banner week for his owner, locking down a pair of wins and a save. Late season relief wins can win championships. Dyson pitched thrice. Only one outing was a save situation. He didn't allow a hit or a run.
Tier 5: These Guys... (9)
Alex Claudio, Texas Rangers
Hector Neris, Philadelphia Phillies
Blake Treinen, Oakland Athletics
Scott Alexander, Brandon Maurer, Kansas City Royals
Matt Belisle, Minnesota Twins
Yusmeiro Petit, Los Angeles Angels
Juan Nicasio, St. Louis Cardinals
Brad Ziegler, Miami Marlins
Juan Minaya, Chicago White Sox
The pile of scrubs is growing. Despite an iffy week, Claudio and Neris have a leg up on the rest of this tier. Claudio isn't always available for save chances since he's often used for more than an inning. He was handed a loss on Saturday. He saved the day on Monday. Neris blew a save last night. He allowed a pair of runs in four innings while locking down one save.
Treinen's recent scuffles continued on Friday. He vultured a win after allowing a run. I have a feeling he's always going to be a good but inconsistent pitcher – kind of like Rodney or Maurer.
Speaking of Maurer, he had the Royals closing job until he melted for three runs on Monday. Alexander closed things out on Tuesday. There's no way to tell if this indicates a role change or if Maurer simply needed a day or rest. Maurer has pitched poorly since joining the Royals. Alexander hasn't allowed a run since mid-August. Neither is an inspiring closer for the stretch run.
Belisle pitched three days in a row starting last Wednesday – all scoreless appearances. He earned two saves.
Petit is the closer du jour in Los Angeles. He's pitched the ninth inning in two straight appearance – one of which was a save situation. Blake Parker and Bud Norris could pounce at any moment. Petit is having a strong season. He's posted a 2.17 ERA with 9.54 K/9 and 1.73 BB/9.
Tyler Lyons began the week with a save on Wednesday. Nicasio took over for saves on Friday and Saturday. He has closer quality numbers including a 2.69 ERA, 8.91 K9, and 2.54 BB/9.
Ziegler took the loss last Thursday. He promptly landed on the September DL – i.e. he sat a few days. Ziegler expect to return to action any day now. Kyle Barraclough filled in with poor results. He was saddled with the loss on Saturday and blew a save in last night's marathon loss.
Minaya allowed three runs in his only outing. He's now allowed six runs over his last 2.1 innings.
Koda Glover, Washington Nationals (lower back stiffness)
Trevor Rosenthal, St. Louis Cardinals (elbow)
Norris was activated from the disabled list this week. He's part of that committee in Los Angeles.
Jeanmar Gomez, Free Agent
Ryan Madson, Washington Nationals
Joaquin Benoit, Pittsburgh Pirates
Francisco Rodriguez, Free Agent
Neftali Feliz, Free Agent
Derek Law, San Francisco Giants
Tony Watson, Los Angeles Dodgers
Matt Bush, Texas Rangers
Santiago Casilla, Oakland Athletics
David Robertson, New York Yankees
Addison Reed, Boston Red Sox
Brandon Maurer, Kansas City Royals
Justin Wilson, Chicago Cubs
Jim Johnson, Atlanta Braves
Tyler Clippard, Houston Astros
Aroldis Chapman, New York Yankees
Seung-Hwan Oh, St. Louis Cardinals
Tyler Lyons, St. Louis Cardinals
Dellin Betances, New York Yankees
Kelvin Herrera, Kansas City Royals
Blake Parker, Los Angeles Angels
Bud Norris, Los Angeles Angles
Herrera has been dealing with some kind of nagging injury, but the Royals aren't inclined to place him on the disabled list. So he falls to this list. Betances seemed doomed to appear here, if only because he had to hold off Chapman and David Robertson (not to mention Chad Green). Did Parker hold the closer role long enough to warrant inclusion here? I think so.
The Steals Department
The White Sox, Blue Jays, and Astros remain the best batteries to target. They have that special combination of many stolen bases allowed and few runners caught stealing.
The Tigers and Astros are set to benefit from the White Sox. Detroit has few base runners worth mentioning. You could try JaCoby Jones if you're in an extremely deep league. Otherwise, you'll have better options. Most of the Astros steals are tied up in Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman. Newbie Cameron Maybin is the exception. He usually bats ninth, although he only starts around two of every three games.
The Twins and Royals are next up for the Jays. Minnesota's best runner is Byron Buxton. He's sitting at 75 percent owned. Only shallow leagues can turn to him. Jorge Polanco, Eddie Rosario, and Max Kepler all have a very small chance to steal. If you hear Zack Granite is starting, give him a spin. As for the Royals, it's Whit Merrifield, Lorenzo Cain, or bust. You probably don't have access to either guy.
The Mariners and White Sox will face the Astros. Part-timer Taylor Motter is the only available Mariner. He's running at a 25 steal pace, albeit with otherwise poor production. Some Jean Segura owners are getting fed up with his second half slump. He might float across the wire in shallow formats or in some H2H settings. The White Sox are our best bet for free swipes. Tim Anderson is hitting well and showing some friskiness on the bases. Yolmer Sanchez, Adam Engel, and Rymer Liriano are all willing to run too.