With just four or five games left in the season, you’re just about out of time to make a move in the save column. Even so, there are a few opportunities to exploit. The best is Arodys Vizcaino’s return as the Braves closer. His teammate A.J. Minter is limping to the finish line, having allowed a 5.73 ERA over his last 11 innings. There are no warning signs that Minter is broken – it just looks like a normal string of bad results. In any case, Vizcaino will be used in the ninth inning. His previous owner may have discarded him – I know I was forced to dump a couple shares when he came off the disabled list.
Aroldis Chapman played setup man to Zach Britton on Monday. Chapman worked the seventh inning with Dellin Betances handling the eighth frame. Britton appears to be in top form. I consider this a committee situation with the Yankees taking an opportunity to accustom Chapman to appearing whenever he’s most needed.
With Jace Fry picking up a spot start as an opener, Nate Jones’ job security is all but assured. Even so, he’s owned in just 15 percent of leagues. Elsewhere, Trevor Hildenberger has lost the job in Minnesota. Trevor May and Taylor Rogers look to share the role. Neither reliever promises much in terms of fantasy value. The Angels bullpen has once again become an exercise in frustration. Ty Buttrey picked a bad time to slump. He could have entered 2019 as the presumptive closer. Now he’s back in committee mode with Blake Parker, Justin Anderson, and Hansel Robles.
Wily Peralta is the improbable king of saves over the last calendar week. He was the only closer to finish three games. Six others picked up a pair of saves. That means Edwin Diaz’s quest for history is done. He’s stranded at 56 saves with only four games left to play. Craig Kimbrel (42) and Wade Davis (41) are the only others to cross the 40 save plateau. It’s likely to remain that way.
Now, shall we go to the tiers?
Tier 1: The Elite (3)
Edwin Diaz, Seattle Mariners
Blake Treinen, Oakland Athletics
Craig Kimbrel, Boston Red Sox
We’ve lost Chapman from this tier. His owners should probably stick with him except in dire situations. The Athletics are all but locked into the second Wild Card slot. It would require a perfect finish and some help from the Yankees to pull off the first Wild Card upset. As such, we can expect Blake Treinen to get a breather tonight after working four of the last five days. Since an early-August panic, Kimbrel has a 0.69 ERA with 14.54 K/9 and 4.85 BB/9. The command remains a cause for modest concern. He’s still the third best closer so it’s not that concerning.
Tier 2: Nearly Elite (5)
Roberto Osuna, Houston Astros
Jose Leclerc, Texas Rangers
Kenley Jansen, Los Angeles Dodgers
Sean Doolittle, Washington Nationals
Felipe Vazquez, Pittsburgh Pirates
Jansen was the only pitcher in this tier to allow a run – via solo homer. Osuna was roundly booed in his return to Toronto, but he recorded a pair of saves anyway. Leclerc missed a save opportunity on Sunday because he worked the previous two games in non-save situations. Don’t worry, he’s still the closer.
Tier 3: Core Performers (5)
Kirby Yates, San Diego Padres
Wade Davis, Colorado Rockies
Raisel Iglesias, Cincinnati Reds
Jeremy Jeffress, Milwaukee Brewers
Will Smith, San Francisco Giants
The Rockies are in a fight for their lives with the Dodgers. They trail the division lead by just half a game. And they hold a half game lead over the Cardinals for the second Wild Card slot. Unlike many teams, they’ll be using all of their bullets over the final weekend. Davis owners should benefit.
Over the last 30 days, Iglesias has limped to a 3.65 ERA (7.45 FIP) with 9.49 K/9, 6.57 BB/9, and 2.92 HR/9. Basically, he’s allowed way too many walks and homers while miraculously dodging a multi-run appearance. Consider pulling him in a head-to-head final if saves aren’t up for grabs and you need to protect your ratios.
Jeffress has missed a few games with a stiff neck. He claims to be available, but I’m sure the Brewers would rather wait until their fully confident in his health. Josh Hader and Corey Knebel are available in his absence. Indeed, one of them could steal the ninth inning job heading into the postseason.
Tier 4: Second Choice Closers (6)
Carlos Martinez, St. Louis Cardinals
Brad Hand, Cody Allen, Andrew Miller, Cleveland Indians
Ken Giles, Toronto Blue Jays
Arodys Vizcaino, Atlanta Braves
Sergio Romo, Tampa Bay Rays
The Yankees and Indians have an embarrassment of riches in their bullpens. Despite this, an unwillingness to settle on regular roles is starving their fantasy owners. In St. Louis, Martinez has once again demonstrated shaky command when pitching on consecutive days. Romo rebounded from an ugly loss last Thursday to record a save on Sunday.
Tier 5: Mess Hall (11)
Hector Neris, Pat Neshek, Tommy Hunter, Victor Arano, Philadelphia Phillies
Yoshihisa Hirano, Brad Ziegler, Arizona Diamondbacks
Nate Jones, Chicago White Sox
Jesse Chavez, Steve Cishek, Justin Wilson, Chicago Cubs
Ty Buttrey, Blake Parker, Los Angeles Angels
Mychal Givens, Baltimore Orioles
Trevor May, Taylor Rogers, Minnesota Twins
Shane Greene, Detroit Tigers
Adam Conley, Drew Steckenrider, Miami Marlins
Robert Gsellman, New York Mets
Wily Peralta, Kansas City Royals
The old fifth tier collapsed into the Mess Hall. We’re left with a still unresolved committee in Philadelphia – they’ve stopped winning games altogether. Speaking of teams that don’t win games – the White Sox, Orioles, Tigers, Marlins, Twins, Mets, and Royals aren’t likely to supply multiple save opportunities over the final days of the season. The Angels, Cubs, and Diamondbacks could offer multiple opportunities, but the unsteady composition of their bullpens makes it difficult to select the likeliest beneficiaries.
Keynan Middleton, Los Angeles Angels (elbow – out for season)
Brandon Morrow, Chicago Cubs (bicep – out for season)
Kelvin Herrera, Washington Nationals (Lisfranc tear – out for season)
Pedro Strop, Chicago Cubs (hamstring)
Strop still hopes to return before the end of the season.
Dominic Leone, St. Louis Cardinals (injured)
Greg Holland, Washington Nationals (signed)
Cam Bedrosian, Los Angeles Angels
Alex Colome, Seattle Mariners (traded)
Brad Ziegler, Arizona Diamondbacks (traded)
Hector Neris, Philadelphia Phillies
Sam Dyson, San Francisco Giants
Jeurys Familia, Oakland Athletics (traded)
Tyler Clippard, Toronto Blue Jays
Joakim Soria, Milwaukee Brewers (traded, injured)
Brad Brach, Atlanta Braves (traded)
Keone Kela, Pittsburgh Pirates (traded)
Kyle Barraclough, Miami Marlins (injured)
Ryan Tepera, Toronto Blue Jays
Fernando Rodney, Oakland Athletics (traded)
Corey Knebel, Milwaukee Brewers
Hector Rondon, Houston Astros
Seranthony Dominguez, Philadelphia Phillies
Bud Norris, St. Louis Cardinals
Brad Boxberger, Arizona Diamondbacks
Blake Parker, Los Angeles Angels
Dellin Betances, New York Yankees
Aroldis Chapman, New York Yankees
Trevor Hildenberger, Minnesota Twins
A.J. Minter, Atlanta Braves
Chapman has seemingly lost his job, but nobody should be too perturbed by it. He’ll be back atop the depth chart next season. Minter might have a future as a closer too.
The Steals Department
Surprise! Greg Allen received only 12 plate appearances in the last week, but that didn’t stop him from stealing four bases. He’s being groomed as a frequent pinch runner and defensive replacement. Five others – all notable base thieves – swiped three bags. Trea Turner (43) is currently the only member of the 40 steal club. Whit Merrifield (39) could join him. Mallex Smith (36) would need a big finish to get there.
Tier 1: The World Beaters (5)
Marte has a balky calf and therefore might take it easy over the final weekend. Hamilton still struggles to reach base often enough to make his presence fully felt.
Tier 2: Consistent Thieves (7)
Gordon hasn’t stolen a base in September. He’s twice been caught stealing. In his age 30 campaign, we might be seeing the beginning of the end for the former perennial sleeper.
Tier 3: Still Speedy (5)
Quinn may be the single best target for stolen bases. The Phillies are giving him a full tryout while planning for next season. He’s already made a name for himself at the plate, on the bases, and in the field. Inciarte benefits from facing three righties in Philadelphia over the weekend.
Tier 4: Some Flaws (5)
Gore’s biggest flaw is that he’s only a pinch runner. This has mixed uses. If all of your counting stats are secured except for steals, you can use him to chase the category. Since he can’t hit, it’s good for your rates that he doesn’t bat. And the Cubs are likely to set him loose on the bases a couple more times. In fact, I started him over J.D. Martinez for the final week of my 20 team dynasty. I needed to make up three steals and had no risk or upside in home runs, runs, or RBI.
Tier 5: Not Slow (6)
Altuve will probably sit tonight as part of the Astros hangover game. Rosario is doing his best to prove he deserves another season as a starter in New York. Sometimes it takes top prospects a couple years to make much needed adjustments.
Jackie Bradley Jr.