Brad Johnson

Saves and Steals

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The Final Sprint

Wednesday, September 26, 2018


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)

 

Zach Britton, Aroldis Chapman, Dellin Betances, New York Yankees

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.

 


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You can read more from Brad Johnson on Rotoworld, FanGraphs, and RotoBaller. Find him on Patreon and Twitter @BaseballATeam.
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