It’s a sad day in the Steals (and Homer) Department. Christian Yelich is out for the season with a fractured knee cap, an injury which is expected to heal cleanly in time for a relatively normal winter progression. Losing Yelich takes one of baseball’s best power and speed duos out of the pennant race – a tough blow for the Brewers and his fantasy owners. There’s no replacing his multi-faceted production.
No closer managed more than two saves in the last week. Kirby Yates (40) maintained his lead. Only Aroldis Chapman (36) is within range to catch him over these final two-plus weeks. Brad Hand (34), Roberto Osuna (32), and Will Smith (32) round out the top five.
Smith is currently day-to-day with a back injury. It’s possible he’ll miss the remainder of the season for precautionary reasons. Neither he nor the Giants have sounded any alarm bells yet so don’t go dropping him unless you are fighting for your playoff life.
Now, shall we go to the tiers? Fair warning, the tiers have shifted considerably since last week.
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Tier 1: The Elite (3)
Kirby Yates, San Diego Padres
Felipe Vazquez, Pittsburgh Pirates
Aroldis Chapman, New York Yankees
Vazquez pitched well on the week, but that wasn’t enough to prevent a behind-the-scenes fight with teammate Kyle Crick. Both players received disciplinary fines by the team. There’s no word that Vazquez will miss any time for his role in the altercation. Crick broke a finger and will miss the remainder of the season.
Tier 2: The Good (7)
Liam Hendriks, Oakland Athletics
Josh Hader, Milwaukee Brewers
Roberto Osuna, Houston Astros
Kenley Jansen, Los Angeles Dodgers
Hector Neris, Philadelphia Phillies
Sean Doolittle, Washington Nationals
Brad Hand, Cleveland Indians
Hand still has worrying performances in his recent past. His fastball is below his normal velocity, and he’s not inducing as many whiffs as normal. The Indians certainly need him in top form to survive the Wild Card battle and the postseason. The others all pitched well. Hendriks and Hader were flat out dominant. Doolittle’s velocity is still a couple ticks below normal, but it doesn’t seem to be affecting his results.
Tier 3: Core Performers (10)
Ian Kennedy, Kansas City Royals
Taylor Rogers, Minnesota Twins
Ken Giles, Toronto Blue Jays
Carlos Martinez, St. Louis Cardinals
Seth Lugo, New York Mets
Raisel Iglesias, Cincinnati Reds
Emilio Pagan, Tampa Bay Rays
Archie Bradley, Arizona Diamondbacks
Hansel Robles, Los Angeles Angels
Mark Melancon, Atlanta Braves
Giles won’t be available tonight. Look to Jordan Romano or Derek Law if the Blue Jays manage to carry a close lead into the ninth inning. It’s certainly possible. The Red Sox are barely making an attempt to use major league caliber pitchers today.
Edwin Diaz is formally out of the picture in New York. Rather than use him last night, the Mets opted to force Justin Wilson through a couple lefty mashers. Classic square peg, round hole. It worked though. Lugo was unavailable because he tallied a two-inning save on Monday. While he’s firmly atop the Mets’ depth chart, it’s also clear he’ll still be used on a multi-inning basis.
While he doesn’t get a pretty green up arrow next to his name, Rogers leapfrogged quite a few of his fellow relievers. He’s consistently worked the ninth inning since mid-August while posting excellent rate stats. He appears to be on par with Kennedy and Lugo. The latter would rank higher if his usage was friendlier for save accrual.
Tier 4: Some Guys (6)
Alex Colome, Chicago White Sox
Shaun Anderson, Will Smith, San Francisco Giants
Mychal Givens, Baltimore Orioles
Brandon Workman, Boston Red Sox
Jose Leclerc, Texas Rangers
Joe Jimenez, Detroit Tigers
Anderson has seen his stuff play up significantly since joining the bullpen. His fastball is zipping upwards of three mph harder, and his swinging strike rate has spiked accordingly. With any luck, Smith will be back in action soon.
Jimenez had a rebound week, posting a couple saves and a win in three innings of work. He remains a volatile source of strikeouts and saves at the risk of melting your ERA and WHIP.
Tier 5: The Forgotten (4)
Jose Urena, Miami Marlins
Jairo Diaz, Colorado Rockies
If Tuesday night is any indication, the Marlins intend to hide Urena from left-handed batters. They have a trio of left-handed relievers led by Adam Conley who could jump in on a cheap save or two. Unless one save will literally save your fantasy season, I’d steer clear.
After a long hiatus from save situations, the Mariners finally produced a narrow lead. The club opted to use Bass against some left-handed hitters – ostensibly because Magill has massive platoon splits.
The Cubs bullpen is an outright disaster in Kimbrel’s absence. Cishek blew a save on Tuesday via a walkoff walk. Those are always… anticlimactic. Cishek’s failure could help Wick step to the top of the pecking order. Temporarily.
Diaz is apparently the Rockies first choice as third-string closer. The other candidate, Carlos Estevez, is sidelined with back spasms.
Brandon Morrow, Chicago Cubs (elbow – out for season)
Corey Knebel, Milwaukee Brewers (partial UCL tear – out for season)
Arodys Vizcaino, Seattle Mariners (shoulder inflammation – out for season)
David Robertson, Philadelphia Phillies (flexor strain, out for season)
Jordan Hicks, St. Louis Cardinals (torn UCL, out for season)
Scott Oberg, Colorado Rockies (blood clot, out for season)
Jose Alvarado, Tampa Bay Rays (elbow)
Craig Kimbrel, Chicago Cubs (elbow)
Will Smith, San Francisco Giants (back)
Kimbrel is aiming to return over the weekend. I’m reading between the lines and assuming Smith will be out at least one week. I could be completely wrong. This being September, teams generally won’t bother with niceties like using the injured list or informing fantasy owners what to expect.
Cody Allen, Los Angeles Angels
A.J. Minter, Atlanta Braves
Anthony Swarzak, Atlanta Braves (deposed with Mariners)
Ryan Brasier, Boston Red Sox
Chris Martin, Texas Rangers
Matt Barnes, Boston Red Sox
Pedro Strop, Chicago Cubs
Greg Holland, Washington Nationals (deposed with DBacks)
Luke Jackson, Atlanta Braves
Sergio Romo, Minnesota Twins (traded)
Roenis Elias, Washington Nationals (traded)
Chris Martin, Atlanta Braves (traded)
Wade Davis, Colorado Rockies
Shane Greene, Atlanta Braves
Edwin Diaz, New York Mets
Jose Alvarado, Tampa Bay Rays
Hunter Strickland, Washington Nationals (traded)
Ryne Stanek, Miami Marlins