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Christian Yelich
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Saves and Steals

Yelich Waylaid

by Brad Johnson
Updated On: September 11, 2019, 5:02 pm ET

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

Matt Magill, Anthony Bass, Seattle Mariners

Rowan Wick, Steve Cishek, Chicago Cubs

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.

The Deposed

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

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