It’s time to start buying Brad Boxberger insurance, and I may be a week late after Boxberger got crushed in his last game on June 17th (four runs, five baserunners, and two home runs over two-thirds of an inning). Brad has three blown saves in 19 chances with a 12.60 ERA and 2.00 WHIP over his last five games leading to a loss, three saves, and two blown saves. Archie Bradley allowed one run and 11 baserunners over his last 10.2 innings with six Ks, one win, and one save. Yoshihisa Hirano sure looks closer-worthy after extending his shutout streak to 17.1 innings with ten hits, eight walks, and 18 Ks. Bradley should be the top handcuff, but I wouldn’t rule out Hirano as a longer-term option.
Arodys Vizcaino has a win or a save in each of his last seven appearances while improving his scoreless run to ten innings with two walks and 13 Ks. Vizcaino is 15-for-17 in save conversions with a 1.82 ERA and 33 Ks over 29.2 innings. Dan Winkler still has an edge in his ERA (1.53), but he allowed three runs and nine baserunners over his last five innings. A.J. Minter now looks like the arm Fantasy owners believed he was coming into 2018. Over his last seven innings, Minter allowed two runs and three hits but more importantly no walks and 12 Ks.
Zach Britton pitched three shutout innings with one hit, three walks, and three Ks over his first week back in the majors. His average fastball (94.4) ranks below his previous seasons in the bullpen (2016 – 97.4 and 2017 – 96.4). I expect him to regain the closing role when the Orioles win their next close game. Brad Brach tossed 4.1 shutout innings with six baserunners and five Ks over the last ten days, but his last save came on June 6th. Brach has two failed saves in 12 tries in 2018. Darren O’Day hasn’t allowed a run over his last three innings with no walks and five Ks after coming off the DL.
Boston Red Sox
Over his last three games, Craig Kimbrel lost his command. He issued five walks in three innings, which led to a pair of runs. Kimbrel converted his last 13 save opportunities with a 2.45 ERA and 20 Ks over 14.2 innings. On the year, Craig is 22-for-24 in save chances. Joe Kelly started to bleed back his early success with three poor showings in seven appearances in June (six runs, 11 baserunners, and two home runs over five innings). Matt Barnes lost his way as well over his last four games (four runs and seven baserunners over four innings).
Brandon Morrow has one blown save in 17 tries with strength in his ERA (1.59) and WHIP (1.15), but he showed some failure risk in his last three games (two runs, six baserunners, and one HR over 2.1 innings). Morrow was unavailable over the last couple of days due to back tightness, which led to him being placed on the DL on Wednesday. Carl Edwards had his return date pushed back to early July. Steve Cishek remains the top handcuff for the Cubs while taking over the short-term opportunity with Morrow out for another week or so. He allowed two runs over his last 5.1 innings with six Ks while owning a 2.01 ERA on the year with 35 Ks over 31.1 innings.
Chicago White Sox
The apparent resurgence by Joakim Soria over the last month is due to a change in his arm angle, which he started to use in a game on May 21st against Baltimore. He extended his shutout run to 12.2 innings with five hits, two walks, 13 Ks, and six saves. Soria failed to convert two of his 12 save chances in 2018. Nate Jones landed on the DL over the last week with a muscle issue in his right arm. Bruce Rondon fell on his face in his last two outings (three runs and eight baserunners over one inning) to remove himself of save contention.
I’m still in the camp that Raisel Iglesias has an underlying injury. Over his last eight games covering 8.2 innings, Iglesias allowed five runs, 15 baserunners, and two HRs with ten Ks. His velocity has been up and down in June within games (high – 97.0 and low – 93.3). Iglesias is 10-for-12 in save tries while still maintaining strength in his ERA (2.45) and WHIP (1.09). Jared Hughes saw his 19.1-inning scoreless streak end in his last game on June 17th when he allowed a run and four hits over one inning. David Hernandez hasn’t allowed a run over his last 7.1 innings with seven Ks.
Over the last week, Cody Allen pitched 2.1 shutout innings with four Ks while securing three saves. His success is much needed after showing disaster downside over his previous 13.2 innings (6.59 ERA) despite a favorable WHIP (1.10). Allen only has one failed save in 16 opportunities this year. It’s been a struggled to find a serviceable setup arm of value in the Indians’ bullpen with Andrew Miller on the DL. Oliver Perez has a 1.29 ERA and seven Ks over seven innings since his call-up to the majors in early June. Josh Tomlin pitched better over his last five appearances (one run over 6.1 innings with two hits and five Ks).
Fear started to creep into Fantasy owners’ hearts in June if they owned Wade Davis. Over his last two games, Davis allowed five runs, eight baserunners (five of which were walks), and one K over 1.1 innings. He’s blown his last two saves while posting a 14.29 ERA and 2.65 WHIP in June. Wade now has four blown saves in 24 tries. This boat is taking on water with no sign of a life raft on the horizon. Adam Ottavino returned just in time from his oblique issue to possibly steal the closing role. Over the last week, Ottavino tossed 3.1 shutout innings with six Ks to push his shutout streak to 11.2 innings with 16 Ks. On the year, batters only have nine hits off of Adam leading to three runs and 51 Ks over 31.2 innings.
Shane Greene has a save in his last four games while not giving up a run over his last five innings with six Ks. His ERA (3.57) and WHIP (1.19) are now in a favorable area, which may be the data needed for the Tigers to trade him to a contender. On the year, Greene has 19 saves in 22 chances with 40 K over 35.1 innings. Joe Jimenez has been electric over his last eight innings (no runs, three hits, one walk, and 12 Ks), which led to two saves. Jimenez now has a 2.04 ERA with 40 Ks over 35.1 innings. I expect him to take over the closing role over the last two months of the year. Louis Coleman has 2.45 ERA over his last 11 innings with 18 Ks.
Earning saves in Houston is going to be frustrating until one option pitches his way out of contention. Hector Rondon saw his 11.1-inning scoreless run end on June 19th when he pitched in a setup role. He allowed two hits and one run over one inning of work. Over his last six games, Hector has four saves. On the year, Rondon has 1.67 ERA and 32 Ks over 27 innings. Ken Giles picked up a save on June 12th, so he may or may not be the closer. Over the last ten days, he pitched 3.2 shutout innings with one hit and five Ks. His ERA (4.56) is out of line for the year, but Giles has a favorable WHIP (1.18) and no blown saves in 11 opportunities. Chris Devenski tossed six shutout innings in June with two hits and six Ks.
Kansas City Royals
June 20th was a sad day for Kelvin Herrera owners after he was traded to the Washington Nationals. He goes from closer to set up man, which means he’s just a bench warmer in most 5 X 5 Roto formats. Now the challenge for me and Fantasy owners is finding a viable arm to pick up saves in Kansas City. The first opportunity should go to Kevin McCarthy who has 3.86 ERA and 1.12 WHIP over his 30.1 innings in the majors. His two disaster games in June (six runs and nine baserunners over two innings) suggest to me that he can’t get it done in the 9th inning long term. His average fastball (92.6) doesn’t have a closer smell. The best arm for saves in the system appears to be at AA. Jake Newberry has a 6-2 record with a 2.13 ERA, 70 Ks, and 27 saves over his last 80.1 innings at AA, but he did struggle in 2017 at AAA (4.76 ERA). Newberry showed improved command (2.4 walks per nine) leading to a career-high K rate (11.2) in 2018. It would be a lot to ask for Jake to have success in the ninth inning for the Royals even if he was called up. The best bet falls to Brandon Maurer who has closing experience in the majors. Over his last 11 innings in the minors, Maurer didn’t allow a run with 12 baserunners and ten Ks while converting five saves.
Los Angeles Angels
Time appears to be running out for Blake Parker in the ninth inning. Over his last three games, Parker allowed five runs, eight baserunners, and three home runs over 4.1 innings while blowing one of his two save chances. Even with his recent failures, Blake has a 2.74 ERA and 1.13 WHIP over his last 23 innings with 33 Ks. Parker has two failed saves in ten tries in 2018. Justin Anderson has a closing ERA (1.69) and Ks (20) over his last 16 innings, but 14 walks don’t lead to a lot of success with the game on the line in the ninth. Cam Bedrosian pitched better in his last nine games (0.93 ERA over 9.2 innings with ten Ks).
Los Angeles Dodgers
Kenley Jansen hasn’t allowed a hit or a run over his last five innings with three Ks an three saves. He’s converted 16 straight saves with a 1.00 ERA and 27 Ks over 27 innings. On the year, Jansen is 18-for-20 in save conversions. Josh Fields tossed 4.1 shutout innings over the last week with four Ks. Scott Alexander threw four no-hit shutout innings with six Ks over his last four games.
There has been nothing but success for Kyle Barraclough since taking over the closing role for the Marlins in early June. Barraclough has five saves over his last seven games while extending his no-hit streak to 9.2 innings with eight Ks and improving his scoreless run to 16.2 innings with one hit allowed and 11 Ks. Drew Steckenrider tossed 13 shutout innings with 12 baserunners and 12 Ks over his last 14 games while picking a win and a save. Brad Ziegler extended his shutout streak to ten innings with five walks and eight Ks.
Since coming off the DL on May 10th, Corey Knebel has a 2.77 ERA and 18 Ks over 13 innings with six saves in seven chances. Josh Hader hasn’t been as electric over his last eight games even with only one run allowed over 11.1 innings. His struggles have come with his command (nine walks) over this strength, but he’s still maintained his K ability (21). Jeremy Jeffress has a 2.35 ERA and 1.43 WHIP over his last 7.2 innings with 11 Ks.
Fernando Rodney is 15-for-18 in save opportunities. Over his last 13 successful saves, Rodney has 1.53 ERA and 0.91 WHIP with 19 Ks over 17.2 innings. Addison Reed is no longer the eighth inning arm in my mind after struggling for the fifth time in his last seven games. Over this span, Reed gave up seven runs, 16 baserunners, and three HRs over 6.2 innings. Trevor Hildenberger has been great over his last 12 games (no runs over 14 innings with 12 Ks).
New York Mets
After ten days on the DL with a sore right shoulder, Jeurys Familia allowed a run and four baserunners over one inning while pitching in the eighth inning. He remains as risk for saves after allowing five runs and 19 baserunners in his last eight innings with six Ks. His season started with 14 saves in 18 tries. Robert Gsellman may keep the closing job for a while after throwing 8.1 shutout innings with one hit, ten Ks and two saves in his last seven games. Over five games since returning from the DL, Anthony Swarzak has a 3.60 ERA and eight Ks over five innings.
New York Yankees
Aroldis Chapman has a save or a win in each of his last 13 games. He’s yet to allow a run in June over 8.1 innings with 14 Ks. Chapman has 21 saves in his 22 chances with an edge in his ERA (1.14) and Ks (55) over 31.2 innings. Dellin Betances improved his shutout run to 11 innings with one hit and 20 Ks. Chad Green remains an electric option as well in the bullpen. He threw 8.1 shutout innings over his last seven games with nine Ks to lower his ERA on the year to 1.89. David Robertson tossed six scoreless innings over his last six games with seven Ks.
Over his last five games, Blake Treinen has two wins and three saves, which pushed his total to four wins and 13 saves over his last 22 games with a 1.09 ERA and 32 Ks over 24.2 innings. Treinen is 16-for-18 in save conversions on the year. Lou Trivino pitched 6.1 shutout innings over his last five games with no walks and six Ks. Emilio Pagan has a 1.29 ERA and 1.00 WHIP over his last 14 innings with 21 Ks.
Hector Neris ended his chance at earning saves in his last outing when he allowed four runs, four hits, and two home runs over two-thirds of an inning to the Brewers earning him a ticket to AAA. Seranthony Dominquez just can’t find a closing rhythm over his last six games leading to four runs, 11 baserunners, and 13 Ks over 7.2 innings. His average fastball (98.0) is elite while showing plus command (three walks over 22.1 innings) in the majors, which paints him as the long-term option for saves for the Phillies. Edubray Ramos remains closer-worthy after throwing 11.2 shutout innings with 11 Ks over his last 14 games.
Over his last six games, Felipe Vazquez has a 2.84 ERA and 1.42 WHIP with 11 Ks and four saves over 6.1 innings. Vazquez has four blown saves in 18 tries while still having risk in his ERA (4.40) and WHIP (1.53). Tyler Glasnow has been sneaky good over his last 23.2 innings. Over this period, he has a 1.90 ERA and 1.06 WHIP with 27 Ks and seven walks. He’s going to move into the starting rotation at some point in the second half of year, and the Pirates have down a nice job building up his command and confidence in the majors. Edgar Santana struggled to two of his last four games (four runs, five baserunners, and two home runs over four innings).
San Diego Padres
Brad Hand struggled in his last two games (three runs, three hits, and two home runs over 1.2 innings), which led to his third failed saves in 24 chances. Since May 1st, Hand has 1.93 ERA and 33 Ks over 23.1 innings. Kirby Yates extended his shutout streak to nine innings with four hits and eight Ks. Craig Stammen posted a 1.33 ERA and 0.93 WHIP over his last 20.1 innings with 24 Ks.
San Francisco Giants
Sam Dyson takes over as closer for the Giants after Hunter Strickland decided to punch a wall after his worst outing of the year (three runs and five baserunners over one-third of an inning). Strickland earned 13 saves in 17 opportunities. He’ll miss six weeks, and he may not get his 9th inning job back. Dyson has been very good over his last 29 games (1.35 ERA over 26.2 innings with 22 Ks), and he has closing experience in Texas. Mark Melancon isn’t far off from closing after allowing two runs and seven baserunners over 6.2 innings with six Ks since returning from the DL. His next step is regaining some of his velocity on his fastball. Tony Watson is a dark horse for saves as well after pitching 9.2 shutout innings with 15 Ks over his last ten games.
Edwin Diaz has been a fun player to own in 2018 after posting 27 saves in his first 30 opportunities. He has a save in each of his last eight games leading to 8.1 shutout innings with one walk and 12 Ks. Alex Colome threw two shutout innings in his last three games with no Ks. The Mariners activated Juan Nicasio off the DL after missing ten days with a knee issue.
St. Louis Cardinals
After a rough seven games (six runs, nine baserunners, and two home runs over six innings with nine Ks), Bud Norris regained his form over his last three innings (no runs or hits with one K and one save). Norris is 13-for-15 in save conversions with a 3.16 ERA and 41 Ks over 31.1 innings. Jordan Hicks has a 1.00 ERA and 15 Ks over nine innings in June, which led to a win and a save. His arm is moving closer to saves. Greg Holland returned to the majors after pitching poorly over five innings at AAA (four runs, nine baserunners, and two saves). Holland has no chance of earning saves over the next month or so.
Tampa Bay Rays
Sergio Romo has the last four saves chances for Tampa. He converted three of those tries while allowing two runs and six baserunners over three innings with three Ks. Romo has a 4.50 ERA over his last 16 innings with 17 Ks. Jose Alvarado pitched 2.2 shutout innings over his last four games with six baserunners and three Ks. Diego Castillo pitched well in his first six games in the majors (1.13 ERA and ten Ks over eight innings). Over two seasons at AAA, Castillo had a 2.48 ERA with 90 Ks and 11 saves over 69 innings. Diego has a closing fastball (97.3) with solid command. My bet is now on him to take over the closing job for the Rays after the Romo experiment ends.
There are only two closers in the majors without a blown save, and they both pitch in the state of Texas. Keone Kela remains perfect in his 17 save conversions. Batters only have two hits off of him over his last 10.2 innings with a 1.74 ERA, 12 Ks, and nine saves. Jake Diekman extended his scoreless run to 9.1 innings with six hits and 12 Ks. The Rangers called up Ricardo Rodriquez this week after pitching 13.1 shutout innings at AAA with 12 Ks.
Toronto Blue Jays
Over his last nine games, Ryan Tepera has a 2.25 ERA with 12 Ks and four saves. His walks (12 over 36 innings) remain in a risky area for a closer. Tyler Clippard has been a disaster over his last 13 games (8.18 ERA and 1.64 WHIP) while serving up three home runs. Seung Hwan Oh looked sharp over his last 5.1 shutout innings with no walks and four Ks.
Sean Doolittle has a save or a win in each of his last ten games leading to one run and five baserunners over 11 innings with 11 Ks. Doolittle is 19-for-20 in save conversions with an edge in his ERA (1.71) and his WHIP (0.57). Even with Kelvin Herrera added to the roster, Sean remains the clear-cut closer in Washington. Herrera pitched great in 2018 in Kansas City (1.01 ERA and 22 Ks over 26.2 innings) while being successful in 14 of his 16 saves chances. Kelvin allowed one run over his last 11 innings with eight Ks and six saves. Ryan Madsen struggled in two of his last three games (three runs, seven baserunners, and two home runs over three innings).