Buck’s Bullpen Briefs 7-20-15

By on July 20, 2015


The All-Star break created a definite lack of action over the past week or so, so we thought we would change things up from the usual format, and talk about a few closers and set-up men who could be affected by the July 31 trade deadline.

This week, we’ll look at which closers could be changing teams in the near future, and offer a little insight as to which set-up men might be best qualified to assume the ninth-inning role with their former team. Savvy Fantasy Baseball managers will act now to best position themselves to take advantage of the opportunities offered by the oft-frantic pace of deals made at or near the trade deadline.

Note: stats are current as of the close of play on July 19, 2015.

Moving Out?

Jonathan Papelbon has made it very clear that he would like to play for a contender, which the Philadelphia Phillies certainly are not – and he expressed his wishes in rather graphic terms at an All-Star Game media session. The Phils will probably have to eat some cash to move their unhappy closer, but Papelbon is expected to be traded in the near future. If he indeed lands with a contender and assumes the ninth-inning duty, Papelbon’s Fantasy value would take a nice jump upward.

The Braves are in full rebuilding mode, and current closer Jim Johnson is one of their prime trade chips. Johnson has enjoyed a nice bounce-back season in 2015, and he is expected to take over as the team’s full-time closer now that Jason Grilli looks to be done for the year. Johnson is not a sure bet to be traded, and he may land in a set-up role if he is indeed dealt, so his Fantasy future is far from clear.

Francisco Rodriguez has posted another fine campaign for Milwaukee in 2015, but with the Brewers well out of contention, he could be a key piece in a deal for prospects. K-Rod has proven to be adept at both closing and set-up duty during his fine career in the majors, so he could potentially land in either role if he is indeed traded away.

The Reds’ Aroldis Chapman has been frequently mentioned in trade rumors, and if he does indeed land in a new city, the Fantasy ramifications could be enormous. Chapman has been his typical dominant self this season, though his elevated walk rate has resulted in a higher WHIP than we’ve come to expect from the Cincy fireballer. Chapman’s Fantasy value would receive a substantial bump if he were to land with a contender, though we would expect that the Reds would demand a rather hefty haul of prospects in return.

Moving In?

On June 18th, Phillies relief pitcher Ken Giles  reacts after pitching out of the eighth inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Citizens Bank Park. The Phillies won 2-1. (photo USA TODAY Sports / Bill Streicher)

On June 18th, Phillies relief pitcher Ken Giles reacts after pitching out of the eighth inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Citizens Bank Park. The Phillies won 2-1. (photo USA TODAY Sports / Bill Streicher)

Ken Giles has battled some command issues this season, but he has still forged a solid 1.82 ERA with 50 strikeouts through 39.2 innings of work. Giles’ swing-and-miss stuff makes him a great candidate to close games, and he has long been reckoned to be the heir apparent to Jonathan Papelbon in Philly. If Giles is not already owned in your league, it’s time to right that wrong.

Arodys Vizcaino was once one of Atlanta’s top prospects, but elbow problems – including Tommy John surgery back in 2012 – and a PED suspension to start the ’15 campaign have hampered his trek to the big leagues. Vizcaino’s fastball is sitting north of 98 mph right now, though, and he has allowed only one earned run through his first five innings of the 2015 season.

Jeremy Jeffress owns a high-octane fastball that has had him in the “closer-in-waiting” conversation for some time now, and his chance could come if K-Rod is dealt. Jeffress can be prone to wildness, but his 2015 numbers make him a better candidate to close games than fellow set-up man Jonathan Broxton, who has scuffled to a 6.42 ERA and 1.46 WHIP in his first 37 appearances.

J.J. Hoover has continued his amazing run lately – allowing only one earned run since April 21, and has lowered his ERA from 7.94 to 1.34 during that time. Like Giles, Hoover looks to be the clear fallback option if the team’s primary closer is dealt, so he should be owned in every Fantasy league.

Keep an eye on…

Cardinals closer Trevor Rosenthal was roughed up for four earned runs in his last two appearances before the break, and then did not pitch in the All-Star Game due to arm soreness. He surrendered a run and three hits in recording his 27th save July 17, marking the third straight outing in which he has been touched for at least one earned run. Kevin Siegrist is the recommended add if you’re concerned that Rosenthal’s recent woes are the harbinger of a bigger issue.

The Cubs called up Rafael Soriano on July 19, and the veteran former closer figures to be in the Cubs’ late-inning mix sooner rather than later. Jason Motte is still the favorite for saves, but remember that Soriano owns 207 career saves – including 45 as a member of the Joe Maddon-managed Rays in 2010.

That’s it for this week; good luck in your Fantasy leagues, and we’ll talk again soon.

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