He's back! It turns out there's no justice for Andrew Miller after all. Miller allowed his first run of the season yesterday to “celebrate” his demotion to setup man. And Chapman picked up his first save. Aside from the news out of New York, there's very little to report on the closer front.
Leonys Martin wants a share of the stolen base crown. He snagged four bases in five attempts this week. He'll need to keep running to catch up. Jose Altuve laughed at Martin's pluckiness while going 3-for-3. Jonathan Villar continued his rampage by taking three bags in four attempts. Nobody else reached the three steal plateau. Altuve still leads the league with 13 steals. Villar (11), Starling Marte (9), Jacoby Ellsbury (9), and Billy Burns (8) round out the top five.
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Tier 1: Elite (5)
Aroldis Chapman, New York Yankees
Kenley Jansen, Los Angeles Dodgers
Wade Davis, Kansas City Royals
Zach Britton, Baltimore Orioles
Craig Kimbrel, Boston Red Sox
The king of closers is back to reign over the tiers. Chapman was a little shaky in his first two outings, allowing two hits, a walk, and a run. He also tallied his first save and three strikeouts. He's averaging 100 mph on the gun.
Jansen did nothing to lose his closer throne – he just doesn't throw 100 mph with nasty offspeed stuff. Jansen tossed 3.1 pristine innings while earning a win and a save. He has a 0.63 ERA on the season.
Britton added three no-hit innings to his strong early-season work. He picked up a win and two saves in the process. He's posted a 2.03 ERA with 11.48 K/9 and 2.03 BB/9.
Kimbrel has settled in to do Kimbrel things. He locked down one save in two run-free innings this week. His 3.21 ERA is by far the worst of this tier, but his owners should be happy with his nine saves and 24 strikeouts in 14 innings. He's been burned by a couple home runs.
Davis is one of two closers with a 0.00 ERA. His only outing of the week came last Wednesday.
Tier 2: Nearly Elite (6)
Trevor Rosenthal, St. Louis Cardinals
Roberto Osuna, Toronto Blue Jays
Hector Rondon, Chicago Cubs
Jeurys Familia, New York Mets
Mark Melancon, Pittsburgh Pirates
David Robertson, Chicago White Sox
The Blue Jays bullpen remains a disaster. However, it's certainly not Osuna's fault. He had another scoreless week with two saves in three appearances. If only they had a more reliable bridge to him...
Rondon may have had the top week among closers. He threw 4.1 perfect innings with five strikeouts and three saves. Familia wasn't much worse with three perfect innings, three saves, and three strikeouts.
Melancon allowed a run in a non-save situation against the Cubs. It's hard for any pitcher to keep Chicago off the board. Robertson blew a save on Monday. He appeared just twice in the last week.
Tier 3: The Mid-Tier (6)
A.J. Ramos, Miami Marlins
Luke Gregerson, Houston Astros
Cody Allen, Cleveland Indians
Arodys Vizcaino, Atlanta Braves
Jonathan Papelbon, Washington Nationals
Francisco Rodriguez, Detroit Tigers
Last week, I had concerns about Ramos' fastball velocity. Since then, he posted average velocities of 91.7, 94, and 91.7 mph in three appearances. I think that means he's ok. He did allow a run in a three walk, no hit outing on Monday. Keep tabs on David Phelps and Kyle Barraclough.
Ken Giles still isn't anywhere near reclaiming the closer gig. Gregerson had an ugly three run loss last Thursday. It stands as his only terrible outing of the season. He's since appeared twice without incident.
Allen finally had a clean week. He threw two easy innings, and his velocity is finally creeping back into his normal range. The overall numbers still leave much to be desired due to a decline in swinging strike rate. He's a solid high risk, high reward trade target – especially if his owner will sell low.
Rodriguez and Vizcaino both allowed one run while their team already trailed in the game. Vizcaino still looks great. Rodriguez is getting close to a downgrade.
Tier 4: Questions (7)
Fernando Rodney, San Diego Padres
Alex Colome, Tampa Bay Rays
Ryan Madson, Oakland Athletics
Santiago Casilla, San Francisco Giants
Shawn Tolleson, Texas Rangers
Steve Cishek, Seattle Mariners
Jeremy Jeffress, Milwaukee Brewers
Can you believe Rodney is one of two closers who remain unscored upon? Walks are still an issue to Rodney. This whole shell game could fall apart any day now. He relies on a combination of a 94 mph and an elite change. Both pitches can be hittable when he's off his game. I think he'll stick as the Padres closer, but you may want to shop him around to see if someone will overpay.
Colome was busy in the last week. He threw four innings, racked up four save, struck out six, and allowed only two base runners. He's a solid closer and the best reliever in the Rays bullpen. It's too bad Brad Boxberger is about a week to 10 days from returning. Manager Kevin Cash says the job is Boxberger's once he's back.
On the surface, it looks like Steve Tolleson should be on the hot seat. Throw out a five run disaster on April 6 and he has a sub-2.00 ERA. His strikeout rate is down, but he's mostly getting the job done. He did give up a costly run as part of a blown save on Monday. He responded with a save last night. Overall, he locked down two games in three appearances.
There's nobody left to steal Cishek's thunder in Seattle. He pitched relatively well in four appearances – three saves and a vulture win. Those who bought low are very happy with his 0.98 ERA, 10.80 K/9, and 2.45 BB/9.
Jeffress tallied a win and a save. The Brewers have begun shopping their closer, looking for a Ken Giles-like package in return. Good luck. Although Giles has not pitched well as an Astro, he has demonstrably better stuff, a cheaper contract, more club control, and additional closing experience. Jeffress has been acceptably decent, but a 5.27 K/9 isn't going to cut it long term.
Tier 5: Roller Coasters (6)
Brad Ziegler, Arizona DiamondbacksJake McGee, Colorado Rockies
Joe Smith, Los Angeles Angels
Tony Cingrani, Cincinnati Reds
Despite my many and frequently stated concerns with Ziegler, he has the longest active success rate converting saves. The last 35 times the Diamondbacks have asked him to finish a game, they've won. The main problem with Ziegler is his lack of upside for strikeouts. It makes it hard to use him in Roto settings. H2H owners will find it easier to work around his deficiency. He's gotten away with a lot of base runners this season – 23 in 15.1 innings.
As the days have grown warmer, McGee's velocity has improved. Unfortunately, a harder fastball has yet to lead to more strikeouts. No pitcher can close with 3.86 K/9 and 3.09 BB/9. Sure enough, he has an ugly 5.40 ERA. We'll see if he can right the ship now that he's regularly hitting 94 mph.
Smith saved one and blew another in two appearances. His strikeout rate is way down – just 4.50 K/9 in 16 innings. The Angels don't have anybody else to turn to in Huston Street's absence. Smith is in the last year of his contract so he could be a trade candidate.
The Twins get my vote for the worst managed team in baseball. One of their many issues is their use of Jepsen as the second string closer. At no point was he a better reliever than May, and this year he's been especially bad. It was a terrible week for Jepsen with three runs allowed in 1.2 innings. Meanwhile, May extended his scoreless streak to nine innings. He has a 1.89 ERA, 12.79 K/9, and 3.79 BB/9 in 19 innings.
Gomez blew one against the Cardinals last Wednesday. He responded with three straight saves. One run scored last night. Luckily, the Phillies had a two-run lead. Gomez has middle relief quality stuff. Eventually, Neris or Hernandez will supplant him.
The Reds have a closer! Tony Cingrani has saved two games! Cingrani's actually pretty bad. I could see streaming him for a save or two. Don't subject yourself to long term ownership. He's kind of the poor man's version of McGee – all fastballs but without any command.
Will Smith, Milwaukee Brewers (knee)
Brad Boxberger, Tampa Bay Rays (oblique)
Glen Perkins, Minnesota Twins (shoulder)
Huston Street, Los Angeles Angels (oblique)
Chapman is back in action, and Boxberger is nearing a return. I'm afraid the news isn't great for Perkins. He's been “scheduled” to throw a bullpen session on May 23. That's...quite a few days from now. It probably means they have no idea if he'll be ready. Street is progressing in his rehab.
Ken Giles, Houston Astros
Drew Storen, Toronto Blue Jays
Jason Grilli, Atlanta Braves
Sean Doolittle, Oakland Athletics
J.J. Hoover, Cincinnati Reds
Hoover was demoted last week. Not a whole lot else to report here.
The Steals Department
“I can pick up stolen bases off the waiver wire.” It's a common fantasy adage, dating back to a period in fantasy baseball when steals were much more prevalent. In leagues with any depth, the real stolen base threats are owned. Here are three guys on the waiver wire who might be able to help. It's scary out there.
Former Derek Jeter backup Eduardo Nunez is temporarily starting for the Twins and batting second. Nunez has a history of short hot streaks followed by painful slumps. He's running hot now - .370/.416/.506 with a .446 BABIP. Expect something like .270/.310/.395 going forward. Even with regression, Nunez will still post a solid average with some run production. He's stolen five bases already. He could snag another three or four before Eduardo Escobar returns.
Jimmy Rollins is sharing shortstop duties with Tyler Saladino. Rollins gets the bulk of the action. The former MVP is setting a good pace for runs scored, and he has three stolen bases. The ball hasn't been going over the wall yet, but he still has 10 home run power too. Over the rest of the year, you might get something like 65 runs, 10 home runs, 10 steals, and a .240 average. If you can stream his best matchups, you'll get production without the pain of his worst days.
Brewers utility man Hernan Perez is making a case for a more regular role – at least until Scooter Gennett returns. Perez is hitting a robust .308/.379/.654 with a .250 BABIP. Of course, we're talking about 29 plate appearances. Mediocre players sometimes pop three home runs over a short period of time then disappear. Perez is liable to do the same. If he does find more playing time, he has a few 20 steal seasons in the minors.