Blue Jays closer Roberto Osuna may miss most of the 2018 season after police arrested him on Tuesday. He’s currently on paid administrative leave for a seven day period. Given sufficient evidence for an arrest, a 50-game suspension feels like a minimum. Hector Olivera’s 82-game suspension may serve as the relevant benchmark.
His fantasy owners are left scrambling for a solution. The Jays bullpen contains as many as five possible candidates for saves. Ryan Tepera is probably the likeliest to ascend. In deeper dynasty formats, now is a good time to buy the 23-year-old Osuna at a reduced rate. Although he stands accused of a heinous crime, he remains one of the best young relievers in the game.
Returning to more typical reliever news, Wade Davis led the week with three saves. Ten others recorded two saves apiece. Davis is also top dog on the seasonal leaderboard (14) with Edwin Diaz (13) and Brad Boxberger (11) nipping at his heels.
Now, shall we go to the tiers?
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Tier 1: The Elite (2)
Aroldis Chapman, New York Yankees
Craig Kimbrel, Boston Red Sox
Two players dropped from the elite tier. One of them only had a one week stay. As for Chapman and Kimbrel, they remain golden. While I’ve warned you repeatedly about Kimbrel’s velocity, it’s crept upwards in recent outings.
Tier 2: Nearly Elite (7)
Edwin Diaz, Seattle Mariners
Kenley Jansen, Los Angeles Dodgers
Felipe Vazquez, Pittsburgh PiratesCody Allen, Cleveland Indians
Sean Doolittle, Washington Nationals
Brad Hand, San Diego Padres
Wade Davis, Colorado Rockies
Diaz is still my pick for third best closer. Two of his last three appearances were shaky, leading to a blown save and a loss. Additionally, his performance has benefited from a .143 BABIP. Regression in that figure and his gaudy 15.22 K/9 could lead to around a 3.00 ERA.
Jansen is edging towards a return to the elite tier. His velocity is slowly climbing as the weather warms. Since mid-April, he’s only about half a mph below his usual speed. Any moment now, he’s liable to clamp down on free passes and start piling up strikeouts. It’s a great time to buy low.
Allen has been plagued by walks in recent outings. He’s tossed up stinkers in each of his last five appearances. On the plus side, his velocity appears to have returned to his usual 94 mph. He also has a habit of going through these rough patches. Wait for him to emerge on the other side.
Doolittle has one hit and no walks allowed over his last 7.2 innings. He’s in top form. Hand faced seven batters over the weekend and twice struck out the side. Davis has pitched only five of 15.1 innings at Coors Field. I remain cautious, especially because he’s had a couple low velocity days. He could easily be ranked between Jansen and Vazquez.
Tier 3: The Core Performers (6)
Jeurys Familia, New York Mets
Raisel Iglesias, Cincinnati Reds
Brandon Morrow, Chicago Cubs
Kelvin Herrera, Kansas City Royals
Brad Boxberger, Arizona Diamondbacks
Knebel is expected to return to the Brewers bullpen today. It’s unclear if he’ll jump immediately into the ninth inning. Hader owners shouldn’t be too sad if his turn as the closer is over. He’ll still provide delicious ratios. I’m leaving the pair ranked at the top of this tier - Hader because he’s going to lose his job and Knebel because he’s technically still disabled as of this writing.
The rest of this tier mostly had a ho-hum week. Morrow did blow a save which eventually led to a Cubs loss. Boxberger blew his first save of the season last night via a solo home run. The Diamondbacks fought back for the victory over Los Angeles.
Tier 4: Maybe Good? (6)
Blake Treinen, Oakland Athletics
Arodys Vizcaino, Atlanta Braves
Hunter Strickland, San Francisco Giants
Hector Neris, Philadelphia Phillies
Giles recorded a save last night. It was his first appearance since a disastrous outing against the Yankees last week. Devenski played the role of setup man. With luck, Giles will go on one of his hot streaks. For all the questions about his role, he’s only allowed runs in three of 13 outings.
Treinen returned to action after missing a week to a shin contusion. The Athletics continue to use him as a multi-inning reliever which cuts into his fantasy value. Lou Trivino and Santiago Casilla could poach occasional saves when Treinen is unavailable.
Vizcaino has a firm grasp upon his job. Keep an eye on Daniel Winkler. He appears to be in the process of leapfrogging A.J. Minter on the Braves bullpen depth chart. If they needed to replace Vizcaino for some reason today, I’d bet on Winkler getting the job.
Neris had a shaky week. He wound up with a pair of saves and a loss. Command has been an issue for the splitter specialist. The Phillies recently promoted relief prospect Seranthony Dominguez. He has a closer ceiling and minimal upper-minors experience. I’m mostly just familiarizing you with the name for future reference. He’s nowhere near saves at this point. The White Sox have struggled to supply save opportunities for Soria and Jones.
Tier 5: Unsettled (9)
Fernando Rodney, Minnesota Twins
Keone Kela, Texas Rangers
Shane Greene, Detroit Tigers
Darren O’Day, Brad Brach, Baltimore Orioles
Alex Colome, Tampa Bay RaysJim Johnson, Justin Anderson, Los Angeles Angels
Brad Ziegler, Miami MarlinsRyan Tepera et al, Toronto Blue Jays
Kela was dinged for the loss on Saturday before rebounding with a clean outing on Monday. His grasp on the job is stronger than his 6.00 ERA would imply.
On Friday, Brach allowed a run while pitching the sixth inning. O’Day was called upon to maintain a one-run deficit through the seventh and eighth innings. He also coughed up a run. The Orioles are adrift at sea and rapidly taking on water.
Just when Norris had a chance to establish himself as the Cardinals closer, he suffers a minor triceps injury. He claims he’ll avoid the disabled list, but that’s ultimately a team decision. Even a minimum stay gives Holland or Gregerson a new opportunity to claim the role.
Colome took the loss on Sunday. The Rays have every reason to leave him in the closer role. They want to sell him for something at the trade deadline. A well-timed hot streak could facilitate a deal.
When the Angels signed Johnson, I immediately knew he’d factor in the ninth inning discussion. He and Anderson appear to be in a neck and neck battle for the next save opportunity. The thing is, neither reliever is pitching particularly well. Johnson lost the game on Saturday after Anderson failed to record an out.
My best guess is that Tepera will be the first Toronto reliever to work a save situation. He has the stuff of a late inning reliever despite otherwise tepid results. Expect about a 4.00 ERA. Seung Hwan Oh, Tyler Clippard, John Axford, and Danny Barnes are all potentially relevant.
Mark Melancon, San Francisco Giants (arm)
Zach Britton, Baltimore Orioles (Achilles, forearm)
Corey Knebel, Milwaukee Brewers (hamstring)
Keynan Middleton, Los Angeles Angels (elbow)
***Roberto Osuna, Toronto Blue Jays (administrative leave)
As mentioned above, Knebel should return today. Melancon threw a bullpen session. Britton is expected to throw batting practice soon. Middleton is on rehab assignment at Triple-A. He could be activated Thursday.
Blake Parker, Los Angeles Angels
Dominic Leone, St. Louis Cardinals
Greg Holland, St. Louis Cardinals
Brad Brach, Baltimore Orioles
Cam Bedrosian, Los Angeles Angels
I have a not-so-secret suspicion that the Angels will account for half of all deposed closers by season’s end. Most of the rest will be Cardinals…
The Steals Department
Dee Gordon and Whit Merrifield tied for the weekly lead with three steals each. Gordon now tops the seasonal leaderboard with 15 swipes. Ender Inciarte (13), Trea Turner (12), Tim Anderson (10), and Michael Taylor (10) round out the top five.
The catchers you want to pick upon include Robinson Chirinos, Kurt Suzuki, Tyler Flowers, Russell Martin, and Brian McCann. Teams are also targeting Jonathan Lucroy frequently even though he’s caught eight of 26 attempts (31 percent).
Both Braves catchers are stolen base prone which is great for the Marlins. They’ll also face the Cubs this week, although Chicago lacks base thieves. You might consider shares of Cameron Maybin, Lewis Brinson, and Miguel Rojas.
Martin has struggled with baserunners for a few years. It’s no surprise to see teams running against him. The Red Sox and Mets are next on the agenda. Jackie Bradley and Eduardo Nunez may be available on your waiver wire. Other Bostonian speedsters like Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts, and Andrew Benintendi most certainly are not available. The Mets, like the Cubs, are not blessed with team speed. You could try Todd Frazier.
The Rangers and Angels will benefit from running against McCann. Delino DeShields and Shin-Soo Choo are my top Texas targets. If you’re exceptionally lucky, you might find an overlooked Andrelton Simmons or Ian Kinsler.