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Jansen Stumbles Again

Kenley Jansen

Kenley Jansen

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Rafael Montero and Kenley Jansen each led the week with three saves. For Montero, it was a triumphant three outings in which he held opponents scoreless while allowing just one baserunner. Jansen, meanwhile, is playing his way into trouble. He allowed two runs in a save last Wednesday then was tagged for a blown save on Saturday. The Braves managed to eek out a win anyway. In just over a month with the Braves, alternate closer Raisel Iglesias has a 0.66 ERA with 9.22 K/9 and 1.98 BB/9 in 13.2 innings. For now, Jansen leads the league with 32 saves. He’s trailed by Emmanuel Clase (31) and four others tied with 30 saves.

Closer Tiers

Tier 1: Crème de la Crème (3)

Edwin Diaz, New York Mets
Emmanuel Clase, Cleveland Guardians
Liam Hendriks, Chicago White Sox

The Guardians used Clase on three consecutive days – a rarity for today’s closers. He allowed two runs (one earned) in the third appearance. The other two outings were clean. Diaz hasn’t pitched since last Thursday. He allowed an unearned run to the Dodgers en route to a hold. He picked up a save the previous day. Hendriks is in the midst of a slump. Over his last five innings, he’s allowed five runs (four earned) on eight hits and a walk.

Tier 2: The Elite (7)

Jordan Romano, Toronto Blue Jays
Ryan Helsley, St. Louis Cardinals
Devin Williams, Milwaukee Brewers
Clay Holmes, New York Yankees
Felix Bautista, Baltimore Orioles
Paul Sewald, Seattle Mariners
Camilo Doval, San Francisco Giants

It was a busy week in this tier, and yet there isn’t much to report. These are premium relievers we expect to shut down opponents. They did so on the whole. Helsley had four walks in 3.1 innings, but he only allowed one hit and no runs. Holmes allowed a run to the Rays on Sunday, but it was inconsequential. He still notched the save. Bautista was called upon for two innings on Tuesday. He allowed a run and earned a save. Sewald worked four scoreless frames, though they weren’t without anxiety. Doval managed to work three consecutive days without walking a batter or allowing a run. He tallied two saves and a win.

Tier 3: Core Performers (4)

Daniel Bard, Colorado Rockies
Kenley Jansen, Atlanta Braves
Scott Barlow, Kansas City Royals
Jorge Lopez, Minnesota Twins

Lopez allowed a costly run last Friday. The Twins can scarcely afford ninth-inning losses. As discussed in the intro, Jansen might be on thin ice. Bard and Barlow pitched well.

Tier 4: Uncertainty with Upside (6)

Craig Kimbrel, Evan Phillips, Los Angeles Dodgers
John Schreiber, Garrett Whitlock, Boston Red Sox
David Robertson, Brad Hand, Philadelphia Phillies
Kyle Finnegan, Washington Nationals
Gregory Soto, Detroit Tigers
Jonathan Hernández, José Leclerc, Texas Rangers

Kimbrel faced the minimum number of hitters across three appearances. He even worked back-to-back days over the weekend.

Whitlock had a dreadful week, coughing up six runs across four innings. Silver lining - he also recorded six strikeouts. Whitlock has a 4.35 ERA since late July. Due to those meltdowns, Schreiber has the Red Sox three most-recent saves.

Robertson and Hand were served losses over the weekend. Robertson bounced back with a win on Tuesday. Soto issued five free passes and allowed two runs to score in his three innings of work. He could be on the hot seat. Joe Jimenez and Andrew Chafin are next in line.

Hernandez had a brutal blown save last Thursday. He allowed four runs on four hits and three walks in just one-third of an inning. He’s since rebounded with a perfectly acceptable scoreless appearance. Meanwhile, Leclerc was called upon for the save on Tuesday.

Tier 5: Pray to the Baseball Gods (7)

Rafael Montero, Houston Astros
Alexis Diaz, Hunter Strickland, Cincinnati Reds
Nick Martinez, San Diego Padres
Wil Crowe, Pittsburgh Pirates
Rowan Wick, Brandon Hughes, Chicago Cubs
Jimmy Herget, Jose Quijada, Ryan Tepera, Los Angeles Angels
Jason Adam, Pete Fairbanks, Brooks Raley, Colin Poche, Tampa Bay Rays

Although he’s in the midst of his best season, Montero is merely a decent, inconsistent reliever. He could maybe rank a tier higher if Ryan Pressly wasn’t expected to return before long. Pressly is still dealing with neck soreness.

Martinez coughed up a couple runs on Monday then shut down the Diamondbacks on Tuesday. Look for Josh Hader, Luis Garcia, or Adrián Morejón today. Wick has the Cubs most recent save, and Hughes struggled on Sunday when he was saddled with the loss.

As usual, the Rays didn’t leave any actionable patterns for fantasy managers to exploit. In total, Adam and Fairbanks both earned a save and a hold. Three other relievers notched holds (Poche had two), and two more relievers netted wins.

Tier 6: Better Left to Others (3)

Tanner Scott, Miami Marlins
A.J. Puk, Domingo Acevedo, Sam Moll, Oakland Athletics
Ian Kennedy, Mark Melancon, Arizona Diamondbacks

Puk was charged with a blown save on Thursday, though the offending runner wasn’t his. Kennedy faceplanted in two of three outings. Joe Mantiply wasn’t at his sharpest either. Perhaps someday, the Diamondbacks will employ a bullpen. The rest of their team is actually pretty solid.


Andrew Kittredge, Tampa Bay Rays (TJS – out for season)
Lucas Sims, Cincinnati Reds (bulging disc – out for season)
Tanner Rainey, Washington Nationals (UCL sprain – out for season)
David Bednar, Pittsburgh Pirates (back)
Tanner Houck, Boston Red Sox (back)
Seranthony Domínguez, Philadelphia Phillies (triceps)
Ryan Pressly, Houston Astros (neck)
Zach Jackson, Oakland Athletics (shoulder)
Dany Jiménez, Oakland Athletics (shoulder)

Steals Department

Well, it was an interesting week on the stolen base front. The bad news is nobody swiped more than three bases. The good news is six players broached that modest plateau. Surprisingly, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. was among the fleet runners. The others look the part – namely Marcus Semien, Jose Altuve, Jake McCarthy, Garrett Hampson, and Kyle Tucker. McCarthy leads the league in post-All-Star Break thefts. The season lead still belongs to a mostly stalled out Jon Berti. Since returning from injury, he’s hitting .224/.297/.328 with four steals in 74 plate appearances. Berti is trailed by Cedric Mullins (30), Jorge Mateo (30), and Randy Arozarena (27).

Speed Spotlight

We discussed Bubba Thompson more than a month ago. There was a big caveat – would he hit enough? A month later, we’ve been served with a resounding meh. In 100 plate appearances, he’s slashing .283/.333/.326 with 10 steals and one dinger. That’s just enough for the speed to play for fantasy managers. He’s even helping with batting average! There’s just one problem. Well two. Maybe more.

The first issue is how he’s succeeded. He’s running a .424 BABIP. As a blazing fast ground ball hitter, he’s expected to post an elevated BABIP. However, we should anticipate something like a .340 BABIP going forward. Simply put, he has five more hits than expected. In so few at bats, that’s roughly 60 points of bonus batting average along with extra stolen base opportunities.

The other reason Thompson is a precarious fantasy player is his 32 percent strikeout rate. That’s more or less what we expected. He has a lot of swing-and-miss to his game. In recent minor league seasons, he’s posted between a 25-26 percent strikeout rate. If he can whittle down his whiffs while his BABIP regresses, his batting average might balance out enough for the Rangers to continue playing him.