After a wild trade deadline in major league baseball, it’s time to look at the fallout and changes to multiple bullpens. Mining saves remains an endless chore, but one needed to compete for league titles.
Felix Bautista earned the inside track for saves for the Orioles after they shipped Jorge Lopez to the Twins. Bautista posted a 0.94 ERA and 0.70 WHIP over his last 28.2 innings with 40 strikeouts, three wins, one save, and one blown lead. His most significant threat to close looks to be Dillon Tate after he extended his scoreless streak to nine innings with nine strikeouts.
Boston Red Sox
The Red Sox continued to use Garrett Whitlock over multiple innings, pointing to an up and down role in saves. Since returning from the injured list, he allowed one run over 10 innings with 11 strikeouts, two saves, and two holds. Tanner Houck earned a pair of saves over the first two days in August, giving him eight in his nine chances. He has a 1.35 ERA and 1.08 WHIP over his previous 33.1 innings with 33 strikeouts.
The ninth inning for the Cubs will be in flux over the rest of the season after trading David Robertson, Mychal Givens, and Scott Effross. Rowan Wick sits on top of their closing depth chart despite poor stats (4.36 ERA and 1.73 WHIP on the year). His arm has improved over the past three weeks (no runs over 7.2 innings with nine strikeouts). He delivered 15 saves over the last four years. Brandon Hughes pitched well in July (0.87 ERA and 0.97 WHIP over 10.1 innings with 12 strikeouts). His ceiling looks much higher than Wick.
The closing role for the Reds should be in the hands of Alexis Diaz going forward. Since returning from the injured list, he gave up one run over 9.2 innings with 13 strikeouts, two saves, and one blown lead. Hunter Strickland struggled over the past two weeks (12.60 ERA and 2.00 WHIP over five innings with three strikeouts, three saves, and one blown save).
Los Angeles Angels
The first save for the Angels after moving Raisel Iglesias went to Jose Quijada. Unfortunately, his command (12 walks over 20 innings) doesn’t project well closing games. Ryan Tepera pitched poorly in July (7.11 ERA and 1.89 WHIP over 6.1 innings), pushing him away from saves. Andrew Wantz threw the ball well at AAA (2.87 ERA and 17 strikeouts over 15.2 innings), giving him a chance to steal the ninth inning in Los Angeles. Over his previous 11 innings in the majors, he allowed two runs with nine strikeouts.
The big closing winner this week is Devin Williams. His last run allowed came on May 10th, leading to 28.2 shutout innings with 11 hits, 47 strikeouts, and four saves. Williams has electric upside, and the Brewers made a brilliant trade to improve their team by moving Josh Hader to the Padres. Taylor Rogers was an addition by subtraction for San Diego, while Milwaukee hopes to unlock his missing keys. He does have 28 saves in 35 opportunities, but Rogers has been worthless over his previous 11.1 innings (8.74 ERA and 1.94 WHIP).
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Sensing a playoff berth this year, the Twins added a pair of arms (Jorge Lopez and Michael Fulmer) to improve their bullpen this week. Lopez assumes the 9th inning after posting the best season in his major league career (1.68 ERA and 54 strikeouts over 48.1 innings with 19 saves in 23 tries. Unfortunately, his resume of success is short, and the heat of a playoff battle may lead to his wings wilting down the stretch. Jhoan Duran improved his shutout string to seven innings with 10 strikeouts. He only has one save over the past six weeks.
The battle for saves in Oakland should come down to AJ Puk and Dany Jimenez. Puk dominated in July (one run over 11.1 innings with 14 strikeouts and two saves. The move to the bullpen helped him reach another level in his command. He should be the best option to close over the final two months. Jimenez threw the ball well in his two appearances at AAA (no runs or hits over two innings with four strikeouts) after missing six weeks with a shoulder injury. The A’s gave Zach Jackson a converted save opportunity on Wednesday night. He pitched well over his previous 13.2 innings (0.66 ERA and 18 strikeouts).
After acquiring David Robertson from the Cubs, the Phillies moved him quickly into the ninth inning. He is 15-for-20 converting saves with four runs over his last 10 innings with 12 strikeouts. Seranthony Dominguez earned six saves over the previous six weeks with two runs allowed over 14 innings with 14 strikeouts. This situation could change quickly, or Robertson could successfully seize the closing role.
A back issue pushed David Bednar to the injured list on Tuesday. Pittsburgh awarded Wil Crowe with the first closing chance, which he converted. His arm looked improved over his last 15 innings, leading to a 1.80 ERA and 11 strikeouts. Yerry De Los Santos could be an option, but the Brewers drilled for three runs and five baserunners over two-thirds of an inning on Wednesday night.
San Diego Padres
The Padres may have overpaid for a lockdown 9th inning arm, but they were tired of seeing Taylor Rogers getting lit up over the past month. Hader struggled over five games (12 runs, 15 baserunners, and five home runs over 4.1 innings with nine strikeouts) before the All-Star break, opening the door for a trade. However, he is 29-for-31 closing games with improvement over his last five innings (one run and four baserunners with eight strikeouts, two wins, and two saves.
AMUSE: Fantasy Impact of Hader to Padres
Since the All-Star break, Seattle’s ninth inning has been all over the board. Paul Sewald has one save in two chances over his previous eight innings with one hit, two runs, four walks, and six strikeouts. He has 13 saves in his 16 tries. The Mariners gave Andres Munoz the ball in the ninth inning on Tuesday night (save) despite struggling in his previous appearances (two runs over one inning). He has a 0.84 ERA and 37 strikeouts over his 21.1 innings. Matt Festa also picked up a save over the past week, but the Astros beat him for two runs and four baserunners over two-thirds of an inning in his next outing. He has a 1.72 ERA and 20 strikeouts over his last 15.2 innings.
Tampa Bay Rays
Over the last week, the Rays turned to Pete Fairbanks in the ninth inning twice. He hasn’t allowed a run over his previous four innings with no walks, six strikeouts, and two saves. Fairbanks made his first appearance of the year on July 17th. The Rays decided to pitch him in a setup role on August 3rd to keep fantasy managers on their toes. Jason Adam earned his fifth save in six chances on August 3rd, but his previous save came 16 days prior. He has an elite ERA (1.27) and WHIP (0.63) with 51 strikeouts over 42.2 innings.
After missing 2021 and the first half of this season with his recovery from TJ surgery, Jonathan Hernandez returned to the Rangers in mid-July. He has a 3.00 ERA and 1.17 WHIP over six innings with five strikeouts and one save. At AAA in 2022, he battled his command (13 walks over 13.1 innings), suggesting he won’t be a smooth ride in the ninth for the Rangers. For now, Hernandez is the next man up to close for Texas.