Connect with us

Well, the 2015 Major League Baseball Non-Waiver Trade Deadline is behind us, and what a week it was. Several major stars changed teams in the final days before the deadline, including a few closers and top set-up men. In case you missed it, let’s take a quick run through the major bullpen-relevant moves of the past week.

Philadelphia finally traded closer Jonathan Papelbon, and he has taken over the ninth inning in the nation’s capital – which didn’t exactly gladden the hearts of Drew Storen’s Fantasy owners. If you own former set-up man Ken Giles, though, your day probably got a little brighter when the news of this trade broke.

The Oakland A’s dealt closer Tyler Clippard to the New York Mets, where he’ll set up for closer Jeurys Familia. His departure leaves a big hole in the Oakland bullpen, and there’s no clear heir apparent to the closer’s chair.

The Atlanta Braves continued one of the more curious rebuilding projects in recent memory by dealing closer Jim Johnson to the Los Angeles Dodgers, where he’ll be a set-up man for closer Kenley Jansen. If you own Storen, Clippard and Johnson, this was not one of your better Fantasy Baseball weeks.

Meanwhile, the Chicago Cubs continue their shell game disguised as a bullpen by apparently changing closers yet again, while the Toronto Blue Jays activated a pitcher who looked like a closer-in-waiting not that long ago. There was plenty of news to be had this week, and what to make of it all is the topic of this week’s edition of Bullpen Briefs.

Following bullpens around the league is truly a daily pursuit, so be sure to check out – and bookmark — our Bullpen Depth Charts, which are updated as news breaks … pretty much daily.

Bullpen Briefs


Who’s Out?

Jonathan Papelbon’s arrival in Washington spells a demotion for former ninth-inning man Drew Storen, who has forged a 1.64 ERA and converted 29 of 31 save chances in his brilliant 2015 season. Storen’s strikeout rate and help with ratios gives him some relevance in deeper mixed leagues, but his Fantasy value has obviously been dealt an enormous blow.

Another Fantasy victim of a deadline deal was Tyler Clippard, who went from being the ninth-inning man in Oakland to a set-up man in New York. Given the recent struggles of Jeurys Familia, though, Clippard might find himself back in the mix for saves before long, so hang on to him for now.

Jim Johnson had been enjoying a renaissance season in Atlanta, and had taken over as the Braves’ closer about three weeks ago after Jason Grilli went down with an injury. Unfortunately for Johnson’s Fantasy owners, their man is now plying his trade as a set-up man for Kenley Jansen in Los Angeles after he was sent west in a mega-deal that involved three teams and 13 players. Johnson may see an occasional save chance, but his Fantasy value going forward figures to be limited to leagues that reward holds.

We gave you the heads-up last week regarding Colorado closer John Axford’s recent struggles, and he was indeed removed from the ninth-inning role July 31. Axford is probably worth keeping around in deeper leagues if you have the roster space, as there is no clear successor in the Rockies’ bullpen.

New York Mets’ set-up man Jenrry Mejia failed a second PED test last week, and he has been suspended for 162 games.


Who’s In?

The long-anticipated trade of Papelbon opened the door for his hard-throwing understudy Ken Giles, who has logged saves in each of his first two appearances as Philly’s closer. Giles can be wild at times, but his swing-and-miss stuff makes him an attractive Fantasy option.

While Giles was the obvious choice to close following Papelbon’s departure, there was no clear successor to Clippard in Oakland. Veteran Edward Mujica was named the team’s closer following Clippard’s departure, but he promptly surrendered the go-ahead run in his first outing July 31. Drew Pomeranz is also in the mix, and right now this bullpen has “closer by committee” written all over it.

Like Clippard, Johnson’s replacement was not clear-cut. The Braves removed some of the speculation by announcing in short order that Arodys Vizcaino would serve as the team’s new closer. Vizcaino owns a 1.00 ERA and 1.11 WHIP in 10 appearances since returning from a suspension for PEDs, and he has the raw stuff to hold down the ninth-inning role for years to come. If Vizcaino falters, veterans David Aardsma and Jason Frasor stand ready for their turn in the spotlight.


Relievers on the Rocks

The Mets’ Jeurys Familia has been one of baseball’s better closers this season, but he has fallen on some hard times of late. Familia has suffered three blown saves in his past six appearances, and has seen his ERA rise from 1.25 to 2.15 during that stretch. There doesn’t seem to be cause for alarm just yet, but this situation definitely bears watching – especially now that former Oakland closer Tyler Clippard is in the fold.

Seattle’s Carson Smith has allowed runs in three straight appearances, while suffering three losses and a blown save. If Smith cannot turn things around, the Mariners may go back to Fernando Rodney in the ninth inning.

Reliever on the Rise

The Chicago Cubs’ Hector Rondon has allowed only one earned run since May 22, and he appears to have pitched his way back into the closer’s job on the North Side. Rondon notched saves on July 29, 30 and 31, and he appears to again be the top option in what has at times been a rather bewildering bullpen. One never knows how manager Joe Maddon will play things on any given night, but Rondon’s recent run of success has returned him to must-own status in all Fantasy leagues.

Keep an eye on…

Toronto activated Aaron Sanchez from the disabled list July 25, and immediately deployed their young flamethrower in a high-leverage situation – namely the eighth inning of a tie game. Sanchez has allowed no runs and only one hit in his first four appearances, and it’s important to remember that he was in the closer’s conversation this spring. If he can find the strike zone on a regular basis, Sanchez could become a fallback option if closer Roberto Ozuna runs into trouble.

Following bullpens around the league is truly a daily pursuit, so be sure to check out – and bookmark — our Bullpen Depth Charts, which are updated as news breaks … pretty much daily.

Note: Stats are current as of close of play on July 31, 2015.

Follow Buck!

Buck Davidson

Buck Davidson has been writing about baseball since the Internet was more a flight of fancy than a way of life. His Fantasy analysis has appeared on such websites as RotoExperts, RotoRob, Yahoo, CBS, MSN, FOXSports and, and he has hosted numerous Fantasy Sports podcasts over the years. For the past seven seasons, Buck has been a contributing writer for The Fantasy Baseball Guide magazine. Despite all of his years of experience, though, Buck seeks out the unique sports insight of his 95-year-old Granny Lil when the Fantasy chips are truly down.
Follow Buck!

More in Bullpen Briefs