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It was a busy week in major league bullpens, as we had a couple of closer changes and a few more shifts in bullpen hierarchies. At least one of the closer changes could be temporary in nature, but that doesn’t mean that an astute Fantasy manager can’t take advantage of the situation with some savvy work on the waiver wire.

There’s a new ninth-inning man in Colorado, and his name should be familiar to most Fantasy managers; will he be more successful in his second turn in the closer’s chair? Injuries have struck the Minnesota bullpen, and one of this year’s top closers is currently on the shelf. When will he be back, and who will step up to fill him ample shoes?

Injuries have also scrambled the bullpen hierarchy in St. Petersburg, as one of the game’s top relievers could be done for the season. Meanwhile, the team’s closer looks to be leaking a bit of oil; will one of the understudies seize their opportunity and prove to be Fantasy relevant as the season winds down?

It was a just a week ago that the Boston bullpen had more questions than answers, but one reliever has stepped up and asserted himself as the go-to guy in the Beantown ‘pen…and yes, his is a name you should know. All of these stories and more in 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.

Note: Stats are current as of close of play on August 20, 2015.

Bullpen Briefs

 

Who’s Out?

Minnesota closer Glen Perkins received an injection August 19 for his neck injury, and he is not expected to be back in action until at least early next week. Perkins had been going through a very rough stretch lately, and he owns an 8.10 ERA and 2.10 WHIP in 11 appearances after the All-Star break. Bench Perkins in daily leagues, and he’s a very risky play for the upcoming period in weekly formats.

Tommy Kahnle has allowed nine earned runs over his last three appearances, and he lost the closer’s job August 18. Kahnle did manage to rack up a pair of saves during his time as the ninth-inning man, and he has a big strikeout pitch – but his 23 walks in 30.2 innings should signal that he probably has a ways to go before he can handle closing games on a long-term basis.

Tampa Bay Rays setup man / sometime closer Jake McGee will undergo surgery August 21 to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee, and he may be out for the remainder of the season. McGee has a 2.57 ERA, 0.91 WHIP and six saves through 36 appearances this season, and the Rays will sorely miss him at the back end of their bullpen.

 

Who’s In?

Rockies manager Walt Weiss reinstated John Axford as the Colorado closer August 18, and the veteran reliever responded by notching his 17th save two days later. Axford owns an ugly 5.79 ERA and 1.71 WHIP in nine August appearances, but he has surrendered earned runs in only two of his last seven outings. Don’t look for Axford to return to his fine first-half form, but he is worth adding in most mixed Fantasy leagues if you’re searching for saves.

When Koji Uehara was lost for the year, the Boston Red Sox found themselves in need of a closer, and it appears as though Junichi Tazawa is stepping up to fill that role. Tazawa has struggled to a 4.61 ERA and 1.39 WHIP in the second half, and he blew his first save chance following Uehara’s injury, but he notched saves August 19 and 20. The Bosox may spell Tazawa on occasion, but he appears to be the clear leader in the competition for saves in Beantown; add him in all leagues.

Kevin Jepsen looks like the top option for saves in Minnesota while Perkins is sidelined. Jepsen has fashioned a tidy 2.74 ERA and 1.26 WHIP this season, and opponents are batting just .215 against him. Jepsen saved five games during his time with Tampa Bay, and he could possibly be a long-term answer for the Twins if Perkins’ injury lingers. Jepsen is worth adding in all formats if you’re chasing saves, while Trevor May is probably the next-best option.

Reliever on the Rocks

The injury to Jake McGee solidified Brad Boxberger’s place at the back of the Tampa Bay bullpen, but Boxberger has had a rather rough go of things lately. The Rays’ closer has surrendered runs in four of his last six outings, and he owns a rather dismal 2.21 WHIP in eight appearances this month. Opposing batters are hitting .333 against him in August, and he has suffered three losses and blown two of his six save chances this month. Steve Geltz or Xavier Cedeno figure to be next in line if Boxberger can’t right the ship, but neither looks like a long-term solution.

Relievers on the Rise

Xavier Cedeno has emerged from relative obscurity to claim a key place in the Tampa Bay bullpen, and his role figures to be even more prominent now that McGee is on the shelf. Cedeno has allowed zero earned runs and only five hits in 12.2 innings after the break, while fanning 19 batters and walking none. The veteran southpaw logged his first career save August 11, and more opportunities could be coming when the match-ups are right.

Keep an eye on…

Cincinnati Reds’ closer Aroldis Chapman has not pitched since August 18 due to some shoulder stiffness. While it’s not yet known whether the fireballing lefty will require a trip to the disabled list, this situation absolutely bears watching. Set-up man J.J. Hoover would be the most likely candidate to close if Chapman misses extended time.

Former Oakland closer Sean Doolittle has allowed only a solo homer in five rehab appearances, while striking out 10 batters and walking zero on five innings of work. He is expected to rejoin the team soon, but it is not yet known whether he will close games when he returns.

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.

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