Closer Report: Blue Jays, Tigers, Phillies
Troy Tulowitzki and LaTroy Hawkins were traded to the Toronto Blue Jays before the deadline for Jose Reyes, Jeff Hoffman, Miguel Castro, and Jesus Tinoco. Tulo was of course the biggest name in the trade, but LaTroy Hawkins shouldn’t be ignored for this year either. The 42-year-old Hawkins made his Major League debut the day before Tinoco was born and when Castro was only a few months old. Still, Hawkins should be valuable to the Blue Jays, who were in desperate need of bullpen help.
Despite a 58-52 record and currently holding the second Wild Card spot in the American League, the Blue Jays only have 20 saves this season. Their saves leader, Roberto Osuna, has eight. Osuna is a 20-year-old with a live arm, but experience can go a long way in the ninth inning of a game in the middle of a pennant race.
Enter Hawkins, he of 127 career saves. After having appeared in only four games for the Jays, Hawkins is already tied for fourth on the team in saves. With ONE. Hawkins won’t serve as the team’s primary closer since Osuna has been doing well and will likely continue in that role, but Hawkins seems like the one who will take over for Osuna if he struggles. With his first save in a Blue Jays uniform, Hawkins was able to do something that only twelve other players have ever done. He has now recorded a save against all thirty teams in baseball.
Closer News Around the League
The Tigers traded away their closer, Joakim Soria, before the trade deadline. It was unclear then who would take over ninth-inning duties for manager Brad Ausmus. He gave some clarity to the situation on August 2nd, stating that Alex Wilson would “probably” be taking over in save situations. Ausmus added that he might use Blaine Hardy for saves if the opposition were to send up several lefties in the ninth, but Wilson should get the lion’s share of the opportunities. Wilson doesn’t have typical closer “stuff,” having struck out only 33 batters in 57.2 innings, but he’s been effective regardless. He has a 1.72 ERA and a 0.99 WHIP. That should do just fine for the ninth-inning in Detroit. Despite his low strikeout total, advanced stats back him up as an effective pitcher. His FIP stands at 3.02, showing that he won’t always keep a 1.72 ERA, but he should remain effective. While he lacks strikeout upside, he needs to be owned in all formats simply because he will be earning saves.
Everyone knew Jonathan Papelbon would be traded before the deadline, but no one could have been waiting for the news as excitedly as new Phillies closer Ken Giles. Giles has been the “closer of the future” in Philly more or less since his Major League debut last season. He has been nothing short of elite since then, striking out 11.95 batters per nine innings in his career and holding batters to a .235 batting average against. This season, Giles has a 1.65 ERA and a 1.33 WHIP. That WHIP is a bit bloated due to his 4.02 walks per nine innings. He always had some control issues in the minors, but he was able to walk only 2.17 per nine last season, so there’s hope he can bring this year’s number down a bit. Giles throws hard, averaging 96.7 miles per hour on his fastball in his career and topping out at 101.3. He pairs that with a slider that travels at an average of 90.3 miles per hour. Those two pitches are enough to put Giles on a path to become an elite closer in no time. He’s 24 years old and he should be closing out games for the Phillies for years to come. He’s a must own in all formats and an awesome piece to have in dynasty.
Oakland Athletics closer Sean Doolittle, who has made only one appearance this season, threw 27 pitches in a simulated game on August fourth. He might be back in late August, but fantasy leaguers should wait until a more certain timeline is announced. He won’t have much competition for saves if he does return, as current A’s closer Edward Mujica has been less than impressive this season.
Chicago Cubs reliever Rafael Soriano was placed on the 15-day disabled list with right shoulder inflammation. He reportedly has no structural damage, so he shouldn’t be sidelined for long. He’ll be able to return to a mess of a Cubs bullpen.
Miami Marlins setup man Carter Capps was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a right elbow strain. Capps has been elite as a setup man and worth owning just because of his strikeouts. He and the Marlins are confident that he will be ready to pitch as soon as his 15 days are up.
On August 5th, Pittsburgh Pirates reliever Antonio Bastardo recorded a win by getting one out. More impressively, he only threw one pitch to get that one out. It was the first time in Bastardo’s career that he’d recorded a one-pitch win. The career leaders are David Robertson, Rich Rodriguez, and Luis Vizcaino, who each have done it three times.
- Jeurys Familia – 4 IP, 2 SV, 3 K, 0.00 ERA, 0.75 WHIP
- Francisco Rodriguez – 2 IP, 2 SV, 4 K, 0.00 ERA, 0.00 WHIP
- Koji Uehara – 3 IP, 2 SV, 3 K, 0.00 ERA, 1.67 WHIP
It was another rough week for closers, as only these three guys had at least two saves without allowing a run. The closer with the most saves last week was Kenley Jansen with four, but he put up a 4.91 ERA, keeping him firmly away from the Top Performers list.
Mets closer Familia got help and potentially some pressure at the trade deadline with the acquisition of reliever Tyler Clippard. Clippard has been working as Familia’s primary setup man but he’ll be there waiting if Familia falters. He certainly didn’t falter this week, saving two games and striking out three without allowing a run.
Brewers closer Rodriguez may have been surprised to see he wasn’t traded before the deadline. He may still be moved as an August waiver deal, but he’s in Milwaukee for now and doing well. This week, K-Rod saved two games and struck out four batters without allowing anyone to reach base.
The Boston Red Sox were also rumored to be fielding trade offers for their closer but he ultimately stayed with his club. Uehara saved two games this week as well, striking out three and not allowing anyone to cross the plate. He did allow three walks and two hits in his three innings, but he was able to work around all of them.
Don’t forget to check out our Closer Depth Chart.