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Bullpen Report: September 21, 2018

In Thursday morning’s Bullpen Report, Greg Jewett noted that the just-activated Aroldis Chapman was going to get eased back into the closer’s role for the Yankees. In his first appearance in nearly a month, Chapman came in to pitch the eighth inning with a two-run deficit against the Red Sox on Thursday night, but there was nothing about it that looked like “easing.” His first pitch resulted in a Rafael Devers line drive single, and two batters later, Devers moved into scoring position on a Jackie Bradley Jr. walk. After striking out the struggling Sandy Leon, Chapman put the Yankees three more runs in the hole by serving up a slider that Mookie Betts turned on for a home run.
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Daily Starters – Friday, September 21

With the countdown of games left winding down and the stakes getting higher, there are actually some intriguing pitchers to be found on waivers in the vast majority of leagues. But is there any enough reward to balance the risk with any of the widely-available ones who are scheduled to start Friday?

Here are the eight most-available starters or primary pitchers from Friday’s slate. I have been using a 25 percent ownership rate on Fantrax as a cutoff point for inclusion in these reports, but I extended it by a percentage point, just so I could write about Ian Kennedy.
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Bullpen Report: September 19, 2018

It was Zach Britton, and not Dellin Betances, who got the save for the Yankees in their 3-2 win over the Red Sox in Tuesday night’s series opener. I have made Britton and Betances co-closers in the grid below, with both receiving the “Hot Seat” label. However, it’s not Britton’s adventure of an inning or Betances’ recent struggles that have put them on the hot seat, but rather that Aroldis Chapman could return as soon as Wednesday. It appears that Chapman’s worst-case scenario is a Thursday return, in the event that Aaron Boone wants to give the lefty an additional day of rest following Monday’s sim game.
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Daily Starters – Wednesday, September 19

Wednesday’s slate of starting pitchers is not fully set, as there are still no fewer than five teams listing TBD as their starter as of this writing. I have filled in some of the blanks, projecting that Stephen Gonsalves will be the Twins’ primary pitcher and Sam Gaviglio will start for the Blue Jays. That increases the number of widely-available projected “starters” to eight, using a 25 percent ownership rate on Fantrax as a cutoff point.

While most owners are forsaking these hurlers, a few are reasonable streaming options, particularly in deeper formats.
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Bullpen Report: September 17, 2018

Adam Conley did not have a save opportunity on Sunday against the Phillies, but nonetheless, I have moved him to the head of the Marlins’ closer committee in the grid. Don Mattingly, like many managers, will sometimes use his closer with a four-run lead in the ninth inning, and that’s what he did on Sunday. With a 6-2 lead, Conley retired the first two batters, but he allowed a hard-hit Aaron Altherr double followed by¬†Roman Quinn’s RBI single. The lefty could have limited the damage to the lone run if Starlin Castro had not been eaten up by a Cesar Hernandez grounder, but the error allowed the Phillies to cut the lead to 6-4. Then the rally ended when Conley struck out Rhys Hoskins.
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Bullpen Report: September 14, 2018

Edwin Diaz and Blake Treinen have stepped up as the elite relievers in 2018. We can’t know how Pedro Strop would have stacked up with The Big Two over a full season, because he was a setup reliever for most of the first half. However, after taking over for Brandon Morrow (biceps) after the All-Star break, Strop has been close to automatic as the Cubs’ closer. Only Diaz, Treinen and Jose Leclerc have had more Roto value among full-time closers in the second half (per CBS rankings).

Though he was not in a save situation, Strop was typically solid on Thursday, keeping the Cubs tied with the Nationals through 1.2 innings. With the Cubs taking the lead in the top of the 10th inning, Joe Maddon elected to have Strop bat in order to bring him back for a third inning. He pulled up with a hamstring injury while running out a grounder, and Randy Rosario had to come in to get the save.
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Don’t Ditch Carlos Rodon

The beginning of September is not so long ago, and as the calendar was flipping and major league rosters were expanding, Carlos Rodon was one of the most productive starting pitchers in all of fantasy. He ranked 11th in Roto value among starting pitchers for July and August combined (per CBS rankings) and ninth in fantasy points in standard CBS points leagues over the same period. In short, Rodon had been performing like a fantasy ace for two solid months.

He was consistent, too. Every single one of Rodon’s nine starts in July and August was a quality start, and six of them lasted seven innings or more.
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Bullpen Report: September 12, 2018

Torey Lovullo did not have to wait long to test out his new closer committee. One night after Lovullo told reporters that he was replacing Brad Boxberger with a group of relievers, the Diamondbacks’ bullpen worked on preserving a one-run lead against the Rockies with two outs in the seventh inning. That’s when Zack Greinke departed with a runner on second base. Lovullo began with lefty Andrew Chafin, who was set to face Gerardo Parra and Charlie Blackmon. Chafin failed to get the final out against both pinch-hitter Chris Iannetta and Blackmon, as he walked them both. Brad Ziegler had to come in against DJ LeMahieu and do what Brad Ziegler does — get a ground ball out.
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Daily Starters – Wednesday, September 12

As is usually the case, the selection of streamable starting pitchers is much heavier on risk than reward, but there is actually a widely-available starter who looks like a pretty safe bet to help your rotation. It’s Felix Pena, who is unowned in at least 85 percent of the leagues on ESPN, CBS and Yahoo and more than 75 percent of Fantrax leagues. In a column I wrote just last week, I made the case for viewing Pena as Patrick Corbin Lite.
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Bullpen Report: September 10, 2018

For someone who had managed to pile up 28 saves, Bud Norris never seemed to have a firm grasp on the Cardinals’ closer role. Now he has lost his grip on the job entirely.

On Sunday, Mike Shildt named Carlos Martinez as the team’s new closer, and Norris is being moved to a lower-leverage role, albeit one that will still involve the later innings. Martinez had already been called upon to close out Wednesday’s 7-6 win over the Nationals, as Norris was unavailable, and then he recorded his first save as the team’s official closer on Sunday. His 1-2-3 ninth inning finished off a 5-2 win over the Tigers.
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