It’s another week in the topsy turvy world of bullpens.  I would expect some movement this week with several contending teams looking for bullpen help at the trade deadline.  How does this impact current situations?  Might there be some buy-low opportunities this week on your waiver wire? Let’s get into it.


Mailbag Questions


Thoughts on Staumont, Romano, and Soria rest of season? Barrett @84BRS

Barrett, these are three tough ones for a variety of reasons.  Let’s take a look and think about this for a few minutes.

Josh Staumont: Staumont looked to be the closer in May, earning his fifth save on May 19th.  He hasn’t earned one since. He’s 1-2 with a 3.58 ERA and 1.30 WHIP and has 42 strikeouts in 37.1 innings. He struggles to get lefties out with a 5.40 ERA. Maybe you would think Staumont might get you holds, but four relievers in Kansas City have more than his four. Even while this situation appears to be a committee in Kansas City, Staumont does not appear to be part of it. Greg Holland and Scott Barlow seem to be getting the opportunities, with curmudgeonly Wade Davis earning a save last week in a game Holland blew up on Saturday. The short of it: Staumont has limited value in a setup role here, and Barlow looks like the best bet to get the save chances the rest of the day.  Who knows?  Maybe a trade this week opens this situation up or provides some clarity for us.

Jordan Romano:  Is there a team in baseball that could use a bona fide closer more than Toronto? Yet Romano is 4-1, 2.41 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, and seven saves with a 29.1 K%. So it’s not like Romano has not done the job. But recall context matters, and last winter, management added the veteran Kirby Yates, who subsequently needed Tommy John Surgery. Past performance is no guarantee of results, as we all know, but even though Romano has shined in the role, a veteran presence such as Craig Kimbrel to close games would make the league take notice.  This would also bump Romano back into a setup role on a team that is hoping to contend in the dog days of August.  If no move is made, I do not see anyone seriously threatening Romano’s role as closer. One thing to be wary of is his injury history and the potential need for rest; make sure to have a backup plan just in case.

Joakim Soria:  Not that he cares, but I owe Joakim Soria an apology. I have been brutal in my assessment of him all year. He’s 1-4 with a 4.45 ERA and 1.34 WHIP for a moribund Arizona squad, and if you just leave it at that, you see a guy with no value for your fake team. However, a closer look shows us something we can use: six saves since July 1st. Every fantasy player is looking for those elusive saves, and he has been getting them for the Diamondbacks. Of course, this week is the trade deadline, and there is a strong possibility Soria is moved,  and if that happens, he likely loses value since he will not be closing. So that said, an add this week may net you 1-2 saves before he gets flipped this week.  If he somehow does not get traded, I am confident he will close games the rest of the way in Arizona.

Great question, Barrett, and I hoped this meandering paragraph helps you out this week.


How The RotoFantatic Data Monster Works


Paul Mammino (@pmamminofantasy) has created the Data Monster, a tool that I firmly believe can help you win your leagues.  A quick summary of how it works is here, but for a full glossary of the terms, how they are used and what they tell us, go to RotoFanatic and check it out.  It’s all there for you to play with to your heart’s content; we are all looking for that winning edge, and Paul’s work can help you to that end.

In_Whiff (0 is average) – This shows how much better a pitcher is at generating swinging strikes than their location would suggest. So essentially a pitcher gets more credit for a swing and miss on a fastball down the middle versus one up in the zone. It’s pretty much a measure of the “nastiness” of a given pitcher.
rfCommand (0 is average) – This is a combination of four metrics: XWhiff, XSwing In Zone, xSwing Out of Zone, xWoba. It’s a bit hard to explain but it’s an overall combination of those four metrics that shows how good a given pitcher locates with respect to expected results.  Thus a good rfCommand means a pitcher:
  1. Throws pitches with high expect whiffs rates.
  2. Throws pitches in zone with low expected swing rates; called strikes are a good thing.
  3. Throws pitches out of the zone that are likely to generate swings.
  4. Throws pitches that are hard to hit well (low location-based xWOBA)
Stuff ERA – This is an ERA estimator that combines In_Whiff, rfCommand, and a few of the other DM metrics. When compared to actual season results it performed better than FIP from 2015-2020.


Closer Workbook
All Data According To Data Monster
Player Name In_Whiff Command Stuff ERA
Josh Hader 7.4 1.21 1.82
Liam Hendriks 5.4 0.18 3.01
Aroldis Chapman 4.5 -2.18 3.50
Chad Green 2.2 -1.26 3.15
Craig Kimbrel 4.6 3.55 1.48
Andrew Chafin 1.4 -1.59 2.81
Matt Barnes 2.5 2.31 2.86
Adam Ottavino -0.7 -0.55 3.36
Edwin Diaz 3.6 -0.11 3.18
Mark Melancon -1.5 2.21 3.68
Alex Reyes 2.3 0.56 2.41
Kenley Jansen 3.5 -3.44 2.68
Ian Kennedy 1.7 -3.84 4.09
Emmanuel Clase 5.1 1.19 2.49
James Karinchak 2.2 -2.22 3.39
Ryan Pressly 0.0 4.89 3.12
Raisel Iglesias 6.4 5.33 2.48
Diego Castillo 3.3 4.00 3.00
Richard Rodriguez -0.3 -1.90 3.31
Will Smith 1.4 2.01 3.23
Jordan Romano 1.3 -2.10 3.53
Brad Hand -2.1 -3.44 3.81
Lou Trivino 0.5 -1.76 3.28
Daniel Bard 2.9 -0.51 4.36
Paul Fry -1.0 -1.31 3.39
Cole Sulser 1.0 1.39 3.67
Taylor Rogers 1.5 -0.79 3.94
Hansel Robles -1.5 -1.61 4.40
Michael Fulmer 1.1 3.83 3.59
Gregory Soto 2.1 -2.31 3.19
Greg Holland -0.5 2.07 4.46
Scott Barlow 0.6 5.02 3.17
Yimi Garcia 0.9 -1.55 3.80
Tyler Rogers -1.3 -5.99 4.00
Jake McGee 0.5 -6.19 4.15
Kendall Graveman 0.3 -0.43 2.89
Hector Neris 3.2 3.05 3.47
Ranger Suarez -0.2 0.82 2.77
Jose Alvarado 2.9 -6.76 3.32
Heath Hembree 1.3 0.53 3.91
Amir Garrett 2.3 0.74 3.82
Lucas Sims 2.5 0.68 3.56
Joakim Soria 1.5 1.26 4.16

Closer Rankings


Tier One

  • Josh Hader:  A 7.4 In_Whiff and 1.82 Stuff ERA?  All-day and twice on Sunday.
  • Liam Hendriks:  Can we disregard his relatively low .18 rfCommand score?  You can when he’s got 23 saves and 67 punchouts in 41.1 innings. His Stuff ERA is a half run higher than his current ERA, which is something that bears watching here.
  • Craig Kimbrel


Tier Two

  • Mark Melancon: For all the hand-wringing over what Melancon lacks in velocity and strikeout number, the guy has 30 saves.  The next closest closer?  Hendriks with 23. Give the man his due.  Even if he is a tier under the guys listed above, he gets the job done and earns those crucial saves for you down the stretch.
  • Matt Barnes
  • Edwin Diaz: You’re not going to find a closer in the game who throws with more velocity than Diaz. Literally in the 100th percentile for velocity, in the 92nd percentile for K%, 98th for HardHit%. So what is the problem?  Essentially two bad outings raised his ERA from 2.86 to 4.30, and he did earn his 20th save on Friday night. I don’t see much cause for concern that he’s going to be demoted, but based on his last ten days, we demote him here in our rankings.
  • Alex Reyes: Watching a potential innings limit here. See notes below on other relievers to target at the end of this piece.


Tier Three

  • Kenley Jansen: Jansen has struggled over the past few days.  You look at his Statcast data and see red all over the place, so what is the problem? Let’s start with the 16.3 BB%, almost doubling last year’s career-worst 8.8 BB%.  Two horrific outings this week where he gave up three and then four runs.  Yet manager Dave Roberts gave him the ninth in a 1-0 game last night, and he converted it for his 22nd  I do think he is and will be the closer, but I would not be surprised if he got occasional rest days in August, leading to some vulture chances for Blake Treinen, who leads MLB with 22 holds. One to watch but I have held on to Jansen as my second closer in many leagues, and I think you should hold on to him as well if you were thinking of dumping him.
  • Will Smith
  • Ian Kennedy: Enjoy the last few days of Kennedy’s tenure as the closer in Texas, and be sure to add Joely Rodriguez if you have not already.
  • Ryan Pressly
  • Raisel Iglesias
  • Emmanuel Clase/James Karinchak


Tier Four

  • Aroldis Chapman: Don’t look now but Chapman looks to be back in the driver’s seat in the Bronx.  He pitched the ninth to earn his 18th save on Saturday against the Red Sox. This is another situation where context matters; sure manager Aaron Boone removed him from the role a short time ago, but Chad Green wasn’t going to be the answer for long.  No, this was a reset for Chapman, who, like him or not, is one of the five best closers in the game when he is on.  He gave up a hit and a walk Saturday but worked around it.  In honesty, I benched him for a week but will be using him the rest of the way.  You should, too. Aroldis has a -2.18 rfCommand, so it’s easy to see his issue here has been command.
  • Diego Castillo: Nick Anderson’s return is looming.  What will that mean for Castillo?  Kevin Cash is going to Kevin Cash, and he’s mostly brilliant at manipulating his late-inning weapons like Castillo, Pete Fairbanks, and Swiss army knife Andrew Kittredge. My best guess is that he plays matchups but that Castillo remains the top option for saves in Tampa Bay.
  • Gregory Soto: Soto has taken the job and run with it. I am not sure what will happen with the pending return of Michael Fulmer. Soto has gotten and converted the last four save chances in the Motor City.  If available in your league, a good depth piece for on your roster.
  • Richard Rodriguez
  • Jordan Romano
  • Brad Hand
  • Lou Trivino


Tier Five

  • Daniel Bard: Bard quietly, unassumingly, chugs along in Denver, with two wins and four saves this month. Could he be on the move this week via trade? Mychal Givens or Carlos Estevez could be in line for the job if Bard gets moved this week…but come to think of it, they could be traded too.
  • Kendall Graveman
  • Taylor Rogers/Hansel Robles
  • Greg Holland/Scott Barlow:  Look at the Data Monster table above and compare the two.  Barlow is clearly the better pitcher but context matters and Holland remains part of this committee.  Could he be moved this week?
  • Yimi Garcia
  • Jake McGee/Tyler Rogers
  • Dillon Tate: in this week’s version of closer roulette, Dillon Tate jumps into the committee in Baltimore. Granted it’s a terribly small sample, but the last two leads Baltimore has had, they used Tanner Scott in the eighth and Tate in the ninth.  One to stash if he is on your waiver wire and you are desperate for saves.
  • Joakim Soria
  • Hector Neris/Jose Alvarado
  • Heath Hembree

Other Relievers to Target


We take a look at several relief arms here who could provide benefit to you depending on your league context.  Looking for the next guy up for saves, especially this week when the looming Trade Deadline could reshape some bullpens?  Looking for holds or strikeouts, maybe a vulture save or two in a really close league?  Take a look below.


  • Blake Treinen: has 22 holds, handcuff to questionably effective Kenley Jansen.
  • Andrew Chafin: with Craig Kimbrel on the move, Chafin could be first in line, despite his recent shellacking by the might Diamondbacks yesterday. Stash him; you can use his ability to earn holds too, as he has 17 on the year.
  • Joely Rodriguez: feels like a foregone conclusion that Ian Kenendy gets moved this week, and as far as I can tell, Rodriguez should be next in line for chances.
  • Adam Ottavino: Ottavino has 16 holds on the year, but he also, very quietly, has seven saves. He’s also got 47 strikeouts in 40.1 innings and has value if you are looking for depth, vulture saves, or strikeout help. Interesting the Data Monster isn’t as bullish on him: -.7 In-Whiff, -.55 rfCommand, and 3.36 Stuff ERA.  Yet he’s next in line, it would appear, and he is outperforming expectations.  Will it last?
  • David Bednar: continuing the trend here, I think Bednar is the guy who gets the save chances in Pittsburgh after they trade Richard Rodriguez this week.
  • Pete Fairbanks: Fairbanks flies under the radar a bit because of the “security” that Diego Castillo enjoys in Tampa Bay, but Fairbanks has chipped in five saves and 10 holds, with 37 strikeouts in 31 innings as well.  Look for him to continue a steady diet of high-leverage innings, even with the pending return of Nick Anderson.
  • Collin McHugh: staying in the Tampa bullpen, McHugh is not thought of in the same breath as their other high leverage guys.  But check this out: 3-1, 1.51 ERA, .91 WHIP, and a staggering 59 punchouts in 41.2 innings.  The best part is that in most leagues, he has dual eligibility in the SP and RP slots, providing much value to savvy owners who know he will give you multiple good innings whether he is an opener, a bulk reliever, or coming in as a stopper.  He should be far more owned than he is.
  • Lucas Sims: I can feel your eye rolls.  But I fully think Sims will be inserted into the closer role when he comes off the IL next week.  Stash him if you have room. All he has to do is beat out Heath Hembree.  Come on now. Look at the Data Monster chart above, and you see Sims has pitched far better than his stat line: 2.5 In_Whiff, .68 rfCommand, and 3.56 Stuff ERA make me think better results are coming for Sims down the stretch.
  • Paul Sewald: If you were paying attention this week, you know the Mariners designated Rafael Montero for assignment. While Kendall Graveman is the closer right now, there is a chance he could be on the move at the trade deadline this week, despite the Mariners having a better showing than expected this year.  Should that materialize, Sewald could get a chance.  He’s got six wins and three saves, with a whopping 53 strikeouts in 30.1 innings. The movement on his slider is totally insane. Worth a grab if floating on your waiver wire.
  • Giovanny Gallegos: I have had him in several leagues this year and he has been spectacular.  Why do I include him here when Alex Reyes has a grip on the job in St. Louis?  Here’s the thing: the top management brass has quietly said they will be limiting Reyes’s innings to less than 100 this year.  Is that number 70?  80?  We don’t know exactly. But he’s just south of 50 innings now and has pitched back-to-back days only twice in the last month.  They are slowly limiting his exposure, and the next guy up is Gallegos.