Cody Allen is winding up his season in a bit of a funk. He did not manage to blow the Indians’ 4-0 lead against the Twins on Wednesday night, but he did allow the visitors to cut the lead in half on a Jorge Polanco two-run homer. Allen has now allowed a home run in three of his last four games, and over the three innings he pitched in those outings, he was credited with five earned runs.
Sam Dyson appeared to be cruising towards a successful finish to a bumpy 2017 season, but on Wednesday, he gave his fantasy owners reasons to have the jitters. Entering the bottom of the ninth with a 3-1 lead against the Diamondbacks, he coughed up a leadoff home run to J.D. Martinez, and in successive at-bats, allowed singles to Jake Lamb and A.J. Pollock. Three batters later, Dyson blew the save when Pollock scored on a John Ryan Murphy grounder, and then the Diamondbacks walked off on a David Peralta walk.
Even though Dyson had a streak of eight consecutive scoreless appearances prior to Wednesday’s meltdown, that string of outings was sandwiched by a pair of performances that yielded a combined eight runs. While it feels like an overreaction to bench Allen, who had been the top relief-eligible pitcher in terms of Roto value over the prior 30 days, per ESPN’s Player Rater, it is reasonable to pull the plug on Dyson in leagues with daily transactions and lineup changes. During his eight-game streak, Dyson posted a 73.9 percent ground ball rate but threw only 59.6 percent of his pitches for strikes. That, on top of the inconsistency that has marked his season, makes him a risky choice for the season’s final four days.
While Blake Parker‘s performance has not been as uneven as Dyson’s, he is a similarly treacherous choice for saves. In giving up Nick Delmonico’s walk-off home run on Wednesday night, Parker not only knocked the Angels out of the postseason picture, but he may have eliminated himself from some owners’ rest-of-season plans. He has allowed home runs in three of his last six appearances, and during that stretch, Parker has registered a 20.0 percent ground ball rate.
Blake Treinen and Matt Belisle are available in at least 60 percent of the leagues on CBS, ESPN and Yahoo, and both are well rested with favorable matchups ahead. Since a difficult stretch earlier this month, Treinen has strung together eight straight scoreless appearances covering 7.1 innings. The A’s finish up with four games at the Rangers, who owned a major league-worst .240 wOBA over the 14 days preceding Wednesday’s game against the Astros. The biggest obstacle to Treinen getting saves could be the Rangers’ failure to keep games close. They have been outscored in their last four games, 45-8. However, Treinen did get a pair of saves against Texas last weekend.
Belisle is the lesser-owned of the two closers. After the Twins finish their series with the Indians on Thursday, they get the Tigers at home for three games. While the Tigers have not been as punchless as the Rangers, they have gone seven straight games with scoring four or fewer runs.
As this is the final Bullpen Report of the 2017 regular season, this is our best chance to take stock of closer turnover. Assuming no closer loses his job between now and the end of the week, there will be nine closers who will have stayed in the role all season long: Allen, Craig Kimbrel, Wade Davis, Raisel Iglesias, Ken Giles, Kenley Jansen, Alex Colome, Greg Holland and, as we all predicted, Fernando Rodney. If I am a little less literal in defining “wire-to-wire,” we could add Roberto Osuna and Edwin Diaz to the list. Osuna missed the first week of the season with cervical spasms, while Diaz had a couple of brief hiatuses from the closer’s role.
Long-time elites like Jansen and Kimbrel will be worth a sizable investment on draft day next spring. Beyond that, it is a risk to count on most relievers to produce saves like they did the year before. Once again, this season proved that owners can find new saves sources throughout the season.
[Green light, yellow light, red light: the colors represent the volatility of the bullpen order.]
Al Melchior has been writing about Fantasy baseball and sim games since 2000, and his work has appeared at CBSSports.com, BaseballHQ, Ron Shandler's Baseball Forecaster and FanRagSports. He has also participated in Tout Wars' mixed auction league since 2013. You can follow Al on Twitter @almelchiorbb and find more of his work at almelchior.com.