The closer landscape remains fairly uncertain across MLB, particularly among the teams who traded their closers at the trade deadline. With so many situations lacking a clear answer, here are three streaming candidates who could be of use for the upcoming week and beyond.
Joe Barlow (2% rostered)
Barlow might be the beneficiary of Spencer Patton’s laborious outing this Tuesday. The Rangers have settled on Barlow being the primary setup man to Spencer Patton, and Patton has posted interesting strikeout numbers to this point in the season. His lack of pedigree has shown recently, however, and he sports a good but not spectacular 3.32 ERA and 3.43 xFIP. As for Barlow, he has flashed potentially dominant closer stuff in his small sample size. He has a 0.71 ERA backed up by 1.84 xERA and 1.68 FIP. His 15.8% swinging strike rate shows how dominant he’s been so far in his MLB career. Patton's leash likely isn’t exceptionally long given the lack of long-term consequence he has to the Rangers’ organization but getting Barlow into some save opportunities could help Texas plan out their future bullpen. He is a speculative pick-up, for now, but at the top of that list.
Alex Colome (43% rostered)
Despite consistently subpar supporting skills, Alex Colome has been a reliable source of saves for the better part of the past half-decade. He came into 2021 looking like the Twins’ first option at closer but quickly fell out of the role due to poor performance. Now with Taylor Rogers injured and Hansel Robles traded, Colome has stepped in as the unquestioned closer for Minnesota. He already has five saves since the beginning of August and should get close to 100% of the saves in Minnesota. Pick him up if he’s available.
Mychal Givens (13% rostered)
The Cincinnati bullpen has been rocky for most of the season, prompting a trade deadline focused on making incremental improvements to the depth of their bullpen. With that came Mychal Givens. The right-handed reliever has not given up a run since July 17th and has excelled as a member of the Reds despite having a league-average 14.7% K-BB%. Givens has managed to sustain a 2.21 ERA into August without dominating strikeout stuff or a good walk rate. Lucas Sims yielded a walk-off home run in his second appearance since returning from injury and has generally been uneven throughout the season. Add in Heath Hembree’s regression and Tejay Antone’s injury, and the Reds’ bullpen likely comes down to Michael Lorenzen and Mychal Givens for saves. It may be a 50-50 split moving forward but Givens is worth taking a flier on for the upcoming week.
It has been an eventful week for Zack Britton. The former shutdown closer blew a save Monday, came back to pick up the save on Wednesday, and then blew the save and took the loss on Thursday in the Field of Dreams game. The other two saves converted since Chapman’s injury went to Wandy Peralta (an extra-inning game) and Jonathan Loaisiga. Given Britton’s recent performance and poor season-long stats, Loaisiga should see the next save opportunity.
Kyle Finnegan gave up a walk-off home run in the second half of a doubleheader on Thursday. His lack of competition should keep him in the closer’s role for the foreseeable future.
After pitching back-to-back days Tuesday and Wednesday, Gregory Soto got Thursday off. This allowed for Michael Fulmer to pick up a six-out save. Soto still appears to be the number one option for saves in Detroit.
Since his arrival to the White Sox, Craig Kimbrel has not pitched in a save situation. He set up for Liam Hendriks on Thursday, after which Hendricks allowed two home runs and surrendered the lead. Hendriks’ proneness to home runs might allow for Kimbrel to sneak in some save chances later, but it is clear at the moment Hendriks is the closer and Kimbrel is not.
Will Smith blew the save Wednesday, giving up a two-run home run in the ninth that tied the game. While the Braves went on to win the game, this performance continued a trend of Will Smith being shaky in the closer role. Chris Martin picked up a save last Sunday, and both Tyler Matzek and Luke Jackson have been pitching well of late. If Smith is pulled from the role, it could be a matchups-based committee.