In this special edition of the Bullpen Report the full focus will be on the 2017 bullpen all-stars. Your 2017 bullpen all-stars were Dellin Betances, Chris Devenski, Craig Kimbrel, Brandon Kintzler, Andrew Miller, Roberto Osuna, Wade Davis, Brad Hand, Greg Holland, Kenley Jansen, Corey Knebel, and Pat Neshek. All of these pitchers have been dominating hitters all season long, and it’s hard to make a compelling argument against any of them for making the team. There are also a few names who while they didn’t make the all-star roster have definitely been all-stars in the fantasy world. Let’s take a look..
When looking at how each guy performed in the game itself, you will notice that for the most part it was strong performances across the board. Wade Davis got tagged by Robinson Cano for the game-winning HR, but outside of that lone run it was shutout innings for everyone. It is interesting to see Andrew Miller being the guy who picks up the save, as he only has two saves on the season. Kenley Jansen had three strikeouts and has proven to be nearly untouchable even by all-stars.
Of course each and every one of the all-stars has also been a fantasy all-star but what about the guys that didn’t make the cut? None of these players made the All-Star team, but that doesn’t mean they haven’t been fantasy all-stars. Each one of these guys was very low ranked heading into the season, but has been outstanding value to fantasy owners who drafted them late or picked them up early in the season.
Felipe Rivero didn’t start the season as the Pirates closer, but has since taken over the role with a stellar season to date. He currently has a 0.76 ERA, 0.72 WHIP, and 10.46 K/9 in his 47.1 innings of work. Rivero has been one of the most dominating pitchers in all of baseball and should have been on the all-star roster. Opposing hitters have managed just a .134 batting average against him, with just 22 total hits. He has six saves and fourteen holds, fantasy owners love having Rivero on their roster.
Raisel Iglesias, like Rivero, easily could have and should have been on the all-star roster. Iglesias has exceeded both the Reds and fantasy owner’s expectations with ease. To start the season he had a loose grip on the closing gig, but that is a thing of the past now, with 16 saves, a 1.69 ERA, 0.91 WHIP, and 10.97 K/9 across 42.2 innings. Opposing hitters managed just a .159 BA against him in what was an incredible first half of the season for Iglesias.
C.J. Edwards hasn’t garnered as much attention as some of the closers, but his season has been outstanding. He has a 2.29 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, and 50 strikeouts in 35.1 innings, good for a K/9 of 12.74. He has been used in a variety of ways for the Cubs, with most of them ending in Edwards dominating the opposing hitters. He has given up just 15 hits as opposing hitters are managing to hit just .129 against the lanky right-hander.
Brad Brach filled in admirable for Orioles at closer while Zach Britton was out. He picked up 15 saves to go along with a 2.58 ERA, 0.86 WHIP, and 9.63 K/9. Brach gave fantasy owners a free/cheap source of 15 saves in the first half of the season. Like the others on this list to this point, Brach has been nearly unhittable with a .167 batting average against him. With Britton back, Brach won’t be piling up saves anymore, but he certainly did enough in the first half to be a fantasy all-star to this point.
Bud Norris came out of nowhere to take over the Angels closing gig after a handful of injures to their bullpen. Norris has for the most part struggled as a starter in his career, but in has flourished this season in the pen. He has racked up 13 saves, a 2.23 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, and a strong 11.64 K/9. He now has a firm grip on the closing and gig, and owners should be ecstatic about landing a solid closer for likely nothing. He may not be this good all season, but to this point, what more could you ask for?
Justin Wilson took over the closing gig early in the season after K-Rod struggled mightily and blew four saves. Wilson has been outstanding for the Tigers and for fantasy owners, with 10 saves, a 2.36 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, and 12.84 K/9. The lefty has been a tough nut to crack for opposing hitters who are managing just a .157 BA against him. Like the other closers on this list, fantasy owners likely got him for nothing, and can be counted on going forward.
Archie Bradley rounds out our fantasy all-stars. Bradley was a mess as a starter in 2016, finishing with a 5.02 ERA. His struggles got him moved to the bullpen, where he has done a fantastic job. He has a superb 1.10 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, and a 10.32 K/9. His BA has dropped nearly .100 points from what it was last season, and he his walking less than two batters per nine innings (he walked more than four hitters per nine innings last season). The Diamondbacks set-up man has been a valuable asset in all fantasy formats this season.
Tune in next week, as we will get back to the normal style of the Bullpen Report with some new added features! Be sure to check out the Closer Grid which has regularly updated rankings. Also feel free to shoot me any questions on Twitter @JustinVreeland