by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
The Trade Deadline has already wreaked havoc to team’s closing situations, and we still have more than 24 hours to manage/monitor. Among the closers moved include Jeurys Familia, Zach Britton (and subsequently Brad Brach), Brad Hand and Joakim Soria. Let’s take a look at three of the new closers (or at least who appears to be the new closers) and if they are worth scooping up or not:
Anthony Swarzak – New York Mets
Next Up – Robert Gsellman
It looked like a given that Gsellman would step up and grab the role with the looming trade of Jeurys Familia, but he pitched his way out of the role and the struggles have actually been fairly consistent since an impressive April (ERA):
- April – 1.80
- May – 4.58
- June – 6.59
- July – 4.22
That’s opened the door for Swarzak, who is suddenly healthy and rediscovered the stuff that made him one of the premier setup men in the league. Obviously a 6.30 ERA and 1.70 WHIP are a turnoff, but over his last three appearances (3.1 IP) he’s picked up 2 saves while allowing 0 R on 1 H and 0 BB, striking out 6. Don’t forget that he owned a 2.33 ERA and 1.03 WHIP over 77.1 IP a year ago, with 91 K vs. 22 BB. There’s a far better chance that he continues this type of pace, as opposed to reverting back to his early season struggles.
With the upside of a Top 10 closer and the potential to earn the job not just for 2018 but for 2019 as well, Swarzak should be considered a great pickup in all formats.
Verdict – Must own in all formats
Mychal Givens – Baltimore Orioles
Next Up – Paul Fry/Miguel Castro
With both Britton and Brach jettisoned, Givens is virtually the last man standing in the bullpen. You could argue that Fry is the more impressive pitcher, and that’s fair, but given his age/experience (26-years old, 13.0 IP in the Majors) the Orioles likely won’t want him to start accumulating saves at this point. It’s a sad reality that arbitration concerns will always loom large, and the more saves a pitcher has the more expensive they ultimately will become.
Obviously that’s a concern with Givens as well, but he’s already in his fourth season of MLB experience (235.0 IP) and has less time to accumulate big save totals. The fact that he’s the “veteran” also helps his cause, though his numbers aren’t going to grab your attention:
51.2 IP, 4.53 ERA, 1.41 WHIP, 10.10 K/9, 4.01 BB/9
There has been a lot of bad luck in the numbers (.348 BABIP, 64.2% strand rate, 27.9% Hard%), and his control has been significantly better of late (0 BB over 8.2 IP in July). With his swing and miss stuff he could easily maintain his 3.12 ERA in July and thrive over the final two months. Obviously there may not be many opportunities pitching for Baltimore, but the stuff and upside is there.
Verdict – Enough upside to make him worth grabbing, especially if you miss out on Swarzak
Jace Fry – Chicago White Sox
Next Up – Juan Minaya/Jeanmar Gomez
With Joakim Soria gone to Milwaukee Fry was the obvious choice to step into the role. However he imploded in epic fashion yesterday, allowing 3 R without recording an out (2 H and a HBP). He had settled down since a really rough stretch (8 ER over 3.2 IP over his first four July appearances), but it was only over 3.2 IP so it’s hard to fully buy into it.
His problem has been more against RHP than LHP, and while the numbers aren’t terrible you have to wonder if he’s going to be viewed as more of a matchup play:
- LHP – .089/.164/.125
- RHP – .237/.318/.322
The White Sox don’t have an obvious alternative to step in, but veterans Minaya and Gomez could easily get an opportunity until Fry proves he can handle to role or someone else emerges.
Verdict – If the goal is immediate saves, he’s choice #3
Sources – Fangraphs, ESPN
Make sure to check out all of our Midseason Prospect Rankings: