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Lost amidst all of this weekend's trade activity was the Twins' announcement that they will be recalling Jose Berrios from Triple-A Rochester to start Monday's series opener at the Indians. The response among Fantasy owners was muted; Berrios was added in only 4 percent of CBSSports.com leagues, raising his ownership rate to 48 percent. Even the lure of a two-start week has not been enough to entice a larger share of owners to add him.
The reluctance to add Berrios probably has to do with more than just owners' preoccupation with the trade deadline. Berrios' first stint with the Twins went horribly wrong, as he allowed 17 runs in four starts that totaled just 15 innings. He induced whiffs at an 11 percent rate, but in allowing five home runs, his flyball tendencies got the better of him. Berrios also had uncharacteristic problems with control, walking 12 batters and throwing 59 percent of his pitches for strikes.
In his first post-demotion start back in May, Berrios walked five hitters, but since then, he has pitched with his more typical sharp control. Over his last 12 starts at Rochester, Berrios has compiled a 2.77 ERA with 83 strikeouts and 22 walks in 81 1/3 innings.
With the Indians as his first assignment this week, Berrios should be avoided in daily leagues, but as a two-start pitcher in weekly leagues, he is one of the better options you are likely to find on waivers. A weekend start at the Rays could more than compensate for a tough matchup on Monday.
Much of the weekend's player movement involved relievers, and suddenly we have four newly-minted closers. Each is worth considering, though not necessarily in every league. Here's the lowdown on each of them.
Dellin Betances, RP, Yankees (76 percent owned)
This is simple. If Betances is available, pick him up. You're set for saves? Pick him up. Need a new closer in a shallow league where saves are always available on waivers? Pick him up.
Now that Betances is officially the Yankees' new closer, he immediate ascends into the top five relievers in Fantasy. He is an elite strikeout producer. His control isn't perfect, but it's better than that of many other hard throwers. Betances also gets grounders. The one concern I have heard from some owners is that he won't get enough save opportunities because the Yankees won't score runs. That hasn't been a problem, though, for Jeanmar Gomez, Jeremy Jeffress, David Robertson and Alex Colome, all of whom have at least 25 saves on teams that rank in the bottom seven in runs scored. There is simply no reason not to own Betances if he is available.
Tony Watson, RP, Pirates (50 percent owned)
After a underwhelming start to the season, Watson is on a roll at just the right time. He has allowed only one run allowed in his last 21 appearances while striking out 18 batters and walking five in 18 1/3 innings. Those are pretty typical strikeout and walk ratios for Watson, which raises a question: how has he been so dominant in recent years with merely good ratios?
The key for Watson has been avoiding extra base hits. During this streak, Watson has allowed an .042 Isolated Power, and over his career, that mark is a still-impressive .107. He has been especially effective at limiting extra-base hits on his changeup, which he frequently locates either low in the strike zone or below the zone altogether.
As the heat map above shows, when Watson keeps his changeup down, and especially outside the zone, hitters don't do much with it. He has been very good at getting opponents to swing at pitches out of the zone, and that should help him to succeed as the Pirates' closer, despite a pedestrian K-rate. Then again, that formula worked pretty well for Mark Melancon, too.
Jake Barrett, RP, Diamondbacks (17 percent owned)
The departure of Tyler Clippard to the Yankees just cements what had already become apparent: that Barrett was taking over as the Diamondbacks' closer. Manager Chip Hale told the Arizona Republic that Barrett had earned the chance to get more save opportunities, and given how the rest of the bullpen has fared, it's hard to see how he will have much competition for the job, even if he struggles.
Barrett can get his fastball up into the upper 90s, but it's his slider that provides the potential for a high strikeout rate. According to Brooks Baseball, Barrett has induced whiffs on 33 percent of his sliders. He has also improved his control this season, as compared to his recent work in the minors, though his 1.22 WHIP is still high for a closer. Barrett doesn't do anything that would distinguish him as a must-add reliever, but if you need saves, it appears he should provide those in a steady fashion.
Kelvin Herrera, RP, Royals (36 percent owned)
Herrera has had a spectacular season as the Royals' setup man, and he has already served in a brief stint as their closer. Now with Wade Davis back on the disabled list with a Grade 1 flexor strain, the closer's job belongs to Herrera for the time being. Royals manager Ned Yost told the Kansas City Star he expects Davis' stay on the DL to last the minimum 15 days, so as good as Herrera has been, there is a risk that he won't be a source of saves for very long.
Still, the Royals could choose to be cautious with Davis, and should Herrera keep the job beyond the next couple of weeks, he could be a difference-maker down the stretch. In Rotisserie leagues where you need saves more than strikeouts or WHIP, the safer move is to go with someone like Barrett or Carlos Estevez, but if you can afford to take a chance on Herrera's upside, he's a worthy use of a claim.