The closer market has been maddening this season. It started with uncertainty in an unusually high number of bullpens, but that's far from the full story. We've had high-end closers struggle mightily, (Cody Allen and Wade Davis); we've had closers in great spots get hurt (Sean Doolittle and Brandon Morrow); and the trade deadline did even more damage. Thankfully we've had a decent supply of surprising SPARPs emerge, and two of them were excellent on Tuesday.
I was hesitant to recommend Tyler Glasnow on Tuesday night because of inning concerns. Those concerns ended up being valid, but also irrelevant. Glasnow struck out nine Orioles over four innings, and now has 14 Ks in seven innings with the Rays. Maybe more importantly, he has just one walk.
Glasnow's run of success really started more than a month ago. Since July 6 he's stuck out 29 batters over 17 innings and posted a 2.65 ERA despite allowing a .400 BABIP. Now that he's getting stretched out I'm getting more interested in using him, especially as a SPARP in a points league. It remains to be seen how effective Glasnow will be later in the ballgame, but if you wait until you see it to add him it will be too late.
Mike Montgomery doesn't have the upside or the strikeout rate of Glasnow, but he's been effective as a replacement for Yu Darvish, and effective is all you need out of your SPARPs. Since moving into the rotation, Montgomery has a 3.08 ERA with a 3.83 FIP. He also has six quality starts in that stretch. I don't have much use for Montgomery in category league, but he should be owned in every points league that allows SPARPs.
As if it wasn't bad enough for the Nationals to lose Doolittle, Kelvin Herrera left Tuesday's game with right shoulder tightness. The next man up is likely Ryan Madson. Madson is having his worst year in the majors, with a 4.32 ERA and a career-high 3.24 BB/9. But some of that ERA is bad luck (his FIP is 3.75) and he's in a position to get saves, so we have to care about him. Where Glasnow and Montgomery are better points options, Madson is a categories-only add. I'll be adding in any league where I'm desperate for saves.
Now that we have saves covered, let's talk about steals. Mallex Smith has five of them in his last six games, and he's doing more than just that. Since July 14 he has an 1.140 OPS, with five doubles, three triples and the same number of walks and strikeouts. With the injury to Tommy Pham, Smith looks like an every day player down the stretch who could help you in batting average and give you a big boost in steals. I'm not adding Smith in points leagues yet, but he's a must-own in all categories leagues.
Another outfielder who has been helped by injuries is Harrison Bader. Pham was traded away, while both Dexter Fowler and Tyler O'Neill are on the shelf. That means an everyday role for Bader, who has acquitted himself well this year in the majors. Like Smith, his main contribution may be in steals, but strikeouts hurt him in points leagues. Bader is a good add in a five-outfielder categories league where you need help in steals and Smith isn't available.