Just when we got comfortable with the idea of Felix Bautista being the best closer in baseball, his UCL had to steal his thunder.
There's a tear in there. Whether it's enough to require Tommy John surgery is yet to be determined, but he's almost certainly done for the season. The good news is that now happens to be an ideal time to find a replacement closer.
The Marlins are making a change there, Craig Mish reported Sunday, and then later that day, Tanner Scott indeed got the call in the ninth inning rather than David Robertson. Meanwhile, all signs point to Aroldis Chapman wresting ninth-inning duties away from Will Smith, though he hasn't actually gotten a save yet to make it official (his last was July 15).
It may be that the best choice to replace Bautista in Fantasy, though, is the same guy who's replacing him in Baltimore. Yup, turns out the best closer in baseball was backed up by arguably the best setup man, Yennier Cano.
Yennier Cano RP
BAL Baltimore • #78 • Age: 29
If you're going to lose a closer, let it be one on a team with a ready-made replacement. The succession plan couldn't have been any clearer in the Orioles case, with Cano having emerged as an All-Star setup man. It was no surprise, then, to see him handle the ninth inning Saturday and Sunday after Felix Bautista suffered a UCL injury Friday. Cano actually took the loss Sunday, entering to preserve a tie rather than the lead, but the run he allowed was unearned. He still has yet to allow an earned run this month, bringing his ERA down to 1.57. Rather than being the big bat-misser Bautista is, he's more in the Emmanuel Clase mold, inducing ground balls with his sinker. But like Bautista, he should see no shortage of save chances with a first-place club.
COL Colorado • #19 • Age: 37
You might have assumed Blackmon had nothing left in the tank given his decline the past couple years and his lengthy absence for a fractured hand at age 37. But he's come off the IL to hit .395 (17 for 43) with two homers, two triples and a double in 12 games. Not all of that damage has come at home, but for the season, he's batting .307 with a .923 OPS there. It makes him an outfielder you can deploy situationally, if nothing else, though his high contact rate does broaden his appeal in points leagues. His 3.13 points per game rank up there with Randy Arozarena and Kyle Schwarber. It doesn't mean Blackmon should be rostered on the same level as those two, of course, but we can do better than 52 percent.
Adam Duvall CF
BOS Boston • #18 • Age: 35
Duvall's time with the Red Sox began splendidly with him hitting .455 (15 for 33) with four homers in his first eight games, but a fractured wrist put a stop to that. It had been slow going since he returned in early June, but he appears to be catching fire again, batting .483 (14 for 29) with five homers and five doubles in his past seven games. A three-time 30-homer man, which includes a career-high 38 home runs in 2021, Duvall is certainly capable of making an impact down the stretch. It's an all-or-nothing profile, which is why you might think twice in points leagues especially, but then again, he's coming off a 52-point week.
TEX Texas • #45 • Age: 35
You might think Chapman's full-season numbers are impressive, but in 19 appearances since joining the Rangers in early July, he has a 2.25 ERA, 1.00 WHIP and 16.7 K/9, looking every bit like the ace reliever we remember from 2010 through 2020. It would seem, then, that a changing of the guard is long overdue, and seeing as Will Smith has allowed 10 earned runs in his past nine appearances, it may finally be happening. Chapman has worked the ninth inning three times since Smith last did. Granted, he's 0 for 2 in save chances during that time, but he coughed up just one run on each occasion. They weren't the sort of meltdowns that had become all too common for Smith, so the expectation is that manager Bruce Bochy will stick with Chapman for now. When prioritizing save targets off the waiver wire, he ranks behind only Andres Munoz and Yennier Cano.
PHI Philadelphia • #61 • Age: 26
What stands out most about Sanchez's start Friday against the Cardinals is how little it stands out at all. It was his third in a row with almost the exact same stat line (six innings, two earned runs, about a strikeout per), and in fact, only twice in his past 10 starts has he allowed more than two earned runs. The consistency is pretty easy to explain. His 57.6 percent ground-ball rate would rank second to Logan Webb if he had the innings to qualify, and his 4.3 percent walk rate would rank fifth, also behind Webb. Come to think of it, his strikeout rate is also on par with Webb. He's basically Logan Webb! It's of course too early to conclude that for a rookie whose minor-league track record is nothing to write home about, but it's not too early to make a play for Sanchez in Fantasy.
Mitch Garver DH
TEX Texas • #18 • Age: 32
Two weeks into Jonah Heim's return from the IL, it's pretty clear that Garver's playing time isn't going anywhere. He's started 12 straight games for the Rangers, emerging as their primary DH. He's been everything they could ask for at the plate, too, connecting for two more home runs over the weekend to give him seven (to go along with a .313 batting average) in August. The power surge is nothing new for the 32-year-old, who homered 31 times in just 93 games in 2019 and has a higher career home run rate (per plate appearance) than Will Smith. While injuries have slowed Garver in the past, they're less likely out of the DH spot. Yainer Diaz is my preferred catcher pickup right now, but it's not crazy to think Garver could also be a top-10 option the rest of the way.
Tanner Scott RP
MIA Miami • #66 • Age: 29
It wasn't surprising to see Scott come in for a save chance Sunday. There were reports earlier in the day that the Marlins were looking to make a change from David Robertson, who's only 4 for 7 on save chances since coming over from the Mets. "I think you'll probably see Tanner there in the ninth inning [a lot]," manager Skip Schumaker said after Scott closed out Sunday's game. The left-hander certainly has the stuff for the role, having registered 12.5 K/9 with a killer slider and a fastball that peaks at 100 mph. The Marlins tried him out as their closer last year, but he was simply too erratic. He's cut his walk rate almost in half this year, offering hope he'll make good on his potential this time.
Jordan Wicks SP
CHC Chi. Cubs • #36 • Age: 24
More notable pitching prospects than Wicks have debuted this year, but few came close to the stat line he delivered Saturday, allowing one run on two hits with nine strikeouts in five innings. Of his 13 swinging strikes (on just 80 pitches), nine came on the changeup, which was also the most-thrown of his six pitches at 34 percent. The deep arsenal exists mostly just to keep hitters guessing before he puts them away with his one true weapon. "I loved how he mixed," manager David Ross said. "He can just pitch. It just stands out." It's an interesting profile that could yield success in the majors, though notably, Wicks' numbers in the minors this year (a 3.55 ERA, 1.17 WHIP and 9.8 K/9) were closer to good than great. Still, in this pitching environment, a debut like this one justifies a pickup.