Reliever Roulette: The Shawn Tolleson Meltdown Continues

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Shawn Tolleson was a trendy pick to be among the first closers to lose his job in 2016 and it appears as if that time has finally come. After serving up a walk-off grand slam on Tuesday, Tolleson has now blown consecutive saves, giving up a total of 7 runs in those two outings. For the year he’s 11 for 15 in handshake opportunities with an ugly 9.20 ERA and a WHIP of nearly two. It’s not like he’s getting BABIP’d to death; he’s getting crushed – and quite often at that.

Sam Dyson is the obvious replacement here and manager Jeff Bannister has already said as much. Despite his ownership more than doubling in the past day, as of this writing Dyson is still available in over 50% of Yahoo leagues so go ahead and make the add. The strikeout rate won’t match that of Tolleson, but he’s got a strong groundball rate and has posted a 1.43 ERA and sub-one WHIP since coming over from the Marlins last season.

For those in deeper leagues, Matt Bush may be worth a speculative add, but I wouldn’t count on it. While the former top prospect wields a mid 90’s heater and has yet to give up a hit, he’s been in the majors for less than a week after a decade of off-field issues, and the Rangers likely don’t want to throw too much at him right away. Then again this is the team that somehow decided he should be the one to hit Jose Bautista, so I guess anything is possible.

In other bullpen news…


Luke Gregerson has blown three saves in the past week and his grip on the closer’s role at least appears to be loosening. To give more context, each of his mishaps occurred with only a one run lead and he wasn’t saddled with a loss in any of those outings so this certainly isn’t a Tolleson-level implosion. Ken Giles is pitching better of late, leading some to believe pressure is mounting, but Giles’s struggles earlier this year far exceeded Gregerson’s current ones so I would anticipate the incumbent would need a to blow a couple more opportunities in the near future before a change would be made.

It should be noted that Will Harris has actually been far and away Houston’s most dominant reliever this season, so he could be an option as well if Gregerson continues to struggle. That said, his value may actually be higher when utilized in the middle innings. And, given the success he’s had in that role over the past year, I wouldn’t expect the Astros to be overly eager to move him.

Tampa Bay

Brad Boxberger began a rehab assignment last Sunday and if all goes well should return to the Rays pen within the next 1-2 weeks. Manager Kevin Cash has indicated that Boxberger will immediately retain his closer role so he’s obviously worth an add if still available. This news isn’t great for Alex Colome owners, especially given how good he’s looked so far this season (10/10 in saves, 1.56 ERA, 12.5 K/9), but the Rays have always taken a progressive approach to their relief roles. The team has used multiple pitchers in the 9th several times already and it’s not unusual for Colome to pitch more than an inning at a time. Regardless, I would keep rolling with him until Boxberger is officially back and we see how the situation actually plays out.

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