The former's numbers aren't terrible since being traded to Washington at the Deadline, but Papelbon has clearly taken a step back from where he was at the start of the year. Things got worse last week -- poor timing, considering it was the start of the playoffs in some leagues -- as Papelbon allowed runs in both of his outings. He's allowed runs in six of his 16 appearances with the Nationals, and although his 2.50 ERA looks good, his strikeouts have gone down somewhat dramatically since the trade. The righty is obviously not a drop candidate, but you have to feel worse about him heading into your playoffs than you were just a few weeks ago.
The man he replaced in the ninth inning, Storen, has struggled a lot since the Trade Deadline. He appeared in 18 games following the Papelbon trade, allowing runs in nine of them and pitching to a 7.56 ERA. Then, the righty injured himself while slamming his locker shut out of frustration following a game last Wednesday. For those that held on to him hoping he'd help their rate stats, you can drop him. To replace that production, Sergio Romo could help, as he is available in many leagues. If he's already taken, guys like Will Smith, Justin Grimm and Josh Fields could be acceptable replacements.
Boston's bullpen keeps shuffling
The Red Sox are still seeking a replacement for the injured Koji Uehara. Junichi Tazawa got the first crack at the closer role, but that didn't go well for fantasy owners. Jean Machi got the next shot, and that didn't go so well, either. Of course, that wasn't as surprising as Tazawa's failures. Now, the Red Sox are moving on to Robbie Ross, who they acquired from Texas over the offseason. Ross has quietly been solid for Boston this year, although he's not someone to get overly excited about. He won't be a huge contributor for strikeouts or WHIP, but he'll get save chances for Boston. At this time of year, it's hard to ask for much more than that.
Let's talk about the Royals' bullpen
The Royals have started something of a revolution, one in which teams are spending more resources on building dominant back ends of bullpens. Their three-headed monster of Greg Holland, Wade Davis and Kelvin Herrera has been a huge part of their cruise to a likely division title -- and possibly another long playoff run. However, that hasn't been as beneficial to fantasy players as one might think, especially lately. Kansas City has no reason to overwork their relievers, and that has led to some rest for Holland over the past month. While that's been bad for Holland owners, it's opened up time for other relievers to carve out late-inning roles. If you're looking for innings, rates and/or holds from relievers for the playoffs, take a look at a few of the unheralded Royals relievers. Specifically, Herrera, Luke Hochevar and Ryan Madson could all be helpful in deeper leagues.
John Axford has been solid in his second go-around as Colorado's closer. He hasn't allowed a run in his past 9 2/3 innings, and he has struck out 16 batters in that time, while walking just two.
The good news is Glen Perkins is working his way back from injury, throwing over the weekend for the first time in September. The bad news is he likely won't get the closer role back, despite the possibility that he'll be rejoining the Twins on Friday. Kevin Jepsen has been outstanding in Perkins' absence, and the latter wasn't pitching too well before getting hurt. If Ross is available, I'd be fine with dropping Perkins for someone like him in a redraft league.
It was not a banner week for Sean Doolittle, who only got into game action once and allowed two runs on three hits. He's definitely worth the risk, but we saw last week that it's no guarantee that picking him up will help.
I haven't spoken about A.J. Ramos in a long time, so let's catch up on him. People were a little worried about him after a rough August, but his peripherals never suffered too much, and he's bounced back nicely in September. He's one of the better new closers of 2015.
A version of this story originally appeared on Baseball Prospectus.