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Closer Updates: Astros, Brewers, Marlins

It's been a busy week in Closer Land, and more action could be on the way with the trade deadline now only seven days away. We'll keep you covered here, but as always, keep an eye on the @closernews Twitter feed for the latest breaking info.

Well, the Astros pulled off what the Padres couldn't do last year, trading off both their closer and primary setup man. The frenzy of deals had greater fantasy impact than anything else, with Brett Myers going from closer to setup man with the White Sox, Brandon Lyon remaining a setup man as he moved to the Blue Jays, and Francisco Cordero getting his passport stamped with "closer" en route from Toronto to Houston.


So, Fran-Cor is the reliever who emerges from this rearrangement of deck chairs with a sharp uptick in value. If you recall, the Jays tried him as their closer earlier this season when Sergio Santos first went on the disabled list. Remember that? Yeah, I do, because I owned Cordero and vividly recall him failing miserably before yielding to Casey Janssen. So, it's hard for me to give Cordero much of a vote of confidence. On the other hand, the NL Central ain't the AL East, and Cordero closed in this division rather effectively as recently as 2011.

If you need saves or need to prevent a competitor from accruing more of them, nab Cordero and hope for the best. If the former is your motivation, you always have the option of benching him. As for Myers, Lyon and Astros righty Wilton Lopez, whom some scooped up as a deep sleeper, it's safe to cut away.

Let's remain in the NL Central, where those feisty Brewers are giving fantasy owners fits.

On the surface, it looks like John Axford has followed up his breakout 2011 with a complete dud. But mostly, the Ax Man has been the victim of some bad luck and a flukey home run rate (20.7%!), with his 3.10 SIERA sitting much closer to his 2.86 career ERA than his 4.91 2012 ERA.

Until last week, the Brewers had been surprisingly patient with the Axford, even sticking with their guy when no one would have blamed them for looking to someone else. ... But they'd apparently seen enough after another Axford debacle, giving him a chance to sort things out in lower-leverage situations while old friend (to no one) Francisco Rodriguez took over.

K-Rod, though, has been walking a tight rope all season, and it really bit him on Monday night, when he was tagged for four earned in two-thirds of an inning against the Phillies. Oof. If someone cut Axford loose in your league, snap him up with the quickness. I think he'll be back closing before long. Remember that Milwaukee signed him to an extension before the season, so he's their closer of the future.

Steve Cishek has two of the Marlins' three post-break saves, and I think he'd have all of them were it not for an apparent illness that sidelined him last week and opened the door for Mike Dunn to pick one up. Cishek is clearly Ozzie Guillen's guy right now, so nab him if he's still on your league's wire. But the real question here is what Heath Bell owners should do. Clearly, there is some indecision, as Bell is still owned in 78% of Yahoo! leagues.

I would treat Bell as a "preferred" own -- someone I'd like to hold onto if I could, but if something more pressing comes along, I'd cut away. I say this because I could envision Bell shoehorning his way into the Marlins' supposed "committee" if he can continue to pitch better (four consecutive scoreless outings since the All-Star break). The Marlins, after all, are stuck with Bell for two more years; I'm sure they'd love to trade him, as has been reported, but no one is taking him off their hands unless they eat basically the entire contract, which ain't happening. Easing Bell back into some save situations down the stretch would be a more palatable saving-face move for The Franchise the franchise and set up Bell to once again take the reins heading into 2013.

closer Frank Francisco was on the verge of commencing a minor league rehab stint but had another setback. Bobby Parnell owners can hold on, although between his recent slump and the Mets' relative dearth of save opps, owning the Mets' interim closer is tough sledding these days. I expect Francisco to regain closing duties upon his return, but let's see him return first. ... The Padres are nearing a contract extension with closer Huston Street. As such, he won't be changing teams, so those who handcuffed Luke Gregerson can move on. ... White Sox closer Addison Reed has had a sometimes shaky indoctrination into the Major Leagues this season, providing Chicago with ample opportunity to make (yet another) shuffle. Sox brass has declined, though, so I think Reed is safe even with the addition of another closer candidate in Myers. ... The Royals are fielding offers for Jonathan Broxton. I think there's even odds he gets dealt, and I like Greg Holland to take over if Brox goes. Aaron Crow would be another possibility, mostly because of Holland's struggles relative to last year, but I think the Royals are still figuring out who/what Crow is. ... Nationals right-hander Drew Storen is back from the DL, just in time to put a scare into the owners of the struggling Tyler Clippard. But with Storen having missed so much time, he's probably not in midseason form, and the Nats will want to go easy on him. I think Clippard is safe unless he's still slumping another week or two from now, when Storen will have more appearances under his belt. ... Red Sox right-hander Andrew Bailey is nearing a minor league rehab stint, which would put him on track for a mid-August return barring setbacks. Alfredo Aceves is expected to keep his job as Boston's closer, though.

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