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Closers: Dodgers, Padres, Red Sox

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It appears that the only obstacle to a long stretch of dominance for Kenley Jansen may be his own health. Having claimed closing duties early in the season, the hard-throwing right-hander was authoring a terrific campaign, sitting on a 2.54 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, 25 saves and 86 strikeouts in just 56 2/3 innings through last week. Then, out of nowhere, the bad news broke that Jansen would be out indefinitely after suffering a recurrence of the heart condition that sidelined him for a month last season and for a spell during Spring Training this year.

Dodgers manager Don Mattingly has been noncommital about naming a proper replacement for Jansen, saying that Ronald Belisario and Brandon League, both right-handers, would share closing duties in Jansen's absence. It's only been a week since Jansen went down, so it might be too soon to infer much from a small sample of games, but the Dodgers have been involved in several close games in that time, and there are some interesting trends to note. While Belisario is enjoying a better season than League and was called upon for the first post-Jansen save chance, he has since been used in situations not typically reserved for closers, including pitching the top of the ninth with his team trailing on Sunday and then making a one-out appearance in the seventh inning on Monday that eventually led to a League save.

So while these small-sample trends make League the better add than Belisario at the moment, I don't think we can say this one has necessarily been settled, especially considering Mattingly's original declaration at the outset.

Of course, all of this may be moot depending on what happens with Jansen. The Dodgers were expected to make an announcement as soon as Tuesday as to whether he would return at some point this season. My initial instinct is to guess that he'll be shut down, considering he's dealing with such a serious medical condition, but that is mere speculation. In the meantime, League is where I'd look first for a replacement, and then to Belisario.

With Huston Street's DL stint creeping up on a month, his owners got some bad news over the weekend. Street apparently suffered something of a mild setback during his rehab from a calf strain, and there's still no timetable in place for his return. With about a month remaining on the season's calendar, there's still time for Street to return and accrue a handful of saves for his owners, but the window is closing.

I said when Street went down that the Padres probably wouldn't be in a huge rush to get him back on the mound -- because of Street's recently signed extension and the team's place in the standings -- and that appears to be the case. This can only be a good thing for owners of interim closer Luke Gregerson, who should see a handful more save chances before Street elbows him back into a setup role. Gregerson blew a save chance on Monday and has allowed runs in back-to-back outings, but I'm thinking he should get another go-round before Bud Black considers making a(nother) change. There's only so short a leash you can place on your closing candidates before you've cycled through them all.

Hold onto Gregerson if you own him now, and if he's still kicking around on your league's wire (only owned in 18% of Yahoo! leagues), give him a long look if you're in need of saves. He should have the gig for at least another week and perhaps more, and he should do a fine job.

Red Sox
Short of an official announcement, it was nonetheless all but certain last week that Andrew Bailey had overtaken Alfredo Aceves as Red Sox closer following Aceves' brutal August and team-imposed three-game suspension. But just in case there was any lingering doubt, the Red Sox since then announced that Aceves would be starting over the season's final month, clearing the way for Bailey to man the ninth inning, just as they'd planned when they acquired him last offseason from the Athletics.

I will admit, I had this one wrong. When Bailey was nearing his return, Aceves was still pitching capably and the Red Sox were still on the fringes of playoff contention. What would be their motivation to make a switch? Well, Aceves played his cards about as poorly as one can, and Boston's season went completely off the rails.

Bailey is owned in only 62% of Yahoo! leagues, so be sure to snap him up if he's fallen through the cracks in your league. It's hard to say whether he's back to his old form considering he's made only eight appearances so far this season since returning from the disabled list, but the upside is enough to warrant the benefit of the doubt. Now, if only the Sox could get him a save chance ...

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