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Closers: Reds, Dodgers, Padres

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It seemed almost inevitable that Aroldis Chapman wouldn't get through the season without some kind of health scare. That may be an unfair observation, because it's probably true of all Major League pitchers. But since the Reds were pretty clearly divided about how to be deploy Chapman earlier in the season, and with the lefty regularly dialing up his hellacious fastball into triple-digits, I always felt like the other shoe could drop for him at any time.

That time might have arrived now, as Chapman's past two outings have been ugly, marked by a lack of control and the always scary diminished velocity. The Reds are concerned about it; manager (and noted arm-shredder) Dusty Baker said as much after Monday night's game in which Chapman issued three walks in only two-thirds of an inning.

I don't want to speculate on what, if anything, is exactly wrong with Chapmania; it's entirely possible that he just had a couple of bad outings back-to-back. But that does seem unlikely considering the velocity dip, and since the Reds are basically on cruise control en route to the postseason, it'd be surprising if they didn't significantly scale back Chapman's workload, or shut him down altogether, for the remainer of the regular season.

Chapman owners should be worried, but a frustration cut would be wildly premature here. Instead, stash primary setup man Jonathan Broxton. I'm a bit of a Sean Marshall fanboy, and I'd love to see him get a shot at redemption after an early-season demotion from the closer's role, but my instinct here is that if Chapman is indeed sidelined, Brox will get first shot at the ninth inning. The husky right-hander has pitched exclusively in the eighth inning since joining Cincinnati, and though Marshall is the better pitcher at this point in their respective careers by virtue of his ability to miss more bats, Baker doesn't strike me as the type to log onto Fangraphs and compare SwStr rates. Plus, in fairness, there's something to be said for preserving a good left-handed reliever for a tough lefty hitter.

Anyway, this one should be watched closely. Hopefully, Chapman is fine, but even if he is, my sense is that the Reds will want to take a conservative approach with him, so in the meantime, Broxton is worth snapping up.

When we last spoke, Kenley Jansen's injury status (irregular heartbeat) was still very much in the air. The possibilities ranged from "out for the season" to "back shortly." The update since then lands firmly in between those two extremes, with Jansen slated to return to game action on Monday. From a long-term perspective, this is Jansen's third episode related to his heart in the past calendar year, so fantasy types should certainly consider it a red flag for 2013 and beyond, but at least his current owners who are still in contention will get a couple weeks' worth of production out of him to end the season.

Old friend Brandon League, who actually lost his closing job with the Mariners before being traded to the Dodgers, has assumed ninth-inning duties in Los Angeles in Jansen's stead. He's not having a very strong year, but saves are saves, so if you need 'em, League will continue to be worth an add over the next week if he's still languishing on your league's wire. Ronald Belisario appeared to be in the closing mix with League shortly after Jansen went down, but League has emerged the sole interim closer. Perhaps it was because of The Experience.

San Diego closer Huston Street, on the disabled list since Aug. 10 due to a calf strain, threw a simulated game without incident on Monday and is slated for another one on Wednesday. Assuming that one goes well, he could be activated shortly thereafter, perhaps sometime around the weekend. Luke Gregerson has done a nice job filling in for Street, but Street should get his old gig back once he's healthy. As always, though, it'd be prudent for Gregerson owners to hold on till Street is back in uniform and pitching effectively. Street, after all, is prone to injury and already suffered one setback while on rehab assignment.

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