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Closer Updates: Cubs, Cardinals, Red Sox, Brewers, Astros

Just when you think things are settled in the world of closers...they aren't. This week sent more injuries our way, plus flame-throwing relievers that couldn't cut it, and K-Rod's return as we know it. Here are the saves-chasing updates from around the Majors.

Cubs

If your closer's team never shows up in this column, so much the better. If your closer's team is the Cubs, well I feel bad for you son, because they've been a mainstay here on Closer Updates and I see no reason why they might leave. The latest issue is that newly anointed closer Kyuji Fujikawa has hit the DL with a strained right forearm. He'll be out until at least late this month, and could be missing more time. Rumor has it that he'd been experiencing pain for some time, so perhaps this explains why his ERA is at a Marmolian 12.46. Speaking of Carlos Marmol, he won't be closing yet (though he's strung together a couple passable outings and gotten his ERA to around half of Fujikawa's); instead, the Cubbies will be going with a committee led by Shawn Camp and James Russell. The Cubs have a lot invested in using either Marmol (for the trade value) or Fujikawa (because they signed him as a free agent) in the closer's role, so expect the committee to last no longer than necessary. I'll be staying away from this mess for now, as half a temporary closer's job on a lousy team just doesn't seem worth the roster space.

Cardinals

No, I don't have any word on Jason Motte's timetable, but that doesn't mean there weren't more changes in the St. Louis bullpen picture. Neither Mitchell Boggs nor Trevor Rosenthal managed to run with the job, despite ample opportunity and talent. If Thursday's usage was any indication, the Cards will turn to Edward Mujica for their ninth inning leads needs. This had been pondered last week, and it looks pretty likely at this point. In case Mujica falters, I wonder if Fernando Salas might get a chance to close again. This is purely speculation on my part (How smart would I feel if I'd been speculating on Mujica two weeks ago!), and he's off to a pretty horrid start, but he did notch 24 saves with a 2.28 ERA two years ago. Maybe Mike Matheny remembers that as vaguely as I do. For the moment, Mujica is definitely the add.

Red Sox

Joel Hanrahan is the latest "safe" closer to land on the DL. He's got a hamstring issue and, like Fujikawa, is tentatively expected back by the end of the month. Also like Fujikawa, he's got a four-digit ERA. Unlike the Cubs, however, the Sox have a strong bullpen, led by Andrew Bailey. Bailey has the all-important Closing Experience, not to mention 12 K's in 7.1 IP, a 1.23 ERA, and an 0.68 WHIP. Even manager John Farrell admits that Hanrahan might not return to the closer's role; it very much looks like Bailey could take the job he was traded for and run with it. He's a great add, but if he doesn't work out, Boston might turn to Koji Uehara, who is lights-out but not generally trusted with a full closer's workload.

Brewers

Like their NL central kinsfolk the Cubs, the Brew Crew seems destined to appear in this space with some frequency. No big changes here, however: Jim Henderson is holding the job down just fine. If he's on your league's waiver wire for some reason...well, probably it's because you don't count saves or you've just got eight teams or something like that. If not, pick him up already. Francisco Rodriguez is back in the fold, though it will be a month or more before he's even eligible to take the job away from Henderson. Good news if you've been holding onto John Axford (like me): he's pitched more or less capably in his last few outings. We were starting to think this was impossible. Keep the faith if you can spare the roster spot, as Axford remains a good candidate to reclaim the ninth inning at some point this season.

Astros

Jose Veras finally got a save opportunity on the woebegone Houston Astros. Naturally, he blew it. So far, however, there are no rumblings about replacing Veras. Owned in only 35% of Yahoo! leagues, he remains a good pickup for someone in dire need of saves. Well, a better pickup than trying to muddle your way through the Cubs' mess, anyways. If he does end up getting demoted, maybe we'll see Rhiner Cruz (who's pitched a lot late in games for the 'Stros) or Hector Ambriz (who's pitched pretty well lately) getting a shot in the ninth. For now, though, it's still Veras.

Add-Vice

The top closer add here should be Bailey. He's pitching extremely well and he's got a decent chance to steal his old job (that he never really had) back while Hanrahan languishes on the DL. Edward Mujica is owned in only 32% of Yahoo! leagues and deserves to be snapped up next. After that, you've got Henderson who won't be available in many leagues (so grab him if yours is in the minority). Veras is the next guy to grab, though it might be another couple weeks before he gets a save chance. I really don't recommend getting involved in the Cubs' mess, but if you have to, James Russell is probably the guy, mostly by virtue have having blown a save least recently. 




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