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Closer Updates: Diamondbacks, Red Sox, Cubs, Dodgers, Mets

If you play in a highly-focused league with daily changes, there's a good chance you missed out on this week's pair of newly-minted closers. (Playing in two such leagues, I know how you feel.) If you don't want to miss out next time (and there's always a next time), move to the East Coast. Or, better yet, Nova Scotia, which I believe gets up an hour earlier. If that's too much trouble, just check @CloserNews on Twitter for up-to-the-minute information. All the time. 

If you're lucky enough to play in a weekly-changes league, then the first two capsules are for you, not to mention our up-to-date Closer Depth Chart, for each team's stopper and top backups.


Whether some underlying injury was why J.J. Putz struggled so much this season, I couldn't say. But I can say that he's out (mercifully, I guess), and out for a while. He's got a sprained ligament in his elbow, an irritated nerve, and something called a "strained flexor pronator." That all sounds bad enough to me, but the pitcher had to announce that he'd "never felt anything like that." Ouch. The bad news is, drop him, because he won't be back any time soon. The good news is, at least you won't be carrying him around on your roster for a month like Jason Motte, wondering whether to drop him or not.

So, who's replacing Putz? None other than Heath Bell. That "proven closer" tag comes in handy, doesn't it? Bell's ERA and WHIP are nothing to write home about so far this season, but he's struck out 20 batters in 14.3 IP, against only three walks. I don't have extreme confidence in Bell, but he is off to a promising start.

The rumors are a bit jumbled, but there seems to be a chance that David Hernandez will be mixed in sometimes, "depending on matchups," which seems odd, since both pitchers are right-handed. Maybe what they mean is that Bell will get the easy save chances, while Hernandez is brought in for the times Arizona is actually worried they might lose the game. Of course, if Bell falters, Hernandez will be quick to take the job. Matt Reynolds has two saves so far, but seems to be on the outside looking in at this point.

Red Sox

Joel Hanrahan. Andrew Bailey. Joel Hanrahan. Junichi Tazawa. Such is the list of Boston's closers this year, in order. For the moment, both Bailey and Hanrahan are sitting on the DL, and it's Tazawa's chance to shine. Hanrahan will be on the shelf for an unknown, long period of time. He's a very safe drop. Bailey will be out too, and it's hard to say at this point for how long, as the Red Sox don't have a timetable for him just yet. Keeping him seems worthwhile in most formats, as he stands a good chance at reclaiming the job whenever he does return.

Getting to Tazawa, however, pick him up! He's been lights-out so far, and Boston is playing extremely well. There's a good chance that he's one of baseball's most productive closers for the duration that he holds the job. Just in case he falters, his elder countryman Koji Uehara would presumptively step in.


This is the last we'll see of the Cubbies in this space for a long while, since they've officially named one of baseball's most reliable relievers their closer for the moment and the future. That's right, Kevin Gregg will continue to hold the job, even when Kyuji Fujikawa returns from the DL. Oh wait, Gregg is one of baseball's least reliable performers? If he's still available (not likely), pick him up, but don't get too excited. If you're carrying Fujikawa in one of your DL slots, you can jettison him.


Brandon League entered the year as a man set up to fail, with flamethrower Kenley Jansen for a setup man. The thinking all preseason seemed to be that provided Jansen showed himself healthy, League would lose the job at the first plausible excuse. Well, here we are, at that first plausible excuse, and there are rumblings about making a change. Manager Don Mattingly has called the situation "a mess," a statement with more truth in it than I had expected to find, as League has given up at least a run in five of his last six appearances, while striking out only seven batters in 13.3 IP and sporting an ERA of 5.40. A change would be understandable. If Jansen is actually unowned in your league, I'd say it's time to pick him up.


Bobby Parnell should remain the closer when Frank Francisco comes back from the DL, though situations like this always seem to get dicey. Parnell owners shouldn't panic, because the closer has been superb this season, to the tune of a 1.29 ERA, an 0.57 WHIP, and nearly a strikeout per inning. Not that the Mets have given him many opportunities to save games, but he has managed to blow two of them compared to just three successes. Sometimes considerations like these factor more than they should in managerial decisions, which might be why Terry Collins left enough wiggle room for Francisco returning to the ninth after he settles in. He's not a good add by any means, but Parnell owners will want to monitor him.


Bell should be the top add, not because he's the best, but because it seems quite clear that Putz will be on the shelf for a long time. If Bell can run with the job, the job will be there for him. Gregg would be next, as he's got a similar situation...but he's an even more unpredictable pitcher. Tazawa should be grabbed as well, though he is much more of a short-term buy, which is great if you own Bailey or play in a standard Roto league. Jansen should be picked up as well, as League really doesn't look long for the closing gig. You could make the case for picking Jansen over Tazawa, as when he gets the ninth, it will probably take an injury for Jansen to give it up. Francisco is someone to keep an eye on, as is David Hernandez. 



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