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Closer Updates: Angels, Astros, Athletics, Indians, Mets, Orioles, Pirates, White Sox

After a fairly in-depth look at each squad last week, we’ll take a quick peek at a few position battles and closers with limited job security in this edition. We’ll also scope out some co-closer / closer-by-committee situations to see which reliever has the most potential for saves in the short term.

Baltimore Orioles – Former closer Tommy Hunter hit the disabled list last week with a strained left groin. Before hitting the DL, Hunter lost the ninth inning to Zach Britton. In addition to having a strong start to 2014 (3 saves, 0.94 ERA, 0.91 WHIP), Britton pitched well through back-to-back-to-back appearances earlier in the week (3.0 IP, 44 pitches, 2 saves, 1 ER). He did blow his first save on the last day of that stretch, but he’s already more consistent than his predecessor.

Chicago White Sox – Since Matt Lindstrom went down, no reliever has grabbed the ninth inning and wrestled it from the others. Despite a blown save on Wednesday, Ronald Belisario (3 saves, 4.97 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 7.1 K/9) may still have the slight edge. After him, Scott Downs (1 save, 6.16 ERA, 1.74 WHIP, 8.1 K/9) or Daniel Webb (2.39 ERA, 1.41 WHIP, 6.8 K/9) will probably get the next chance to close – in that order.

Cleveland Indians – With John Axford out as the Tribe’s closer, the closer-by-committee includes Bryan Shaw (2 saves, 1.50 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, 7.9 K/9) and Cody Allen (1 save, 3.05 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, 11.8). Allen has the better strikeout rate, but Shaw has pitched better this season. Expect the Indians to play it by ear until one emerges with the gig.

Houston Astros – Although Houston has not had many save opportunities this season, Chad Qualls (3 saves, 2.93 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, 6.0 K/9) continues to separate himself from the competition due to bullpen injuries. The recently acquired Kyle Farnsworth (3 saves, 3.66 ERA, 1.42 WHIP, 5.5 K/9) may give Qualls a run for his money if there’s a stumble or two.

Los Angeles Angels of AnaheimJoe Smith has pitched quite well (5 saves, 2.14 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 8.6 K/9) as a co-closer with Ernesto Frieri, but Frieri may take the job back for himself. With a strong two weeks (3 saves, 7.0 IP, 1.29 ERA, 1.00 WHIP), Frieri has settled into a groove and will likely be trusted to return to the ninth full time soon.

New York Mets – It seems that the Mets continue to cut closers as they parted ways with Jose Valverde (2 saves, 5.66 ERA, 1.65 WHIP) this week. Although his time in Queens has been largely uneventful, his departure solidifies Jenrry Mejia (4 saves, 4.05 ERA, 1.50 WHIP) as the closer in the short term. Jeurys Familia (3.13 ERAA, 1.30 WHIP) and Daisuke Matsuzaka (1 save, 2.33 ERA, 1.11 WHIP) are still looming, but Mejia is certainly first in line.

Oakland Athletics – After being named closer just over a week ago, Sean Doolittle has been effective in his limited appearances for the A’s in that time (1 save, 2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 3 K, 0.00 ERA, 0.50 WHIP). Despite the small sample size, Doolittle has enough potential to keep Jim Johnson and Luke Gregerson at bay.

Pittsburgh Pirates – Manager Clint Hurdle has been easing Jason Grilli back into the closer role since his return from the DL. Because the Bucs are blessed to have a very effective Mark Melancon as Grilli’s replacement, the transition may be slow and steady. If that’s the case, Melancon will remain valuable for at least another week.

If you’re chasing saves in your fantasy league, there’s only one place to check out… For the latest news on closers to grab, stash, start, or bench, be sure to follow @CloserNews on Twitter.

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