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Closer Updates: A’s, Angels, Astros, Cubbies, Jays, Mets, Reds, Red Sox

With another busy week in the books, it's time to take one more quick trip around the big leagues and check on some closer developments. As usual, we've got a healthy dose of speculation, injury updates, and insight into job security.

Boston Red Sox – After returning from the DL, Koji Uehara has struggled to return to his dominant form. In fact, Uehara has allowed at least one (or more) baserunners in seven of his last nine outings. After an impressive 2013 (21 saves, 1.09 ERA, 0.57 WHIP, 12.2 K/9), his numbers this season can seem underwhelming (7 saves, 1.32 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 12.5 K/9). However, Red Sox manager John Farrell is confident that he’ll return to his old performance level and his job is not in jeopardy at this moment.

Chicago CubsHector Rondon seems to have wrestled away the closer’s role from Pedro Strop. With two saves in the last week, Rondon is the reliever to own in Wrigleyville for now. Although he has not been “officially” named the closer, he should handle the ninth until his performance demands otherwise. With an impressive stat line this season (3 saves, 1.69 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 10.1 K/9), Rondon could provide great value for those searching the waiver wire for saves.

Cincinnati Reds – For those patiently waiting for their draft day investment in Aroldis Chapman to pay off, the wait might last a little while longer. After a strong start to his rehab assignments (including a 101 mph fastball in Dayton), Chapman has struggled in his past two appearances. On Tuesday, Chapman allowed five runs in only two-thirds of an inning and followed the next night by allowing another three runs in one-third of an inning. Given these recent showings, the Reds may wait a little while longer before activating him.

Houston Astros – As of this week, the leading candidates for saves in the Astros’ bullpen are Chad Qualls and Anthony Bass. Josh Fields, who has two saves on the season, was recently removed from “high-leverage” situations by manager Bo Porter and Matt Albers was put on the disabled list (shoulder). Despite the fact that save opportunities are scarce in Houston, those fantasy managers who are desperate for saves should look at Qualls (1 save, 5.00 ERA, 2.11 WHIP, 13.0 K/9) and Bass (2 saves, 4.32 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 2.2 K/9).

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim – Since being demoted from the closer role at the end of April, Ernesto Frieri has struggled to take back the ninth. Manager Mike Scioscia has given Frieri more than one vote of confidence, but he seems to believe Joe Smith is his guy in the short term. Frieri’s save on Monday night is further proof, as that save opportunity only fell to him because Smith fell ill while warming up. Although we don’t doubt that Frieri will get another shot at the ninth, Smith will be the Halos’ short-term solution.

New York MetsKyle Farnsworth (2 saves, 3.29 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, 5.9 K/9) remains the closer in Queens after the Bobby Parnell and Jose Valverde experiments ended unfavorably. Although Farnsworth is not an elite closer or the Mets’ first choice, he does have manager Terry Collins’ support. Should he struggle, former starting pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka will be the next option.

Oakland AthleticsJim Johnson’s month-long nightmare might be coming to an end soon. After nailing down his second save of the season against the Mariners on Wednesday night, Johnson took a big step toward regaining the closer job. Although he’ll have to keep Luke Gregerson and Sean Doolittle at bay, Johnson is being paid too much to stay a setup man and should be manning the ninth for the Athletics shortly.

Toronto Blue JaysCasey Janssen has finally made some progress while recovering from injury. Although there is no clear cut time frame for his return, Janssen has begun his Double-A rehab assignment and will need a few more appearances before returning to the Blue Jays. Until then, the Jays are going with the closer-by-committee approach, with Steve Delabar (3.55 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 5.7 K/9), Brett Cecil (2 saves, 3.68 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 14.7 K/9), and Aaron Loup (2 saves, 4.50 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 7.3 K/9) leading the way.

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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