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Closer Updates: Astros, Athletics, Blue Jays, Brewers, Cubbies, Halos, Mets, Pirates, Tigers, White Sox

Welcome back! Believe it or not, we’ve already gone through a month of baseball and it’s time for an extra innings edition of Closer Updates. In addition to some injury updates on the usual suspects, we’ll also check on some other points of interest for those chasing saves.

Chicago Cubs

Although the Cubs have only had six save opportunities all season, Jose Veras managed to lose the job after a horrendous start. Since Veras left the ninth, Pedro Strop (3.18 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, 11.1 K/9) and Hector Rondon (0.73 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, 10.2 K/9) have each earned one of the Cubs’ two total saves. Strop has had a lot more action in the last week than Rondon and is probably the front runner, but it’s hard to tell right now who will get the chance to close whenever the Cubs get to their next save opportunity.

Chicago White Sox

Matt Lindstrom has been a shaky closer for the White Sox thus far (3 saves, 3.75 ERA, 1.58 WHIP, 4.5 K/9), but he may continue to man the ninth until Nate Jones returns from the DL. Jones is still recovering from a hip injury that bugged him back in Spring Training and it’s unclear what timeframe he’s working with. Chicago also has two capable journeyman relievers in Frank Francisco and Javy Guerra who are preparing themselves down in Triple-A. Francisco has yet to allow an earned run in three minor league appearances while Guerra has a 2.13 ERA in eight appearances. If Lindstrom’s struggles continue, there are a number of candidates who will be ready to step up in a few weeks.

Cincinnati Reds

The Aroldis Chapman timetable is becoming clearer by the day. After successfully throwing a live batting practice session without a screen, Chapman has been cleared for a rehab assignment. Yesterday, Reds skipper Bryan Price even said that Chapman could return as soon as 7-to-10 days. Jonathan Broxton will return to a setup role after Aroldis comes off the DL despite an excellent start (5 saves, 0.00 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 9.0 K/9).

Detroit Tigers                                                                        

Joe Nathan has struggled with his new team thus far (5 saves, 5.06 ERA, 1.41 WHIP, 10.1 K/9) and it has caused some concern for fantasy owners. However, there may be little cause for concern. Nathan has stated that he had a bit of the “dead arm” at the beginning of the season and he’s come back into form recently. Including his most recent appearance, Nathan has gone four straight games without allowing a run and that stretch has included a 6:1 strikeout to walk ratio. Look for Nathan’s consistency to return in short order.

Houston Astros

The Astros bullpen continues to be a mess and I’d advise those chasing saves from this bullpen to tread lightly. In the past week, Raul Valdes converted Houston’s only save opportunity. The save was Valdes’ first of the season and he seems to still fall behind Josh Fields, Chad Qualls, and Anthony Bass in the closer-by-committee pecking order.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

Ernesto Frieri lost the gig after a poor April (2 saves, 7.59 ERA, 1.59 WHIP, 10.1 K/9). In his place, Joe Smith has been an effective closer (his first two saves came on back-to-back nights) and solid reliever all season (3.00 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 9.8 K/9). In the short term, Smith could be an excellent source of saves. That being said, manager Mike Scioscia will be looking to return Frieri to the ninth before too long and even commented that he’s confident Frieri will “get it back.”

Milwaukee Brewers

Francisco Rodriguez has had an unbelievable start (0.00 ERA, 0.69 WHIP, 12.9 K/9) and it’s almost a certainty that Jim Henderson will not be taking the closer role back any time soon. However, Rodriguez has had a lot of usage recently (an MLB record setting 13 saves in April) and Henderson may be able to scavenge the occasional save if K-Rod needs rest.

New York Mets

After Jose Valverde lost the ninth in Queens, Kyle Farnsworth inherited the closer gig. Farnsworth has been less than overwhelming (2.38 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 6.4 K/9) and there’s been a bit of discussion recently about Daisuke Matsuzaka (1 save, 1.17 ERA, 0.91 WHIP, 12.9 K/9) taking over the job before too long. If you’re speculating on future saves, Matsuzaka is widely available and SP-eligible.

Oakland Athletics

Jim Johnson may have the closer role again soon in Oakland by default. The combination of Sean Doolittle (1 save, 5.68 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 10.7 K/9) and Luke Gregerson (3 saves, 2.63 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, 5.9 K/9) has shown that each reliever is better suited for a setup role. Although Johnson’s job security will be slim, he should retake the gig very soon after pitching well recently in some lower pressure situations.

Pittsburgh Pirates

Pirates All-Star closer Jason Grilli hit the DL this week with an oblique injury after an average start to the season (4 saves, 4.50 ERA, 1.38 WHIP, 7.9 K/9). Until he returns, we’ll have a case of déjà vu when Mark Melancon takes over the ninth inning. Melancon was quite successful in a similar situation last season (16 saves, 1.39 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, 8.9 K/9) and could be a nice source of cheap saves over the next two weeks.

Toronto Blue Jays

Casey Janssen has been recovering nicely from his back injury and had another strong bullpen session this week. He’ll have another before starting a rehab assignment early next week and could return to the Blue Jays shortly thereafter. Sergio Santos has been hit-or-miss (pun intended) as Janssen’s replacement thus far (5 saves, 8.31 ERA, 2.08 WHIP, 16.6 K/9) and he’ll only hold the role for another two weeks at most.

Add-Vice

If you’re in a league with very deep pitching rosters or you’re really really committed to moving early on closers, you may want to consider Joel Hanrahan. Hanrahan has solid career numbers (100 saves, 3.85 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, 9.8 K/9) and is currently a free agent as he comes off Tommy John surgery. The Rangers, Red Sox, Rockies, Tigers and Yankees have all expressed interest at a recent worked. Obviously his shot at the closer role will depend greatly on where he lands, but he may be one or two big injuries away from the top of somebody’s closer depth chart.

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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