Closer Updates


Closer Updates: Bucs, Cards, Cubs, Mets, Tigers, White Sox

After all the hoopla from the trade deadline settled down, it has become fairly humdrum on the closer circuit again. Besides a few injury developments and a couple of updates, this week has been a little light. However, there should be more than one helpful nugget in this week' article.

Chicago Cubs – After a stint on the disabled list, Neil Ramirez (6.75 ERA, 3.00 WHIP, 13.5 K/9) was recently activated. Before stumbling and falling to injury, Ramirez was a solid set-up man in Wrigleyville. Although he will not become the handcuff for Hector Rondon (15 saves, 3.38 ERA, 1.28 WHIP) immediately, he’ll have a chance to move into higher pressure situations. Kyuji Fujikawa (2.0 IP, 0.00 ERA, 0.00 WHIP) is another reliever who has returned after a long DL stint, but consider him behind Pedro Strop (2.62 ERA, 1.07 WHIP) in the pecking order.

Chicago White SoxMatt Lindstrom (6 saves, 3.32 ERA, 1.47 WHIP) was activated from the disabled list earlier this week and manager Robin Ventura stated that he will be used in high-leverage situations moving forward. If Lindstrom proves that he’s dependable, he should move past Zach Putnam (3 saves, 2.21 ERA, 1.16 WHIP) and snag the job from Jake Petricka (8 saves, 2.30 ERA, 1.30 WHIP) – who will remain the closer for now…

Detroit Tigers – Over the past seven days, the Tigers bullpen took another blow when recently-acquired Joakim Soria (10.38 ERA and 2.77 WHIP in Detroit) hit the disabled list with a left oblique strain. Consequently, Joe Nathan (5 saves, 3.86 ERA, 1.71 WHIP in the last 30 days) has a firmer grip on the closer job and Joba Chamberlain (3.26 ERA, 1.28 WHIP) has moved up the list as the primary set-up guy.

New York Mets – After fighting through two injuries (a sore calf and a hernia), Jenrry Mejia (17 saves, 3.89 ERA, 1.55 WHIP) was given the day off earlier this week after blowing a save over the weekend. If Mejia pitches ineffectively over the next week or so, Jeurys Familia (3 saves, 1.97 ERA, 1.20 WHIP) should be next in line. In fact, Familia scavenged a save earlier in the week and could be a strong speculative pick moving forward.

Pittsburgh Pirates – After trading for Ernesto Frieri, the experiment has run its course (10.13 ERA and 1.78 WHIP in Pittsburgh). Last week, Frieri was designated for assignment and might be a long way from closing in the future. For now, Mark Melancon (22 saves, 2.15 ERA, 0.89 WHIP) and Tony Watson (1.43 ERA, 1.01 WHIP) are still the one-two punch in Pittsburgh.

St. Louis Cardinals – Former closer Jason Motte (4.91 ERA, 1.50 WHIP this season) was placed on the DL in the past week with a lower back injury. Although it will not impact Trevor Rosenthal’s job, it firmly placed Pat Neshek in the #2 spot. If Rosenthal (35 saves, 3.13 ERA, 1.34 WHIP) gets heavy usage while the Cards make a playoff push, Neshek (3 saves, 0.73 ERA, 0.57 WHIP) could provide on occasional save for those managers who are desperate enough.

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.



Closer Updates: Giants, Mets, Rangers, Rays, Tigers, White Sox

After a few weeks of exploring the All-Star Game and trade market, we’re back to focusing on those usual suspects – pesky closer battles and teams utilizing the closer-by-committee approach. Of course, there is some of the same old stuff, with a few suggestions as to who might snag you a stray save in the coming weeks.

Chicago White Sox – With a ragtag group of relievers in Chicago, Jake Petricka has emerged as the short-term solution at closer (7 saves, 2.09 ERA, 1.27 WHIP). Although Nate Jones is out for the rest of the year with Tommy John surgery, Matt Lindstrom is expected to return from injury soon and could immediately challenge Petricka for the job. Javy Guerra (3.45 ERA, 1.43 WHIP) and Ronald Belisario (6.23 ERA, 1.39 WHIP) are outside threats as well.

Detroit Tigers – According to some reports, former closer (and blown save artist) Jim Johnson has just been signed by the Tigers. With the recently acquired Joakim Soria struggling (12.27 ERA and 3.27 WHIP with Detroit) and Joe Nathan (6 saves, 3.00 ERA, 1.00 WHIP in the past month) only improving slightly, Johnson is the perfect fit for this dysfunctional bullpen. The most promising solution to their ninth inning woes could be Joba Chamberlain, who has pitched better than most of the bullpen (2.93 ERA, 1.17 WHIP) and has some closing experience (7 career saves).

New York Mets – Another bullpen that has suffered its own share of growing pains this season resides in Queens. Mets’ fans must be happy that Jenrry Mejia has emerged (over Jeurys Familia, Vic Black, and Carlos Torres) as a dependable option in the ninth inning. With a 3.66 ERA, 1.50 WHIP and 16 saves, Mejia might just be able to start getting comfortable in the role.

San Francisco Giants – When Sergio Romo lost the closer’s role in Frisco, many thought that it wouldn’t be long before he took back the ninth. However, Santiago Casilla has been strong (1.23 ERA and 0.82 WHIP over the past 30 days) in Romo’s stead. With Jeremy Affeldt (1.38 ERA, 0.92 WHIP) and Jean Machi (1.68 ERA, 0.95 WHIP) both pitching very well, Romo’s return seems that much tougher.

Tampa Bay Rays – After some dispute a while back, Jake McGee has emerged as the closer in Tampa (12 saves, 1.44 ERA, 0.82 WHIP). Despite Grant Balfour and Joel Peralta in the bullpen, Brad Boxberger has been making some strides this season (1 save, 2.00 ERA, 0.82 WHIP) and turned a few heads. If the Rays fall out of playoff contention (they’re 9.5 games back from the division lead now), Boxberger might be able to snag a save opportunity or two moving forward.

Texas Rangers – With Soria in Detroit, Neftali Feliz has inherited the closing gig and pitched well in the role (3 saves, 3.18 ERA, 0.88 WHIP in the past two weeks). Shawn Tolleson (3.31 ERA, 1.22 WHIP) and Neal Cotts (3.38 ERA, 1.33 WHIP) are the current setup guys and benefit the most from the Soria trade – especially if you’re searching for holds. Each will get some save opportunities too if Feliz isn’t up for the job, with Cotts likely the first candidate.

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.



Closer Updates: Trade Bait & Bullpen Check-Ins

With the trade deadline just a few hours away, plenty of changes could still be ahead for baseball this season. Saves-seekers might be pushing their luck, however, if they expect several major bullpen shakeups before the deadline comes. After the earlier Huston Street trade and Jason Grilli for Ernesto Frieri swap, it might be a quiet afternoon. Just in case, we’ll explore a couple of names that have been floated as trade bait and discuss a few other bullpen situations who utilized the closer-by-committee approach not too long ago.

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Joaquin Benoit – Even though the Padres have already dealt Street, they may not be done dealing and Benoit’s name keeps coming up after a strong start to the season (1.88 ERA, 0.84 WHIP). If he’s moved before the trade deadline, Dale Thayer (2.09 ERA, 1.09 WHIP) will likely get the first opportunity to close in San Diego.

LaTroy Hawkins – When Hawkins was first signed, many thought that it would be temporary and a different closer would be manning the ninth in the Mile High City before season’s end. However, most thought that the Rockies closer of the future was Rex Brothers (4.57 ERA, 1.62), who has fallen well below expectations thus far. Adam Ottavino is making a strong case (3.88 ERA, 1.25 WHIP) and could just beat Brothers in grabbing the first save opportunity if Hawkins is dealt.

Jonathan Papelbon – Although Papelbon’s name has been floated a few times, he has made it clear that he will not pitch for a team that does not intend to have him close. He has good numbers on the season (25 saves, 1.83 ERA, 0.88 WHIP) and the Phillies are willing to absorb some of his contract, but it’s still unlikely he’ll be moved. If that does happen, Ken Giles (0.93 ERA, 0.83 WHIP) has the early need on that particular scramble for the ninth.

Chad Qualls – Another popular name is down in Houston and many believe that Qualls could be a dependable setup guy given his strong numbers (11 saves, 3.19 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 8.1 K/9). If he’s moved, it’s unclear exactly how the Astros bullpen will shake out. However, Qualls is somebody who might be able to provide value in a reliever role and could even continue to be a strong closer if given the chance elsewhere.

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Chicago White Sox – This bullpen has been a roller coaster this season, with a number of different relievers sitting in the closer chair. After an injury to Zach Putnam (3 saves, 2.35 ERA, 1.20 WHIP), Jake Petricka has become king-of-the-hill over Ronald Belisario (5.22 ERA, 1.30 WHIP) and Javy Guerra (2.81 ERA, 1.36 WHIP). Like Putnam, Matt Lindstrom (6 saves, 3.3 ERA, 1.47 WHIP) is also working back from injury and could wrestle the gig away shortly after being activated from the disabled list (assuming he returns to form).

Houston Astros – Qualls settled into the closer role nicely and provided a surprising amount of stability for the H-town bullpen. If he’s dealt, they could spiral into oblivion again and fast. Josh Fields (4.08 ERA, 1.13 WHIP), Jose Veras (6.00 ERA, 1.67 WHIP), and Tony Sipp (2.56 ERA, 0.85 WHIP) are all potential options, but nothing it set in stone. Jesse Crain is rumored to be returning to the mound soon, but it’s questionable where he pitches this season. Stay tuned… if you dare.

Oakland Athletics – After the Jim Johnson debacle this season (7.14 ERA, 2.06 WHIP), the A’s struggled to find their closer. Luke Gregerson (1.97 ERA, 1.01 WHIP) had a few chances early and many expected Ryan Cook (2.70 ERA, 1.20 WHIP) might inherit the gig at some point. However, Sean Doolittle took the job and seems to have no intention of giving it up (16 saves, 2.59 ERA, 0.64 WHIP).

Tampa Bay Rays – With a motley crew of saves contenders, many did not know who would emerge from the battle for the ninth inning in Tampa. Joel Peralta and Grant Balfour both had solid resumes (95 career saves combined), and so did young right-hander Brad Boxberger – who has pitched quite well in 41 appearances this season (2.11 ERA, 0.82 WHIP). In the end, Jake McGee emerged as the guy and has been strong this year (12 saves, 1.50 ERA, 0.83 WHIP).

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.



Closer Updates: Trade Rumors Edition

The closer scene started firing on all cylinders shortly after the All-Star Game last week and, now that the trade deadline is fast approaching, things continue to heat up. In the matter of a few days, we’ve seen several big names floated and two dealt. This week, we’ll explore some closers who have been rumored as trade bait and take a deeper look at two recent big bullpen deals.

Joaquin Benoit – After H. Street was traded to the Halos, most thought that Benoit would take over as the Padres’ closer. However, San Diego may still be keen on disassembling their bullpen and Benoit could also be moved after a strong season (1.99 ERA, 0.84 WHIP, 10.4 K/9) and experience closing (38 career saves). If he’s moved, Dale Thayer (1.99 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 8.9 K/9) should take over for the Padres.

Steve Cishek – If the Marlins start to turn to rebuilding mode again this season, they very well may start with Cishek (23 saves, 3.40 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 10.8 K/9). After earning the job in 2012, he’s been quite steady in the role (72 saves) and can be a solid closer or setup guy for a playoff contender. If Cishek is gone, expect A.J. Ramos (2.06 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, 10.1 K/9) to take the ninth for Miami.

Jonathan Papelbon – Several rumors have surfaced that the Phillies are interested in moving Papelbon, but there hasn’t been too much interest despite a strong season (23 saves, 1.96 ERA, 0.90 WHIP). Considering that the Phillies are said to be willing to eat some of his contract, Papelbon’s name will continue to be a popular one. If that happens, the Phils will likely turn to some combination of Ken Giles, Jake Diekman, and/or Antonio Bastardo in the ninth.

Chad Qualls – Despite Houston’s troubles, Qualls has had a strong season (11 saves, 1.78 ERA, 1.02 WHIP). Apparently several teams have been calling and he could be traded for prospects before too long. If that happens, look for the Astros’ bullpen to fall into disarray. There are a number of candidates to close (including Jose Veras, Josh Fields, and Tony Sipp), but that horse race will need some time to sort itself out.

Joakim Soria – It looks like Soria will be headed to Detroit to challenge the struggling Joe Nathan. He’s been solid this season with the Rangers (17 saves, 2.70 ERA, 0.87 WHIP, 11.3 K/9) and should help stabilize the Tigers’ bullpen immediately. Although he may not be slotted into the closer role tomorrow, he should wrestle the gig from Nathan in short order. In Texas, look for Neftali Feliz (2.61 ERA, 0.77 WHIP) or Neal Cotts (3.35 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, 10.5 K/9) to contend for the newly available save opportunities. Feliz should have the initial edge considering his past experience closing games (74 career saves).

Huston Street – After struggling to find a dependable closer, the Angels followed up their Frieri-for-Grilli swap with a move for Street, who has been excellent this season (25 saves, 1.03 ERA, 0.77 WHIP). Look for Joe Smith to transition back to a setup role while Jason Grilli is pushed farther from the ninth inning.

Koji Uehara – If the Red Sox shift to sell mode, Uehara might be one of the first to go after a strong start to the season (20 saves, 1.58 ERA, 0.75 WHIP). He has been a stud for Boston over the past couple of years and could improve nearly every bullpen in baseball. If the 39-year-old moves, Edward Mujica could be the next in line to close at Fenway (43 career saves). Another name to keep an eye on is Junichi Tazawa, who is an outstanding setup guy (2.52 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 9.4 K/9) and has been more dependable than Mujica thus far.

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.



Closer Updates: All-Star Edition

As you already know, there’s a nice break each summer when baseball fans focus their attention on the midsummer classic and its festivities. In that vein, we’ll be bringing you an All-Star Edition of closer updates this week – focusing on the relievers which were featured on each league’s squad. Although the closers are surely grabbed up in your league, a few of these setup men have been having great seasons and could potentially help in your respective leagues.

American League

Dellin Betances (New York Yankees) – When Mariano Rivera left the Yankees bullpen, many wondered aloud whether they should look for reliever help via free agency. Rather than make a move, the Bronx Bombers stayed with the homegrown trio of David Robertson, Dellin Betances, and Adam Warren – who have each had strong seasons. While they have all been good, Betances’ numbers (1.46 ERA, 0.71 WHIP, 13.7 K/9) have gotten him to the ASG.

Fernando Rodney (Seattle Mariners) – One of this season’s surprises has been Rodney, who recovered nicely after an average 2013 (3.38 ERA, 1.34 WHIP). So far, this season has been a different story and Fernando is looking better than ever (27 saves, 1.98 ERA, 1.13 WHIP). If the Mariners keep winning games, expect his dominance to continue.

Glen Perkins (Minnesota Twins) – The Twin Cities had to have been happy to see Glen Perkins on this year’s roster. Perkins has been a solid closer since earning the job in 2012 (76 career saves) and he’s made two consecutive trips to the ASG. This season has been another strong one (22 saves, 2.97 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 11.2 K/9) and he’s not showing any signs of slowing down.

Greg Holland (Kansas City Royals) – The AL’s best closer over the past few seasons has been Holland and this year is no exception. He has a monster 13.8 K/9 (career 12.5 K/9) and has consistently held down the ninth (25 saves this season). His name has been floated a bit as we near the trade deadline, but he’ll still be closing if moved.

Koji Uehara (Boston Red Sox) – The 39-year-old reliever earned his first ASG appearance this season and for good reason (18 saves, 1.65 ERA, 0.76 WHIP, 11.7 K/9). Although he has only closed for a few years, and he doesn’t have too many more seasons ahead of him, Koji’s been a pure force in the role. If he keeps drinking from the fountain of youth, then maybe he’ll be back next season too.

Sean Doolittle (Oakland Athletics) – After some soap-opera drama in Oakland early on, Doolittle eventually rose above Jim Johnson and Luke Gregerson on the depth chart as closer. Once he took the job, there was no looking back and his first All-Star nod has been well deserved (14 saves, 2.89 ERA, 0.66 WHIP, 13.0 K/9).

National League

Aroldis Chapman (Cincinnati Reds) – Despite a gruesome early season injury, Chapman has returned to form nicely (21 saves, 2.12 ERA, 0.78 WHIP). He’s still throwing the heat and possesses an 18.2 K/9 so far. Expect him to keep it up through 2014 and beyond.

Craig Kimbrel (Atlanta Braves) – Another closer on top of his game is Kimbrel, who holds another solid stat line this season – 1.91 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, 14.8 K/9. If the Braves keep winning ball games, Craig could earn 60 saves (he’s got 29 so far).

Francisco Rodriguez (Milwaukee Brewers) – One of the season’s biggest surprises has been K-Rod. Going into his fifth All-Star game, Rodriguez has stormed back on the scene this season (27 saves, 2.58 ERA, 0.90 WHIP, 10.3 K/9). Although he’s unlikely to top the 62 saves he posted with the Angels in 2008, he could have another 50+ save season this year.

Huston Street (San Diego Padres) – One name that has been tossed around as trade bait is the two-time All Star Street, who has had another solid season in 2014 (24 saves, 1.09 ERA, 0.76 WHIP, 9.3 K/9). If he is moved, Huston may become a setup guy elsewhere. If he remains in a position to close games, or stays with the Padres, expect him to finish the season strong.

Pat Neshek (St. Louis Cardinals) – One of the NL’s non-closer invitees was Neshek, who has begun to creep into the closer conversation recently after scavenging a few saves from Trevor Rosenthal. Neshek is having a great season (0.70 ERA, 0.57 WHIP, 8.7 K/9) and could provide a lot of value if you’re looking for a setup guy.

Tony Watson (Pittsburgh Pirates) – After an unreal first-half of the season, Watson earned his first All-Star bid this summer. With an excellent stat line (1.42 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 10.2 K/9), he made the Pirates decision to trade Jason Grilli an easy one. Expect him to keep setting up Mark Melancon as the Bucs make a push for the playoffs.

Tyler Clippard (Washington Nationals) – As one of only two representatives of the Washington Nationals, Clippard earned his spot after a tremendous beginning to the season (2.03 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 11.9 K/9). With Rafael Soriano closing effectively (22 saves, 0.97 ERA, 0.81 WHIP), Tyler has given the Nats a firm one-two punch to end games.

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.



Closer Updates: Astros, BoSox, Giants, Padres, Rangers, Redlegs, Royals, White Sox

After last week’s closer swap between the Pirates and Angels, we’re going to take a deeper look at a few situations which might develop as the trading deadline gets closer. Don’t worry though, we will also take a look at a few closer battles that are still up in the air.

Boston Red Sox – Quite a few talking heads have mentioned that Koji Uehara might be on the trading block for Boston. Because they’re currently dead last in the AL East, they may opt to be sellers at this year’s trading deadline and Koji makes sense. The 39-year-old closer is certainly effective (18 saves, 1.30 ERA, 0.74 WHIP), but is unlikely to be a building block of the Red Sox future. If he’s dealt, look for Edward Mujica (2 saves, 5.51 ERA, 1.44 WHIP) to earn a lion’s share of the save opportunities. Junichi Tazawa is a great reliever (2.78 ERA, 1.21 WHIP), but seems to prefer a setup role.

Chicago White Sox – This bullpen picture is still quite unclear in Chicago. Matt Lindstrom, who has been on the disabled list with an ankle injury, should return in a few weeks and might be worth stashing. In the meantime, the battle is still between Zach Putnam and Jake Petricka. Putnam still has the edge (2.34 ERA, 1.13 WHIP), but Petricka has performed well in the past two weeks (2 saves, 0.00 ERA, 0.78 WHIP) and is gaining some momentum.

Cincinnati RedsAroldis Chapman has pitched well since missing the early part of the season with an injury (5 saves, 1.59 ERA, 1.24 WHIP). Saves chasers remember that Jonathan Broxton was very effective as Chapman’s replacement (5 saves) and is still sporting a 0.62 ERA. If the Reds decide to deal during the trade deadline, Broxton (and his 117 career saves) might be on a few radars.

Houston AstrosChad Qualls has emerged to be the Astros’ most dependable closer (9 saves, 2.05 ERA, 1.08 WHIP). Jesse Crain is still set to return at some indeterminable point-in-time, which might make Qualls disposable. Rumor has it that a few teams are interested in Qualls as a closer / setup guy. If he leaves and Crain is not ready, Houston’s bullpen will become a mess (again) in short order.

Kansas City RoyalsGreg Holland is having another excellent season (23 saves, 1.93 ERA, 1.04 WHIP) and probably won’t be leaving KC anytime soon. However, the Royals have an elite bullpen with Wade Davis (1.19 ERA, 0.82 WHIP), Kelvin Herrera (2.23 ERA, 1.24 WHIP), and Aaron Crow (2.45 ERA, 1.01 WHIP). When the trade deadline approaches, Davis should be on a few GM wish lists and could be an effective closer somewhere else almost immediately.

San Diego PadresHuston Street has been quite effective for the Padres this season (23 saves, 1.13 ERA, 0.78 WHIP). If they go on a losing skid and decide that the division title is too far out of reach, they might trade the 30-year-old closer for some younger prospects. In that instance, Joaquin Benoit would likely get the first save chances in San Diego.

San Francisco Giants – You probably recall that Sergio Romo recently lost his gig as closer after a tough month (2 saves, 12.91 ERA, 2.09 WHIP). Manager Bruce Bochy has insisted that reliever Santiago Casilla (3 saves, 1.08 ERA, 0.84 WHIP) now has the job, so look for him to continue getting save chances in the short term. If he hits a groove, he might keep the gig for the rest of the season.

Texas RangersJoakim Soria (16 saves, 2.76 ERA, 0.82 WHIP) and Jason Frasor (2.86 ERA, 1.34 WHIP) are both names that have been surfaced as potential trade candidates this summer. If Soria is moved, Frasor would likely take the reins for Texas. If Frasor is dealt, Neil Cotts (3.65 ERA, 1.35 WHIP) would move into a setup role.

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.



Closer Updates: Astros, Bravos, Cubs, Giants, Halos, Pirates, Rangers, Rays, Tigers, Tribe, White Sox

After a few quiet weeks, the closer scene started to sizzle again after a reliever swap between Los Angeles and Pittsburgh. In this week’s edition, we’ve also got a demotion out west and some closer-by-committee position battles. For good measure, we’ll sprinkle in an injury update (or two) too.

Atlanta Braves – Despite a heavy workload over the last week (4 appearances, 4 saves, 0 earned runs allowed), Craig Kimbrel is still looking like the same old stud for the Bravos. However, David Carpenter should be recalled from Triple-AAA Gwinnett this week and, once that move happens, Carpenter should quickly supplant Shae Simmons and Luis Avilan as a top setup option.

Chicago CubsHector Rondon has been fairly consistent over the last week for the Cubbies (3 saves, 1 earned run). Although his season numbers are just decent (11 saves, 3.62 ERA, 1.30 WHIP), he has converted 11 of 13 save opportunities so far and is a solid speculative option to gather up any of the Cubs save opportunities. If he fails to be consistent, Neil Ramirez is the one to watch (3 saves, 1.25 ERA, 0.88 WHIP).

Chicago White Sox – With manager Robin Ventura unwilling to name a closer, two candidates lead their closer-by-committee: Jake Petricka (2 saves, 1.94 ERA, 1.27 WHIP) and Zach Putnam (1 save, 2.30 ERA, 1.09 WHIP). Both have average strikeout rates (6.6 and 7.2, respectively) but lots of potential. Keep an eye on this situation if you’re desperate for saves – I’d probably go with Putnam.

Cleveland Indians – Even though manager Terry Francona is unwilling to name Cody Allen the “official” closer, Allen has done well enough in the position to deserve a little leash. With a couple of four-out saves and an impressive track record (8 of 9 save opportunities), he’s a good option to keep the gig for the rest of the season.

Detroit Tigers – After all that chatter about Joe Nathan, he seems to be back into his rhythm in Motown. In the past week, Nathan has two appearances and two saves. That being said, Joba Chamberlain (2 save, 2.94 ERA, 1.19 WHIP) isn’t out of the picture just yet – Nathan gave up two earned runs in those same appearances.

Houston AstrosChad Qualls, who has been consistent this season, was dealing with a slight groin injury earlier this week and a stray save opportunity fell to Tony Sipp – who converted. However, Qualls was warming up in that game just in case and should be ready to go moving forward... In other Astros reliever news, Kyle Farnsworth didn’t last long and was optioned to Triple-A last week.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim – In the past week, the Halos dealt troubled former closer Frieri to Pittsburgh for Jason Grilli (11 saves, 4.37 ERA, 1.54 WHIP). Although he will not immediately take the job from Joe Smith, Grilli will make a push for the gig once he gets his groove back. If that happens, he can be a top-flight closer (49 career saves).

Pittsburgh Pirates – Like the Angels, the Pirates were ready to trade one inconsistent closer for another – swapping Grilli for Ernesto Frieri (11 saves, 6.00 ERA, 1.36 WHIP). With a degree of confidence in Mark Melancon (and a solid backup option in Tony Watson), the Bucs took on the troubled Frieri. If he takes advantage of the fresh start in the National League, he could become a valuable weapon in their bullpen moving forward.

San Francisco Giants – One closer who lost his job in the last week is Sergio Romo. Romo has struggled over the past month (5 saves, 9.72 ERA, 1.44 WHIP) and manager Bruce Bochy expects them to go with a closer-by-committee approach in the short term. For now, it appears to be a race between Santiago Casilla (1 save, 1.15 ERA, 0.86 WHIP) and Jeremy Affeldt (31 appearances, 1.98 ERA, 1.10 WHIP), with Casilla having the early edge.

Tampa Bay Rays – After a rough start to the season, it seems that Grant Balfour may just be working his way back into the closer role. But… it only seems that way. On Tuesday, manager Joel Maddon gave him the save opportunity and credited it to “good karma.” Chalk this up to a one-time occurrence and expect the Rays to stay closer-by-committee with Jake McGee leading the show (followed by Joel Peralta and Juan Carlos Oviedo).

Texas RangersJoakim Soria has struggled in the past two weeks (0 saves, 13.50 ERA, 2.25 WHIP) and it’s a situation worth keeping an eye on. If these troubles continue, look for Jason Frasor (2.08 ERA, 1.15 WHIP) and Neal Cotts (3.38 ERA, 1.30 WHIP) to step in.

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.



Closer Updates: A’s, Angels, Cubs, Pirates, Rays, Tigers, White Sox

Unfortunately for saves chasers (and myself), it’s been another fairly quiet week on the closer front. However, we will not be deterred from keeping you in the loop and, as always, we’ve scoured the big leagues to bring you some valuable closer updates.

Chicago CubsHector Rondon was highly effective in the closer role earlier this season, but has struggled a bit over the last two weeks (1 save, 16.88 ERA, 2.63 WHIP). Even though many already believed that Neil Ramirez (3 saves, 1.35 ERA, 0.85 WHIP) was the firmly Cubbies’ closer, Rondon’s recent performance further cemented the pecking order.

Chicago White SoxRonald Belisario has excelled at inconsistency this season and it may soon cost him his job (in his last 13 appearances, Belisario has allowed 11 earned runs). With Matt Lindstrom and Nate Jones still out due to injury, the main candidates to replace him are Zach Putnam, Daniel Webb, and Javy Guerra. Putnam has been an effective setup man for Robin Ventura (2.22 ERA, 1.06 WHIP) and Webb has struggled a bit over the last two weeks (10.38 ERA, 2.31 WHIP). Guerra, on the other hand, has experience closing for the Dodgers (29 career saves) and should be considered a dark horse candidate.

Detroit Tigers – Anyone who has been hoping to scoop some saves off the waiver wire has kept their eye on the Detroit situation. Former six-time All Star Joe Nathan has been pedestrian this season (15 saves, 6.18 ERA, 1.59 WHIP). That being said, he has shown improvement over the past two weeks (2 saves, 1.93 ERA, 1.71 WHIP). Should he lose his job in the future, Joba Chamberlain (2 saves, 2.84 ERA, 1.14 WHIP) will be the next in line for save opportunities.

Los Angeles Angels of AnaheimKevin Jepsen (2.86 ERA, 1.20 WHIP) recently got the call to cover the ninth, but lost the save after giving up a home run. With Ernesto Frieri failing to regain his former consistency (5 saves, 9.00 ERA, 1.89 WHIP in the last month), manager Mike Scioscia will be giving the closer role to Joe Smith (6 saves, 3.06 ERA, 1.11 WHIP in 2014). Although Frieri will get some high-leverage innings moving forward, Smith is the guy to own right now.

Oakland Athletics – After all the trouble in the Bay Area earlier this season, Sean Doolittle has settled nicely into the closer job. In the past month, Doolittle’s numbers have been impressive (6 saves, 0.00 ERA, 0.15 WHIP). If he’s able to keep Jim Johnson (5.51 ERA, 1.93 WHIP) and Luke Gregerson (2.04 ERA, 0.96 WHIP) in his rearview mirror, Doolittle might be poised for a great second half of the season.

Pittsburgh Pirates – Last week, Jason Grilli was removed from the closer role (with a 7.71 ERA and 2.36 WHIP in the last two weeks) and Mark Melancon took his place. Melancon has been quite effective this year (13 saves, 2.48 ERA, 0.85 WHIP) and should flourish in the role. If he does struggle, look for Tony Watson (0.76 ERA, 1.04 WHIP) to get an opportunity.

Tampa Bay Rays – Manager Joe Maddon is still taking the closer-by-committee approach in Tampa. In the past week, Jake McGee earned the hold over 1.2 innings (0 H, 0 ER, 1 B, 2 K). Joel Peralta earned a save against the Astros (1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2K) and Juan Carlos Oviedo allowed a run over the same time frame (2.2 IP, 1 H, 1 ER, 1 B, 1 K). With Grant Balfour on the outside looking in, Peralta seems to be the favorite at this moment, followed closely be McGee and then Oviedo.

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.



Closer Updates: Astros, Braves, Bucs, Cards, Dbacks, Dodgers, Rays, Reds, Royals, Tigers, Twins

This week we’ll check in with the four closers that were considered “top-tier” at the beginning of the season: Kimbrel, Chapman, Jansen, and Holland. In addition, we have updates on movement in the closer depth chart, as well as some speculation for those hoping to steal a save (or two).

Arizona Diamondbacks – A little while back, manager Kirk Gibson gave Addison Reed a break after he suffered from a “tired” arm. Although Gibson assured the fans that Reed would remain the closer, there’s always a possibility that the stress on his arm could lead to more opportunities for Brad Ziegler.

Atlanta Braves – Many fantasy writers, this one included, thought that Craig Kimbrel and Chapman would jockey for position as the NL’s best closer. Kimbrel has been as consistent and impressive as ever with 20 saves, 1.98 ERA, and 0.95 WHIP. His 16.5 K/9 isn’t too shabby either.

Cincinnati RedsAroldis Chapman recovered nicely from a nasty injury early on and quickly returned to the top of the closer food chain (12 saves, 1.06 ERA, 0.65 WHIP, 17.5 K/9). Despite missing time at the beginning of the season, Chapman has not missed a beat en route to another excellent season.

Detroit TigersJoe Nathan hasn’t earned a save since the end of May and is on shaky ground this season (6.57 ERA, 1.62 WHIP, 7.7 K/9). In the past 30 days, Nathan is sporting a 13.50 ERA and 2.63 WHIP. If a change is made, Joba Chamberlain is probably the first in line (3.07 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 10.1 K/9) and already has two saves this season. The other option is Ian Krol, who is also pitching well compared to Nathan (1 save, 3.09 ERA, 1.41 WHIP).

Houston Astros – Manager Bo Porter has transformed his bullpen over the course of the season. After starting with an proven set of youngsters and a closer-by-committee approach (Josh Fields, Anthony Bass, Raul Valdez), the Astros now have a serviceable closer in Chad Qualls (8 saves, 2.28 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 8.7 K/9) and journeymen reliever Kyle Farnsworth.

Kansas City RoyalsGreg Holland has been as dominant as most expected and the cream of the crop for the American League with 20 saves (along with a 1.35 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, and 13.5 K/9). The Royals sure are thankful that the rest of their bullpen has been strong as well – setup superstar Wade Davis has a 1.19 ERA and 0.86 WHIP while Kelvin Herrera is rockin’ a 2.35 ERA and 1.30 WHIP.

Los Angeles DodgersKenley Jansen has not been quite as dominant as Kimbrel or Chapman, but he has been acceptable (3.72 ERA, 1.38 WHIP, 15.2 K/9). With 20 saves, Jansen needs to improve before he can be seen as an elite closer who can be consistently great from one season to the next.

Minnesota Twins – On Wednesday, Glen Perkins was kept off the mound with a back injury. Perkins has been great this season (17 saves, 2.76 ERA, 0.99 WHIP) and expects to be back very soon. If he’s not, Casey Fien (2.17 ERA, 0.90 WHIP) should be the first candidate for his save opportunities.

Pittsburgh PiratesJason Grilli has not come back from the disabled list with a vengeance, struggling in a few high pressure situations (5.79 ERA and 1.71 WHIP in the past two weeks). If his troubles continue, Mark Melancon (10 saves, 1.95 ERA, 0.77 WHIP) or Tony Watson (0.84 ERA, 1.03 WHIP) will provide the strongest competition for those save chances.

St. Louis Cardinals – After Trevor Rosenthal was heavily used last week, the Cards trusted Pat Neshek with two recent save opportunities. Although many assumed that Jason Motte would be the first option behind Rosenthal, Neshek (0.92 ERA, 0.61 WHIP, 8.9 K/9) appears to be that guy and he may steal you a few saves if you are scavenging.

Tampa Bay Rays – After Grant Balfour lost the ninth inning, there’s been a battle between Jake McGee (1 save, 1.44 ERA, 0.83 WHIP, 10.3 K/9), Joel Peralta (3.82 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 10.3 K/9), and Juan Carlos Oviedo (2.31 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 8.5 K/9). It seems that McGee might have the upper hand, but skipper Joe Maddon may prefer the closer-by-committee approach. Keep an eye on this situation.

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.



Closer Updates: Dbacks, Mets, Rays, Royals, Tigers, Tribe, White Sox

Welcome back to another edition of Closer Updates. Similar to last week, there’s been minimal movement in the closer landscape over the past seven days. However, there is always plenty to report – so keep reading for some injury updates and position battles.

Arizona Diamondbacks – Reliever Brad Ziegler (2.62 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 7.3 K/9) got the call on Sunday rather than closer Addison Reed and many thought that Reed’s job was in danger. Although Reed has struggled slightly this season (29.1 IP, 16 saves, 3.99 ERA, 1.13 WHIP), manager Kirk Gibson insisted that Reed was still the closer. Ziegler does, however, appear to be the first option to replace Reed if he keeps struggling.

Chicago White Sox – With Matt Lindstrom still on the disabled list, Ronald Belisario remains the White Sox top option. Lindstrom, who was injured and received surgery in late May, rejoined the club this week but remains months away from appearing in the big leagues. Look for Belisario (4 saves, 3.60 ERA, 1.00 WHIP in the last two weeks) to continue getting the save opportunities unless Daniel Webb (2.03 ERA, 1.39 ERA, 6.7 K/9) or Jake Petricka (1.59 ERA, 1.24 ERA, 6.1 K/9) knock him of the closer’s perch.

Cleveland Indians – Although manager Terry Francona has resisted the urge to name a closer, Cody Allen remains the Tribe’s top choice in the ninth inning. John Axford has been pitching well over the past month (0.79 ERA, 1.15 WHIP) and certainly has a chance to earn some more save opportunities late in the season, but he’ll have to pitch awfully well to dethrone Allen (5 saves, 1.29 ERA, 0.86 WHIP in the past two weeks).

Detroit TigersJoe Nathan continues to struggle as the Tigers’ closer, but manager Brad Ausmus continues to repeat that he’s “not even considering” pulling Nathan from the role. While Joba Chamberlain (3.29 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 10.2 K/9) is clearly the next in line, Nathan appears to have a bit of a leash despite the fact that: (a) he leads the MLB in blown saves (4), he has allowed multiple runs in five of his last eight appearances, and (c) he possesses a 7.04 ERA.

Kansas City RoyalsGreg Holland has been dominant this season (18 saves, 1.46 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, 13.9 K/9), as expected. However, his consistency may not have allowed enough light to shine on Wade Davis, who is posting an excellent season as a reliever (1.27 ERA, 0.74 WHIP, 14.6 K/9). While some have thought that Davis’ performance proves that Holland is expendable, others think that the Royals might be looking to get something back for Davis closer to the trading deadline.

New York Mets – The ninth inning seems to be cursed in Queens. Despite a revolving door of closer candidates this season, the Mets might still be searching for their man. Jenrry Mejia, the current closer-du-jour, has given up at least one run in his last three appearances. If he doesn’t fall into a rhythm soon, Jeurys Familia (2.78 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 8.1 K/9) will get the chance to close.

Tampa Bay Rays – After signing a two-year deal with Tampa this past offseason, Grant Balfour was poised for another strong year as an AL closer. But...Balfour’s horrendous start has cost him the job (9 saves, 6.46 ERA, 1.65 WHIP, 8.0 K/9) and Rays manager Joe Maddon has been forced to go with a closer-by-committee approach with Jake McGee (1.53 ERA, 0.78 WHIP, 10.4 K/9), Joel Peralta (4.08 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, 9.4 K/9), and Juan Carlos Oviedo (2.25 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 9.0 K/9). It's important to note though thata Maddon does expect that Balfour will return to form and close games later in the season.

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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