Closer Updates

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.

Closer Updates: Angels, Astros, Cards, Mets, Orioles, Pirates, Tigers, Tribe, White Sox

After a fairly quiet week on the closer front, we’ll take a quick peak at a few of the unstable bullpen situations. We’ll also scope out the scene to see if any pitchers might be on the hot seat soon…

Baltimore Orioles – Newly appointed closer Zach Britton only appeared twice in the past week, converting both save opportunities. Setup man Darren O’Day also pitched well over the same time frame (3.1 IP, 38 pitches, 2 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K), but Britton has been strong enough to keep his grip on the ninth inning.

Chicago White Sox – After assuming the closer title, Ronald Belisario has been underwhelming in the past week (2.0 IP, 27 pitches, 2 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 0 K). After a pattern of alternating saves with blown saves, Belisario is far from the ideal candidate. Skipper Robin Ventura may eventually pull him from the gig if Daniel Webb, Scott Downs, or Jake Petricka performs well enough. All things considered, Belisario is semi-safe for now.

Cleveland Indians – Although former closer John Axford is itching to take back his old job, Cody Allen has been very effective in the role (4 saves in the past week). Unless Allen feels fatigue from being overused, he should continue to keep Axford and Bryan Shaw in setup roles.

Detroit Tigers – Believe it or not, Joe Nathan’s inconsistency has put in him hot water with manager Brad Ausmus. With noticeably lower velocity and poor control, Nathan’s season has been a disappointment thus far (6.86 ERA, 1.48 WHIP, 8.6 K/9). If these struggles continue, look for Joba Chamberlain (2.59 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 10.7 K/9) to get the occasional save opportunity.

Houston Astros – Despite earning the job weeks ago, Chad Qualls hasn’t had too many opportunities to earn saves. However, Qualls has been effective over the last two weeks (2 saves, 0.00 ERA, 0.20 WHIP, 9.0 K/9) and seems to have the job in hand. If he struggles, newcomer Kyle Farnsworth (who has two holds in the past week) should get the next chance to close.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim – Even though many believed that manager Mike Scioscia would alternate between Joe Smith and Ernesto Frieri, it seems that Frieri has earned his way back into the circle of trust. While Smith should remain an elite relief pitcher option, expect Frieri to continue to get first crack at save opportunities.

New York Mets – In the past week, three different players have earned a save for the Mets (Jeurys Familia, Jenrry Mejia, Carlos Torres). Mejia remains the closer to own in Queens while Familia and Torres should fight over save opportunities arising from any Mejia unavailability.

Pittsburgh Pirates – After splitting save opportunities with Mark Melancon, Jason Grilli has returned to the ninth inning with fervor and gusto. In the past week, Grilli has earned four saves and returned to his dominant self (4.0 IP, 64 pitches, 2 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 6 K).

St. Louis Cardinals – While Trevor Rosenthal still holds down the ninth for the Cards, former closer Jason Motte is slowly returning to form. In the past week, Motte has not allowed an earned run in four appearances (3.2 IP, 45 pitches, 3 H, 1 BB, 2 K) and may be worth stashing if Rosenthal wears down as the season progress.

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: 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.

Closer Updates: A Quick Look At Every Bullpen Thus Far (A’s to Yankees)

As we pass the season’s quarter-mark, it’s probably time to check in on each team’s closer situation. As always, this week’s edition will be jam-packed with speculation, injury updates, and advice on who to snag if you’re out their searching for saves.

Arizona Diamondbacks – After acquiring Addison Reed from the White Sox, the Dbacks hoped that he would be the answer to their bullpen inconsistencies. While Reed is firmly entrenched as the closer, something reiterated by manager Kirk Gibson, he has struggled (12 saves, 4.57 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 10.8 K/9) and his days might be short-lived considering the performance of Brad Ziegler this season (26 appearances, 2.28 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 7.6 K/9).

Atlanta BravesCraig Kimbrel has been posting another excellent season as the Bravos’ closer (11 saves, 2.20 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 16.5 K/9) and he reached an impressive milestone earlier in the week. Kimbrel’s save against the Cards on Sunday allowed him to become the youngest pitcher to earn 150 career saves at the tender age of 25 years and 355 days. What was the reaction of manager Fredi Gonzalez? “It’ll impress me when you save 150 more,” he joked.

Baltimore Orioles – Given the struggles of Tommy Hunter (11 saves, 6.06 ERA, 1.84 WHIP, 8.3 K/9), the closer situation in Baltimore has become a hot topic. With Hunter on the bench, manager Buck Showalter’s decision comes down to Darren O’Day (18 appearances, 0.52 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 6.8 K/9) and Zach Britton (18 appearances, 0.76 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, 5.7 K/9). While each are strong candidates, O’Day will probably take the job eventually given his higher career strikeout rate (8.0 versus 5.9).

Boston Red SoxKoji Uehara is comfortable as the closer in Beantown and he’s had a strong first quarter of the season (9 saves, 1.08 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 13.5 K/9). Many thought that he would come down to earth after last year’s dominant run, but the 39-year-old Uehara has proven so far that he’s no flash in the pan.

Chicago Cubs – Manager Rick Renteria recently named Hector Rondon the Cubs’ closer after his strong start to the season (5 saves, 1.31 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 10.5 K/9). Rondon has been perfect in save opportunities thus far and seems determined to keep Justin Grimm, Jose Veras, and Wesley Wright at bay. Although the Cubs may not give Rondon a plethora of save opportunities, his ability to shut the door will make him valuable and certainly roster-worthy.

Chicago White Sox – With Matt Lindstrom on the disabled list, the White Sox are also going with a closer-by-committee approach to the ninth inning. With Ronald Belisario (1 save, 4.15 ERA, 1.00 WHIP), Daniel Webb (17 appearances, 2.63 ERA, 1.50 WHIP), and Jake Petricka (1 save, 1.78 ERA, 1.15 WHIP) as contenders, the wait-and-see approach might be best for those searching for saves in South Side Chicago.

Cincinnati Reds – After a terrible spring training injury, Aroldis Chapman returned to the Major Leagues with a vengeance (2 saves, 3.60 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 16.2 K/9). Despite the fact that Chapman has only been back for a little while, he already leads the league in 99+ MPH pitches and is back to his old self. The biggest early season value for the Reds bullpen was Jonathan Broxton, who was dominant as Chapman’s replacement (5 saves, 0.82 ERA, 0.91 WHIP).

Cleveland Indians – After being removed from the closer role, John Axford will have to prove he can be consistent before regaining the ninth inning. Until that happens, Cody Allen (3.50 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, 12.5 K/9), Marc Rzepczynski (2.35 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, 9.4 K/9) and Bryan Shaw (1.57 ERA, 0.83 WHIP, 7.4 K/9) will continue to battle for save opportunities. Each are effective relievers, but Shaw may have the slight edge given his strong performance in the past week.

Colorado Rockies – One big surprise of the season’s beginning was veteran closer LaTroy Hawkins. After he signed a deal with the Rockies, Hawkins came out of the gate strong after many thought that his days were numbered (considering the looming presence of Rex Brothers). That being said, Hawkins has certainly cooled off (10 saves, 4.41 ERA, 1.53 WHIP) and Brothers is starting to be as impressive as many had hoped (21 appearances, 2.70 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 7.7 K/9).

Detroit Tigers – Veteran closer Joe Nathan joined the Tigers bullpen after a two-year stint with the Rangers and he’s proved as consistent as ever. Although Nathan’s struggled on occasion, his performance thus far (11 saves, 3.24 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 8.1 K/9) has been a marked improvement over Detroit’s closer performances in previous (post)seasons.

Houston Astros – After a bunch of shuffling and injured relievers, Chad Qualls has climbed to the top of the pile in the Astros bullpen (3 saves, 3.29 ERA, 1.54 WHIP, 10.5 K/9). Although recent acquisition Kyle Farnsworth should make a push for the ninth, Qualls will be the short-term favorite. As always, buyer beware when it comes to scavenging saves from this squad.

Kansas City Royals – As most expected, Greg Holland is having another dominant season closing for KC (12 saves, 2.16 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 13.5 K/9). In fact, he should return to the All-Star Game for the second consecutive season and this may even be the year that Holland finally cements himself in that top tier of elite closers.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim – After Ernesto Frieri struggled mightily at different points in the season, manager Mike Scioscia decided to go with Frieri and Joe Smith in a closer-by-committee approach. Since that transition, the pair have both pitched well and should remain co-closers in the near future. Scioscia will likely continue to play the matchups until one eventually wrestles the job from the other.

Los Angeles Dodgers – This just in, Kenley Jansen is as good as advertised but he may not be among the best just yet. The 22-year-old has started 2014 with a bang, collecting 12 saves and posting a 15.1 K/9. However, his ERA (4.12) and WHIP (1.53) leave something to be desired. Jansen certainly has all the potential in the world, but he’ll need to improve his command before ranks above closers like Craig Kimbrel or Aroldis Chapman.

Miami MarlinsSteve Cishek just keeps getting it done in southern Florida (9 saves, 2.08 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 10.4 K/9). Although he may not have the biggest name in the closer business, Cishek has been consistent this season and is providing a wonderful return on investment for any owners that snagged him at the end of their draft’s closer run.

Milwaukee Brewers – Perhaps the biggest surprise of the season has been the dominance of Francisco Rodriguez (17 saves, 1.57 ERA, 0.78 WHIP, 11.0 K/9). When manager Ron Roenicke made K-Rod his closer over Jim Henderson, the fantasy world was abuzz and many figured that Henderson would eventually work his way back into the role. However, Rodriguez has been dominant, to say the least, and may end up posting some career best numbers if he continues the pace.

Minnesota TwinsGlen Perkins is another closer who has pitched well so far (21 appearances, 3.38 ERA, 1.03 WHIP) and continues to prove that he’s quite reliable in the ninth inning. Not only does Perkins lead the American League with 13 saves, but he’s had tremendous command and posted an impressive 12.7 K/9 (versus his career average of 7.1).

New York Mets – After shorts stints with Bobby Parnell, Jose Valverde, and Kyle Farnsworth, the Metropolitans are currently settled on Jenrry Mejia as their closer. Although Jeurys Familia and Daisuke Matsuzaka could eventually knock him from that post, Mejia has serviceable numbers (1 save, 4.65 ERA, 1.57 WHIP, 9.5 K/9) and a very loose grip on the number one spot.

New York Yankees – Despite a short stint on the disabled list, David Robertson has been tremendous in his first full year as the Yankees closer. With a stat line that almost resembles Mariano Rivera (8 saves, 1.54 ERA, 0.60 WHIP, 11.6 K/9), manager Joe Girardi has to be pleased that the front office didn’t search the free agent market for a new closer this past offseason.

Oakland Athletics – After quite a bit of uncertainty (and a series of rough outings from Jim Johnson), Sean Doolittle has recently been named the A’s closer. With a strong stat line (3 saves, 3.27 ERA, 0.82 WHIP, 12.3 K/9), Doolittle will have to prove that he can handle the pressure before earning any sort of job security. If he struggles, it’s tough to tell if they’ll go back to Johnson or Luke Gregerson first.

Philadelphia PhilliesJonathan Papelbon is well on his way to another strong season with 12 saves, 2.08 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, and 7.3 K/9. Although there were some concerns at the beginning of the season regarding his velocity, Papelbon has proven to be just as effective as ever. If he stays at this pace, he’ll certainly reward fantasy owners that showed some faith in the veteran reliever.

Pittsburgh Pirates – Pirates closer Jason Grilli has been on the disabled list for some time and many expect him to be activated this Saturday. Although it’s not certain he’ll return immediately to the ninth, he should have his old job back pretty darn quickly. Mark Melancon has been strong as his replacement and may still be a valuable setup guy given his numbers this season (21 appearances, 6 saves, 2.25 ERA, 0.95 WHIP) once Grilli returns.

St. Louis Cardinals – With the activation of Jason Motte from the DL, many will wonder whether he will return to the ninth in short order. Trevor Rosenthal, who currently sits atop the closer perch, has been underwhelming this season (13 saves, 4.98 ERA, 1.43 WHIP, 11.2 K/9). When Motte last pitched in 2012, he was the saves co-leader (42) and the Cards are still paying him $7 million this season. If Rosenthal doesn’t start improving quickly, there will be some writing on the wall.

San Diego PadresHuston Street is turning in another great closer performance (15 saves, 0.50 ERA, 0.78 WHIP, 10.5 K/9) and seems to be on pace for his eighth 20+ save season. One of the best relievers so far this season, Street is taking full advantage of both PetCo Park’s dimensions and the Padres’ improved rotation.

San Francisco GiantsSergio Romo has been tallying up with saves so far with 15 and he’s provided a solid return for whomever drafted him before the season started (22 appearances, 3.00 ERA, 0.76 WHIP). If Romo keeps up this pace, he could make a push to be an All-Star for the second time in as many seasons.

Seattle Mariners – One surprise of the young season has been the performance of Fernando Rodney (11 saves, 3.12 ERA, 1.67 WHIP, 11.9 K/9). Although his numbers have not been dominant, they’ve brought consistency to a Seattle bullpen that struggled last season. There were those that thought Danny Farquhar would take the job in due time (myself included), but Rodney has proved those naysayers wrong.

Tampa Bay Rays – Closer Grant Balfour has struggled as a Ray this season (8 saves, 6.06 ERA, 1.53 WHIP) and there would be rumbling of a coup de Joel Peralta if he weren’t struggling as well (5.40 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 8.3 K/9). Although each of these relievers can bounce back, it may be a situation to keep tabs on if they struggle because Jake McGee is having a strong season to date (20 appearances, 1.42 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 9.0 K/9).

Texas Rangers – After manager Ron Washington surprised the fantasy world by giving Joakim Soria the closer gig over Neftali Feliz, Soria went on to prove his skipper was right. With a strong start to 2014 (7 saves, 2.40 ERA, 0.67 WHIP, 12.0 K/9), Soria’s performance seems reminiscent of his time in Kansas City and he should be a reliable closer for the rest of the season.

Toronto Blue JaysCasey Janssen recently returned to the ninth after starting the season on the disabled list (back) and Jays’ fans could not be happier. After a disastrous run by Sergio Santos (5 saves, 9.00 ERA, 2.00 WHIP), Janssen has brought stability back to a struggling bullpen with a strong start (4 saves, 0.00 ERA, 0.80 WHIP). 

Washington Nationals – Veteran closer Rafael Soriano has been another pleasant surprise this season, which a dominant 10 saves, 0.95 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, and 8.1 K/9. With strong seasons from Tyler Clippard (23 appearances, 1.77 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 12.4 K/9), Drew Storen (18 appearances, 1.17 ERA, 0.65 WHIP, 10.0 K/9), and Craig Stammen (13 appearances, 2.52 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, 7.2 K/9), the Nats have one strong bullpen 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: Astros, Athletics, Bucs, Cards, Halos, Jays, Mets, O’s, Tribe

Believe it or not, we’ve had another eventful week in the wonderful world of closers. As always, we’ve had a rash of injuries and poor performances, as well as some interesting demotions and depth chart changes. Without further ado, let’s take a closer look…

Baltimore Orioles – Given the recent struggles of Tommy Hunter, it may be a matter of days before Darren O’Day gets the call. After two consecutive blown saves earlier in the week, manager Buck Showalter wouldn’t commit to keeping Hunter in the role. While Brian Matusz is a strong candidate (3.75 ERA, 1.92 WHIP, 6.0 K/9), Darren O’Day (0.60 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 6.6 K/9) should get the first chance to close.

Cleveland Indians – After being removed from the closer role, John Axford has slowly been working his way back to the ninth and turned in a perfect inning of relief on Tuesday night. If he returns as closer, he’ll have to demonstrate that he can pitch consistently before skipper Terry Francona trusts him again. That being said, it seems that Bryan Shaw (1.45 ERA, 0.86 WHIP, 8.2 K/9) has the slight edge over Cody Allen (1.76 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 13.5 K/9) when it comes to the Tribe’s save opportunities.

Houston Astros – Although the closer picture in Houston is still unclear, it seems that the closer-by-committee approach may be disappearing due to the injury bug. With Anthony Bass hitting the DL, the favorite is now Chad Qualls. Although Josh Fields has been recalled from Triple-A, Qualls should receive any save opportunities until everyone else becomes healthy (Jesse Crain and Matt Albers are also on the DL with Bass).

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim – On Tuesday, it appeared that Ernesto Frieri had regained his role in the ninth inning. However, the Angels followed up on Wednesday night by giving Joe Smith the save opportunity (which he converted easily). Therefore, manager Mike Scioscia has stayed true to his word by using both relievers to close out ballgames. Although Frieri should take the job outright from Smith at some point, it may take a little while and both relievers will have value until this situation sorts itself out.

New York Mets – After Wednesday’s game, the Mets released former closer Kyle Farnsworth (3.18 ERA, 1.41 WHIP, 5.3 K/9) and left their closer job up for grabs. With a number of contenders, including Jeurys Familia (3.44 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, 7.4 K/9), moonwalking Jenrry Mejia (4.89 ERA, 1.58 WHIP, 9.3 K/9), and Daisuke Matsuzaka (2.60 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 11.4 K/9), it’s not yet clear how they’ll proceed in Queens.

Oakland Athletics – After a brief attempt to return Jim Johnson to his closer role, the A’s have again decided to take a closer-by-committee approach in the ninth inning. Therefore, the normal candidates return to the fold, including Johnson, Sean Doolittle, and Luke Gregerson. Because Doolittle has struggled occasionally when closing in the past, Gregerson might have the slight edge in this race.

Pittsburgh Pirates – Although Mark Melancon has pitched well (only one run allowed since April 24, with five of six save opportunities converted) in the absence of Jason Grilli, it seems that Grilli may be ready to return to the majors (and the ninth inning) very soon. After a 24-pitch simulated game on Wednesday, Grilli declared that he’s ready to return. Melancon may still hold value even when he returns given Grilli’s proclivity for injury.

St. Louis CardinalsTrevor Rosenthal has had a strong season (10 saves, 5.19 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, 10.9 K/9) and has only blown one save all season. That being said, former Cards closer Jason Motte has been rehabbing nicely and may return to the bullpen in short order after missing the entire 2013 season. Once Motte returns, the Cardinals will likely find a way to utilize the former closer extraordinaire and it should be a matter of time before he challenges Rosenthal for the job. With Rosenthal's knack for pitching himself in and out of trouble, Motte may perform well enough to take his old gig back.

Toronto Blue Jays – The Jays have to be excited that Casey Janssen has been activated from disabled list after a long first six weeks of the season. With the bullpen struggles in Toronto (their 4.77 ERA is good for the majors’ fourth-highest), Janssen should provide some much needed stability. If you’ve been waiting patiently for Janssen to return, you already know that he’s pitched well in his two appearances thus far (1 save, 2.0 IP, 33 pitches, 1 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K).

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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