Closers


Closer Updates: End-of-the-Season Edition

As this season sadly comes to an end, it’s time to stop by once more for a final edition of Closer Updates. First, we’ll take a quick look at all of the teams in the playoffs – just in case you’re playing in some form of a postseason fantasy baseball league. Then, we’ll dig into some recaps of each team this season and top it off with the occasional helpful nugget.

Playoff Teams

Angels – Early in the season, Ernesto Frieri was the guy to own in Anaheim. However, his early struggles led to a temporary reprieve from great setup guy Joe Smith. Shortly thereafter, the Halos acquired Huston Street and grabbed a closer having an elite season (41 saves, 1.37 ERA, 0.94 WHIP) for the stretch run.

Athletics – The A’s started the season with poor bullpen performances (remember Jim Johnson?) and, unfortunately, ended it the very same way. A number of candidates tried to replace Johnson, to varying degrees of success. Look for Sean Doolittle to have the job going into next season.

CardinalsTrevor Rosenthal came into this season as the closer once Edward Mujica went off to Boston. Fortunately, he took to the ninth inning quite nicely (45 saves, 3.20 ERA, 1.41 WHIP) and received some great support from Pat Neshek. If the Cards will do well this postseason, they’ll need these two to stand strong.

DodgersKenley Jansen went into the season as a top tier closer. Not to disappoint, he came through with another season of incredibly strong numbers (44 saves, 2.76 ERA, 1.13 WHIP). If the Dodgers starting rotation get off to a good start in the NLDS, Jansen could really prove his value early and often. On another note, don’t forget that Brian Wilson made his return to baseball, and Dodgerville, this season.

GiantsSergio Romo had the job early on, but his struggles led to a Santiago Casilla staffed ninth inning before season’s end. Without missing a step, Casilla became an effective closer (19 saves, 1.70 ERA, 0.86 WHIP) and didn’t really give Romo a shot to get his old gig back.

Nationals – Even though the Nats bullpen is currently a closer-by-committee, they have a number of effective relievers. Rafael Soriano started the season on a tear, but Drew Storen and Tyler Clippard stepped in and are looking to man the eighth/ninth innings this postseason.

Orioles – After Jim Johnson went out west, Zach Britton stepped into the closer’s chair and delivered nicely (37 saves, 1.65 ERA, 0.90 WHIP). There might’ve been some early doubters, but Britton proved that he can effectively close at the big league level and O’s are now a force to be reckoned with.

Pirates – Although the Bucs won’t be advancing in this year’s playoffs, they have to be proud of the dynamic one-two punch that developed this season in Mark Melancon (33 saves, 1.90 ERA, 0.87 WHIP) and Tony Watson (2 saves, 1.63 ERA, 1.02 WHIP). With these two anchoring the bullpen, they’re poised to be good for a while.

Royals – One of the best bullpens in baseball this season has been the team in KC. Led by Greg Holland (46 saves, 1.44 ERA, 0.91 WHIP), this gang of relievers was outstanding this season and may well help them throughout the playoff push.

TigersJoe Nathan had a rough season (35 saves, 4.81 ERA, 1.53 WHIP) and Motown paid for it. However, they never really had anybody better (sorry Joakim Soria) and his contract certainly warranted some playing time. Look for this experiment to continue…

Non-Playoff (American League)

Astros – Trying to determine who would be closing for the hapless Astros has been a challenge almost all season. Well, at least until Chad Qualls arrived (19 saves, 3.33 ERA, 1.15 WHIP). Surprisingly, the journeyman reliever provided much needed consistency for a bullpen stuck in dumpsville.

Blue JaysCasey Janssen started the season on the DL, but bounced back into form quite nicely in the beginning. However, he lost steam down the stretch (4.00 ERA, 1.11 WHIP in the season’s last month) and a number of relievers stepped in to fill the void. Many whispers in Toronto indicate that Janssen has likely closed his last game for the Jays.

IndiansJohn Axford was expected to be the Tribe’s closer this season, but he sputtered out of control early and Cody Allen took over the reins (24 saves, 2.07 ERA, 1.06 WHIP). Look for Allen to be effective in the role once again next season.

Mariners – Another acquisition at the beginning of this season was Fernando Rodney, who led a surprisingly Seattle club to a strong season. He matched his career best 48 saves and proved that aged relievers still bring something to the table.

Rangers – After Joe Nathan bolted for Detroit, the Rangers relied upon Joakim Soria for their closing duties early on. When he was dealt (also to Detroit), Neftali Feliz picked up the slack (13 saves, 1.99 ERA, 0.98 WHIP). While Feliz may have the early jump on next season, it’s still up in the air despite the strong finish.

RaysGrant Balfour had the job early on, but lost it to the seemingly ever-present closer-by-committee. If one thing is for certain, it’s that there is a ton of uncertainty going into this bullpen next season.

Red SoxKoji Uehara had another outstanding stretch and pitched like a top notch closer for most of the season (26 saves, 2.52 ERA, 0.92 WHIP). Although he was shut down in September, the 39-year-old is a fine wine who seems to get better by age.

TwinsGlen Perkins had a strong season up in Minnesota (34 saves, 3.65 ERA, 1.18 WHIP) … until he got hurt at the end of the season. Jared Burton stepped in admirably, but Perkins is still the closer there.

White Sox – After an absolute train wreck at the beginning of the season, the White Sox finally settled on Jake Petricka as their closer… and he proved to be adequate, when healthy. Not to worry if you own him in some super deep dynasty format, it seems that he’ll have the job going into Spring Training and possibly beyond if rumors in Chicago are true.

YankeesDavid Robertson took over the closer gig and really shined (39 saves, 3.08 ERA, 1.06 WHIP). However, All Star setup guy Dellin Betances is looming and might have his eye on the job next year.

Non-Playoff (National League)

Braves – Another Bravos season, another dominant outing from Craig Kimbrel (47 saves, 1.61 ERA, 0.91 WHIP). Obviously, he’s poised to be an unbelievable closer for years to come. Invest in him and it pays dividends...every season thus far.

BrewersFrancisco Rodriguez came out strong this season and looked like the K-Rod of old (44 saves, 3.04 ERA, 0.99 WHIP). Even though he ended with strong numbers, many believe that they’re ready to insert Jonathan Broxton into the ninth inning next season.

Cubs – After a rough start to the season, the Cubbies finally settled on Hector Rondon and he delivered (29 saves, 2.42 ERA, 1.06 WHIP). They might be lucky enough to have found a closer after a rough season in Wrigleyville.

DiamondbacksAddison Reed arrived in the desert this season and he came through (32 saves, 4.25 ERA, 1.21 WHIP). He’s 25 years old with 101 career saves. Look for him to be a highly effective reliever for years to come.

Marlins – Many thought that the Marlins would try to deal Steve Cishek, but they kept him around and he gave them a surprisingly reliable closer in return (39 saves, 3.17 ERA, 1.21 WHIP). His name will undoubtedly continue to come up as acquisition target this offseason.

Mets – It was a rough summer in Queens after a number of different relievers failed to hold onto the gig once Bobby Parnell fell to injury. Finally, Jenrry Mejia emerged as a reliable option (28 saves, 3.65 ERA, 1.48 WHIP) and many think he might have the fast-track to the job next season.

Padres – Before the trading deadline, the Pads traded away Huston Street and relied upon their other relievers. It paid off, despite a late injury to Joaquin Benoit (11 saves, 1.49 ERA, 0.77 WHIP), with Kevin Quackenbush being the nicest surprise (6 saves, 2.48 ERA, 1.10 WHIP).

PhilliesJonathan Papelbon wasn’t the most popular closer this season, but he pitched quite well (39 saves, 2.04 ERA, 0.90 WHIP). The Phillies have talked about moving him, but he’s got a massive contract. Which means, of course, that whoever pays him that much money will certainly be having him close… probably Philadelphia.

RedsAroldis Chapman started the season with a rough come-backer to the face and a short stint on the DL. Not to be counted out, he returned with a bang and had another outstanding season (36 saves, 2.00 ERA, 0.83 WHIP). Look for him to be great, yet again, next season.

Rockies – In the beginning of the summer, everyone thought that Rex Brothers would storm out of the gates and steal the job from LaTroy Hawkins. However, Hawkins remained consistent (23 saves, 3.31 ERA, 1.20 WHIP) and Adam Ottavino emerged as the Rockies’ best setup guy.

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: Bucs, Jays, Nats, Padres, Phillies, Twins, White Sox

Welcome to yet another edition of Closer Updates. As we enter the regular season’s final weekend, it’s time to scour through the league’s bullpen to find a hidden gem (or two) for your final championship push. Of course, don’t forget to follow @CloserNews over the next few days as well – it’ll have the most up-to-date breaking news regarding closers and potential saves.

Chicago White Sox – Despite their bullpen’s rocky journey this season, manager Robin Ventura appears ready to place his confidence in Jake Petricka (14 saves, 2.88 ERA, 1.35 WHIP). Although Petricka has been battling with Zach Putnam (6 saves, 1.98 ERA, 1.08 WHIP), look for him to be the guy for the remainder of the season and possibly beyond.

Minnesota Twins – After Glen Perkins (34 saves, 3.65 ERA, 1.18 WHIP) fell to a left forearm strain injury in the past week, Jared Burton (1 save, 1.59 ERA, 0.71 WHIP in the past two weeks) has taken over the ninth inning in the Twin Cities. Look for Burton to be an effective closer in the role during the last weekend and a solid opportunity for saves if he’s still out there on your respective waiver wire.

Philadelphia Phillies – Following his 7-game suspension, Jonathan Papelbon (2.10 ERA, 0.90 WHIP) has returned to the ninth inning in Philly. On Wednesday, he earned his 38th save of the season and sent Ken Giles (1 save, 1.24 ERA, 0.80 WHIP) back to a setup role. If someone dropped Papelbon during his suspension, scoop him up and hope that the Fightin’ Phils win a close ballgame before season's end.

Pittsburgh Pirates – In the past week, Tony Watson (1.44 ERA, 1.01 WHIP) earned his first two saves of the season. Watson has been unstoppable this season and the Pirates have been on quite the run. If they keep winning and want to keep Mark Melancon (32 saves, 1.93 ERA, 0.89 WHIP) from heavy use, Watson could steal another save this weekend.

San Diego PadresJoaquin Benoit (9 saves, 1.55 ERA, 0.80 WHIP) has returned to the major leagues after a stint on the DL. Kevin Quackenbush has been wonderful over the past month (5 saves, 1.50 ERA, 1.33 WHIP), but manager Bud Black hasn’t ruled out a return for Benoit to the ninth. If you’re prospecting, Benoit might be worth a flier.

Toronto Blue Jays – Another notable rumbling on the closer scene is Aaron Sanchez (2 saves, 0.73 ERA, 0.89 WHIP) up north. After Casey Janssen has struggled this season (5 saves, 7.88 ERA, 1.50 WHIP in the past month), Sanchez converted the save opportunity on Wednesday night. He has a bit of potential and many believe that they intend to move him into the rotation next season. However, he may be given one or two chances to close before this season is done.

Washington Nationals – Even though the Nats keep winning ball games, their pecking order for the back end of their bullpen is still uncertain. With six games in the next four days, a number of candidates could steal a save this weekend. Look to pick up Rafael Soriano, Tyler Clippard, or Drew Storen for this stretch. If any of these guys are available, they might just get you a couple of saves this weekend.

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, Cards, Nats, Phillies, Rays, Royals, Red Sox, White Sox

If you’re still checking for fantasy updates at this point in the season, you are either dedicated to winning the consolation bracket or ready to take home a fantasy championship. Either way, sit back and get comfortable. It’s time for some closer updates…

Boston Red Sox – After pitching sparsely over the past month, Koji Uehara is back in action for the BoSox (26 saves, 2.56 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, 11.2 K/9). Because he’s a little rusty, expect Edward Mujica (6 saves, 4.03 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, 6.4 K/9) to continue to get save opportunities in the near future. That being said, do not be surprised if Koji sneaks in and snags a couple of saves while Boston starts to play for next season.

Chicago White Sox – Earlier this week, Jake Petricka (13 saves, 2.83 ERA, 1.34 WHIP) blew a save and further endangered his grip on the closer’s role. After Zach Putnam (2.00 ERA, 1.08 WHIP) earned his fifth save on Tuesday, it still remains unclear who exactly has the gig. Look for this to be fluid over the next two weeks, with Petricka barely ahead of Putnam.

Kansas City RoyalsGreg Holland (42 saves, 1.57 ERA, 0.98 WHIP) has returned to the mound for KC and will be good to go moving forward. Assuming that he remains healthy, Holland should be back to form and can be a solid closer the rest of the way. However, Wade Davis should remain a strong RP to own given his season numbers (3 saves, 0.82 ERA, 0.83 WHIP, 13.2 K/9) and position as Holland’s handcuff.

Oakland Athletics – In the past week, Sean Doolittle (21 saves, 2.20 ERA, 0.68 WHIP) has returned to the fold and reclaimed his closer role. Manager Bob Melvin reiterated as such, so look for him to be the man to own in Oakland for the rest of the season. Sorry for those hoping that Eric O’Flaherty, Luke Gregerson, or Dan Otero were going to emerge from the A’s former closer committee.

Philadelphia Phillies – After Jonathan Papelbon was suspended for seven games because of a Michael Jackson impression, look for the Phillies to turn elsewhere for saves while he serves his time. The first option? Ken Giles. He’s been a force this season (1.08 ERA, 0.79 WHIP, 13.0 K/9) and might be able to keep the gig after Papelbon returns to action.

St. Louis Cardinals – With manager Mike Matheny stating that he’d prefer not to use closer Trevor Rosenthal (44 saves, 3.31 ERA, 1.43 WHIP) on back-to-back days, Pat Neshek (6 saves, 1.41 ERA, 0.68 WHIP) has just become a much more valuable commodity. If Matheny sticks to his word, look for Neshek to have a couple of save opportunities over the Cards’ final stretch run.

Tampa Bay Rays – After struggling recently, Joel Peralta (16.88 ERA and 3.00 WHIP in the past fortnight) might be on the hot seat in Tampa. If these struggles continue, look for Brad Boxberger (2 saves, 2.29 ERA, 0.83 WHIP) and Grant Balfour (12 saves, 5.34 ERA, 1.55 WHIP) to steal a few save opportunities.

Washington Nationals – The Nats have continued to roll, despite some uncertainty at the back end of their bullpen. Rafael Soriano has been inconsistent (6.10 ERA and 1.74 WHIP over the past month), to say the least, and Drew Storen (7 saves, 1.23 ERA, 0.97 WHIP) seems to have a lead on the job right now. Don’t forget Tyler Clippard (1 save, 2.06 ERA, 1.01 WHIP), who remains in the mix too. Either way, keep in mind that this situation remains a dynamic one and change can happen at any point.

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, Brewers, Mets, Nats, Padres, Red Sox, Royals, Tigers, Twins

As we creep further into the fantasy playoffs, it’s time to check on the closer situations once again. Fortunately for those fantasy managers desperate for saves, there are a number of potential pick-ups that could steal you the saves category. As always, stay tuned for some insightful updates below and good luck down the final stretch.

Boston Red Sox – Unsurprisingly, Koji Uehara (26 saves, 2.64 ERA, 0.95 WHIP) has been removed from the closer role and Edward Mujica (4 saves, 4.00 ERA, 1.37 WHIP) has inherited the ninth inning. If Mujica cannot handle the gig, which is unlikely (he has 45 career saves), Junichi Tazawa (3.09 ERA, 1.29 WHIP) would be the first alternative.

Detroit TigersJoakim Soria is back in the majors after dealing with a left oblique strain. Although Joe Nathan (30 saves, 4.85 ERA 1.52 WHIP) is still the closer (and just earned his 30th save), Soria could still have some value down the stretch run. With the Tigers neck-and-neck with the Royals, look for the pressure on Nathan to grow even more over the next couple weeks.

Houston Astros – With Chad Qualls (17 saves, 3.59 ERA, 1.20 WHIP) day-to-day with an injury, interim manager Tom Lawless recently chose Josh Fields (4 saves, 4.45 ERA, 1.23 WHIP) as a temporary fill-in. Although Fields isn’t the greatest reliever/closer, he may provide a little value if Qualls remains injured. Another option is Tony Sipp (4 saves, 3.43 ERA, 0.87 WHIP), who earned the save over Fields and Jose Veras (1 save, 4.42 ERA, 1.42 WHIP) on Wednesday night.

Kansas City Royals – After working through an injury, Greg Holland (42 saves, 1.60 ERA, 0.98 WHIP) seemed ready to return to the ninth inning for KC and, as they push toward the playoffs, the Royals were hoping that he could continue his stretch of dominance. However, Holland is still not ready to return and some sources report that he’s scheduled for another MRI today. His replacement? Stud reliever Wade Davis (3 saves, 0.71 ERA, 0.82 WHIP), who may still be a strong non-closing reliever to own if you’re looking for some RP help down the stretch even if Holland returns soon.

Milwaukee Brewers – Despite an unbelievable start, Francisco Rodriguez has begun to show some signs of wearing down (1 save, 12.00 ERA, 2.67 WHIP in the past two weeks). With the Brew Crew in the midst of a Wild Card chase, look for manager Ron Roenicke to go with whomever he feels most comfortable with in the ninth. If K-Rod is looking good, there will be no issues. If he stumbles, recently-acquired Jonathan Broxton (7 saves, 1.72 ERA, 0.97 WHIP) is a possible candidate for a stolen save (or two).

Minnesota TwinsGlen Perkins (33 saves, 2.88 ERA, 1.11 WHIP) has been dealing with a shoulder/neck injury and could be passed over for some save opportunities in the short term. If that happens, Jared Burton (2 saves, 4.63 ERA, 1.34 WHIP) is the first reliever to benefit, followed closely by Casey Fien (1 save, 3.79 ERA, 1.16 WHIP). Burton has 9 career saves and should be a dependable replacement for Perkins until he returns to full health.

New York Mets – Over the past week, Jenrry Mejia (2 saves, 7.71 ERA, 3.86 WHIP) has been underwhelming for the Mets. If these struggles continue, Jeurys Familia should take a few save opportunities. Familia has been outstanding this season (5 saves, 2.06 ERA, 1.17 WHIP) and Mejia’s recent performance might give him just the chance to close.

Oakland Athletics – With Sean Doolittle still injured, the A’s have been going with a closer-by-committee approach. Although the pecking order has shifted a bit, it still seems that the relievers to own are Eric O’Flaherty (1 save, 2.08 ERA, 0.92 WHIP), Luke Gregerson (3 saves, 2.25 ERA, 0.98 WHIP), and Ryan Cook (1 save, 3.64 ERA, 1.11 WHIP) – in that order.

San Diego Padres – With Joaquin Benoit (9 saves, 1.58 ERA, 0.82 WHIP) still fighting through a shoulder injury, Kevin Quackenbush (2 saves, 2.61 ERA, 1.03 WHIP) remains the reliever to own in San Diego. If Benoit doesn’t bounce back to form shortly, Quackenbush will remain a valuable commodity in fantasy leagues.

Washington Nationals – Another transition in the past week has been the Washington Nats bullpen, which has pulled Rafael Soriano (2 saves, 9.64 ERA, 2.57 WHIP in the past two weeks) from the closer role and switched to a closer-by-committee approach. The first candidate for saves is Drew Storen (1.29 ERA, 0.96 WHIP), who already has 3 saves in the past week. Another potential replacement is Tyler Clippard (1 save, 2.13 ERA, 1.04 WHIP), but Storen should the first choice in DC.

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, Astros, BoSox, Brew Crew, Giants, Jays, Nats, Padres, Redlegs, Tigers

Another week toward the major league playoffs means an inch closer in the direction of your personal fantasy championship. If you’re still in the hunt, a scavenged save might be just the push you need. As always, we’ll explore a few different bullpen situations that have developed over the last week and discuss some potential pickups for your squad.

Boston Red SoxKoji Uehara hasn’t been used much over the past two weeks (0 saves, 3.1 IP, 18.90 ERA, 3.30 WHIP) and it seems that he may be getting some rest down the stretch. In his absence, Edward Mujica (3 saves, 4.21 ERA, 1.38 WHIP) is most likely to scavenge any saves in the BoSox bullpen moving forward.

Cincinnati Reds – Earlier this week, Aroldis Chapman’s top setup guy was sent to Milwaukee. Now, Jumbo Diaz (that’s right) should be the Reds’ eighth inning guy (3.24 ERA, 1.00 WHIP). If Chapman gets any rest down the stretch, ol' Jumbo is a good candidate for the occasional save.

Detroit Tigers – This just in… Joe Nathan (29 saves, 5.04 ERA, 1.54 WHIP) is still the closer in Detroit. Joakim Soria (17 saves, 3.58 ERA, 1.09 WHIP) looks ready to return to the major leagues soon and he’ll become a factor in the bullpen immediately. As always, a great pitching performance from Soria (or anyone really) could supplant Nathan as the closer.

Houston Astros – Last week, Tony Sipp (2 saves, 3.21 ERA, 0.86 WHIP) scavenged a save from Chad Qualls (16 saves, 3.47 ERA, 1.18 WHIP) – who has been dealing with some minor injuries over the past month. However, Qualls’ job is safe for now and it now appears that Sipp might be the Astros’ second option.

Milwaukee Brewers – Earlier this week, the Brewers traded two players to be named later to Cincinnati for Jonathan Broxton (7 saves, 1.86 ERA, 1.01 WHIP) – who will be a setup guy for Francisco Rodriguez (39 saves, 3.00 ERA, 0.97 WHIP). With Broxton under contract through next season, and K-Rod a free-agent-to-be, he could be the Brew Crew’s closer in 2015. However, he will not get the ninth anytime soon.

Oakland Athletics – With Sean Doolittle still out, the committee in Oakland includes Eric O’Flaherty, Ryan Cook, and Dan Otero. Over the past week, Otero has pitched the best (3.1 IP, 0.00 ERA, 2.10 WHIP) and might be the first option next time out.

San Diego Padres – After falling to an injury to last week, Joaquin Benoit (9 saves, 1.58 ERA, 0.82 WHIP) will likely be out for at least another week. In his absence, Kevin Quackenbush (2 saves, 2.58 ERA, 1.04 WHIP) will be getting the save opportunities and is a great opportunity for late saves.

San Francisco Giants – Late last week, manager Bruce Bochy stated that several different candidates would get save opportunities throughout the rest of the season. This committee includes Jeremy Affeldt, Javier Lopez, and Sergio Romo. Of the group, Romo (2.08 ERA, 1.15 WHIP over the last two weeks) is the most likely candidate to fight for his old job back.

Toronto Blue JaysCasey Janssen (20 saves, 3.82 ERA, 1.19 WHIP) is still the closer up north, but Aaron Sanchez looks like he might get a save opportunity or two in the final weeks of the season. He’s had a strong season (1.59 ERA, 0.57 WHIP), but Janssen has the support of manager John Gibbons.

Washington Nationals – Believe it or not, Rafael Soriano (2 saves, 6.00 ERA, 2.67 WHIP) has stumbled a bit in the past week. If he doesn’t get it together, manager Matt Williams might experiment with Drew Storen down (1.41 ERA, 1.03 WHIP) the stretch. However, it’s probable that Soriano will pitch through any issues.

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 – Athletics, BoSox, Devil Rays, Mets, Padres, Tigers, White Sox

Believe it or not, the end of the baseball season is fast approaching. If you’re in a rotisserie league, you’ve got a few more weeks than the H2H leagues, but either way – now is the time to make championship moves. In case you are struggling in the saves category, this week will cover a few closer candidates who might just be available in your league.

Boston Red SoxKoji Uehara has had a strong season (26 saves, 2.25 ERA, 0.90 WHIP), but struggled in the past week. After giving up his fourth blown save of the season, manager John Farrell discussed shutting Koji down, but dismissed the idea. Given that the Red Sox are far from the playoffs, it might not be the worst idea. If that happens, Edward Mujica (1 save, 0.73 ERA, 1.14 WHIP in the past 30 days) should be your first pickup and Junichi Tazawa (2.95 ERA, 1.31 WHIP) is another candidate to consider.

Chicago White Sox – One popular team in this year’s column has been the White Sox, who have gone through a number of closers this season. Another potential closer might be on the horizon given the recent struggles of Jake Petricka (12.60 ERA and 2.60 WHIP in the last two weeks). On Tuesday night, Petricka blew his second straight save and might soon lose the job. If you’re desperate for a closer, Zach Putnam (3 saves, 1.91 ERA, 1.06 WHIP) or Matt Lindstrom (6 saves, 4.88 ERA, 1.58 WHIP) are the two likeliest candidates to close if Petricka’s struggles continue.

Detroit Tigers – Yet again, we visit Mo-town to delve into their bullpen situation. Joakim Soria is still rehabbing an oblique injury, but could be back in the big leagues as early as next week. Former A's and Orioles closer Jim Johnson (2 saves, 7.31 ERA, 2.08 WHIP) pitched well on Sunday, but still remains far from the ninth inning. Joe Nathan, despite his worst efforts, remains the closer for now (4 saves, 5.40 ERA, 1.80 WHIP in the past two weeks).

New York MetsJenrry Mejia (19 saves, 3.94 ERA, 1.50 WHIP) became injured yet again in the past week with a stiff back. While Mejia should be healthier soon (though that is no guarantee), it’s becoming apparent that Jeurys Familia could become the future closer in Queens. He’s got a solid stat line (4 svaes, 1.93 ERA, 1.18 WHIP) and the potential to be a force in 2015.

Oakland Athletics – With the recent injury to Sean Doolittle, Oakland will be going with a closer-by-committee approach. That committee includes Eric O’Flaherty (1.26 ERA, 0.91 WHIP), Dan Otero (1 save, 2.25 ERA, 1.07 WHIP), and Ryan Cook (1 save, 2.95 ERA, 1.08 WHIP). What about Luke Gregerson? Manager Bob Melvin said that he’d remain in a setup role. I’d say that the pecking order is currently Cook, O’Flaherty, and Otero.

San Diego Padres – Young reliever Kevin Quackenbush has pitched well this season (1 save, 2.83 ERA, 1.02 WHIP) and could become a solid asset for the Pads. If Joaquin Benoit (9 saves, 1.58 ERA, 0.82 WHIP) gets some rest, or manager Bud Black is anxious to get Quackenbush into some high-leverage situations, he might be a solid prospective pickup over the next couple of weeks.

Tampa Bay Rays – Although a few relievers have nabbed saves for the Rays (Brad Boxberger, Kirby Yates), Jake McGee is still the closer to own in Tampa (14 saves, 1.33 ERA, 0.89 WHIP). Despite the fact that some claim they’re in a “closer-by-committee” situation, it seems that there’s one guy who is getting most of the opportunities and it’s McGee.

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: Cards, Mets, Nats, Pirates, Reds, Tigers

As the fantasy baseball playoffs inch closer and closer, you’re likely looking for any advantage which might push you over the hump. Of course, scouring through all the box scores to find that perfect candidate can be a bit daunting. Fortunately, we’ll be exploring a few potential saves candidates and looking further in-depth into a few bullpen situations. With a little luck, we will help bring a title to your squad this season.

Cincinnati Reds – As the Redlegs make a playoff push (2nd in the NL Central), look for them to potentially rest Aroldis Chapman (26 saves, 2.82 ERA, 0.91 WHIP, 17.4 K/9). Right now, he’s day-to-day with an “achy” shoulder. There’s no long term cause for concern, but Jonathan Broxton possesses a solid stat line (6 saves, 1.43 ERA, 0.86 WHIP) and might be a good candidate for stealing some saves if manager Bryan Price wants to rest Chapman’s arm until it comes back to full strength.

Detroit Tigers – Inexplicably, Joe Nathan is still the closer in Motown. After a horrendous season (26 saves, 5.28 ERA, 1.61 WHIP), he always perform just well enough to keep the job. Over the past month, there were glimpses of the old Nathan and it seemed he was getting his act together. Before long, he began struggling mightily, again, over the past week especially (2 saves, 6.00 ERA, 2.33 WHIP). Go pick up Joba Chamberlain (2 saves, 3.26 ERA, 1.29 WHIP) if you’re looking for some strong value late, even though it doesn’t quite seem that manager Brad Ausmus is ready to give up on Nathan just yet.

New York Mets – If you’re scrounging for saves, another speculative pickup is Jeurys Familia. With Jenrry Mejia far from a sure thing (18 saves, 4.04 ERA, 1.53 WHIP), it’s very possible that Familia sneaks into the job before season’s end. He’s been spectacular all season (3 saves, 2.02 ERA, 1.19 WHIP) and could become a solid asset for the Mets if he can prove a decent fit for the ninth inning.

Pittsburgh Pirates – Former Brewers and Indians closer John Axford (10 saves, 3.69 ERA, 1.40 WHIP in 2014) was picked up off waivers by the Buccos, becoming another one of their midseason bullpen projects (see Ernesto Frieri). Although he has not been as dominant as his 2011 campaign, Pittsburgh is hoping there may still be some tread on those tires. Even if there is, he not coming close to Mark Melancon (22 saves, 2.28 ERA, 0.94 WHIP) and Tony Watson (1.84 ERA, 1.04 WHIP).

San Francisco Giants – Earlier this week, Sergio Romo (23 saves, 4.24 ERA, 0.99 WHIP) earned a save by relieving Santiago Casilla (10 saves, 1.62 ERA, 0.90 WHIP). Does this mean that Romo has the job back? Not quite… Casilla is still the guy to own after manager Bruce Bochy reinforced that Romo only had the ninth for that particular evening.

St. Louis Cardinals – Another prospective pickup for saves is Pat Neshek, who has had an excellent season for the Cards (0.84 ERA, 0.58 WHIP). Trevor Rosenthal has struggled over the past two weeks (2 saves, 7.94 ERA, 2.47 WHIP) and St. Louis is the middle of a playoff push. If Rosenthal continues to allow runs, or needs some rest in anticipation of the postseason, Neshek could easily step in and convert the save. He’s already done it four times this season.

Washington Nationals – Although he had a stellar start to the season, Rafael Soriano has performed poorly in the past week and allowed runs in two straight appearances. It might just be a blip considering he converted a save on Wednesday night, but keep an eye on Tyler Clippard (1.64 ERA, 1.02 WHIP) and Drew Storen (1.56 ERA, 1.07 WHIP). Conventional wisdom says that Clippard would be first in line, but it’s been clear in the past that the Nats prefer to leave him in a setup role, even when the closer is struggling. My money is on Storen.

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: 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.





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