Closers


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.



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

If you’re chasing saves in your fantasy league, there’s only one place to check out… For the latest news on closers to grab, stash, start, or bench, be sure to follow @CloserNews on Twitter.



Closer Updates: As, Angels, Astros, Brewers, Cubs, Jays, Mets, Reds, Yankees

This week we’ll be bringing you another round of updates from the closer world. With a slew of injury updates and depth chart shufflings, the ninth inning continues to bring us some of the most unforeseen changes in the fantasy landscape.

Chicago Cubs – Since Jose Veras got the boot as the Cubs closer, Pedro Strop has struggled to dominate the ninth in his place. Strop has been adequate this season (1 save, 3.52 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 11.7 K/9), but certainly has little job security. If he struggles, Hector Rondon (1 save, 0.84 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 9.3 K/9) and Justin Grimm (0.84 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 11.0 K/9) have each pitched well enough to deserve a shot.  

Cincinnati RedsAroldis Chapman threw live batting practice behind a screen this week. The next step in his recovery will be batting practice without a screen before a few rehab appearances. Jonathan Broxton has done an admirable job replacing Chapman (2 saves, 0.00 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, 12.0 K/9), but he will return to a setup role once Aroldis returns in mid-May.

Houston Astros – The closer-by-committee experiment has continued in Houston. In the last week, only Josh Fields earned a save opportunity. Meanwhile, Anthony Bass earned two holds and Matt Albers got one. Chad Qualls has struggled over the same time frame and Jesse Crain is still far from returning to the big leagues.

Los Angeles Angels of AnaheimErnesto Frieri has had a rough season thus far (2 saves, 5.40 ERA, 1.56 WHIP, 11.9 K/9). Although Halos manager Mike Scioscia has recently stated that Frieri is still the closer, it may be a matter of time before Joe Smith (4.00 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 10.0 K/9) takes over the ninth.

Milwaukee BrewersFrancisco Rodriguez has had an unbelievable week with six saves in the last eight days. That type of consistency and an impressive stat line (9 saves, 0.00 ERA, 0.64 WHIP, 13.1 K/9) make it unlikely that Jim Henderson (4.15 ERA, 1.39 WHIP, 13.5 K/9) will be taking back the ninth any time soon.

New York Mets – It’s official – Jose Valverde is out as closer for the Metropolitans after a dismal start (5.23 ERA, 1.55 ERA, 10.5 K/9). After pulling Valverde, manager Terry Collins turned to experienced closer Kyle Farnsworth (55 career saves). Farnsworth has pitched well this season (2 saves, 0.96 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 5.8 K/9) and might have the savvy to keep this job all season.

New York YankeesDavid Robertson returned to the Yankees Tuesday after a stint on the 15-day disabled list for an injured groin. Robertson will immediately return to the closer role and relieve Shawn Kelley of his substitute closer duties (4 saves, 1.86 ERA, 0.83 WHIP, 9.3 K/9).

Oakland Athletics – Although Jim Johnson (and his contract) will certainly have an opportunity to regain the ninth inning, when that will occur is uncertain. Until then, Luke Gregerson will lead the committee (3 saves, 3.09 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, 5.4 K/9) over Sean Doolittle and Ryan Cook.

Toronto Blue JaysSergio Santos is another setup man who has been marginally effective as an interim closer (5 saves, 7.11 ERA, 2.21 WHIP, 18.5 K/9). Given Casey Janssen and his recent setback during a rehab stint, Santos might be holding onto the closer gig longer than most expected. Janssen, who was expected to have returned from the disabled list by now, has been shut down and his timetable for return is still unclear.

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: As, Astros, BoSox, Braves, Brewers, Cubbies, Jays, Mets, Reds, Rockies, Yankees

Welcome back to another edition of Closer Updates. This edition will be chock full of injury updates and insight into this ever-changing MLB closer landscape. In addition to a few relievers being relieved of their ninth inning gigs, we’ve also got some injury scares and other relevant notes.

Atlanta Braves – Bravos fans and Craig Kimbrel owners held their collective breath when a sore shoulder shut the reliever down for the past few days. However, Kimbrel should not hit the DL and will be back to action soon after experiencing no discomfort in a recent bullpen session.

Boston Red Sox – After discovering tightness in his shoulder during a pregame long-toss session last week, Koji Uehara was shut down and Edward Mujica has been closing games in his stead. Look for Uehara to return soon after three solid bullpen sessions and an MRI which showed no ligament damage.

Chicago Cubs – After a very poor start to the season (4 appearances, 2 blown saves, 12.27 ERA, 2.46 WHIP), Jose Veras has officially lost his closer title in Wrigleyville. Pedro Strop (1 save, 4.76 ERA, 1.41 WHIP) and Hector Rondon (1 save, 0.00 ERA, 0.86 WHIP) are the two candidates most likely to replace him.

Cincinnati RedsAroldis Chapman is steadily making progress in his return to the big leagues. After throwing a bullpen session earlier in the week, Chapman appears to be getting close to being cleared to throw batting practice. After that step and a few more bullpen sessions, we’ll have a much clearer timeline. Jonathan Broxton, who recently returned from the DL, should be covering the ninth in Chapman’s absence.

Colorado Rockies – Although many pegged Rex Brothers as the closer-in-waiting in Colorado, LaTroy Hawkins has performed well so far this season (5 appearances, 3 saves, 1.93 ERA, 0.86 WHIP). The Rockies didn’t sign Hawkins to ride the pine and they will look for Brothers to improve his season numbers (3.18 ERA, 1.59 WHIP, 4.8 K/9) before getting any save opportunities.

Houston Astros – Manager Bo Porter has done a great job sticking with the closer-by-committee approach. Thus far, three different relievers have earned a save for the Astros. Anthony Bass (5.06 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 1.7 K/9) leads the field with two, while Chad Qualls (3.86 ERA, 1.93 WHIP, 9.6 K/9) and Josh Fields (3.86 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, 11.6 K/9) each have one.

Milwaukee Brewers – Although manager Ron Roenicke said that Jim Henderson would have an opportunity to pitch his way back into the closer role, Henderson has pitched poorly so far (7 appearances, 5.06 ERA, 1.69 WHIP) and may be squandering that opportunity. If he doesn’t get his act together soon, Francisco Rodriguez will continue to get more comfortable closing for the Brew Crew.

New York Mets – With Bobby Parnell out for the season, veteran closer Jose Valverde was supposed to take the ninth inning in Queens and run with it. However, Valverde has been underwhelming thus far (4.26 ERA, 1.26 WHIP) and has also allowed home runs to three of his last eight batters faced. Without much reliever depth, the Mets might look to Kyle Farnsworth (1.35 ERA, 0.90 WHIP, 5.4 K/9) sooner rather than later.

New York Yankees – After hitting the DL earlier in the month with a groin injury, David Robertson is nearly ready to resume closing duties for the Yanks. Though Shawn Kelley has performed admirably in the role (7 appearances, 3 saves, 2.84 ERA, 0.79 WHIP), Robertson will take the role back when he returns to the team early next week.

Oakland Athletics – It’s official, Jim Johnson has lost his job as closer for the As. With a horrendous start (7.56 ERA, 2.16 WHIP), Johnson will try to work his way back into the good graces of Athletics manager Bob Melvin. While he takes that road to redemption, Sean Doolittle and Luke Gregerson will share closer duties.

Toronto Blue JaysCasey Janssen has begun his rehab in Florida after suffering from a back strain at the end of Spring Training. If all goes well, Janssen will return to the Jays this weekend and take back his closer job from Sergio Santos (4 saves, 3.38 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, 18.6 K/9).

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, Cubbies, Jays, Mets, Redlegs, White Sox, Yanks

It’s time to check up on the closer scene once again. In addition to some position battles and struggling closers, we’ll also take a look at a few injury situations this week.

Chicago CubsJose Veras hasn’t had a great start to the season (0 saves, 10.13 ERA, 2.63 WHIP) and there are already rumblings that Pedro Strop should take over the closer role. Strop is clearly a part of the Cubs’ future plans, has pitched well thus far (1 save, 2.45 ERA, 1.09 WHIP) and may take the job in time, but manager Rick Renteria seems to be sticking with Veras in the short term.

Chicago White Sox – With early frontrunner Nate Jones battling injury, Matt Lindstrom has held the closer title for the White Sox since Opening Day. However, Lindstrom has been a bit underwhelming in 2014 (1 save, 9.00 ERA, 2.33 WHIP, 6.0 K/9) and this bullpen could continue to be shuffled as the season progresses.

Cincinnati Reds – Although Aroldis Chapman has been resuming baseball activities with some light workouts, he is still far from returning to the big leagues. In his stead, J.J. Hoover has struggled and the Reds will likely look to Jonathan Broxton (who was just re-activated from the DL) to close until Chapman returns.

Houston Astros – The closer-by-committee competition in Houston has come down to two different relievers, Josh Fields (1 save, 0.00 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, 9.0 K/9) and Chad Qualls (1 save, 6.75 ERA, 2.25 WHIP, 10.1 K/9). Each have a single save this season and only time will tell whether Fields or Qualls can take over the ninth.

New York Mets – With Bobby Parnell on the DL for the rest of the season, Jose Valverde seems to have inherited the closer role in Queens. Valverde has the pedigree of a good closer (career 3.17 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 9.9 K/9, 287 saves) and he may be in line for another solid season for the Mets.

New York Yankees – On the other side of town, closer David Robertson also hit the DL with a groin injury. Robertson had been strong this season and the Yanks will likely look to a committee to replace him (led by Shawn Kelley, Adam Warren, David Phelps, and Dellin Betances).

Oakland Athletics – The Jim Johnson experiment has struggled since Opening Day. In his first five appearances, Johnson has earned one save, two losses, and two blown saves… not to mention that batters are hitting .529 against him. If these struggles continue, Ryan Cook or Luke Gregerson might get the call pretty soon.

Toronto Blue JaysSergio Santos has pitched well in place of the injured Casey Janssen so far (3 saves, 2.70 ERA, 1.80 WHIP, 12.6 K/9) and should continue to do so. Janssen is recovering nicely from a lower back injury and will return in the next couple weeks after a few rehab 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.



RotoAuthority League Update: Closer Chaos

The RotoAuthority League is a highly competitive 12-team fantasy baseball league run by Tim Dierkes. The settings consist of standard 5 X 5 Rotisserie scoring and 23-man lineups along with 4 bench spots. In an effort to keep owners interested as well as to infuse new blood into the league, the teams that finish below 8th place are kicked out of the league each year. The author of this column just hopes he isn't one of them.

Over the next six months, I probably won't write about closers all that often. Here at RotoAuthority we already have great work put forth by my colleague Luckey Helms in the weekly Closer Update as well as the must-follow @CloserNews on Twitter. Given what we witnessed over the first week of the season, however, I feel no choice but to discuss how bullpens in flux have impacted the league.

Since the RotoAuthority League Draft two weeks ago, we've already seen an astounding total of five changes in who's getting the ball (or who we thought would get the ball) in the ninth. At this rate, it's possible we could be looking at unprecedented turnover in closer roles this season.

A Century of Misery

Demotion - Nate Jones

My squad comes first alphabetically, so I'll reluctantly have to start here. Jones displayed excellent skills last season, and he was a preseason target of mine. I thought I had gotten decent value when I grabbed him at the end of Round 15, given that only five closers were still on the board at the time. Well, I guess this is Exhibit A in support of the notion that roles matter in drafting closers. Even though we as a fantasy community had all assumed that Jones would be the guy, Manager Robin Ventura had yet to make a decision. Now Jones is on the DL, and my squad doesn't have a single closer. This isn't exactly the start I had in mind.

Brewsterville Bruins

Promotion -  Jose Valverde

Demotion - Casey Janssen

I think it says a lot about the volatility of closers that Valverde wasn't even in the Yahoo player pool until March 27th. The Brewsterville Bruins wisely picked up the veteran reliever just a few days later, and now he's the closer for the Mets. In Toronto Janssen may be on the DL, but it sounds like he could be back as soon as he's eligible to return. Overall then, the Bruins have witnessed a net positive from the recent closer turmoil.

E-Z Sliders

Promotion - Josh Fields

Demotion - Jim Henderson

The Astros were said to be going with a closer-by-committee, and that still may prove to be the case. Most fantasy pundits, though, believed Chad Qualls would be the first one to get a shot a the job. Instead, it was Fields who came in for the first save opportunity for the Astros. It doesn't take a whole lot to be a successful closer, so the young reliever could certainly hang onto this job all season long. That's not too bad for a player who went undrafted in this league. Meanwhile, in Milwaukee, fantasy owners were surprised when K-Rod, not Henderson, came in for the first save chance on Opening Day. Manager Ron Roenicke has indicated that Henderson could regain the role , but for now the E-Z Sliders are left patiently waiting to get any value of their Round 14 pick.

Men With Wood

Promotion - Francisco Rodriguez & Sergio Santos

Perhaps no owner has benefited more from the early-season closer madness than Men With Wood. First, this owner skillfully drafted Santos in Round 25, and then he grabbed K-Rod minutes after the veteran entered the game in the ninth on Opening Day. Santos may not have the job much longer, but he could certainly be closing once again this season should Janssen struggle or be traded. I personally don't have much faith in K-Rod, but that doesn't matter all that much. He's the guy right now in Milwaukee, and role takes priority when it comes to closers.

Smell the Glove

Demotion - Bobby Parnell

Tim Dierkes will be without his Round 15 selection for the rest of the season, as Parnell is set to undergo Tommy John surgery. Dierkes's two other closers, Ernesto Frieri and Jonathan Papelbon, are also off to poor starts. Accordingly, the bullpen for Smell the Glove doesn't look all that great right now. Still, few owners are as active on the waiver wire as Tim, and I'm confident he'll be just fine in the saves category.

Spirit of St. Louis

Promotion - Matt Lindstrom

Like Men With Wood, Spirit of St. Louis was on the ball when he grabbed Lindstrom just minutes after news broke that Robin Ventura had named the veteran reliever as his closer. If you count Aroldis Chapman on the DL, that gives this owner a total of four closers, a true luxury when it comes to trade negotiations in this league.



Closer Updates: As, Astros, Brewers, Cubbies, Dodgers, Jays, Mets, Orioles, Reds, Rockies, White Sox

It didn’t take very long for the closer conversations to start up around the big leagues. This week we’ll take a quick run around the league and discuss several different developments on the bullpen front. From injuries to surprise replacements, we’ve got a bit of everything for you.

Baltimore Orioles

Tommy Hunter was given the closer title just before Opening Day and he certainly earned his first save of the season against the Red Sox despite allowing two base runners early. Given that Hunter performed well in this high pressure situation, his job security got a little bit better.

Chicago Cubs

Jose Veras had a tremendously rough outing in his first save opportunity of 2014 (38 pitches, 1 hit, 1 earned run, 2 walks, 1 strike out, 1 blown save). If his struggles continue and Pedro Strop pitches well, Veras might be on the hot seat before too long.

Chicago White Sox

This closer situation is still quite uncertain. Ronald Belisario and Matt Lindstrom have both pitched well thus far, but Nate Jones has not. In his first 2014 appearance (17 pitches, 2 hits, 2 earned runs, 1 walk, and 1 blown save), Jones pitched poorly and opened the door for Belisario and Lindstrom.  For now, Lindstrom has the closer job.

Cincinnati Reds

Without Aroldis Chapman, Cincy is still looking for their closer. Because the Redlegs have not committed to J.J. Hoover, Sam LeCure, or Logan Ondrusek, former closer Jonathan Broxton may take the gig outright next week (or whenever he returns from the DL).

Colorado Rockies

LaTroy Hawkins had a rough outing during in his first save for the 2014 Rockies (36 pitches, 2 hits, 1 earned run, 1 walk, 1 strikeout). This could be a blip on the radar, but if he continues to need 30+ pitches for a save – Rex Brothers might be manning the ninth before we know it.

Houston Astros

Josh Fields earned the Astros’ first save of 2014 and looked good doing it (1.0 innings, 10 pitches, 1 strike out). Chad Qualls struggled in his first appearance and Matt Albers pitched well in his first two outings. At this point, it looks like Fields has a slight edge in this race.

Los Angeles Dodgers

Kenley Jansen is fine, but Dodgerland will be missing Brian Wilson for a little while. Wilson hit the DL this week with nerve irritation in his elbow and is being shelved indefinitely. Without a timeline for his return, Chris Perez should be next in line if Jansen struggles.

Milwaukee Brewers

The biggest closer surprise came when Brewers’ skipper Ron Roenicke sent in Francisco Rodriguez for the Brew Crew’s first save opportunity. Apparently Rodriguez, rather than Jim Henderson, is the pitcher to own in Milwaukee’s bullpen. However, Roenicke also stated that he hopes Henderson will re-take the role in time.

New York Mets

Bobby Parnell’s return to Queens did not last nearly as long as everyone had hoped. Although Tommy John surgery is not certain, an extended trip to DL is. Look for Jose Valverde to pick up Parnell’s save opportunities and he just might be the Mets’ closer moving forward.

Oakland Athletics

Jim Johnson’s Oakland debut was not exactly what Athletics nation was looking for. With a poor outing, Orioles fans could hear the home crowd booing all the way in Baltimore. Thus far, Johnson has two blown saves in his first two save opportunities of the season. Unless the Indians are simply Johnson’s kryptonite, this might the beginning of a rough season.

Toronto Blue Jays

With Casey Janssen on the DL, it seemed that Sergio Santos would be the closer in Toronto. However, Santos has been inconsistent thus far and Brett Cecil stepped in for his second career save on Wednesday against the Rays. We’ll have to stay tuned, but Cecil might be the one to own pretty soon.

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, Jays, Reds, Rangers, White Sox

As you already know, the 2014 MLB season is already under way after a quick series in the Outback and our saves leader thus far is… drumroll please… Kenley Jansen, with a whopping 1 save and a fairly rough start (6.75 ERA, 1.50 WHIP). With Opening Day on our heels, let’s take a quick look at some of the other developments on the closer scene.

Chicago White Sox

The bullpen picture for the Sox is clear as mud. Lead man Nate Jones hasn’t quite taken over the role as some had hoped and manager Robin Ventura recently acknowledged that a closer might not be named prior to Opening Day. Matt Lindstrom and Ronald Belisario are both still in the mix, but so is Javy Guerra – who was just picked up on waivers from the Dodgers.

Cincinnati Reds

With Aroldis Chapman out for at least a month, the closer job in Cincy will be a hot topic until he returns. J.J. Hoover should have the job going into the season after a strong 2013 (69 appearances, 2.86 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 3 saves). Jonathan Broxton and Sean Marshall are still working their way back from injury and won’t be ready for Opening Day.

Houston Astros

Rather than naming a closer before Opening Day, the Astros have opted to go with a closer-by-committee approach to start the season. Manager Bo Porter made it clear that he’ll be examining matchups before deciding who gets the nod. Right now, the group of potential candidates includes Chad Qualls and Josh Fields, as well as Kevin Chapman, Matt Albers, and Anthony Bass. If nobody takes the gig by May, Jesse Crain should emerge as the favorite once fully healthy.

Texas Rangers

It seems that manager Ron Washington has made up his mind and Joakim Soria will be the closer in Texas on Opening Day. With 160 career saves, look for Washington to stick with the two-time All Star through any early struggles. Former frontrunner Neftali Feliz was just sent to AAA and will try a move to the starting rotation while Alexi Ogando will assume the role of setup man.

Toronto Blue Jays

After a lengthy recovery from a shoulder injury, Casey Janssen made his spring debut on Monday and had a scoreless appearance. However, Janssen never topped 86 mph and this lack of velocity is a small red flag. That being said, Janssen should come back to full strength after a few more outings and his fastball will follow shortly thereafter. If not, April might be rough.

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, Dbacks, Dodgers, Os, Rangers, Reds, Rockies, White Sox

With the Opening Series in Sydney, Australia a few days away, the fantasy season is nearly upon us. Because there are a few closer position battles still undecided, we’ll give you updates on them and the teams prepared to start the season Down Under. If you were hoping to find Closer Rankings, they were posted a few weeks ago and can be found here.

Arizona Diamondbacks

Addison Reed was brought to the desert via trade this offseason and the Dbacks are happy to have him man the ninth. Reed will look to provide some stability to the bullpen this season and, with a fresh start in Australia, he might just pluck a save this weekend.

Baltimore Orioles

Once Jim Johnson headed out west, most thought that the Os would hit the free agent wire looking to replace him. Although Grant Balfour was nearly brought in to close, it seems that the job has fallen to Tommy Hunter. While Hunter may not have the tightest grip on the closer reins, he should have the gig come Opening Day.

Colorado Rockies

Despite all of the Rex Brothers hoopla, the Rockies are still paying LaTroy Hawkins the big bucks. Even with Manager Walt Weiss stating that Brothers will get the occasional save, he won’t be worth much if Hawkins is still getting (and converting) a large majority of the save opportunities.

Chicago White Sox

A few weeks ago, the White Sox closer picture was an absolute mess. However, it seems that Nate Jones has begun to emerge as the favorite. This frontrunner has pitched in five games this Spring Training without giving up a run and has recovered nicely from a gluteal sprain suffered early in camp.

Cincinnati Reds

Panic spread through Reds Nation on Wednesday night when Aroldis Chapman was struck in the face by a come-backer. After being carted off the field, Chapman was taken to a local hospital where fractures in his face were discovered. While any type of fantasy impact is unclear at this time, this injury could be significant if Chapman is forced to miss time.

Houston Astros

Although far from decided, it seems that the Opening Day job will come down to Josh Fields (who performed admirably in the role last season after Jose Veras’ departure) and Chad Qualls (with 51 career saves). That being said, wait around for Jesse Crain, who should pitch well enough (when fully healthy) to wrestle the ninth from Fields or Qualls.

Los Angeles Dodgers

Kenley Jansen is a hot commodity this season as he tries to prove that last year’s numbers (1.88 ERA, 0.86 WHIP, 13.0 K/9, 28 saves) were not a fluke. With the chance to learn from a trio of former closers with 377 career saves (Brandon League, Chris Perez, Brian Wilson), Jansen just might begin his march to the top of the closer rankings this weekend at the Sydney Cricket Grounds.

Texas Rangers

The best kept secret in the Rangers’ clubhouse is who Manager Ron Washington will name as closer. Unfortunately, we have not been privy to that information and will continue to speculate like everyone else. Neftali Feliz and Joakim Soria are still battling it out this Spring Training. Feliz has begun to regain his velocity and Soria has been effective in each outing, so stay tuned before committing to either…

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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