There have been a lot of shakeups in recent weeks in the closer role across baseball, and there is plenty more to come with the trade deadline around the corner. For those of you who are in need of saves or will soon be in need of saves after your closer is dealt to another team, here is the current closing situations in baseball, what you can expect in the future, and what would happen if injuries occur.
Arizona Diamondbacks- David Hernandez- Yes the former Oriole David Hernandez that our bullpen would love to have right now. (The Mark Reynolds deal was a good one for the O’s though.) Hernandez is a perfect 7/7 in save opportunities since closer JJ Putz went on the DL. Putz is currently rehabbing and is expected back next week. It’s too late to pick up Hernandez now, and he will only have value if Putz isn’t the same after his injury or gets injured again. Since the D-Backs are in contention Putz isn’t going anywhere.
Atlanta Braves- Craig Kimbrel- He’s been amazing all year. He’s in a three horse race for rookie of the year with teammate Freddie Freeman and Danny Espinosa. Jonny Venters is the best setup man in baseball, but Kimbrel has pitched well enough to hold the closer’s role over him. I do not expect Kimbrel to struggle or to lose that role so you can forget about stashing Venters for later this season.
Baltimore Orioles- Kevin Gregg- In his latest outing he was pulled in the 9th and Michael Gonzalez finished the 9th. The job is still Gregg’s for now (some how) so Gonzalez is not a good option. Even if Gonzalez was the closer he still wouldn’t be a good option since he is the worst relief pitcher in baseball. Koji Uehara obviously should be closing, but may not be with the team after the trade deadline. Here is my big prediction. IF Koji is still with the team after the deadline I believe he moves into the closing role. He is a risky add right now because of the uncertainty of where he will be. If he is traded he surely won’t be a closer elsewhere. If he is still an Oriole on August 1st he is worth adding and taking a chance on if your desperate for a closer.
Boston Red Sox- Jonathan Papelbon– As good as Daniel Bard is, Papelbon’s job is still safe. He is more likely to be traded in the offseason than he is at the deadline so he will continue to close for the rest of this year. If an injury would occur then get Bard immediately. Next year Bard will be a great closer sleeper.
Chicago Cubs- Carlos Marmol- He has struggled lately, but he is on a long leash. As bad as that team is they can’t afford to be taking their star closer out of the pen. His contract is too good to trade so he’s the guy. If an injury would occur its hard to tell who would be next in line. Kerry Wood, Sean Marshall, and Jeff Samardzjia would be the closer in that order. The situation is unknown because both Wood and Marshall could be traded next week.
Chicago White Sox- Sergio Santos– He’s had a good season. The White Sox are about to get hot like they do every year in the second half, so he is a good guy to have. If anything would happen to Santos one of the two guys who battled for the closers job to start the year would be next. They would be Matt Thornton and Chris Sale. I would imagine Sale would be first in line since he’s had a slightly better year and has more upside. What you really have to worry about as a Santos owner is Chicago trading for a closer that could take his job. Guys like Heath Bell and Joakim Soria would probably take over the 9th inning duties.
Cincinnati Reds- Francisco Cordero- He’s blown 2 of his last 4, but overall he’s had a good year. The Reds will continue to contend and he will keep the job. If the Reds would for some reason fall out of contention then they could give Aroldis Chapman a chance to finish games in preparation for next year. I personally don’t see that happening. Chapman isn’t getting that job unless Cordero is injured.
Cleveland Indians- Chris Perez- The All-star closer isn’t going anywhere. Remember when I said he was a must have before the season started? Anyways, Rafael Perez would be next in line and has already proven last year that he can do the job.
Colorado Rockies- Huston Street– The Rockies are a second half club and always make a push towards Rock-tober, so Street’s value will continue to increase. He is a great one to own right now. An injury would give Matt Lindstrom the job. Street has a history of the injury bug so it’s not out of the question that we see Lindstrom with a few opportunities down the stretch.
Detroit Tigers- Jose Valverde- Good and consistent. If there’s one guy I don’t even have to mention a backup for its Valverde. But just in case I think Phil Coke, who failed as a starter, would be the backup closer.
Florida Marlins- Leo Nunez– A real possibility he could be traded. If he isn’t he’s gold because the Marlins are a good second half team. They will heat up and will jump over the Nationals and Mets by the end of the season. That means lots of save opps. I don’t think Nunez will be dealt and I didn’t include him in my trade deadline article, but there is a real possibility that he could be. If he is then Brian Sanches is a nice add. He is highly capable and could get a lot of saves to finish out the year.
Houston Astros- Mark Melancon- With Brandon Lyon being out for the season Melancon took over the closing role awhile back. He has done a nice job and will continue to get the minimal opportunities that the worst team in baseball gets. If he would ever lose the job then his backup would have less value than the little value that Melancon possesses. That guy would probably be Wilton Lopez
Kansas City Royals- Joakim Soria- I think Soria will be traded next week. If he is there is a chance that he becomes the closer where ever he goes. I mentioned earlier about him closing in Chicago, and he could also close in St. Louis. All-Star Aaron Crow is waiting to take over and would be a nice pickup. You may want to stash him now.
Los Angeles Angels- Jordan Walden- The All-Star rookie of the year contender is a safe bet for the rest of the year. Scott Downs would be next in line, but barring injury Walden won’t lose that job. Injury is he only thing that can stop him.
Los Angeles Dodgers- Javy Guerrea- Go up to your buddy and say “Quick, name the Los Angeles Dodgers current closer.” Unless he is a real baseball nerd he won’t say Javy Guerrea. With Jonathan Broxton still injured and possibly out for the season somebody had to win the job. Since Hong-Chih Kuo has been bad all year and Guerrier failed in the role, Guerrea wins. Matt Guerrier would once again get the chances if and when Guerrea fails. This bullpen is a huge mess. So is the entire team and the ownership.
Milwaukee Brewers- John Axford- It’s certainly his job since Francisco Rodriguez was traded to the team and didn’t take the role. The emergence of K-Rod scares me a little for Axford owners. I could see him sneaking in there and stealing some save opportunities once in awhile. If Axford struggles he could be on a short leash with such a big talent behind him.
Minnesota Twins- Joe Nathan- He’s finally the man again. The only problem is that every time he goes for the save he gives up runs. When he is pitching in any other role he does great. I think Nathan will continue to improve though and will lock down the 9th inning soon enough. If he is still available go grab him right now. Matt Capps is now in the rear view mirror and could be gone next week at the deadline. Obviously an injury to Nathan would give Capps the job back, but if Capps is gone Glen Perkins would be the long shot in line for the saves. If you have Capps dump him because he will not be the closer anywhere else either.
New York Mets- Jason Isringhausen- What is this 2002? Izzy has really rekindled his magic and is looking pretty impressive. How long will this cinderella story last? A few weeks. Then its time for Bobby Parnell to take over. Parnell seems to be the closer of the future and throws some serious heat. Isringhausen is good to grab for the short term, but Parnell could be a good one to grab and stash.
New York Yankees- Mariano Rivera- I can’t say anything about him that hasn’t already been said. David Robertson would be the closer in case of emergency.
Oakland Athletics- Andrew Bailey- His name has surfaced lately in trade rumors. I don’t see how a team with such a great young rotation could trade their rookie of the year closer at such a young age when all they need is some offense to be contenders. Oakland is done this year, but they are a Prince Fielder and an emerging Michael Taylor away from competing next year. No need to trade Bailey in that case. If they do Brian Fuentes is ready to take back over. He was much better this year as a closer than he is as a regular bullpen arm.
Philadelphia Phillies- Antonio Bastardo- The back of the Phillies pen has been amazing this year. With Brad Lidge missing the entire season so far, Ryan Madson getting injured, Jose Contreras getting injured, and being down to their 5th option, they have managed well. Actually Bastardo was lightning in a bottle and a blessing in disguise. He has been great and may continue to be the closer even when everyone returns. Lidge returns next week but will not be the closer anymore. I repeat, he will NOT. If you have him dump him. Do not think about adding him either. The job will stay with either Bastardo or Madson. It all depends just how much Bastardo continues to impress them. The opinion of The Fantasy God is that Bastardo will eventually come down some and Madson will be the long term guy.
Pittsburgh Pirates- Joel Hanrahan- Best closer in the league this year. Their backup is Evan Meek, but he’s been out for a long time and doesn’t appear to be returning anytime soon. That would make the emergency guy anyone from Jose Veras, Chris Resop, or Daniel McCutchen. Unless they trade for Koji Uehara. In that case Koji is the setup man and emergency closer. Any arm that they trade for would fill that role. They will trade for bullpen help. Other possibilities are Mike Adams, Sean Marshall, Leo Nunez, and Tyler Clippard is a long shot. But all of this wondering is really for nothing because Hanrahan isn’t going away.
San Diego Padres- Heath Bell- Here’s one guy who will not be the closer for his current team after next week. Bell will be traded. Be very worried if your a Bell owner. If he would happen to go someone like NYY or BOS he would not be the closer. Best case scenario for him is CWS or STL where he can take over their closer role. Mike Adams will take over for him IF he isn’t dealt. I just mentioned in the Pirates above that Adams is a possibility for them. He is a possibility for many teams. There seems to be ongoing debates about whether or not management informed Adams that he wouldn’t be traded. If they trade Bell I think they have to keep Adams. I expect him to take over that role and to be a good add. But he is risky right now. If both Bell and Adams are traded Chad Qualls should take over as closer. He had experience last year with Arizona and should be a fine pickup because of the park he is in. Luke Gregerson is actually a better pitcher than Qualls, but Gregerson has no experience closing and is really needed in his current role. With that being said, don’t be shocked in Gregerson gets the job over Qualls. That’s if Adams is dealt. And that’s if Bell is dealt. Only at BSR will you get such in depth analysis. I feel like we should talk about the depth of the entire San Diego organization now!
San Francisco Giants- Brian Wilson- How dare I defy the magic of the beard and even mention a backup. No one person can replace him. I hear that if Wilson would happen to go down they would shave off his beard, glue it to a mannequin, and that would be the new closer. Because the magic isn’t in Wilson’s arm. (Sergio Romo is the emergency closer.)
Seattle Mariners- Brandon League- Well David Aardsma is out for the season and League was an All-Star so its all his. Shall I mention that Chris Ray would be in line for saves if League went down. First David Hernandez and now Ray? Can Baltimore please have these guys back in the bullpen? Even Jorge Julio would be an upgrade at this point. Oh wait, were talking about Seattle. Sorry Mariners fans. Truth is they don’t need a bullpen. Their starting is that good.
St. Louis Cardinals- Fernando Salas– I really like Salas and what he has done. Sure he is a little inconsistent at times, but the guy can go 2+ innings in extra innings games and get the win for you. Unfortunately I don’t think the job will be his until the end. I really think the Cardinals will trade for a closer that will take over the role. Heath Bell, Andrew Bailey, Joakim Soria, Leo Nunez are their options. And in that order. Once they acquire someone Salas is the backup. IF they can’t work out a deal and they do not upgrade their bullpen (highly unlikely) Jason Motte is next in line.
Tampa Bay Rays- Kyle Farnsworth- Very surprised he’s held up this long. Farnsworth has had a great season. Jake McGee in considered to be the closer of the future and is ready to pounce upon any falters or injuries. If Farnsworth goes down McGee is a great add. I wouldn’t stash him though because Farnsworth has been healthy and consistent.
Texas Rangers- Neftali Feliz- Stud. Darren Oliver backs him up.
Toronto Blue Jays- Frank Francisco– I guess. This is the worst team to have a closer for. First of all, they don’t get many opportunities at all. Because of that it’s hard to even tell who their closer really is. Francisco seems to be the closer, but hasn’t been too good. Jon Rauch has done the job already this season and was decent. Some believe he is the current closer, but he hasn’t gotten an opportunities to show it. Octavio Dotel was supposed to be the guy, but that didn’t last. He has actually pitched well. Casey Janssen has pitched better than all of them and probably should be the closer. He did get a save not too long ago, so who knows. Jason Frasor was their closer the last few years and he’s also done well. Plus Mark Rzepczynski has had a great season and actually has the best closer stuff. So which one should you pick up? None of them. Grab Janssen if they start getting more save opportunities and he gets them all. Otherwise just avoid this team.
Washington Nationals- Drew Storen- A young near All-Star. His name has surfaced in trade talks but I say there is a 0% chance he is traded. Even if a team would overwhelm the Nationals they wouldn’t do it. All-Star Tyler Clippard has good enough stuff to close and would do so if Storen were injured. IF Clippard is traded (which I think is only a 5% chance) Henry Rodriguez would be next in line. But thats too many IF’s that wont happen in the first place.
***Every day next week I will be taking a look at Orioles’ trade rumors. Each day I will look at a different player who could be traded, where they could be traded to, and what we would get in return. It starts Monday and runs through Friday. You won’t find anything like it anywhere else.