To be frank (though my name is actually Dave), the trade deadline didn’t really bring about any changes for potential closers other than K-Rod’s trade to the Brewers that led to Jason Isringhausen becoming the Mets’ closer (and a whole lot of people speculatively picking up Bobby Parnell). Heath Bell didn’t get traded to Texas (or anywhere else for that matter), but Mike Adams did – meaning Bell and Neftali Feliz will continue to save games and Adams will continue not saving games. Koji Uehara also went to Texas, meaning Kevin Gregg’s job is officially safe for the rest of the season barring some unforeseen circumstances. Andrew Bailey, Huston Street, Leo Nunez, Brandon League, Drew Storen, and Jon Rauch also stayed with their current teams. No potential closers (unless you count Octavio Dotel going to the Cards) were traded either. Basically, a whole bunch of nothing went down on the closer front at the trade deadline. This is probably the most stagnant the waiver wire has been for a speculative closer add in fantasy leagues all season so far. No incumbent closers are really struggling, or at least not enough to draw attention to their handcuffs (the guys next-in-line for saves). I’d say at this point, those desperate for saves have very few legitimate speculative closer adds, but I am going to try to dig some up for you (in descending order of those most likely to get saves in the second half) anyways because as we all know, saves are scarce and they can easily make-or-break a fantasy team.
Bobby Parnell needs to be owned by anyone looking for saves, but I’m assuming he’s not available at this point in any competitive league. As I stated earlier, he was a popular speculative add for saves either just before or just after K-Rod was traded away. It was obvious to me that Isringhausen was going to be given the first chance to close, given that he was K-Rod’s set-up man and just 7 shy of 300 career saves. Regardless, Parnell still needs to be owned because Isringhausen does not have the stuff to close anymore. Izzy has blown a save and given up 6 earned runs in his last 4 outings. Parnell might have already overtaken Isringhausen if not for the fact that he has struggled a bit lately, and they want Izzy to reach 300 saves first. Still, Parnell is the closer of the future and it’s very likely he will see some time as closer this season before becoming the full-time closer next season.
Frank Francisco also needs to be owned, though he’s also likely unavailable. The closer situation in Toronto has been murky all season, but one thing is clear: they want Francisco to be the closer. After trading Dotel and Frasor, Francisco becomes the only other legitimate candidate to replace Rauch. The Jays have used Francisco in the closer role a few times this season, only to have to eventually go back to Rauch due to Francisco’s struggles. However, since July 14th, Francisco has only given up 1 run on 5 hits and 0 walks in 8 outings. I think it’ll take a couple of blown saves to wrestle the job from Rauch, but Francisco could easily see some saves here in the second half.
Yet another speculative closer who is likely unavailable is Aroldis Chapman. Due to his massive upside, he’s a popular player to own in fantasy leagues. It’s much sexier to pick up a guy like Aroldis Chapman than a guy like Isringhausen (when he was still available before K-Rod’s trade). Before the season began, Francisco Cordero was one of the most likely closers to lose his job this season with Chapman waiting in the wings. However, Chapman really struggled with his control and Cordero had an ERA around 1.70 through June. Chapman was sent down to the minors to work on his command in mid-May before returning in late June. Since his return to the majors, Chapman has given up only 3 runs. He hasn’t even allowed a HIT in his last 8 appearances though. Meanwhile, Cordero labored through July with a 6.10 ERA and with 3 blown saves in 6 opportunities. He has righted the ship recently though, not giving up a run in his last 5 appearances. Still, Chapman is someone to own if you’re desperate for saves. I’m not sure that he will get his opportunity this season if the Reds stay competitive, but with Cordero’s impending free agency (and the unlikelihood that he is re-signed), it’s a possibility Chapman sees some looks as closer at the end of the season (and next season certainly).
Going back to the situation in Texas, it’s worth noting that Feliz has a 27:20 strikeout-to-walk ratio, and has blown 3 saves since June 22nd. Manager Ron Washington has recently questioned his competitive fire. I believe if they had traded for Bell, he would have become the closer. While I don’t think Adams is a candidate to close in Texas, Koji Uehara might be. He has previous closing experience and has been absolutely lights-out all season. Uehara would have had a much better chance of replacing Gregg, but it’s possible Feliz could be replacedat this point. It’s likely someone is still holding onto Uehara as Gregg’s handcuff, but if he became available after his trade to Texas and you really need saves, grab him.
If someone drops David Hernandez in your league, he might be a good speculative add based on Putz’s inability to stay healthy. We know he can handle the job, he just needs another opportunity. Fresh off the DL, Putz currently sits at 38 innings pitched. He hasn’t pitched over 54 innings since 2007 though, so it’s very possible he ends up on the DL again at some point this season. I’d hold onto Hernandez if you own him and are still in need of saves.
As you can see, the problem here is that all of the speculative closers are likely unavailable in your league. I do see one situation to keep an eye on in which a speculative closer might be worth an add – Tampa Bay. Though Kyle Farnsworth has been great overall this season as Tampa’s closer, he’s still Kyle Farnsworth, so I’m still expecting an implosion at some point. He's only blown 4 saves and walked 8 batters all year, but 3 of those blown saves and 6 of those walks have come in his past 10 appearances. He’s not nearly close to losing his job, but it’s easy to imagine a scenario where he does implode and lose his job. On that note, in case you missed it, possible future closer Jake McGee was called back up from the minors in mid-July and has only given up 1 run in 7 outings. Again, I wouldn’t expect anything to happen anytime soon, but if Farnsworth’s control continues to regress, McGee would be a good reliever to have stashed on your bench. Joel Peralta is another possibility to close, but he’s been complaining about his arm being tired from overuse, and he doesn’t profile as a closer like McGee does.