We are literally days away from the all-star break. If the second half is anything like the first half, there are a ton of saves on the waiver wire. You have to do your homework and find weakness where no one else is looking, but the saves are there to be had if youâ€™re paying attention. Weâ€™ve already seen Fernando Rodney, Jim Johnson and Ernesto Frieri turn into solid options in fantasy baseball. Watch, Mitchell Boggs, Manny Parra and Darren Oliver will wind up mattering in the second half.
Boston reliever Andrew Bailey has progressed in his rehab to throwing from 150 feet, but thatâ€™s not the interesting story this week. The interesting story is that Red Sox manager/gas bag Bobby Valentine claims that Bailey will set up embattled closer Alfredo Aceves once he returns. This news comes on the heels of Aceves earning his sixth loss of the season on the 4th of July against Oakland. Aceves is 19 for 23 in save chances and heâ€™s currently maintaining a 40:13 K:BB ratio. He started the year with a horrific April, but heâ€™s done well enough to earn a shot at the job once Bailey returns. The question becomes, â€œHow long will Aceves keep the job?â€ Right now, there really isnâ€™t much competition in Boston. The options available are either hurt(Bailey) or bad at pitching (Mark Melancon). Bailey would need a few scoreless appearances and a high profile blow up or two from Aceves before getting a shot at the closerâ€™s gig.
Tigers closer Jose Valverde as two saves and four straight scoreless appearances since returning to action after a wrist injury. Valverde is fine and a must start in all applicable formats.
The Royals have indicated that they could move Jonathan Broxton if the right deal is available. Reliever Greg Holland has struggled with his control since(and before) coming off the DL. His BB/90 is sitting at a painful 6.43. It appears that Aaron Crow has worked his way into the primary set up role in KC. It looks like Crow, not Holland, will be in line for saves should Broxton be dealt. The most discussed destination for Broxton is the New York Mets. Frank Francisco is sitting on the DL and the Mets are in need of someone better than Bobby Parnell or Jon Rauch at the back end of their bullpen.
Scott Downs earned his first save in three weeks on July 2nd. Downs has actually been fantastic this year. Heâ€™s currently rocking a 0.32 ERA and a 0.96 WHIP with a 18:6 K:BB ratio in 30 appearances. The problem is that Ernesto Frieri has been the best reliever in all of baseball this year. Frieri should continue to get the bulk of the saves with Downs serving as an option when Frieri needs a day off. Heâ€™s worth a roster spot if youâ€™re desperate, but Downs doesnâ€™t strike out enough batters to actually matter in a 10 or 12-team league.
It looks like Glen Perkins and Jared Burton are locked in a time share in Minnesota until Matt Capps gets off the DL sometime this month. Burton has the better peripheral stats, but both are worth a roster spot until Capps gets healthy. Itâ€™s probably better to steer clear of this situation. Itâ€™s not like either guy is going to sniff double digit saves. Youâ€™re looking at, what? Four saves? Five? Spread between two guys? Pass.
Brian Fuentes was DFAed by the Aâ€™s this week. Our national nightmare is over until Fuentes turns up somewhere else.
Meanwhile in Seattle, Tom â€œThe Bartenderâ€ Wilhelmsen is still the closer. It was almost a month ago that manager Eric Wedge made his â€œsooner rather than laterâ€ comment about Brandon League returning to the closerâ€™s role. Wilhelmsen is 7-7 in save opportunities and posting a 52:13 K:BB ratio. Leagueâ€™s K/9 is a career low 5.50 and his BB/9 is a career high 4.00. League hasnâ€™t been worth a roster spot for a while now. Cut him now if you havenâ€™t already.
Kyle Farnsworth returned to the Rays bullpen…and promptly walked four in less than an inning of work while giving up three runs to the Yankees. Yikes. Itâ€™s going to be a long, long time until Kyle sees a save opportunity again.
Toronto is still in a holding pattern of sorts. Sergio Santos still hasnâ€™t resumed his rehab program and Casey Janssen is still awesome. Thereâ€™s not much to see here until Santos makes some kind of progress one way or the other.
Donâ€™t look now, but Cubs closer Carlos Marmol has five straight scoreless appearances with four saves. Numbers like that are good enough to get Marmol traded to the Mets. He stopped shaking off his catcher(anyone who has seen Bull Durham knows what happens) and his velocity has improved. Theo Epstein better be sending game tapes to the Mets every morning with notes like, â€œHowâ€™s Frank doing? Carlos had another save this week. Just saying.â€
Marlins closer Heath Bell blew a save in fairly dramatic fashion on Tuesday. So dramatic that Ozzie Guillen felt the need to go on a profanity laced tirade. Bell has given up a lot of line drives(23.0% LD %) and his strand rate is only at 61.8%(his career mark is at 74.4%). Heâ€™s been kinda hittable and kinda unlucky this year. Thatâ€™s translated into some fantastic blown saves. He came back the next night to throw a scoreless inning for a save. The job is still his because Miami spent a ton of money on him and they donâ€™t really have an in-house option.
John Axford blew a save in the game that Heath Bell wound up closing out. It was Axfordâ€™s fourth straight day of work and fatigue probably played a role in his blow up. He gave up a solo homer to Gaby Sanchez. Itâ€™s not like he walked four guys and gave up six line drives off the wall. The job is still his for the immediate future. The Brewers probably would have turned to Francisco Rodriguez already, but heâ€™s been worse than Axford. K-Rod has given up runs in three of his last five outings and appears to be about as motivated to pitch as 2011 Pedro Alvarez was to hit. There are also rumors about K-Rod getting sent back to the Mets. Heâ€™s enjoyed his time in Milwaukee so much that heâ€™s willing to go back to New York. Axford might be safer than most of us think.
Speaking of the Mets, Frank Francisco is expected to start a rehab program in the next few days. Heâ€™s been out for about two weeks with a strained oblique. Meanwhile, Bobby Parnell has one win and one save since assuming the closerâ€™s job. Heâ€™s not exactly dying from being overused.
Giants closer Santiago Casilla might have pitched his way out of a job. Casilla has allowed runs in four of his last six outings. He has one win, one save and two losses during that time frame. Sergio Romo has a 11.78 K/9 and a 2.78 BB/9 with a 0.79 ERA in 29 games this year. Romo is one of the best relievers in baseball and he is deserving of a shot at the closer job. It wouldnâ€™t be a huge surprise to see Romo installed as the closer as soon as the team comes back from the all-star break.
Drew Storen threw his first inning for the Nationals High-A affiliate. Heâ€™ll likely make his season debut sometime in the next two weeks if everything goes according to plan. Henry Rodriguez has been activated off the DL and will likely be a middle relief guy until he puts up a few scoreless appearances. Tyler Clippard continues to rack up Kâ€™s and scoreless innings. Clippard has turned into a solid option in the ninth inning and will likely keep the role once(if?) Drew Storen ever comes back.