Around the League:
-Matt Bush may be losing his grip as the primary closer for the Rangers and his blown save on Friday night did little to help his case. He's continuing to strikeout batters at a decent rate, but he's been extremely hittable. Over the last month, Bush has an ugly 7.45 K/9, 5.59 BB/9 and 2.79 HR/9. Meanwhile, over the same stretch, handcuff Keone Kela has an impressive 13.5 K/9, 0.61 HR/9 and 25% hard hit allowed. Kela remains the best pitcher in the bullpen and if you're chasing saves, he's worth a stash on your bench if he's still hanging on your waiver wire.
-Jason Grilli got the save opportunity on Friday night and allowed a walk-off double to take his 2nd blown save of the year. Normal closer Roberto Osuna had pitched in 3 of the last 5 games and manager John Gibbons told reporters after the game that Osuna "didn't feel too good", which is why he had the night off. More to come as this develops.
-Jim Johnson had a rough week, blowing the save on Wednesday night and allowing 2 runs in a converted save on Thursday. The result was a night off for Johnson on Friday and the first save of the year for Arodys Vizcaino. Johnson holds substantially more trade value as the closer of the Braves than a demoted closer, so it's unlikely a change occurs anytime before a trade happens. Nonetheless, Vizcaino remains an attractive option for saves in the second half.
-Huston Street was activated from the disabled list on Thursday and could compete with Cam Bedrosian for saves moving forward. Street has missed the first 2 ½ months of the season with a strain lat muscle, and while he is 17th on the all-time saves list, he's going to have to prove that he can still be an effective pitcher before he has any chance at reclaiming his job. If you remember, Street wasn't even expected to begin the season as the Angels' closer when he reported to spring training this year. Bedrosian still has the best arm of anyone in this bullpen, even if Bud Norris were healthy, and he remains my favorite player to own in the short-term. With that said, unless Bedrosian comes out and is completely lights out, it's likely that Norris will reclaim his job, if he can get healthy.
-We mentioned this a couple weeks ago when we highlighted Adam Ottavino, but we need to mention again that we remain concerned about Greg Holland. In his first season coming off of Tommy John surgery, Holland continues to be relied upon heavily by the surging Rockies. That's been great news to his fantasy owners that benefitted from his 25 saves, but there are several red flags that indicate the wheels are starting to fall off. Over his last 10 appearances, Holland has 9 walks, a 57% FB rate, and a negative pitch rating of -0.31 wFB/c on his fastball. The slider remains effective, but the fact he isn't generating groundballs and he's allowing a lot of free passes makes for a very dangerous combination for a pitcher that calls Coors Field his home park.
Joakim Soria - The Royals are sitting a game under .500, 4 games behind Cleveland and 2 games back in the wildcard. With free agency looming for several of their young stars, the team may decide to shop around current closer, Kelvin Herrera. Herrera will be an attractive trade chip because he's affordable and he will remain under team control through the 2018 season. The Nationals continue to be linked to Herrera as well as several other teams searching for relief help. Should he be dealt, former Royals closer Joakim Soria is expected to regain the closing role. Kansas City is in a unique situation because while they have been playing better lately, they'll likely need to make a move or two to make sure they stock their farm system with enough talent to cover the expected departures of Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer. Soria is currently posting the highest swinging strike rate (12%) of his career to go along with one of the lowest hard hit rates allowed (25%) that he's ever managed to do. Soria does have two 40+ save seasons in 2008 and 2010, so he has the experience and after a few years of battling injuries, he looks to be back in form at the age of 33. The Royals did just sign Neftali Feliz, so there's always an outside chance that he would need to compete with Feliz for saves, but the most likely scenario has Soria in the closing role once Herrera is traded.
Closer Rankings & Tiers:
Click on the following link for the rest of the closer report (including more "Around The League" notes, our closer rankings & statistics, as well as handcuff grades) in the member area: http://www.fantistics.com/baseball00/M-Closer.htm.
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