StrategyJuly 13, 2012

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Bottom of the 9th: Back From Break

By R.J. White

All right, class is back in session. After an excruciatingly-long break, the “second half” begins today. We’re looking at a few guys who may be closing after the trade deadline today, as well as grouping all 30 closers as usual. But the question on everyone’s mind is, “Will Fernando Rodney continue his dominance and finish 2012 as the best closer in baseball?” OK, fine, everyone’s wondering what’s going on in South Beach. To that I say, “Ever heard of Juan Carlos Oviedo?”

Now Closing

MIA Steve Cishek (et al)
Ozzie Guillen has announced that the Marlins will be moving back to a committee at closer for the “second” time this season. The last time Heath Bell had to be yanked, the Marlins skipper put him back in the closer role almost immediately. However, not even a $27 million contract will buy job security for a closer with a 6.75 ERA and 1.82 WHIP.

Steve Cishek is likely to get the next save chance for Miami, unless matchups dictate Randy Choate (.357 OPS vs. LHB) comes in. However, the name to be intrigued about is Juan Carlos Oviedo, a.k.a The Closer Formerly Known As Leo Nunez. Oviedo’s eligible to come back from his suspension on July 23, which is why this Bell demotion may actually stick. Oviedo has 92 saves and a 186/69 K/BB ratio for the Marlins over the past three years, and he could come in and provide stability to what has been one of the worst ninth-inning jobs in the majors. As you’ll see below, he’s my top speculative add this month.


ARI J.J. Putz
ATL Craig Kimbrel
BAL Jim Johnson
BOS Alfredo Aceves
CHW Addison Reed
CIN Aroldis Chapman
CLE Chris Perez
DET Jose Valverde
LAA Ernesto Frieri/Scott Downs
LAD Kenley Jansen
NYY Rafael Soriano
OAK Ryan Cook
PHI Jonathan Papelbon
PIT Joel Hanrahan
SEA Tom Wilhelmsen
STL Jason Motte
TB Fernando Rodney
TEX Joe Nathan
TOR Casey Janssen
WAS Tyler Clippard

Safe … For Now

CHC Carlos Marmol
MIL John Axford
NYM Bobby Parnell

Trade Candidates

COL Rafael Betancourt
I personally think it’s going to cost too much to acquire Betancourt, leaving interested teams to search for bullpen help elsewhere, but since his name has been thrown around as a trade possibility, I include him here. Many would love for Rex Brothers to take over the job, but I think righty Matt Belisle, who’s been much better, would be first in line.

HOU Brett Myers
Myers threw up a couple stinkers in June, something that’s likely to hurt his trade stock. Ultimately, the Astros should be able to get a deal done and send him away for a marginal prospect. Brandon Lyon could be an option to inherit the post-trade closing gig, but he’s a trade option too. NL-only speculators should be in on Wilton Lopez.

KC Jonathan Broxton
The Royals have made it clear that they’re willing to trade Broxton, who has a great on-the-surface 1.99 ERA but a not-good-at-all 23/12 K/BB ratio in 31.2 innings. With his affordable salary, Kansas City will surely get someone to bite. Greg Holland is likely to take over when that happens, though Aaron Crow and/or Tim Collins could be in the mix.

MIN Matt Capps
The Twins are going nowhere slowly, and they’d love to move Capps, who’s probably the most mediocre closer in the game. On the plus side, he’s back from the DL and ready to prove he can hold ninth-inning leads. Impressively, he has just four walks this year. Glen Perkins and Jared Burton would go back to a save platoon if Capps goes bye-bye.

SD Huston Street
Street is in the mix to be sent to the Mets and take over as their closer, along with Francisco Rodriguez, Grant Balfour and probably all the guys above. If I had to back a horse in the Mets race, I’d go K-Rod, but Street might be the best of the bunch when healthy. Luke Gregerson would probably close over Dale Thayer this time around if a change is needed.

My Speculative Saves Waiver Order

MIA Juan Carlos Oviedo
MIA Steve Cishek
KC Greg Holland
MIL Francisco Rodriguez
SD Luke Gregerson
HOU Wilton Lopez
MIN Glen Perkins
MIA Randy Choate
HOU Brandon Lyon
OAK Grant Balfour
COL Matt Belisle
MIN Jared Burton
COL Rex Brothers
SD Dale Thayer
KC Aaron Crow
MIA Edward Mujica
SEA Brandon League
CHC Shawn Camp
KC Tim Collins

R.J. White is the head editor at the Cafe and has previously written for FanHouse, Razzball and FanDuel. Catch up with him in the forums under the name daullaz. Follow him on Twitter; don't follow him in real life.
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