StrategyJuly 20, 2012

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Bottom of the 9th: Capps Capped, Axford Axed, Store Storen, Etc.

By R.J. White

Two closer changes were made this week, with Matt Capps back on the DL and John Axford finally getting the “ax.” (Get it, like his last name, Ax-ford! I’m sure I’m the first one to think of that one.) You can read more about the new closers below, but first let’s discuss the guys in trouble that could lose their jobs next.

Santiago Casilla has given up runs in three of his last five appearances, prompting manager Bruce Bochy to consider making a change and giving someone else a shot (Pro Tip: not Brandon Belt). Can Sergio Romo hold up as the everyday closer? Probably not, but that doesn’t mean he can’t be the team’s first option on most nights. If a change is made, I’d expect two-thirds of the chances to go to Romo, and one-third to lefty Jeremy Affeldt.

Drew Storen came back from the DL Thursday and immediately pitched a scoreless inning, something Tyler Clippard hasn’t been able to do in either of his last two appearances. If Storen can prove quickly he’s completely recovered from his injury, the playoff-hungry Nationals will probably make a switch, even after saying that Clippard would remain the closer after Storen returned. One thing’s for sure — Clippard doesn’t have much rope left.

Now Closing

MIN Jared Burton/Glen Perkins
Matt Capps managed to pitch in just two games before returning to the disabled list, and all indications seem like he could be out for a long time. I’d give him a less than even chance of pitching again this season. That leaves Burton and Perkins splitting save opportunities, at least until one of them establishes himself as the far superior option. For what it’s worth, Burton picked up the first post-Capps save Tuesday, and he should see more opportunities in theory as the righty of the platoon.

MIL Francisco Rodriguez
I’ve thought for a while that K-Rod was a leading candidate to close for someone by the trading deadline, and it turns out it’ll probably be for his current team, the Brewers. John Axford forced management’s hand with another terrible game on Monday, though he did rebound to pick up a win by pitching 1.1 scoreless innings in his next outing. Rodriguez should obviously be picked up wherever available.


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

Safe … For Now

CHC Carlos Marmol
MIA Steve Cishek
NYM Bobby Parnell
SF Santiago Casilla
WAS Tyler Clippard

Trade Candidates

COL Rafael Betancourt
Betancourt’s name has come up in trade rumors, despite an affordable contract with a club option that should keep him under team control through 2014. I’d expect the asking price on him to scare away interested teams in the long run, but if a deal is made, Matt Belisle seems the most likely to take over as closer.

HOU Brett Myers
Myers has decent numbers this year, but a high-dollar contract likely is depressing his trade value. Wilton Lopez is having an excellent season and is worth owning in most leagues at least through the trade deadline. It wouldn’t be shocking to see Myers clear waivers in August and be traded next month as well.

KC Jonathan Broxton
The Mets are said to be interested in Broxton, while several other contenders with bullpen issues could also pull off a trade in the next 11 days. A deal should get done. With Aaron Crow giving up eight earned runs in 5.2 July innings, Greg Holland figures to be the clear favorite for saves if Broxton is traded.

SD Huston Street
Though Street appears in our Trade Candidate section, it seems now that he has far less of a chance of being dealt as once assumed. First, the asking price given to the Mets by the Padres was deemed too pricey. On top of that, the Padres are now saying they’d like to sign Street to an extension instead of trading him. My money’s on him staying.

Top-Ten Adds
MIL Francisco Rodriguez
MIA Steve Cishek
MIN Jared Burton
MIN Glen Perkins
KC Greg Holland
OAK Grant Balfour
HOU Wilton Lopez
SF Sergio Romo
SD Luke Gregerson
SF Jeremy Affeldt

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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