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Chasing Saves: Almost Time for Soriano

Fernando Rodney is still struggling, Brett Cecil still isn’t getting save opportunities and Rafael Soriano is still looking for a major-league team. Let’s chase some saves and try to unearth some relievers worth owning in fantasy.

Soriano could sign soon

Rafael Soriano is scheduled to throw for teams in the Dominican Republic next week, and it appears he’s close to finally joining a major-league team after remaining a free agent through the first two months of the season. Considering that he has racked up 207 career saves and managed three straight 30-save seasons before this year, his landing spot could quickly put him on the fast track toward fantasy relevance. Teams like the Cardinals and Cubs have been said to be interested in the reliever, and were he to sign with either, fantasy owners could largely ignore Soriano. However, if he made his way to the Mariners, Diamondbacks or a handful of other teams with shaky closer situations, he’d be worth an immediate add in all leagues. Owners with a roster spot to burn may consider grabbing him now and then making the decision about whether or not to keep him once he signs.

Mariners keep blowing saves

Mariners closer Fernando Rodney blew another save on Tuesday night, giving him a 6.85 ERA and 20:12 K:BB ratio in 22 1/3 innings. Despite his continued struggles, manager Lloyd McClendon said on Wednesday that he’s sticking with Rodney in the ninth inning. Part of the reason McClendon is unwilling to go to Carson Smith is that he “doesn’t yet have his man muscles,” whatever that means. It appears that McClendon is worried that if Smith is placed in the closer role, he might lose the excellent performance he’s shown in the setup role and suddenly turn into an awful pitcher, one who cannot be relied on to close out games. You know, kind of like Fernando Rodney. Smith is still a great add for save chasers and ratio-conscious owners alike.

Buy low on Cecil

Brett Cecil has managed just two saves this season, which likely has his owners frustrated. However, his lack of saves isn’t due to a rocky stint as the closer; after all, he’s given up just one earned run in eight innings over his last eight appearances. Unfortunately, none of those appearances have been save opportunities – it’s been more than a month since the Blue Jays were able to hand Cecil a save opportunity. The only close wins they’ve had during that stretch have been a walkoff win and another in which the team let Mark Buehrle pitch a complete game. Is the lack of save opportunities going to continue? Of course not. Cecil should see a standard amount of looks in close games moving forward, and that could make any fantasy owner who gets him for pennies now look like a genius.

Reed ready to close?

The Diamondbacks are getting closer to reinstilling Addison Reed in the closer role, per a report last weekend. He hasn’t been amazing since blowing his most recent save opportunity and getting pulled out of ninth-inning situations, but Reed has been largely able to rein in the ugly outings, with eight of his last 10 appearances being scoreless. He owns a 2.45 ERA and 9:5 K:BB ratio in 11 innings during that stretch, which is roughly what fantasy owners should expect at his very best moving forward. Brad Ziegler is a get-anything-you-can-for-him type of sell-high player. The name to watch in Arizona? The recently acquired Dominic Leone, who has been a mess this season but went 8-2 with a 2.17 ERA and 70:25 K:BB ratio in 66 1/3 innings during his rookie season with the Mariners last year. He posted similar numbers in the minors prior to this year, so if he can get his 2015 issues straightened out, he could emerge as the team’s best reliever in a hurry.

Switch-pitcher joining A’s

While he doesn’t have saves relevance in fantasy leagues, shout out to switch-pitcher Pat Venditte, who appears to be getting promoted to the A’s this weekend. Venditte’s unique profile caused baseball to instill a Venditte rule after a switch-hitter in a minor-league game kept changing batter’s boxes every time Venditte would switch his pitching arm, causing a delightful delay to the start of the at-bat. The rule states that the pitcher must declare which arm he’s using to pitch first, then the batter can decide how he wants to hit. However, both the batter and pitcher are allowed one change in the middle of an at-bat. The pitcher’s choice also resets if the batter is changed in the middle of an at-bat, which could happen due to injury. Must-see television? Clearly.

Pick Him Up? Rankings

Brett Cecil, TOR

Tyler Clippard, OAK

Addison Reed, ARI

Carson Smith, SEA

Jake McGee, TB

Brad Ziegler, ARI

Sean Doolitte, OAK

Neftali Feliz, TEX

Jim Johnson, ATL

Joaquin Benoit, SD

Ken Giles, PHI

Dominic Leone, ARI

Yimi Garcia, LAD