There’s probably a case to be made that Richard Rodríguez is a more deserving All-Star than Mark Melancon, but apparently saves are all that matter to be an All-Star, and they’ve been hard to come by for the Pirates this season. Rodríguez shouldn’t have to worry about that for much longer, but the question remains whether or not he will get a chance to close wherever he ends up. The Blue Jays have been linked to Rodríguez, and that is certainly one team where he might have a chance at closing out games, as they seemed to prefer Jordan Romano in more of a setup/fireman role. That would probably be the best-case scenario here, as it’s far more likely he winds up on a team that has an established closer already. But if it is Toronto, then Rodríguez all of a sudden becomes a third-tier guy like Melancon.
- Aroldis Chapman didn’t exactly do anything this past week to reassure us that he is still the best option to close out games for the Yankees going forward. He pitched in one game, working the ninth in an eleven-run ballgame, and proceeded to walk two and give up a hit. The Yankees passed him up in a couple of save chances, with Chad Green getting obliterated for four earned runs against the Astros this past weekend. I expect Chapman to open up as the team’s closer after the All-Star break, assuming he doesn’t get shelled tonight.
- It had looked like Scott Barlow was going to potentially run away with the Royals closer job, but he stumbled a bit this week, allowing five earned runs total in consecutive days before being shut down through the break. As I mentioned last week, I think Barlow was probably just dealing with some fatigue as he had been one of the more overworked relievers in baseball up to that point. I suppose the good news for him is that his teammates did not pitch much better all of last week, so I still think he remains in that closer role after the break.
- Heath Hembree led all relievers in saves this past week with three, allowing just one walk and no hits while striking out five during those three outings. He is the only relievers to record five saves in the month of July so far. As a Red Sox fan is kind of weird to be typing this, but Hembree has been pretty awesome this season, and barring any trade (the Reds will not trade for a big-name reliever) Hembree should remain in the closer role even when Lucas Sims and Tejay Antone return. Sims and Antone are better suited for multi-inning work and getting out of jams earlier in games while Hembree is at his best starting and pitching one inning.
- Ranger Suárez converted the Phillies only save chance last week, and did so by working the final 2.1 innings of the game. He closes out the first half with a 0.77 ERA, 0.74 WHIP, and 35 strikeouts over 35 innings of work. He’ll open up the second half as the teams closer, but will the Phillies look to add a more experienced closer before the deadline? That’s the only thing holding Suárez back at this point.
- It appears that, for now, Yimi García is still the Marlins’ closer, but that could change at any moment as he is about one blown save or trade away from opening up that role to Anthony Bender full time. García was able to give us at least 13 saves this season, which is a very respectable mark for someone being taken late in drafts or not at all. Bender is now my top stash candidate as the Marlins closer role looks like the best of the trade candidate openings.
- It’s not much, but it’s nice to finally see a Diamondback reliever have a productive week this season as Joakim Soria was able to pick up two saves while not allowing a run all of last week. I’m not sure what the return would be, but I suppose Soria could get moved, as he fits that veteran reliever most teams covet at this point in the year.
|1.||Anthony Bender||Miami||The job should be Bender’s once García is moved, if not before then|
|2.||Emmanuel Clase||Cleveland||Appears to be in a timeshare with Karinchak, seeing ~40% of saves|
|3.||Paul Sewald||Seattle||Graveman’s been great, but Sewald could push him in the second half|
|4.||Gregory Soto||Detroit||Lefty in the Tigers’ committee. Could see more chances with Fulmer out|
|5.||Hansel Robles||Minnesota||In a 50/50 timeshare with Rogers, but Robles is likely not worth the risk|
|6.||Jake Diekman||Oakland||Fading out of the closer picture, but I still don’t fully trust Trivino either|
|7.||Tyler Rogers||San Francisco||McGee seems to be running away with the closer role, but Rogers has been OK|
|8.||David Bednar||Pittsburgh||Unclear who will take over for Rodríguez, but Bednar presents most upside|
|9.||Chad Green||NY Yankees||I don’t think he’s a long-term threat to Chapman, but worth keeping an eye on|
|10.||J.P. Feyereisen||Tampa Bay||Could get back into the saves mix with Fairbanks struggling lately|
Photo by Rick Ulreich/Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)