There are a number of possible free agent options this week for those scrounging for saves, so I’ll get right to it, starting with the San Francisco Giants. Bruce Bochy has announced that the Giants will go to a (gasp) closer by committee, meaning Jeremy Affeldt, Sergio Romo, Santiago Casilla and even Javier Lopez could be in line for save chances. I wish I knew Bochy personally, not just for bragging rights and friendship purposes, but for fantasy purposes. I would ask him, “Heyo, Bro. Who’s your closer?” And he still wouldn’t tell me. It appears Santiago Casilla is suffering from a minor “blister” on his hand, so for the time being Bochy will look elsewhere for saves, and with good reason: Casilla has five blow saves in his last nine chances. My guess is Affeldt will get the bulk of the save opportunities, seeing as he’s gotten the last two, but since he’s a lefty I wouldn’t be surprised if Sergio Romo gets just as many, if not more, opportunities to close based solely on match ups. Affeldt owns a 2.56 ERA and a 7.88 K/9 versus Romo’s 2.28 ERA and 10.82 K/9. Sergio’s got better numbers and a cooler name but Jeremy has slightly more experience closing games. I wouldn’t rule out Santiago Casilla returning to the role either once his “blister” is no longer an issue. The only guarantee I can make regarding the closer committee is that there are no guarantees, but the Giants should see plenty of save opportunities, so all three should probably be owned in the interim. If I’m speculating and need saves I’d grab Affeldt first, followed by Romo, and if you’re really desperate, Lopez, but all that could change based on Bochy’s night sleep. Because San Francisco will continue to get save opportunities, this is a situation to keep an eye on.
Miami Marlins — Razzball favorite Ozzie Guillen said yesterday that Heath Bell could start to see save chances again. Bell has been solid lately, and hasn’t had one of his patented “Heath Bell Miami Meltdowns” since pre-All-Star break. Steve Cishek has been every bit the closer we all want Heath Bell to be with 6 saves and 0 ER to go along with 10 Ks in his last 10 appearances. But it’s Heath Bell’s $27 million contract that wins again and Steve Cishek will likely return to the set-up role. Hey, it makes sense to Roy Oswalt! If he’s not already owned, Heath Bell is a must add if you need saves as long as he’s continues to pitch well, but I wouldn’t drop Cishek just yet, either. At least not until I see Heath notch a save or two.
Milwaukee Brewers — After the Francisco Rodriguez closing experiment exploded horribly in everyone’s faces it seemed only a matter of time before John Axford got his job back. And he had for the most part, only blowing 1 of his 3 save chances since returning to the role July 29. With John Axford and K-Rod getting the night off after each having thrown 20+ pitches Monday night, 29-year old Jim Henderson got his chance to shine and notched his first MLB save on Tuesday after 10 years in the minors. He pitched a perfect inning, striking out a batter. Wednesday afternoon, after Axford was surprisingly used in the eighth when the Brewers were trailing, Milwaukee rallied and Henderson was called upon again to get another save, striking out two and walking one in another scoreless inning. In his eight appearances since being called up, Henderson has a 1.29 ERA and 10 Ks. In 48 innings at Triple-A Nashville, he’s posted a 1.69 ERA and 56 Ks with 15 saves in 35 appearances. So it’s not as if Henderson has no experience in high pressure situations. Unfortunately, I think John Axford is still the closer and should get the next save opportunity. However, Axford and Rodriguez have continued to struggle closing games (the dynamic duo has combined to blow 13 saves), so if Jim Henderson can continue to excel, he might give Roenicke no choice but to hand him the end of game duties. Henderson might be a good add if you are speculating for saves.
Oakland Athletics — Ryan Cook had another rocky outing yesterday, surrendering two runs on 3 hits, barely escaping with his 14th save. Cook has now blown 4 of his last seven save opportunities, giving up 9 ER in 8 IP. He’s got 7 total blown saves in 19 chances (63% success rate), versus Grant Balfour, who looks primed to reclaim his job and has just two blown saves in 9 opportunities (78%). Balfour appeared in the 7th inning in relief yesterday and gave up a home run to Mark Trumbo, the first run he’d given up since June 29 versus the Rangers. I don’t know what Bob Melvin wants, he seems to like Ryan Cook, but Cook is pitching himself out of a job. I think Balfour is your add here, but it’s possible Sean Doolittle will see chances as well.
Cleveland Indians — The closer everyone loves to hate is at it again. Chris Perez proves Kenny Powers just wouldn’t be quite as funny in real life. Anyway, Perez has blown his last two save chances, including a real stinker on Sunday where he surrendered 5 ER on 3 hits and 2 BB in just 2/3 IP. Chris has been fairly solid all year, so expect him to get a pretty long leash; however, the situation is worth monitoring based on how well Injians’s set-up man, Vinnie Pestano, has been pitching. In 50 IP, Pestano has been outstanding, owning a 1.26 ERA and a 57/18 K/BB ratio. Vinnie hasn’t surrendered a run since June 27 at Yankee Stadium, and he leads MLB with 30 holds. If Chris Perez starts to slip, look for Pestano to be the beneficiary of save chances going forward.
San Diego Padres – Huston Street recorded his 20th save of the season Tuesday night, extending his consecutive scoreless innings streak to 20.1 IP. He has yet to blow a save this year and his 0.77 ERA and 0.54 WHIP is insane. Even more insane? Since returning from the disabled list on June 5 with a right lat strain, after missing about a month, Street, amazingly, has surrendered just 2 ER and 8 hits, amassing 15 saves and 32 strikeouts in 25.1 IP. In fact, Street has not surrendered a run since June 20, and he is proving he is worth every penny of that 2-year, $14 million contract extension he received a week ago. Unfortunately, the lowly Padres don’t produce quite enough save opportunities to put Huston in the upper fantasy echelon of ninth inning stoppers like Kimbrel and Chapman, but he should continue to be one of the higher end options for the remainder of 2012.