Checking in on the closer situations around baseball, including the Diamondbacks, Indians and Cubs
Arizona Diamondbacks: Yoshihasa Hirano has picked up the last three save opportunities for the Diamondbacks and looks to be the choice to replace Brad Boxberger. This is the product of the Dbacks not having many great options. Archie Bradley had given up five runs in his prior four outings before pitching three straight clean ones. The team may also prefer keeping him out of the ninth inning so he would be able to pitch multiple innings for them. Brad Ziegler doesn’t invoke much confidence at this point in his career, which leaves us with Hirano. If you need saves, Hirano is the man you want right now.
Atlanta Braves: Arodys Vizcaino was activated from the disabled list Saturday, but that doesn’t mean he will automatically resume his closing duties; it didn’t help his case that he gave up two runs and three hits against the Cardinals on Monday. It would seem prudent for the Braves to continue to pitch him in low-leverage situations until they are satisfied he is back at full strength before removing A.J. Minter from the role. At the very least this would seem to indicate that Minter will be safe to close this week, but that may be it.
Chicago Cubs: The Cubs lost Pedro Strop for what is likely the rest of the regular season after he injured his hamstring while batting last Thursday. Some may question why Strop was batting after pitching 1.2 innings, but that is a question for manager Joe Maddon to answer. What we’re here to figure out is who will close for the Cubs the last two weeks of the season. Brandon Morrow is expected to be activated at any time now, but it’s unlikely that he would resume his closer role immediately. Until Morrow proves himself up to the task, it’s likely that either Carl Edwards or Steve Cishek will pick up saves for the Cubs, with Cishek being the leading candidate.
Chicago White Sox: In his second appearance since coming off the disabled list, Nate Jones picked up a save. Does this mean he is the new closer for the White Sox? Probably not, as this just may have been a situation where the Sox wanted a righty to close out the game rather than the left-handed Jace Fry. The next save opportunity did indeed go to Fry. In reality, it may not matter who closes for the Sox. They have 13 games left in the season and nine of them are against the Indians and Cubs. How many of those games can they be expected to win anyway? It’s still Fry you want here, but he may only gather a save or two.
Cleveland Indians: Speaking of the Indians, have they gone back to Cody Allen as closer? The last save for Brad Hand was on Sept. 5. In four appearances since then, he has blown a save and recorded a hold. Allen during that time has picked up the last two saves for the Indians and hasn’t given up a run in his last nine appearances. This was to be expected, as the Indians want Allen to figure out his problems. They want him to close and have Andrew Miller and Hand pitch the critical seventh and eighth innings. The Indians are close to having the bullpen they want entering October.
Los Angeles Angels: The Angels seem to have made a switch at the closer position, as Ty Buttrey has picked up the last three saves for the club. This doesn’t mean they may not make yet another change, as Buttrey is not considered to be a top prospect and has pitched less than 14 innings in his major league career, but he is the player that is picking up saves right now. If you’re desperate, he’s the reliever you want for the Angels.
New York Yankees: Aroldis Chapman was activated from the disabled list today. Chapman has completed his knee rehab and may close immediately, especially after Dellin Betances just had an ugly outing blowing a save against Toronto on Sunday. Even if Chapman is brought along slowly, it would be no more than an appearance or two before Chapman got the closer job back. The Yankees may not be able to afford to wait, however, as they need to win every game possible in order to play the Wild Card game at Yankee Stadium and avoid a cross-county trip to Oakland.
Washington Nationals: Sean Doolittle is back and closing for Washington. This is not a surprise, as the Nationals really don’t have anyone left. They traded Ryan Madson, and Kelvin Herrera is on the DL. There was little doubt that Doolittle would re-gain his closing job. He did pitch poorly at first but is starting to look like the reliever he was during the first half of the season.
As always feel free to follow me on Twitter and ask any questions you like, @georgekurtz.[table “2771” not found /]