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Given the lack of action over the past few days, we thought we would change things up from the usual format this week, and talk about a few closers and set-up men who could be affected by the July 31 trade deadline in this week’s Bullpen Briefs.

The looming of the trade deadline, of course, triggers most MLB teams to assume the role of “buyers” or “sellers,” with contending teams typically donning the former mantle. Also-rans, meanwhile, often look to trade away some key players in exchange for prospects to help them find their way back to respectability in a year or three.

Some of this year’s “key players” happen to be closers for their respective teams, and if they are traded away it means bad news for the current ninth-inning man in their new locale, but good news for their former understudy – who now could receive his chance to ascend to the closer’s chair.

This week, we’ll talk a little bit about which closers could be changing teams in the near future, and offer a little insight as to who might be best qualified to assume their old role with their former team. Savvy Fantasy Baseball managers will act now to best position themselves to take advantage of the opportunities offered by the oft-frantic pace a deals made at or near the trade deadline.

While there wasn’t too much news last week, there are some troubling signs about one of baseball’s top closers, and it’s a situation that absolutely should be followed on a daily basis; a great way to do that is to check out – and bookmark — our Bullpen Depth Charts, which are updated as news breaks … pretty much daily.

Bullpen Briefs

 

Headed Out?

Jonathan Papelbon has made it very clear that he would like to play for a contender, which the Philadelphia Phillies certainly are not – and he expressed his wishes in rather graphic terms at an All-Star Game media session. Papelbon has pitched very well this season, and the biggest impediment to a deal is probably the enormous contract that his new team would have to assume if they were to bring him aboard. The Phils will probably have to eat some cash to move their unhappy closer, but Papelbon is expected to be traded in the near future. If he indeed lands with a contender and assumes the ninth-inning duty, Papelbon’s Fantasy value would take a nice jump upward.

The Braves are in full rebuilding mode, and current closer Jim Johnson is one of their prime trade chips. Johnson has enjoyed a nice bounce-back season in 2015, and he is expected to take over as the team’s full-time closer now that Jason Grilli looks to be done for the year. Johnson is not a sure bet to be traded, and he may land in a set-up role if he is indeed dealt, so his Fantasy future is far from clear.

Francisco Rodriguez has posted another fine campaign for Milwaukee in 2015, but with the Brewers well out of contention, he could be a key piece in a deal for prospects. K-Rod has proven to be adept at both closing and set-up duty during his fine career in the majors, so he could potentially land in either role if he is indeed traded away.

The Reds’ Aroldis Chapman has been frequently mentioned in trade rumors, and if he does indeed land in a new city, the Fantasy ramifications could be enormous. Chapman has been his typical dominant self this season, though his elevated walk rate has resulted in a higher WHIP than we’ve come to expect from the Cincy fireballer. Chapman’s Fantasy value would receive a substantial bump if he was to land with a contender, though we would expect that the Reds would demand a rather hefty haul of prospects in return.

 

Headed In?

Ken Giles has battled some command issues this season, but he has still forged a solid 1.82 ERA with 50 strikeouts through 39.2 innings of work. Giles’ swing-and-miss stuff makes him a great candidate to close games, and he has long been reckoned to be the heir apparent to Jonathan Papelbon in Philly. If Giles is not already owned in your league, it’s time to right that wrong.

Arodys Vizcaino was once one of Atlanta’s top prospects, but elbow problems – including Tommy John surgery back in 2012 – and a PED suspension to start the ’15 campaign have hampered his trek to the big leagues. Vizcaino’s fastball is sitting north of 98 mph right now, though, and he has allowed no earned runs and only two hits through his first four innings of the 2015 season.

Jeremy Jeffress owns a high-octane fastball that has had him in the “closer-in-waiting” conversation for some time now, and his chance could come if K-Rod is dealt. Jeffress can be prone to wildness, but his 2015 numbers make him a better candidate to close games than fellow set-up man Jonathan Broxton, who has scuffled to a 6.61 ERA and 1.50 WHIP in his first 36 appearances.

We’ve told you about J.J. Hoover before, and the Reds’ set-up man has continued his amazing run lately. Hoover has  allowed only one earned run since April 21, and has lowered his ERA from 7.94 to 1.37 during that time. Like Giles, Hoover looks to be the clear fall-back option if the team’s primary closer is dealt, so he should be owned in every Fantasy league.

 

Keep an eye on…

Cardinals closer Trevor Rosenthal was roughed up for four earned runs in his last two appearances before the break, and then did not pitch in the All-Star Game due to arm soreness. He surrendered a run and three hits in recording his 27th save July 17, marking the third straight outing in which he has been touched for at least one earned run. Kevin Siegrist is the recommended add if you’re concerned that Rosenthal’s recent woes are the harbinger of a bigger issue.

Following bullpens around the league is truly a daily pursuit, so be sure to check out – and bookmark — our Bullpen Depth Charts, which are updated as news breaks … pretty much daily.

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Buck Davidson

Buck Davidson has been writing about baseball since the Internet was more a flight of fancy than a way of life. His Fantasy analysis has appeared on such websites as RotoExperts, RotoRob, Yahoo, CBS, MSN, FOXSports and KFFL.com, and he has hosted numerous Fantasy Sports podcasts over the years. For the past seven seasons, Buck has been a contributing writer for The Fantasy Baseball Guide magazine. Despite all of his years of experience, though, Buck seeks out the unique sports insight of his 95-year-old Granny Lil when the Fantasy chips are truly down.
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