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It was another busy week around major league bullpens; while there were no true closer changes, we did see some clarification of a few situations, while some others were cast further into doubt. Things are bound to stay active as the trade deadline approaches; you’re in the right place if you want to stay abreast of all of the latest developments.

Closers in both New York and St. Louis are dealing with what seem to be minor ailments; is it time to grab their understudies if you’re chasing saves?

A prominent closer from the 2014 season has made only one rather forgettable appearance this season, and recent developments suggest it may be a while before we see him again; are there any options available to help you cut your Fantasy losses?

The Queen City boasts one of baseball’s most dominant closers, but what happens if the Cuban Missile packs his bags and triple-digit fastball and heads off to a contending team? The trade deadline is looming, and it’s never too early to have a plan in place.

The ninth inning in Cleveland is a lot more stable these days, as their once-shaky ninth-inning man has turned his game around after a rather inauspicious start to his season.

Meanwhile, down in St. Petersburg, the Rays are boasting one of the best bullpens in baseball, but manager Kevin Cash’s mix-and-match brand of late-inning management is making things hard on Fantasy owners. Is there a pattern to this pandemonium, or will the three-headed monster continue to haunt the dreams of Fantasy owners everywhere?

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… which means pretty much daily.

Who’s Out?

Tony Cingrani landed on the disabled list June 15 due to a strained left shoulder, and it’s not yet known how long the southpaw will be sidelined. The converted starter had a 3.47 ERA and six holds for Cincinnati this season, and there was speculation that he could be a candidate for the closer’s job if the Reds were to trade Aroldis Chapman.

The Athletics transferred former closer Sean Doolittle to the 60-day disabled list this week, casting doubt on whether or not we will see him again in 2015. Doolittle opened the season on the DL due to a small tear in his left rotator cuff, and then returned for just one outing prior to landing on the shelf again. It is probably safe to cut Doolittle in redraft Fantasy leagues if you have not already done so.

Who’s In?

J.J. Hoover has bounced back in a big way from his disappointing 2014 season, and he appears to have taken over as Cincinnati’s primary set-up man for Aroldis Chapman. Through his first 30 appearances, Hoover had forged a 1.53 ERA and 0.82 WHIP, and he had not allowed an earned run since his four-run implosion back on April 21. Chapman has been the subject of numerous trade rumors, and if he is indeed dealt, Hoover could be the first option to take over the ninth inning for the Reds.

The Texas Rangers’ bullpen has been a rather unsettled mess for most of the season, but now it appears as though Shawn Tolleson has seized the ninth-inning on a permanent basis – a finding which is only now being confirmed by his manager. Though Tolleson has performed well in role, he had no clear understudy until recently, when it has become apparent that 22-year-old Keone Kela is the Rangers’ primary set-up man.  Kela posted a 1.32 ERA and 0.85 WHIP in May, while fanning 13 batters in 13.2 innings of work.

Relievers on the Rocks

Craig Kimbrel has been one of baseball’s elite closers for several years, but he has pitched like a mere mortal for much of the 2015 campaign. Through his first 29 appearances, Kimbrel owned a pedestrian 3.67 ERA and 1.33 WHIP, and he had walked 12 batters in 27 innings. Opponents were batting a relatively robust .238 against him, and he had already allowed 24 hits and three home runs – as compared to 30 and two in 61.2 innings last season. While there’s no reason to believe that Kimbrel’s job is in jeopardy, his lackluster numbers are cause for concern.

Chad Qualls was in the ninth-inning conversation in Houston during spring training, but the veteran reliever has fallen on hard times of late. Qualls struggled to a 4.91 ERA in May, and he has allowed earned runs in four of his last six appearances. While Qualls may have opened the year as the fall-back option for close Luke Gregerson, he now appears to have lost that gig to Pat Neshek.

Toronto’s Brett Cecil has finally started to see more save opportunities, but the results of his appearances have been less than favorable. Cecil has surrendered at least one earned run in four of his last five appearances, and he has seen his ERA rise from 2.65 to 4.50 during that time. Veteran Steve Delabar has pitched his way into a high-leverage role for the Blue Jays, and the strikeout artist might be next in line for save chances if Cecil can’t right his ship. Delabar has a history of command problems, but he has fashioned a tidy 1.15 ERA and 0.70 WHIP through 16 appearances this season.

Relievers on the Rise

St. Louis Cardinals closer Trevor Rosenthal has been dominant this season, but he recently went on the shelf for a few days due to some tightness in his pitching arm.  Enter set-up man Kevin Siegrist, who nailed down a pair of back-to-back saves in Rosenthal’s stead. Siegrist holds a 1.78 ERA and 1.12 WHIP this season, and the lefty has struck out 42 batters in 30 innings of work – while holding opposing hitters to a .207 batting average. Siegrist looks to be the No. 2 man in St. Louis’ bullpen hierarchy, and he could become a valuable Fantasy commodity if Rosenthal has to miss extended time.

Former starter Daniel Hudson has found a home in the Arizona bullpen, and he has steadily pitched his way into a high-leverage role. Hudson has allowed just one earned run over his last 16.1 innings, while fanning 19 batters and walking six. He has seen his ERA drop from 6.00 to 3.16 during that period, and he has held opposing batters to a .138 BAA in eight appearances in June. The closer’s situation in Arizona is far from settled, and Hudson could be in line for save opportunities if the team elects to move current ninth-inning man Brad Ziegler back to his more accustomed setup role.

Cleveland closer Cody Allen owned a 6.38 ERA after his appearance back on May 24, but since then he has reeled off 10 consecutive scoreless appearances, while dropping his ERA to a more palatable 4.03. Allen was on shaky ground earlier in the year, but he has definitely solidified his hold on the Indians’ ninth-inning gig.

Keep an eye on…

Any time we hear reports of “tightness” in a pitching arm, it’s cause for concern, so we’re going to be keeping an eye on Trevor Rosenthal for at least his next few appearances. Kevin Siegrist is a recommended roster addition if you’re chasing saves.

Tampa Bay continues to be the source of plenty of Fantasy Baseball angst for those owners in search of saves, as manager Kevin Cash continues to rotate Kevin Jepsen, Jake McGee and Brad Boxberger in the ninth inning. Boxberger missed a few days due to triceps tightness, but he racked up his 16th save June 18 and logged his 17th save the following night. Boxberger still appears to be at the head of the table for this committee, but both McGee (who has three saves in his 14 appearances on the season) and Jepsen (who has five in 32 outings) should continue to see save opportunities as game conditions warrant. All three have pitched very well in 2015, and while this is a nice problem for Cash to have, it’s a tough puzzle to solve for Fantasy owners with limited roster space available.

Mets’ closer Jeurys Familia was dealing with some groin tightness after his appearance June 19, and he is expected to be out for a short time. While both Familia and the Mets are downplaying the seriousness of this ailment, all injuries bear watching until the player is back on the field at full strength. Bobby Parnell is probably the best option for saves while Familia is out.

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… which means pretty much daily.

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