Closer Report: 11th edition, 2015
Fernando Rodney out as closer … for now
This was a long time coming, as Rodney has a 6.94 ERA with a discouraging 5.43 FIP, has blown three saves and has given up runs in 11 of 24 outings this season. The next man up appears to be Carson Smith, who should be owned in all leagues. At just 25 years old, he has been phenomenal for Seattle this season. Smith has racked up 29 strikeouts in just 25 innings while walking just five. He converted his first save chance on Saturday. While Lloyd McClendon made it sound like Rodney can earn his job back later in the year, it's hard to see Smith letting the veteran get back in the ninth inning.
Hector Rondon out, too?
The situation in Wrigleyville isn't quite as clear as it is in Seattle, but it appears the Cubs may also be making a change in the ninth inning. On Saturday, Rondon came on for the save, but he was pulled after walking the first batter he faced. Pedro Strop cleaned up after the leadoff walk and picked up the save. He would come in for the eighth inning on Sunday, with Jason Motte coming in to the ninth to close it out. If you're looking for saves on the waiver wire, Strop should be the man to get the most save chances in the event Rondon is taken out of the role. Just be aware that even if Strop does get Rondon's save chances for now, there's no guarantee it will last more than a week or two. Luckily, the former will help out with strikeouts, even when he's not racking up saves.
A curious week for Tampa Bay
Brad Boxberger came into the season as a placeholder for the Rays while Jake McGee was working his way back from the disabled list, but he performed well enough to earn at least a share of the job for the season. This past Wednesday, Boxberger blew a save. Then he didn't appear in a game the rest of the week. On Sunday, we learned Boxberger was suffering from tricep tightness in his throwing arm. Although both he and the team insist it's not serious, arm injuries are always troubling, so it's a situation to monitor. Interestingly, McGee didn't get any of the save chances in Boxberger's absence. Instead, Kevin Jepsen closed out all three games. Although Boxberger says he'll be back Tuesday, Jepsen could be a sneaky add in leagues where Strop is unavailable, with the possibility of Boxberger's injury popping back up later in the year.
Toronto's ninth-inning situation discouraging
From a fantasy standpoint, the Blue Jays have had the strangest bullpen to follow this season. Just over a week into the season, they yanked their closer out of the ninth inning in favor of a 20-year-old who hadn't pitched above Class A Advanced coming into the season. While Brett Cecil would eventually get his job back, it was a strange series of events. In the end, it doesn't really matter, because no one gets saves in Toronto. No one on the team has a save since May 4, and they only have two since April 23. Obviously, you can't drop Cecil, but it's been an incredibly frustrating six weeks for owners.
• Sean Doolittle's trip back to the disabled list meant Tyler Clippard would hold on to the A's closer role a little longer despite a lackluster performance this year. He had another tough outing on Sunday, giving up three runs and the lead to the Red Sox. Lucky for him, Evan Scribner, the man most likely to take over should Clippard lose his job, also gave up three runs in that eighth inning.
• Craig Kimbrel is still good, but he has not been his vintage self this season. The elite closer moving to San Diego was supposed to make him one of the most dominant arms in recent memory. Instead, Kimbrel has given up three home runs (one fewer than his career high) and is sporting a 4.09 ERA. He's obviously not at risk of losing his job, and the peripherals point to a better performance moving forward, though still not nearly on the level he was at with Atlanta.
• Trevor Rosenthal is having a phenomenal year. He had some problems with control last year, but he's taken care of that. The 25-year-old leads the National League with 19 saves and has a 0.64 ERA. Rosenthal is one of the premier closers to own in dynasty leagues.
A version of this story originally appeared on Baseball Prospectus.