Since the baseball season began, less than 50 percent of the designated closers still have their jobs with the teams they were with in April. With trades, ineptitude, and managers’ decisions, the turnover at the back of bullpens is always in flux.
Let’s take a look at who has assumed the coveted roles and who can gain ground as the season winds down, this week in the American League.
In the Junior Circuit, you figure Seattle’s Edwin Diaz, New York’s Aroldis Chapman, and Boston’s Craig Kimbrel are locks to keep their jobs.
If any of these get hurt, keep your eye on former Tampa Bay closer Alex Colome with the Mariners, Dellin Betances and Zach Britton as a righty-lefty choice with the Yankees, and Matt Barnes with the Red Sox.
Because of trades, quite a few bullpens have been rearranged.
Mychal Givens is the closer in Baltimore, but keep your eye on Paul Fry. Miguel Castro is also in the picture.
In Texas, Jose Leclerc is at the back of the bullpen after the Rangers traded Keone Kela to Pittsburgh. Setup men Chris Martin and Alex Claudio could break through.
Toronto has three possible closers, though each has detractions. Ryan Tepera, Tyler Clippard, and newly acquired Ken Giles have all had their share of blowups.
On Tuesday against the Red Sox, Giles surrendered five earned runs on four hits and a walk in two-thirds of an inning. Ouch.
The White Sox have a closer-by-committee mentality, with former Philadelphia closer Jeanmar Gomez, Thyago Vieira, Luis Avilan, and Juan Minaya all in the mix.
The wild card is left-hander Jace Fry. He has a high ERA but strikes out a ton of hitters.
Roberto Osuna might push Hector Rondon for save opportunities in Houston, though it looks like Rondon is safe for now. Osuna was dealt by Toronto after his suspension because of a domestic violence charge.
In Osuna’s Astros debut, he pitched a perfect eighth inning Monday.
Oakland pitcher Blake Treinen has become a dependable closer for the resurgent Athletics.
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Blake Treinen is locked in with Oakland, while Jeurys Familia and Lou Trivino are prospering in setup roles.
In his rookie season at age 26, right-hander Trivino is 8-1 with a 1.16 ERA and 62 strikeouts in 54⅓ innings. He also has four saves.
Tampa Bay’s bullpen is in flux, with Sergio Romo getting the bulk of save opportunities. Romo has started five times in the Rays’ “bullpen games,” though he has converted 13 of 19 save opportunities.
Jose Alvarado and Diego Castillo are setting up Romo.
Ageless Fernando Rodney is holding down the fort for Minnesota, with Addison Reed and Trevor Hildenberger a few bad Rodney outings away from stepping in.
Detroit’s Shane Greene is the Tigers’ closer, but Joe Jimenez is knocking on the door.
In Cleveland, it appears Brad Hand has supplanted Cody Allen as the closer. That doesn’t mean Allen will only pitch in the seventh or eighth innings, but Hand has, well, the upper hand.
Lefty Andrew Miller needs time to get back into pitching shape.
Wily Peralta has assumed the closer role with Kansas City, though Brandon Maurer is lurking in the background.
Remember, even bad teams get plenty of chances for saves. You could still do well with closers on struggling teams.
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