As MLB gets ready for the Mid-Summer Classic, fantasy baseball owners are hard at work with roster adjustments and potential trades. Power seems to be everywhere during the summer months, starting pitching is losing its reliability and speed is still tough to come by.
The closer position is still incredibly volatile, but saves remain a scoring category in most leagues, which means you have to start preparing for the impending reliever movement that arrives with the July 31 trade deadline. Having the foresight to know which relievers could be on the move is the key to your success.
One of the biggest concerns with closers dealt at the deadline is how they tend to land in spots where they become set-up men rather than closers. Potential trade candidates like the Rangers’ Ian Kennedy, the Tigers’ Michael Fulmer, Daniel Bard of the Rockies or even Taylor Rogers of the Twins are likely to end up pitching the seventh or eighth inning wherever they land.
For saves, you probably have to look at who is left on their old rosters. Josh Sborz of the Rangers, the Rockies’ Carlos Estevez and the Tigers’ Jose Cisnero may be who you need. Just track the player movement and see who gets left behind.
There is one reliever who may actually retain his closer status even after a deal — Pittsburgh’s Richard Rodriguez. The veteran right-hander has notched 10 saves with a 2.59 ERA for the cellar-dwelling Pirates and a number of teams have kicked the tires since he’s only signed to a one-year deal. One of the hottest rumors has Rodriguez landing with the Blue Jays, a team that has struggled with injuries to its closers since Kirby Yates underwent Tommy John surgery in March.
The Blue Jays have patched things up, with names like Julian Merryweather, Rafael Dolis and Jordan Romano, but injuries have hampered all three. Romano is the guy currently getting saves, but manager Charlie Montoyo continues to look for better matchups as the ninth inning approaches. Adding Rodriguez to the mix would give the Blue Jays the bona fide closer they’ve been searching for all season and having him retain the saves is a win for fantasy baseball.
The rumor mill is going to start buzzing louder over the next month. Keep your ear to the ground and watch those bullpen shuffles. Act quickly and lock down as many closers as you can. Someone will always be willing to trade for one in your league.
Howard Bender is the VP of operations and head of content at FantasyAlarm.com. Follow him on Twitter @rotobuzzguy and catch him on the award-winning “Fantasy Alarm Radio Show” on the SiriusXM fantasy sports channel weekdays from 6-8 p.m. Go to FantasyAlarm.com for all your fantasy baseball advice.