Closer Report: 5th edition, 2015

Closer Report: 5th edition, 2015

Adam Ottavino to the disabled list
So much for a stable ninth inning in Colorado. Ottavino had the skills to hold on to the closer job for the Rockies all year, but was placed on the 15-day disabled list Tuesday with right triceps inflammation. It's unclear at this time how long Ottavino will be out, but injuries to throwing arms are never a good sign. Looking ahead, John Axford appears to be the favorite to get the save opportunities for the time being. When Ottavino asked to be held out of a game last Thursday, Axford was called upon in the ninth inning. Walks remain an issue for the latter, but he's been racking up the strikeouts this year, and the results have been very good in his first four outings. With that being said, Axford may be on a relatively short leash. They pulled LaTroy Hawkins rather quickly early on this year, and put Rafael Betancourt in the closer role for about 10 minutes before opting for Ottavino. Axford is the man to add right now, but don't be surprised to see Betancourt if Axford has a couple of bad outings in the next week or two.

Mark Melancon struggling
One of the biggest questions over the last week has been the future of Melancon. He's had a tough time this year, with a 5.79 ERA and less than five strikeouts per nine innings. The biggest issue has been Melancon's velocity, with his cutter down three mph from the end of last season. Despite that, Clint Hurdle has stuck with Melancon in the ninth, and was rewarded with three saves in as many days. The manager is confident Melancon's velocity will come back, and he's held his opponents scoreless in eight of his 10 appearances, so I wouldn't bet on him losing the job any time soon. I would use this slow start as an opportunity to buy low on Melancon, who still looks like a decent bet to end the year with 30-plus saves.

Trouble in Miami
Steve Cishek continued his rough season Monday night, when Daniel Murphy hit a three-run home run in the ninth to give the Mets the win. It was Cishek's second blown save in three chances. His track record is too good for him to lose his job now, but his leash is surely getting shorter. A DL stint is also a possibility to get Cishek back on track, especially considering his velocity is down around 2-3 mph across the board. Unlike Melancon, Cishek has yet to put together a solid string of outings to regain everyone's confidence. If A.J. Ramos is available, now may be a good time to grab him. Not only is he a possible closer-in-waiting, but he's also going to help you in K's and ratios in the meantime. Ramos has 18 strikeouts to just four walks in his first 12 1/3 innings, along with a 0.73 ERA.

Peralta has dead arm
Joel Peralta had been getting the bulk of the Dodgers' save chances, but now he finds himself on the shelf with a dead arm. It appears unlikely Don Mattingly will name a permanent closer for now, but Yimi Garcia is the man to own. The 24-year-old has been outstanding this year, striking out a shade under 15 batters per nine with a phenomenal 0.69 FIP. Pedro Baez, Paco Rodriguez and Chris Hatcher could also get save chances. Kenley Jansen is close to starting his rehab assignment, and this whole situation will become clear soon enough.

Quick hits
• The back end of Arizona's bullpen has not been fun to have any shares of this year. Addison Reed has three walks in five innings and has only two save opportunities for the season. Many people were high on Evan Marshall coming into the year as a potential handcuff for the underwhelming Reed, but he's rewarded that confidence with a 7.71 ERA and a 5.21 FIP thus far.

• Toronto's ninth-inning situation continues to be complex, as Brett Cecil has taken back his Opening Day job. Miguel Castro's short tenure wasn't all bad, but he went three consecutive outings in which he allowed a run in less than one inning of work. The 20-year-old is staying the Majors, so the Blue Jays aren't losing all confidence in him. As for Cecil, he jumped right into things by grabbing his first save of the year on Tuesday. Like Castro, he's had his ups and downs in 2015, but he's by far the most established arm in this bullpen. If Cecil can put together a few weeks of consistent production, he'll stay in the role all year. Expect his leash to be short for now, though.

Cody Allen has had a rough go of it to start the year, allowing runs in three of his first seven appearances en route to a 13.50 ERA. The good news here is that there are no warning signs in his velocity. The bad news is Allen has been struggling with command. But his track record is too strong to write him off this quickly, given his strong velocity and relative youth.

Greg Holland is eligible to return from the disabled list on Sunday, and he resumed his throwing program over the weekend and reportedly felt fine. Wade Davis has been predictably great in his stead, but with Kelvin Herrera presumably starting a suspension soon, the Royals could use another dominant arm in that bullpen. I'd expect Holland to return shortly after he's eligible to.

Joe Nathan was unlikely to regain the closer role when he returned from his rehab assignment, but now that definitely won't be happening. The veteran tore his UCL and is done for the season. While Nathan says he's not retiring, it's hard to see him coming back from this. There's a good chance this will end the career of one of the better relievers of his era.

A version of this story originally appeared on Baseball Prospectus.

Matt Collins is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.