Closer Report: Week 14

Closer Report: Week 14

Issues for the Defending Champs

Santiago Casilla has been a solid closer for the Giants for a couple of years now, but he's been going through a rough stretch, and his job may now be in jeopardy. His issues came to a head on Wednesday when he allowed three runs without recording an out, en route to a blown save. After the outing, Bruce Bochy gave his ninth-inning man a few days off to get everything in order. There hasn't been any indication that he'll be ousted from the role, but it's hard to see him holding on if he has another bad outing or two. His 3.30 ERA is fine, but he's already blown four saves this season, and his 4.15 FIP tells a much darker story. The Giants haven't had any save chances recently, but one would have to assume Sergio Romo is the next man in line if Casilla is taken out of the ninth inning. Romo has had something of an anti-Casilla season, with a 4.97 ERA and a 2.21 FIP. I wouldn't go out of your way to add Romo until Bochy makes more concrete statements about the situation, but it's definitely something to keep an eye on.

Andrew Miller is Almost Back

The Yankees' Opening Day closer has been on the shelf since mid-June, but he is starting his rehab now and could be back up in the Majors as soon as Tuesday night. If he is, New York's bullpen becomes one of the most interesting in all of baseball. Before he was hurt, Miller was completely dominant and it was unthinkable that he'd be removed from the closer role. However, Dellin Betances has been just as dominant in his absence, and now Joe Girardi has a decision to make. Miller will likely be eased back into action, so expect his first few outings to come in the seventh and eighth innings. After that, though, the Yankees' best move is probably to split the duties between the two. That's an unfortunate outcome for fantasy players. Of course, both pitchers are elite enough in other categories that they shouldn't be dangled, but it's fair to expect subpar save totals from both in the second half.

Jason Motte Stepping Up

The last time I wrote about the Cubs, it was unclear who would be taking control of the ninth inning in Wrigleyville. Motte, Hector Rondon, and Pedro Strop all had compelling cases to take over the role. In the time since, though, Motte has clearly separated himself from the pack. He's something of a surprise closer this season, as the veteran is coming off a rough 2014, which came after he missed all of 2013. Not much was expected of him this season, but he's stepped up for the Cubs in a big way. To date, he has a 2.84 ERA in 37 appearances with a 3.87 FIP. Even better, Motte has allowed just one run since May 15. It's unlikely that he's available at this point, but if he is, obviously jump on that as soon as possible. Meanwhile, if you listened to me and picked up Strop, it's probably safe to drop him at this point.

Quick Hits

Not a ton of closer news this week, so we'll go right to the quick hits, starting with the All-Star rosters. I won't bore you by listing all of the players who made it. I will just say, "Thank you, Ned Yost, and your love of relievers." I jinxed Kenley Jansen. He's allowed a run in all three of his outings since I sang his praises last week, although he still converted two saves in the run. Obviously, there's nothing to worry about here long term. The situation in Seattle hasn't gotten any clearer. Carson Smith gave up a couple of runs in his last outing, and the next save situation was handed to Fernando Rodney. Look for the latter to keep getting the call until he has another rough outing.

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.