1. Aroldis Chapman, CIN – Chapman took over the closer role for the Reds on May 20th and hasn’t looked back. Before the move, we weren’t sure of Dusty Baker planned on making Chapman a starter or closer, but eventually made the right move. The man with the 105.1 MPH fastball is an near perfect fit as a closer. SO far this season, Chapman has struck out 56 of the 122 batters he has faced. His K/9 is the highest in the league at 15.75. He looks to remain the closer all season as I don’t see any reason he would lose the job outside of injury. The only drawback for Chapman is his control issues. His BB/9 is at 4.50 and that is high for a closer. However, walks don’t hurt as much, when the other players are striking out, so I don’t see his BB/9 being a factor. So far, Chapman as closed out seven games in eight opportunities and has been nearly lights out in every one of them. People undervalue you him because he is not fully proven and started way late closing out games. I was able to trade for Chapman, so should you.
2. Santiago Casilla, SF - Santiago Casilla has had an amazing season so far and has been flying under the radar amongst closers. That is probably because he is on the Giants or maybe because it’s his first stint at the job. Either way, his value to fantasy owners has been tremendous. in 2012, Casilla has 17/18 saves and has posted a 1.42 ERA with 21 Ks. So where did Casilla come from? He’s a product of Billy Bean and the Oakland Athletics and has spent his career in the bay area. He hasn’t posted a ERA above 2.00 since 2009 and has a remarkable 40+ save season in the making. Casilla has been getting the job done with a 95 MPH fastball, a tricky slider, and a curveball that buckles knees. I admit, I wasn’t the biggest fan of Casilla taking over at closer, but he has taken to the job well and should keep it all season. With the Giants not scoring many runs, expect Santiago Casilla to enter the ninth in a lot of close games. I would trade for this guy right now.
3. Jonathan Broxton, KAN – If you trusted and then drafted (??) Jonathan Broxton, then your move has paid off huge. After Joakim Soria went down with Tommy John surgery, Broxton got the call and hasn’t looked back. This season he has been lights out with a 1.52 ERA and 15 saves in 17 chances. Granted, batters are hitting Broxton at a 2.53 clip, they aren’t going anywhere once they get on base. Broxton has his fastball flying at 96 MPH (down from the 98-99 we were use too), his slider working, and on a rare occasion, he has mixed in a sneaky curveball. He hasn’t thrown a curve since his rookie season. Broxton no longer tries to overpower hitters by piling up strikeouts. He focuses on hitting his spots and pitches somewhat to contact. The change has paid off for him in consistency and saves, but has come at a cost to his strikeout numbers. His K/9 is amongst the lowest of all closers at 6.08 and his BB/9 of 3.90 is a bit higher than you’d like to see. Still, he is incredibly undervalued and should easily eclipse 33 saves this season. Acquire Broxton ASAP, but beware that he could get traded and move Greg Holland into the closers role.
4. Addison Reed, CHW – Everyone was waiting to see Addison Reed come to the majors and close out games just like he did at San Diego St, where he set records. We were all a bit shocked when Hector Santiago got the job, but eventually Reed scored the closer role and has been absolutely dominating. Since taking over May 5, Reed has compiled seven without blowing any. Now, he has been knocked around a bit, but if you remove that one terrible outing where he gave up six runs in a 9-1 rout, then his 4.35 ERA would look much more infantile. Reed’s K/9 and BB/9 are right where you want to see them at 10.09 and 3.35. When he enters the ninth inning with a lead, he doesn’t surrender it. The secret to his success is a 95 MPH that is keeps hitters honest when he throws his 83 MPH slider or his out-pitch 84 MPH change-up. Your chances of trading for Reed are slim, but make the move if you can.
5. Joe Nathan, TEX – Welcome back Joe Nathan. The 37-year old closer, who many of us left for dead is having a resurgent season. First off, he hasn’t given up a run in over a month. He ERA has dipped to 1.75 on the season and he has 13 saves, blowing only one chance all season. While he is pitching for a very good, he hasn’t got as many chances to close out games as his fantasy owners would like. The Rangers are known for winning big, but as the summer heats up, so will the scores in Texas, meaning Nathan will see a lot more action. With a K/9 over 11.00 and one of the lowest BB/9 in he league amongst closers at 0.68m Nathan has proven that he is still one of the top closers in the game. His hall of fame career still has pages to be written. Don’t be shocked if Nathan challenges for 40 saves this season. Grab him before the summer heats him up.