July 30, 2016
Pittsburgh Pirates — The Pirates are fielding offers from the Nationals, Indians, and Giants for closer Mark Melancon. Although Pittsburgh is in the playoff hunt and Melancon has been one of the most effective closers in the game, the team may be looking to improve other areas of its roster while trusting some combination of Neftali Feliz and Tony Watson in the ninth. Watson, a lefty, has owned the eighth most of the year, while Feliz has 98 career saves and better peripherals, including a 10.3 K/9 ratio. We still give Feliz a slight edge, but both could be excellent speculative adds; the Pirates are a good team that plays a lot of close games.
Hierarchy remains: Melancon | Feliz | Watson.
Washington Nationals — After the Nationals’ bullpen was rescued in the eighth by a triple play, Felipe Rivero headed out for the save situation. Jonathan Papelbon was unavailable after pitching in four of the last six games. Rivero got the first two outs before giving up a single and being pulled for Shawn Kelley, who secured the vulture save. Although GM Mike Rizzo gave Papelbon a vote of confidence after the game, Dusty Baker suggested that the righthander would be examined after the game and could be headed to the DL. Whether it’s an injury, trade, or straight-up demotion, either way Papelbon is sitting on a burning hot seat.
Hierarchy remains: Papelbon | Kelley | Rivero.
Atlanta Braves — Jim Johnson picked up his fifth save of the year by successfully protecting a one-run lead last night. With Atlanta in selling mode, however, teams like the Mets are inquiring about Johnson, and the Braves could be close to moving him. If he gets traded, it seems that Mauricio Cabrera — who pitched another clean eighth for his third straight hold — would get the first crack at saves.
Hierarchy remains: Johnson | Cabrera | Withrow.
Tampa Bay Rays — Former All-Star closer Brad Boxberger was activated from the disabled list on Friday. Although he’s unlikely to unseat Alex Colome, he should immediately enter the late-inning conversation, just ahead of Kevin Jepsen and Erasmo Ramirez.
Updated hierarchy: Colome | Cedeno | Boxberger.
Texas Rangers — Three holds over the last week entitles Keone Kela to return to the Rangers hierarchy.
Updated hierarchy: Dyson | Diekman | Kela.
San Diego Padres — The Padres acquired Carter Capps in a seven-player deal with Miami. Capps is out for the year after Tommy John surgery, but is a strong candidate to close in San Diego next season.
Hierarchy remains: Maurer | Buchter | Hand.
VULTURE SAVE WATCH
1. Chris Withrow, Atlanta Braves — Both Jim Johnson and Mauricio Cabrera have pitched in three of four games.