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Closer Report: Thayer back in the picture

Andy Behrens
Yahoo Sports

We've told the Dale Thayer story around here before, and it's a good one. He entered the year with 174 career saves on his resume, 173 of which were earned in the minors. Back in May, when Huston Street hit the disabled list for the first time this season, Thayer seemed like nothing more than a dark-horse candidate to pitch the ninth for the Pads. He eventually emerged as San Diego's interim closer, however, going 5-for-5 in save chances during Street's absence.

Yes, there were a few blow-ups in non-save situations back in May and June, but Thayer's full-season ratios are perfectly respectable (3.51 ERA, 1.12 WHIP), and he's been terrific since the All-Star break (1.17, 0.72). Thayer has allowed just one hit and no walks in six August appearances.

Street returned to the DL over the weekend, this time with a calf strain, so Thayer will get another crack at closing duties. He pitched a 1-2-3 ninth inning on Monday against the Braves (Chipper-Freeman-Uggla), earning his sixth save of the year, No. 180 in his pro career. Thayer has the traditional closer's arsenal (fastball, slider), and you cannot question his closing-quality facial hair. Go get him, saves chasers. He's owned in just 17 percent of Yahoo! leagues.

(Quick note about the "ranks" below: The primary purpose of this feature has always been examine bullpen hierarchies while also tracking job security. That's all. That's what we do here. This is NOT a Shuffle Up of major league closers or bullpens. Please accept our sincere apologies if you feel that one of your team's RPs has been disrespected).

Job Security Index

30. OaklandGrant Balfour, Ryan Cook, Jerry Blevins
29. San Francisco — Jeremy Affeldt, Sergio Romo, Santiago Casilla
28. Minnesota — Jared Burton & Glen Perkins
27. New York Mets — Frank Francisco, Bobby Parnell, Jon Rauch
26. Milwaukee — Jim Henderson, John Axford, Francisco Rodriguez
25. San Diego — Dale Thayer, Luke Gregerson
24. Houston — Wilton Lopez, Wesley Wright
23. BostonAlfredo Aceves, Vicente Padilla, Andrew Bailey
22. Kansas City — Greg Holland, Aaron Crow, Kelvin Herrera
21. Chicago Cubs — Carlos Marmol, Shawn Camp, James Russell
20. Los Angeles Angels — Ernesto Frieri, Kevin Jepsen, LaTroy Hawkins
19. Chicago White Sox — Addison Reed, Brett Myers, Matt Thornton
18. Miami — Steve Cishek, Heath Bell, Mike Dunn
17. Washington — Tyler Clippard, Drew Storen, Sean Burnett
16. Detroit — Jose Valverde, Joaquin Benoit
15. Seattle — Tom Wilhelmsen, Stephen Pryor, Lucas Luetge
14. Toronto — Casey Janssen, Darren Oliver, Steve Delabar
13. Baltimore — Jim Johnson, Pedro Strop
12. Cleveland — Chris Perez, Vinnie Pestano
11. Texas Joe Nathan, Alexi Ogando, Mike Adams
10. Arizona — JJ Putz, David Hernandez
9. Colorado — Rafael Betancourt, Matt Belisle
8. St. Louis — Jason Motte, Mitchell Boggs, Edward Mujica
7. New York Yankees — Rafael Soriano, David Robertson
6. Pittsburgh — Joel Hanrahan, Jason Grilli
5. Tampa Bay — Fernando Rodney, Joel Peralta, Kyle Farnsworth
4. Cincinnati — Aroldis Chapman, Jonathan Broxton, Sean Marshall
3. Los Angeles Dodgers — Kenley Jansen, Ronald Belisario, Brandon League
2. Philadelphia — Jonathan Papelbon, Josh Lindblom
1. Atlanta — Craig Kimbrel, Eric O'Flaherty, Jonny Venters

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Andrew Bailey (thumb) has rejoined the Red Sox 'pen, having completed his rehab stint. Bailey allowed six hits and one walk in 6.1 minor league innings across three levels, striking out 10 batters. His short-term role with Boston isn't clearly defined, but he's making no demands right now. This from the Boston Herald:

"I just want to pitch," Bailey said. "At this point, I've missed enough time to know that (Aceves) has done a hell of a job this year, and the bullpen has been great all year. So for me, I just want to find my role — whatever that is — and finish the year and get to the playoffs."

The Rangers will be limiting closer Joe Nathan's appearances exclusively to save situations going forward, a usage decision that fantasy owners will happily endorse. Nathan gave us a dead-arm scare recently, requiring a cortisone shot to address shoulder inflammation.

Ryan Cook isn't entirely out as Oakland's closer, but he certainly isn't in, either. Grant Balfour earned the most recent save for the A's, pitching a clean inning against the White Sox over the weekend. Oakland manager Bob Melvin offered these thoughts on Cook's role: "It just means maybe we're targeting a spot for him that's not closing at this point. It could be one time, it could be a couple, and he knows that." Hope that clears things up for you. I haven't dropped Cook from any rosters just yet, but I also don't own him in any shallow mixers, where saves are easier to find.

After a miserable first half, Jonny Venters has been pretty good since the All-Star break. Check the totals: 7 G, 6.2 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 4 BB, 9 K. The Braves' lefty has battled elbow soreness recently, but he's reportedly feeling good at the moment, and the results have been encouraging.
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