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Shuffle Up: Craig Kimbrel leads the save chase

Today we move into the bullpen and rank the closing relievers for the balance of the season. This isn't meant to be a full-on audit of every middle reliever under the sun — we're just in it for the handshakes, the Sons of Jerome Holtzman. As always, assume a 5x5 scoring format, players at the same price are considered even, and don't obsess over the prices on their own but rather how they relate to other players.

$24 Craig Kimbrel(notes)
$23 Mariano Rivera(notes)
$23 Jonathan Papelbon(notes)
$23 John Axford(notes)
$22 Joel Hanrahan(notes)
$21 Brian Wilson(notes)
$21 Heath Bell(notes)
$20 Sergio Santos(notes)
$19 Jose Valverde(notes)
$19 Joakim Soria(notes)

Kimbrel steadied himself after a rough patch and you have to love that ridiculous strikeout rate (84 punchouts in 53 innings). The walk total (21) is a little higher than we'd like, but when you're that difficult to hit, you're going to convert more often than not. Get some mantle space cleared off, flamethrower: the Rookie of the Year hardware is coming your way. … Axford's worst outing of the year came on opening day, a very public meltdown against Cincinnati. He's blown one save since. Enjoy the eighth inning, K-Rod. … Valverde's having a strange year, converting 28 consecutive save chances despite a 1.37 WHIP. I can't shake the feeling that he's going to hurt the Tigers down the stretch, or perhaps in the playoffs, with a misstep at the wrong time. He's also one of the slowest workers in the majors, downright maddening to watch. … Imagine how dominant Santos could be when he fully understands the nuances of this pitching thing. It's been a train wreck on the south side, but he's one story Sox fans can rally around.

$18 J.J. Putz(notes)
$18 Andrew Bailey(notes)
$17 Carlos Marmol(notes)
$17 Drew Storen(notes)
$17 Chris Perez(notes)
$17 Kyle Farnsworth(notes)
$17 Joe Nathan(notes)
$16 Neftali Feliz(notes)
$16 Leo Nunez(notes)
$16 Francisco Cordero(notes)
$16 Fernando Salas(notes)
$15 Ryan Madson(notes)
$15 Huston Street(notes)
$14 Jordan Walden(notes)
$14 Jason Isringhausen(notes)
$14 Javy Guerra(notes)

Putz was given the baton right away off his DL stint, so there's no controversy in the desert. … Marmol's been a carnival ride for a while but the slider was biting Sunday night in St. Louis. … Nunez didn't move the needle at the trade deadline, no great shock. Credit the big-league GMs for some shrewd shopping at the thrift store: most of them realized it was more cost efficient to target a solid set-up man with bankable skills rather than chase the myth of the "proven closer." As a result, we didn't see any closing situations flip over the last 72 hours, a modest surprise.

$13 Brandon League(notes)
$12 Mark Melancon(notes)
$12 Jon Rauch(notes)
$10 Kevin Gregg(notes)
$8 Mike Adams(notes)
$7 Aroldis Chapman(notes)
$6 Jonny Venters(notes)
$6 Daniel Bard(notes)
$5 Antonio Bastardo(notes)
$5 Sean Marshall(notes)
$5 Sergio Romo(notes)

Melancon is a solid reliever on a terrible team, while Gregg is a mediocre reliever on a terrible team. Every full-fledged closer is worth owning in most standard mixed leagues, but these guys could have an extended opportunity drought at any time (ask the Brandon League owners, they know all about it). … Chapman's electric stuff and strikeout rate jump up at you, but Dusty Baker is one of the slowest managers when it comes to changing roles. Cordero will get plenty of leash. It's doubtful the Reds will pick up Cordero's option, however. … Bastardo did nothing wrong in the big chair, but you can say the same thing about Madson, too. At least we don't have to watch Brad Lidge(notes) hand away games in the ninth any more.

$4 Francisco Rodriguez
$4 David Hernandez(notes)
$4 Chris Sale(notes)
$4 Tyler Clippard(notes)
$3 Grant Balfour(notes)
$3 Luke Gregerson(notes)
$2 Matt Thornton(notes)
$2 Edward Mujica(notes)
$2 Glen Perkins(notes)
$2 Jesse Crain(notes)
$2 Kenley Jansen(notes)
$2 Bobby Parnell(notes)
$2 Vinnie Pestano(notes)
$2 Jim Johnson(notes)
$2 Jeremy Affeldt(notes)
$2 Octavio Dotel(notes)
$1 Matt Capps(notes)
$1 Frank Francisco(notes)
$1 Brian Fuentes(notes)
$1 Joaquin Benoit(notes)
$1 Brad Ziegler(notes)

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