Here are the July reliever rankings. As always, players are ranked based on how I believe they will perform in 5x5 scoring over the rest of the season. Included along with the position rankings you'll find a fully updated top 300 list.
Relief pitcher Rankings
Dropping off: Brandon League (No. 23), Jose Valverde (No. 38), Brian Wilson (No. 48), Carter Capps (No. 51), Ryan Madson (No. 57), Sam LeCure (No. 59), Robert Coello (No. 61), J.J. Hoover (No. 66), Tim Collins (No. 69), Joe Smith (No. 70)
- Teams that might trade their closers this month:
Somewhat likely: Cubs, Astros, Marlins, Phillies
Less likely: White Sox, Twins, Indians, Mets, Rockies, Padres
I didn't include the Brewers in the list, since they'll keep their closer (Henderson). However, they should have both K-Rod and Axford on the block, and it's possible one of them could close for another team, though it's more likely that they'd remain setup men.
Gregg would seem to be the closer most likely to go, and it's a mess behind him in the Cubs pen, one without even Carlos Marmol as a fallback option any longer. Russell, Carlos Villanueva and Parker look like the favorite for saves at the moment, but it's such a fluid situation that none crack the top 60 here. Villanueva remains listed with the starting pitchers since he's a candidate to go back into the rotation when Garza is traded.
The Astros could close with either Ambriz or Cisnero if Veras goes. Ambriz has been the eighth-inning guy, so he would seem to have the early edge. Cisnero looks like the better pitcher, though I doubt he'll maintain anything close to his current 2.14 ERA.
Ramos hasn't been good enough to deserve a look as the sole closer in Miami if Cishek is traded, but I still think he's the best bet of the group. My guess is that they'll end up keeping Cishek anyway since no one seems likely to step forward with a particularly bold offer.
I don't think Papelbon goes either, but if it happens, Bastardo would seem to be the top choice for saves in Philadelphia. Ideally, Phillippe Aumont would step up and give the Phillies a righty alternative, but that still may be a ways off from happening.
As for the rest: the White Sox are far more likely to trade Crain than Reed, though they've moved young relievers before when the price was right. The Twins have Perkins signed cheap for a couple of more years, so they have little interest in making a move. Trading Perez would be a gutsy move for the Indians. I think it's unlikely, but they could go back to Pestano if it happens. Parnell is in the same class with Reed, and I don't imagine that another team will step forward with the kind of offer it would take to pry him away from the Mets. In Colorado, Brothers has emerged as the team's best reliever. The Rockies, though, are probably going to have to keep both he and Betancourt, even if Brothers takes over as closer. The Padres will probably be open to moving Street, but as awful as he's looked, it seems unlikely that anyone will want him.
- I'm keeping Bailey ranked above Uehara in Boston. This is the first time in his career that he's ever struggled like this, and the Red Sox had no choice but to replace him for a spell. However, he is healthy and a quick turnaround remains a possibility. The Red Sox would prefer to have Uehara in a setup role, so there's little doubt they'll go back to Bailey once he shows he's ready.
- I'm also sticking with the former closer in Seattle, even though Wilhelmsen is a mess right now. Medina has a long history of control problems and while Perez has been a great find, he's still primarily a matchup guy. I'd take Medina for July, but Wilhelmsen for the rest of the season.
- Thanks to the spectacular failures of Bell, Putz is waltzing right back into his old closer gig in Arizona. However, I remain skeptical about his chances of holding up while pitching with a damaged elbow. That's why he comes in at No. 30 rather than 10 spots higher.
- Because of the possibility they'll become setup men as a result of trades, Gregg and Veras are also lower than they otherwise might be.
- Benoit is another who could be turned back into a setup man by a trade, though in his case, it'd be because the Tigers would acquire someone to close over him. I think that's likely to happen at the end of the month, but if it doesn't, it's entirely possible Benoit will be a top-15 fantasy closer the rest of the way.
|11||Addison Reed||White Sox||10||9||6|
|17||Casey Janssen||Blue Jays||25||21||18|
|26||Andrew Bailey||Red Sox||63||29||19|
|31||Koji Uehara||Red Sox||59||52||50|
|42||Jesse Crain||White Sox||101||NR||55|
|45||Drew Smyly||Tigers||151 SP||91 SP||105 SP|
|54||Junichi Tazawa||Red Sox||54||47||41|
|55||Jose Cisnero||Astros||338 SP||NR||NR|