We're nearing the All-Star break, which means some major league players are nearly broken themselves.
In Arizona, the injury bug has bitten J.J. Putz (3.12 ERA, 21 saves). The Diamondbacks placed Putz on the DL on July 1 with right elbow tendinitis, and the injury might help explain Putz's 6.17 ERA in June. Given Putz's injury history, the latest scrape is worrisome. GM Kevin Towers is "hopeful" Putz can return shortly after the All-Star break, but with Putz's age (34), that seems optimistic.
With Putz sidelined indefinitely, the D'backs have turned to David Hernandez (3.46 ERA, four saves, 10.38 K/9) in the ninth inning. A converted starter, Hernandez was shipped from the Orioles to the Diamondbacks last winter and immediately stepped into the setup role in front of Putz. With an arsenal like his, he could stay in the closer role for good, but he needs to cut down on the walks (5.08 BB/9) to remain successful. Hernandez is owned in only 27.4 percent of leagues, and given his long-term potential, that number is way too low.
Farther east, Ryan Madson (2.03 ERA, 15 saves) is just the latest Phillies closer to land on the DL. Before Madson landed on the DL with a bruised hand on June 28, the Phillies had already lost both Jose Contreras and Brad Lidge to various ailments. While the news on Lidge and Contreras isn't great, there's reason for optimism with Madson. The right-hander threw a successful bullpen session on Tuesday, and the Phillies expect him to return immediately after the All-Star break.
In the meantime, those chasing saves should look to Antonio Bastardo (0.87 ERA, five saves, 10.16 K/9), who has filled in admirably since Madson went down, and yet he's still owned in only 74.1 percent of leagues. Bastardo should be owned in all leagues until at least the All-Star break, and even after Madson returns, the left-hander can contribute in strikeouts, ERA and WHIP.
How did the rest of the major league bullpens fare this week? Let's take a look around the league:
It's been a rough week for Rivera. The Yankees' closer blew his fourth save of the season against the crosstown Mets on Sunday, and he's currently nursing a sore right triceps. Rivera said there's no need for concern, but those in need of saves in AL-only leagues should add David Robertson.
Valverde surrendered three runs in the ninth inning against the Giants on Friday, snapping a 13-game scoreless streak. The Tigers' closer is the proud owner of a 3.00 ERA and 8.75 K/9 and is still one of the top-flight closers in the league. ... Bailey (0.73 ERA, seven saves) has saved seven straight games and given up only one earned run since he was activated from the DL in late May. Needless to say, he's back.
The market for K-Rod is heating up and there is speculation Bobby Parnell (2.78 ERA, 10.72 K/9) could step in once the Mets' closer is dealt. Parnell has a closer's arsenal and is worth a speculative add in NL-only leagues. ... Salas (2.54 ERA, 15 saves) rebounded last week, and boy did he need it. After serving up five earned runs in 4.2 innings, Salas followed up with 4.2 scoreless innings. He's not going to lose his job to anyone else on the current roster anytime soon.
Melancon (3.23 ERA, six saves) is slumping in a big way. He's given up eight earned runs in his last 5.2 innings. The Astros aren't garnering a ton of save opportunities anyway, but they might turn to Wilton Lopez (3.08 ERA, 58.7 ground-ball percentage) soon. Lopez is only worth an add in the deepest of NL-only leagues. ... Capps has given up nine hits and five earned runs in his last 1.2 innings, but manager Ron Gardenhire said he's sticking with Capps in the ninth inning. Look for that to change if Joe Nathan (6.52 ERA, three saves, 8.84 K/9) can resemble anything close to his former self. The former All-Star is owned in only 36.8 percent of leagues.
Lidge began a rehab assignment this week, but with Madson on the mend and Bastardo holding it down in his stead, Lidge isn't relevant in fantasy leagues right now.
Backups who will ensure you're banking saves even if your closer goes down: