With the trade deadline looming, a handful of players are about to be thrust into fantasy relevance. Sometimes, like in the case of Jeff Keppinger, these players are the guys who get dealt, as a trade lands them in a better fantasy environment. More often, however, it's the guys left behind who fill the role of their departed former teammate. With the deadline 10 days away, the time to act on these maturing understudies is now.
Mike Adams, Padres -- Adams actually appears to be drawing more interest than Padres closer Heath Bell, but reports out of San Diego are that Adams is staying put. The Padres have been unwilling to give Bell away at a price not to their liking the past few years, but with Bell in the last season of a contract in 2011 and a lock to sign elsewhere after the season, they'll almost certainly move him if they can. If and when Bell gets traded, Adams will step right into the closer's role. He has 43 strikeouts in 44 innings this year to go along with a sterling 1.23 ERA and 0.73 WHIP.
Steve Cishek, Marlins -- Leo Nunez already appears to have one foot out the door in Florida. Assuming he gets moved, there's no ready-made replacement for the closer's job. While Mike Dunn, Randy Choate and Edward Mujica all could claim the role, the bet here is that Cishek ends up in the chair. Choate is a true LOOGY, while Mujica doesn't have the stuff to miss enough bats to warrant being a closer. That leaves Dunn and Cishek, and while we've only seen 25.1 innings from the latter this year, they've been very impressive. Cishek has fanned 27 batters while walking just six and allowing a scant six earned runs.
Jason Kipnis, Indians -- There's really nothing more for Kipnis to accomplish at Triple-A Columbus. The 24-year old is hitting .285/.368/.492 with 12 homers, 54 RBI and 12 steals in 13 attempts. The Indians can't put up with Orlando Cabrera much longer, and once Kipnis is up he immediately becomes a player who should be universally owned. Second base is a constant wasteland. Kipnis wants to help.
Nate Schierholtz, Giants -- Since the calendar turned to July, Schierholtz has been one of the hottest hitters in the majors. A 24-for-67 stretch with three homers has raised Schierholtz's slash to .289/.335/.446 from .269/.325/.414. He has settled into the cleanup spot in San Francisco's offense, and brought some stability to the lineup. The Giants have been vocal about their desire to add another bat and have been linked loosely to Carlos Beltran, but as long as Schierholtz is playing every day, he's a starter in five-outfielder formats.
Sean Marshall, Cubs -- Despite Tuesday's struggles, Marshall should get most of the save chances for the Cubs while Carlos Marmol regains his confidence.
Jeff Keppinger, Giants -- Keppinger will likely play most every day for the Giants, making him a better play in NL leagues than he was with the Astros.
Carlos Guillen, Tigers -- Guillen will take over the second base job for the Tigers, and while he's beyond his best days, he should be owned in all AL leagues.
Jake McGee, Rays -- This is a speculative grab for AL-only leagues, as Kyle Farnsworth has struggled of late. Should his issues continue, McGee could take over as closer.
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