It's always hard to say goodbye, but for two teams, the time has come.
In New York, Jason Isringhausen (3.72 ERA, five saves) sounded like a great idea for the Mets. The 38-year old was on the verge of 300 saves and provided a steady hand for a franchise in flux. But it's time for a change in Flushing, Queens. Izzy has given up seven runs in his last five innings and appears to be running out of gas. It was nice while it lasted, right?
Unfortunately for the Mets, the heir apparent, Bobby Parnell (3.75 ERA, 11.00 K/9), hasn't been much better. The young flamethrower had a 4.97 ERA in July, and though he has the arsenal for the ninth inning (his fastball averages 97 mph), his mental makeup just isn't there yet. Expect the Mets to let him work through the growing pains as the season progresses as he is their best long-term bet. Accordingly, he's worth a speculative add in keeper leagues, but be warned that the immediate future might be a bit bumpy.
North of the border, it's also time to make a change. The Blue Jays' closing situation has been a mess all season, but it appears manager John Farrell has settled on 6-foot-11 Jon Rauch (4.53 ERA, 11 saves, 6.04 K/9). Rauch should not be closing. He's got mediocre stuff and he's been awful as of late, serving up six runs in his last 5.1 innings.
Frank Francisco (4.41 ERA, 10 saves, 10.13 K/9) would be a much better option for the Jays. The 31-year old hasn't been scored upon in his last seven innings, and with his devastating split-finger fastball, he's much better suited for the ninth inning. Farrell has shown an undeserved allegiance to Rauch, but with his closer sidelined for a couple days, it could be Francisco's time to shine. Those in desperate need of saves should take a flier on Francisco, who's owned in only 42.9 percent of leagues.
How did the rest of the major league bullpens fare this week? Let's take a look around the league:
Will the Padres trade Bell (2.23 ERA, 31 saves, 6.90 K/9) in August? They might have to. Bell said he plans to accept arbitration this offseason if he and the Padres are unable to agree to a long-term deal. The Padres can't afford to sign Bell to a long-term pact and they're also going to have trouble footing the bill for an arbitration sum that could hit $12 million. Bell owners, buckle up.
Marmol (3.61 ERA, 24 saves, 11.35 K/9) is back. The Cubs' closer hasn't yielded a run in his last five innings, and after walking 11 batters in July, he's walked only one in August. His job has never been safer. ... Walden (2.80 ERA, 25 saves, 9.60 K/9) has been used sparingly since his implosion against the Indians on July 25, but he seems to be back on track. The rookie has been a pleasant surprise for fantasy owners who scooped him up.
Street is struggling. He's given up six runs in his last five innings, and like Isringhausen, he might just be running out of steam. Street is signed through 2013, however, which means promising hurler Rex Brothers (4.18 ERA, 13.31 K/9) won't get a shot unless the Rockies shut Street down. ... Perez has a 7.12 ERA since the beginning of July, but he isn't losing his job anytime soon. The opportunity to sell high is gone so just enjoy the saves. ... The Cardinals didn't trade for a new closer and maybe Lance Lynn is the reason why. The Cardinals rookie (3.27 ERA, one save, 10.09 K/9) picked up a save last week and he's moved into the setup role in St. Louis. He's worth an add in deep NL-only leagues.
Nathan was stellar in July (11.1 innings, 0.79 ERA, five saves) but he's off to a rocky start in August (1.2 innings, 10.80 ERA). With no one else stepping up in Minnesota, his job is safe.
Backups who will ensure you're banking saves even if your closer goes down: