Last week, we touched on closers who could keep their jobs in 2012. Let's do the opposite this week.
Francisco Cordero is having a fine season (2.30 ERA, 32 saves), but he's unlikely to be closing in Cincinnati next season. The current Reds' closer is a free agent at season's end, and while the Reds have discussed extending his deal, he's clearly on the decline. This season, his K/9 dipped from 7.31 to 5.74 and his 2.30 ERA is largely the product of some good luck (.201 BABIP, 83.7 left on base percentage). With Aroldis Chapman reportedly destined for the starting rotation, the Reds have few in-house candidates to replace Cordero, but they'd be better served by finding a better, cheaper option.
Joe Nathan's contract also puts his 2012 status in question. Nathan (4.76 ERA, 13 saves, 8.85 K/9) has a $12.5 million club option for next year that the Twins are certain to buy out. He's been decent since taking the ninth inning from Matt Capps, but he's clearly a shadow of his former self. Glen Perkins (2.72 ERA, 9.75 K/9) has stepped up for the Twinkies this year, and he's likely to get the first shot at the job when the Twins part ways with Nathan and Capps (who's also a free agent) in the offseason.
Chris Perez is under the Indians' control through '14, but his job could be in danger next spring. Perez posted a 2.43 ERA before the All-Star break, but since then, he's carrying a 4.64 ERA with three blown saves and three losses. The Indians look like they'll stick with Perez for the rest of '11, but Vinnie Pestano (2.40 ERA, two saves, 12.14 K/9) may force their hand next year. The Indians' reliever broke out this year and with his arsenal, he's worth a speculative add in all AL-only leagues if Perez continues to struggle.
The Tigers haven't been afraid to open the coffers in the past, but money could rob Jose Valverde of a job. Valverde (2.56 ERA, 8.10 K/9) has been stellar in '11 and he's currently tied for the league lead with 43 saves for the first-place Tigers. But is Detroit willing to spend big on another reliever after inking Joaquin Benoit to a three-year, $16.5 million contract last year? It remains to be seen, but Benoit could cost Valverde a spot in Detroit.
How did the rest of the major league bullpens fare this week? Let's take a look around the league:
Craig KimbrelJohn AxfordJonathan PapelbonMariano RiveraJoel HanrahanHeath Bell
Papelbon (2.65 ERA, 29 saves, 11.71 K/9) will definitely be closing in '12, but it might not be in Boston. The Red Sox closer will be a free agent at season's end and the Red Sox have a viable replacement in Daniel Bard (2.88 ERA, 9.32 K/9) waiting in the wings. Will Boston spend to keep Papelbon? If they don't, someone else will.
J.J. PutzBrandon LeagueCarlos MarmolJose ValverdeDrew StorenFrancisco CorderoRyan Madson
Marmol (4.01 ERA, 34 saves, 11.76 K/9) has turned in four straight scoreless outings since serving up a grand slam to Derek Lee on Sept. 3. His job is safe for '12, when he'll hopefully have a more reasonable HR/FB rate (it's 6.3 percent versus 1.6 percent last year). ... The Phillies' payroll currently sits at $165.9 million. Do they want to add to that by re-signing Madson (2.68 ERA, 30 saves, 9.06 K/9) to a big deal? It'd be an odd time for them to get cheap, but they have Antonio Bastardo (1.99 ERA, eight saves, 10.93 K/9) waiting in the wings.
Andrew BaileyNeftali FelizJordan WaldenJoakim SoriaChris PerezJavy GuerraKyle FarnsworthLeo NunezSergio Santos
Farnsworth's elbow has flared up again and he's expected to receive a couple days of rest. Expect Joel Peralta to receive any opportunities in the coming days. He's worth an add if a save or two can win you the title.
Rafael BetancourtSantiago CasillaKevin GreggFernando SalasFrank FranciscoMark MelanconJoe NathanBobby Parnell/Manny Acosta
Betancourt has saved three straight games and it doesn't look like Huston Street will regain the job this year. Next year's closer may be decided by an offseason trade, and Betancourt has a much more friendly (see: cheaper) contract. He wouldn't close elsewhere, but he's still worth holding onto in keeper leagues in case he stays in Colorado. ... The Mets are playing the hot hand at this point, rendering Parnell relatively useless this season. Acosta has been the best pitcher there this season, and he's the best bet for '11 if you're chasing saves.
Backups who will ensure you're banking saves even if your closer goes down: