Predicting Who'll Close Games in the Second Half for Tigers, Dodgers and D-Backs

Josh Schoch@JoshSchochAnalyst IIIJuly 18, 2013

The MLB Trade Deadline is drawing nearer, and is just two weeks away. Teams looking for some bullpen help are running out of time.

The Detroit Tigers, Los Angeles Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks are all looking for a new closer, but they might not even be able to find any help.

According to, some of the top guys who are available are Kevin Gregg, Francisco Rodriguez, Jose Veras and Huston Street. But will these guys all find new homes? And will those homes be Detroit, Los Angeles, and/or Arizona?

Let's take a look at who will be closing games for each of these three teams by the end of the year.


Detroit Tigers: Jesse Crain

Jose Valverde just hasn't been as good as expected in 2013.

Just two years after notching 49 saves in 49 opportunities, Valverde has been designated for assignment, and the Tigers are looking for a new closer.

The team has been rumored to be checking out Philadelphia Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon, but Danny Knobler of CBS Sports has called that trade unlikely, as the Phillies look like buyers, not sellers.

The team has also been connected to Francisco Rodriguez, but K-Rod will be featured later in this article, as the Tigers will fall short for him.

The future closer for the Tigers isn't even a closer right now—it's reliever Jesse Crain of the Chicago White Sox.

According to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, the White Sox are willing to trade anyone except for Chris Sale and Paul Konerko. which leaves Crain on the block.

The right-handed Crain has posted an ERA of 0.74 this season, and he hopes to come off the DL soon.

If the White Sox are willing to deal the 32-year-old Crain, the Tigers have been connected with Crain by Phil Rogers of The Chicago Tribune. He has been fantastic when he's pitched this season, and Crain would be a nice addition to the Tigers.

If Detroit is willing to give up OF Avisail Garcia to get his deal done then Crain will likely be closing in Detroit by the end of the year.


Los Angeles Dodgers: John Axford

Los Dodgers have not been as active in the closer market as the other two teams on this list, but they'll still come away with a new guy in the 'pen.

The Dodgers have been linked to the Milwaukee Brewers' bullpen by Danny Knobler as well, but the top prize in Milwaukee won't be headed to L.A.

The Dodgers will have to settle for John Axford, who has found success closing in the past, notching 46 saves in 48 opportunities in 2011. However, after blowing nine saves in 2012, he was moved into a non-closing role this season.

Axford has been called a risky move by scouts, however, as Knobler reported.

Axford's a risk. His stuff is good, but the command isn't there. I'd be worried about putting him in the eighth inning. K-Rod's changeup is really coming back. He might help someone.

While it is a risky move, it might be the only one left for the Dodgers by the end of the deadline, as they haven't been as active as they should be.

The team doesn't have a ton of options, and in the last few days of July we will see the team acquire Axford for a top prospect like P Chris Withrow.

Axford will struggle as a closer once again, and while he'll keep the role, he'll contribute to the team missing the playoffs.


Arizona Diamondbacks: Francisco Rodriguez

I've already written about how the Diamondbacks could potentially trade for both Yovani Gallardo and Francisco Rodriguez from the Milwaukee Brewers, and I stand by that possible trade.

The D-Backs desperately need help in the bullpen, and you can bet that it will be a Brewer closing for them by the end of the year in either K-Rod or John Axford.

K-Rod has been as good as ever this season, posting a 1.19 ERA and a 1.06 WHIP. He has also notched saves in all nine opportunities he had.

Jon Morosi of Fox Sports first reported the potential mega-deal.

The Diamondbacks and Brewers are in the midst of ongoing discussions about starter Yovani Gallardo and relievers John Axford, Jim Henderson, and Francisco Rodriguez, the sources said.

The Diamondbacks’ farm system is deep enough that they could conceivably acquire Gallardo and one of the relievers.

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports then chimed in, reporting that LHP Tyler Skaggs would likely be involved in the deal to get the Brewers interested.

The Diamondbacks have suffered a ton of injuries to their pitchers, which is why the team is so desperate to trade for pitchers that it would part with a guy like Skaggs.

If Arizona throws in another talented prospect or two, this deal has a good chance of getting done and both teams would benefit greatly.


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