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Fantasy Baseball Closer Report: Craig Kimbrel has been lights out!

Chicago Cubs’ closer Craig Kimbrel has been perfect in the last two weeks and is trending upward, while Jose Cisnero is gaining ground in Detroit.

MLB: Chicago Cubs at San Diego Padres Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

Each weekend, we discuss the saves situations for each and every one of the 30 teams in the league, with a special emphasis on who is trending up and who is slipping.

This week, we take a look at Craig Kimbrel’s run of dominance and Jose Cisnero trying to gain a hold of the Tigers’ closer role.

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Craig Kimbrel, Chicago Cubs

Craig Kimbrel’s season has been nothing short of amazing. He has pitched 26 innings, and he has struck out 42 hitters with a 0.68 ERA and a 0.65 WHIP. He has added a whopping 17 saves to his 2021 resume.

All of this has come when he was left for dead by many after finishing 2020 with a 5.28 ERA and a mediocre 1.43 WHIP.

In the last 15 days, Kimbrel has five saves in 4.1 frames, with six strikeouts. The best part? He hasn’t allowed runs or even baserunners over that timeframe. S-T-U-D.

Jose Cisnero, Detroit Tigers

Cisnero may not be a household name, but he could have more save chances coming his way in the future given that Michael Fulmer is currently sidelined and the fact that he has converted the last two opportunities the team has generated, on June 5 and June 8.

He lost on Friday without allowing any hits, but the extra-inning rule will do that to you from time to time. Cisnero has been pitching really well in the last two weeks, with a 1.59 ERA, 1.06 WHIP and five punchouts in 5.2 frames, plus the two saves. He may be the name to own in Detroit’s bullpen.

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Aroldis Chapman, New York Yankees

Few closers in baseball have more job security than Aroldis Chapman. He has a 1.96 ERA and 43 strikeouts in just 24 games. But he blew a save in spectacular fashion on Thursday against the Minnesota Twins, allowing four hits – two homers – without getting an out.

He was the losing pitcher on Saturday, too, as he allowed a run – unearned because of the extra-inning runner-on-second rule – to the Philadelphia Phillies. It’s clear that something is wrong with him.

The spin rate in his fastball and slider was way down, as was his velocity, on Thursday. All of this came in the week in which Josh Donaldson, the third baseman of the Twins, opened a dialogue about the use of sticky substances by pitchers that increase spin rate league-wide. Perhaps there is a connection there, although the pitcher denied using anything.

In any case, as long as there are no reports of injury on Chapman, he will remain the Yankees closer, but this week will go down as one of his worst in recent memory.

Hector Neris, Philadelphia Phillies

Neris, like Chapman, had a rough week. He blew the save on Thursday by giving up a game-tying home run to Freddie Freeman, and then proceeded to conceded three runs on Saturday to throw away another save chance, this time against the Yankees.

A Neris pitch was tattooed by DJ LeMahieu, who tied the game with a three-run shot. In both Thursday and Saturday’s games, the Phillies were able to win, but Neris isn’t offering many guarantees these days.

His ERA is up to 3.16 ERA, and he already has four blown saves.

Rafael Montero, Seattle Mariners

Rafael Montero’s roller-coaster season continues. He had been the closer for a while because Kendall Graveman was injured. But the latter returned today, and given how poorly Montero has pitched this season (5.40 ERA) it’s very likely that he won’t see ninth-inning work in the foreseeable future.

Montero blew a save (his sixth of the year) on Saturday by allowing three runs in an inning against the Indians. Rene Rivera, of all people, socked a two-run double off Montero to tie the game.

Situations to monitor

Tampa Bay Rays

Diego Castillo has three saves in the last 15 days, while JP Feyereisen has two and Pete Fairbanks has one. That seems to be the split going forward.

Minnesota Twins

Taylor Rogers got the save on Saturday, but Hansel Robles remains in the mix as the two share the closer role.

Arizona Diamondbacks

Joakim Soria entered Saturday’s game in the ninth and gave up one run, but allowed three runs and blew the save. He appears to be the first option in that bullpen now, though.

Closer chart