In July and even into August I expect to see several trades involving closers and setup men.   Teams are always in need of good relief pitching and start stacking their bullpens for a playoff run. I will give you the list of teams that will be on the nut for back-end relievers who will either become closers or be acquired to set up their current closer. 

This is critical to pay attention to if it impacts your fantasy baseball bullpen. I will recommend over the coming weeks on who to trade and who to keep. The last thing any fantasy manager wants to face is their prized closer being traded and becoming a setup man.

New York Yankees

The Yankees bullpen was the Achilles heal of the team to start the season. They signed an aging Rafeal Soriano, who proved to be unsuccessful as a setup man and is now on the 60-day DL. While they have the best closer in the history of baseball, even Rivera has been suspect at times and getting to him late in the game could get tough down the stretch. 

Also, remove Joba Chamberlain from the equation. He is out for the season with Tommy John surgery. David Robertson has pitched great, but by nature is not a setup man. The Yankees have added a slew of veterans like buddy Carlyle and Cory Wade and only have one left-handed pitcher in Boone Logan.

What They Need

Expect the Yankees to trade for an established closer. They will go after someone heavy who can command the strike zone and get strikeouts. They will also look to get another lefty for late-inning duties against lefty loaded teams like the Red Sox.

Boston Red Sox

The Red Sox have a solid one-two punch with Daniel Bard and Jonathan Papelbon, so not much will be needed in that area. Matt Albers has filled in nicely for Bobby Jenks in the seventh-inning role, but the Red Sox may want to go deeper. They also lack a lefty in the bullpen, only have rookie Tommy Hottovy with Franklin Morales on the DL.

I can see the Red Sox looking for another lefty and in the past they have had interest in Brian Fuentes. They may look to replace prospect SP Michael Bowden in the bullpen with a strong seventh-inning pitcher.

What They Need

At the very least the Red Sox need a good effective lefty in that bullpen. They will also need another closer to back up Papelbon and Bard. Papelbon has his inning limit of 70 as everyone knows. We don’t know for sure when Jenks is coming back and even how effective he can be.

Colorado Rockies 

The Rockies are only four games out and are expected to make a run in the second half of the season as they always do.  In order to do that they will have to shore up their bullpen and protect closer Huston Street from being over worked. 

Matt Lindstrom and Matt Belisle have pitched well in the setup role, and Rafael Betancourt gives them veteran fire power in the late innings as well. They currently roster two lefties, Matt Reynolds and Rex Brothers. If the Rockies make a run, they need to protect their starters (who stink this year) with a bullpen that can go three or four innings almost every night.

What They Need

A proven lefty. After trading Morales, they have a big hole to fill. Pitching in Colorado, they can use a closer that will become a setup man who doesn’t pitch to contact like Carlos Marmol.

St. Louis Cardinals

The Cardinals bullpen is a mess, but that was expected when your opening day closer is Ryan Franklin. Franklin has almost become a memory in that bullpen and is all but been replaced by Fernando Salas. While Salas has pitched well, he’s the ideal closer for Tony LaRussa. He’s actually an ideal setup man with a rubber arm that can go two inning if needed.

LaRussa wants a veteran and as long as the Cardinals are positioned to make a run they will trade for one. Eduardo Sanchez is on the DL, but will be invaluable to the bullpen along with Jason Motte. Mitchell Boggs is also an effective middle man, but lefties Trever Miller and Brian Tallet are leftovers from other teams and won’t do well down the stretch. The Cardinals bullpen is ranked 24th in ERA at 4.30 and are a miserable 22-for-35 in saves.

What They Need

Expect the Cardinals to sign a closer to closeout games. LaRussa’s dream would be a Sanchez/Motte seventh inning, Fernando Salas eighth inning and Heath Bell in the ninth.

Philadelphia Phillies 

The Phillies don’t have the biggest needs and will not be desperate to add to their bullpen. However, they have a team built to win and will fill any holes they feel that they have. Right now their bullpen is stable with Madson, Bastardo, and the always ailing Jose Contreras. They are backed up by aging Danys Baez, then Kyle Kendrick, Juan Perez and David Herndon. 

They are expecting Brad Lidge to return. If he returns to form and is Castor Lidge and not Pollux Lidge (Gemini Twins), then he will fill the hole they need at back up closer/setup man.

What They Need

Phillies need a proven veteran lefty.  If Lidge doesn’t work out and if Contreras is hurt as we expect, they will go after a second closer like Heath Bell.

Texas Rangers 

For a team in first place, the Rangers have one of the worst bullpens. Their bullpen is ranked 26th with a 4.38 ERA and is 19-for-31 in saves. Closer Neftali Feliz has been erratic all season and has four blown saves already. After Feliz they have two aging lefties in Darren Oliver and Arthur Rhodes. Mark Lowe, who was once considered for closer, hasn’t had a good season and was demoted to AAA for a short amount of time.

If the Rangers want to find success in the playoffs or even make it, they will need to add one or even two more arms to their bullpen.

What They Need

The Rangers need a top-flight setup man and frankly a second closer—someone along the lines of Carlos Marmol, Joel Hanrahan or Joakim Soria. A Fernando Rodney for the seventh inning would help as well.

Cleveland Indians

The Indians have been a pleasant surprise in 2011, but they are fading. If they can hold on, they will make a move to add depth to their bullpen, which ranks fourth overall with a 2.99 ERA. Chris Perez has done an outstanding job, but at 26 he only has 190 innings in his career and has never pitched more than 63. In fact, they only have one reliever (Chad Durbin) over the age of 28.

What They Need

Another lefty to complement Tony Sipp. Possibly another closer to add depth for setting up Perez or resting him.

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