The heating up period before the trade deadline is all about pitchers, starting and relievers. It seems the Chicago Cubs, Washington Nationals, Texas Rangers and San Francisco Giants are all about finding someone to help in their bullpen.
It’s slightly surprising to see the Nationals on the list, with a bullpen that’s fourth in major league baseball by ERA (3.15). Jonathan Papelbon hasn’t been posting the best numbers, and the Nationals are thinking about bringing in some closing help, although he might not be too happy about it. He has a 2.83 ERA, 1.186 WHIP and 3.38 k-to-bb ratio, all worse than last season. He is 19-for-21 in saving situations, but might not stop the Nats from making it two years in a row of bringing in someone to close or help with it. It’s a bit more reasonable to see the Giants and Rangers on the “need help” list considering all the injuries to their bullpen players. All three teams have been linked to Aroldis Chapman and Andrew Miller of the New York Yankees.
Two players also getting a lot of interest from teams looking for relief help are Jeremy Jeffress (2.35 ERA, 1.330 WHIP) and Will Smith (2.12 ERA, 0.880 WHIP) from the Milwaukee Brewers. Both are young (under 29), with Smith having a very good season, despite a stint on the DL which actually helped Jeffress get his foot in the door.
The Cubs are another team trying to find some help to their recent losing streak and their bullpen woes. Despite being linked to players all over the two leagues, they might end up turning to Joe Nathan, who is coming off a second Tommy John surgery, and signed a minor league contract with the team. The 41-year old, with 377 career saves, has six All-Star appearances, but hasn’t been in pleasing form since 2013 when he played for the Rangers, and it’s doubtful he’ll be the one to fix the Cubs bullpen.