As we approach the 2014 MLB trade deadline, it is possible and likely that some current closers on struggling teams could be traded to contenders either to assume closing duties or to be used as setup men an add depth to a bullpen. That scenario could happen to Joe Smith owners in fantasy baseball if the Los Angeles Angels do indeed acquire San Diego Padres closer Huston Street as is being rumored. Those owners who find themselves looking for a closer to replace Smith should keep an eye on the Chicago Cubs’ RHP, Hector Rondon.
Rondon’s statistics do not overwhelm at first glance, but after digging a bit deeper, it is apparent that Rondon has been better than his statline indicates initially. He has pitched to an 3.93 ERA in 35 games which is a tad high, but that number is somewhat inflated by one bad outing against the Cincinnati Reds where he gave up five earned runs in just 0.2 innings.
While his WHIP certainly leaves more to be desired at 1.398, Rondon has converted 11 of 14 save opportunities, and he has struck out 39 batters in 34.1 innings, good for a stellar 10.2 K/9 ratio. Rondon has been able to stay away from giving up the long ball with just a 0.3 HR/9 which is a great sign, and if the 26-year-old continues to improve his 3.4 BB/9 like he has since last season when it was 4.1, his WHIP will continue to drop and he should finish the season closer to 1.30 or under which is far more conducive to success in fantasy baseball.
Rondon is currently available in 43.6 percent of ESPN leagues, and in 61 percent on Yahoo!. He blew a save in his last performance before the All-Star break against the Atlanta Braves which has made some owners apprehensive about adding him to their rosters, but he ultimately got the win after being picked up by his offense.
For cautious owners, I suggest monitoring Rondon until he proves he can keep his WHIP under control a bit more. However, I anticipate he could be picked up rapidly after the smoke clears from trade season and he might currently warrant a spot on your roster to add some depth at the position if nothing else.