Chicago White Sox – Last Thursday, I told people to go all in on Addison Reed. Not long afterward, Chris Sale was removed from the rotation, placed in the bullpen and anointed the closer. Since the proclamation, Sale appeared in the 8th inning, blew the lead and Reed got the save chance in extra innings. Now it seems like Ventura prefers to use Sale in high leverage spots in the eighth. In addition, Sale wants to go back to starting, with the only thing stopping that being his health. And, if he’s not healthy, maybe he won’t hold up in the pen. So, for the second time in a week I’m going all in on Reed. If he’s somehow available, grab him. If you can trade for him at below market value, do so.
Chicago Cubs: Apparently something had to be done, given how precious wins are to the floundering Cubs, so Carlos Marmol was removed from the closer nest. In his place, the Cubs are platooning Rafael Dolis (who I mentioned awhile ago) and James Russell. Of course, I also said that Dolis was a more long-term than immediate option and that he sort of sucks. I still see nothing in Dolis that screams solid reliever. Aside from rookie ball, Dolis hasn’t posted a K:BB rate above 2.00. He’s benefiting from a .193 BABIP despite a huge LD rate. In addition, his swinging strike rate is miniscule. Meanwhile, Russell is a fine reliever, but he probably shouldn’t pitch to righties, as they own a .308/.361/.532 line on him. So he’s not going to see a ton of save opportunities. If I was stuck investing in this situation, I’d do whatever I could to trade Dolis. I want no part of him. This is a situation where you’re better off on the second round of speculation, i.e. a return to Marmol or Kerry Wood.
Miami Marlins: You’d think by now, we’d know who was stepping in for Heath Bell. However, while Edward Mujica has gotten and converted the save opportunities, Steve Cishek hasn’t pitched in five days after he threw five innings over a three day span. There is very little debate that Cishek is the better pitcher and it’s certainly possible he’ll get the save opportunities when he can pitch. However, I’m still backing Mujica. He was acquired in the Maybin trade as a back of the bullpen type. Meanwhile Cishek was a fifth round pick in 2007 and hasn’t closed much in the minors, 19 saves in 175 games. From an organizational perspective, Mujica was acquired more as a closer and Cishek as an arm. I must give made respect for @Jack as he almost got me to flip my position. Let’s just say I’m 51% in support of Mujica. UPDATE: Of course the above was written before the Marlins had a hold situation in the 8th and Mujica came in. Clearly, @Jack was right, I was wrong and Cishek is the guy to own for the time being. And, of course, because it’s the Marlins, Cishek blew the save. He got a lot of help from Giancarlo Stanton who misplayed a bloop single into a triple for Carlos Lee. However, Cishek did manage to walk Chris Johnson, somehow, and gave up a solid single to Brian Bogusevic. Going forward, Cishek will have some issues against lefties, but should remain the front runner in the pen…for now. I’d still like to own both or neither.
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: Scott Downs is feeling no ill-effects of the ball J.P. Arencibia careened off his knee. He should be ready to go. While the Angels went out and traded for Ernesto Frieri and some idiot thought he was the Padres closer of the future, he’s likely behind Jordan Walden in saves. Frieri has stuff well suited for Petco, as he is a huge fly ball pitcher and walks a healthy amount of batters. With him putting a lot of guys on base and a few more fly balls leaving the park, he’ll see a worse ERA in the American League. For the rest of the season, Frieri looks like a 3.65 ERA and 1.33 WHIP guy with 68 K’s.
San Diego Padres: The reason I was so high on Frieri was Andrew Cashner’s inability to throw strikes and how the Padres seem to prefer using Luke Gregerson in the seventh. So, hello Dale Thayer, who was originally signed by the Padres in 2002, but made his debut seven years after that for the Rays. He made his way back to the Padres after the New York Mets found no use for him. Seriously. Exclusively a reliever in the minors, Thayer has a 2.70 ERA, 1.23 WHIP and 3.01 K:BB rate at AAA. Of course a significant amount of those innings came after he turned 28. Thayer isn’t a K guy but a ground ball pitcher in a Jim Johnson mold. So far, his control seems a bit above average. It looks like there is no reason to carry Cashner or Gregerson on your team as Thayer is the handcuff for Huston Street.
New York Yankees: Supposedly, David Robertson is sharing closing duties with Rafael Soriano, but Robertson is by far the one you want to own. He’s simply the best, better than all the rest. I’d bet on Robertson securing 95% of the Yankees saves ROTW. I’d hold Soriano if there aren’t any pressing roster matters for a week or so, but it’s Robertson’s job to run with. Sure, Robertson blew a save last night somewhat spectacularly, but the runs were the first ones he allowed since September of last year. He’ll get a long rope; however don’t go dropping Soriano just yet.
Washington Nationals: Good thing Brad Lidge is, well, Brad Lidge because Henry Rodriguez has been ascending the BS meter. That said, Rodriguez still has impeccable numbers (2.84 ERA, 2.94 FIP, 3.11 xFIP) and has no real challenger in the Nats pen. His walk rate will continue to catch up to him and hurt his ratios, but not enough to cost him interim closing duties. The rest of the year, Rodriguez will post a 3.50 ERA, 1.38 WHIP and 68 K’s.
Toronto Blue Jays – Until his injury, I continually thought Sergio Santos was in no danger of losing the role to Francisco Cordero. Cordero has been birding on a wire for some time now and a trip to the AL East was going to knock him off. Well, Cordero is now out of the interim seat and Casey Janssen is keeping it warm. Drop Cordero, pick up Janssen, who is better, anyway. Look for Janssen to be a 3.72 ERA and 1.22 WHIP guy the rest of the way with maybe 50 K’s. He’s basically Scott Downs for the next couple of weeks. It looks like Santos won’t be ready to go for about 14 days.
Los Angeles Dodgers: It seems if you approach Heath Bell territory on the BS meter (Cordero, Guerra), you lose your job. Kenley Jansen is filthy, capably of putting up a 2.50 ERA, 1.11 WHIP and 80 K’s the rest of the way. Finally, you can drop Javy Guerra.
Cincinnati Reds: On Wednesday, after Sean Marshall gave up a lead-off homer to Ryan Braun in the ninth, Logan Ondrusek began warming in the bullpen. Marshall then fanned Aramis Ramirez and Corey Hart hit a ball to the warning track in dead center. Jonathan Lucroy followed with a single on the 12th pitch of the at bat and then Aoki got a cheap bloop to left. So, Dusty Baker pulled Marshall for Ondrusek. What the what!?! Ondrusek immediately went 3-0 on the mighty Cesar Izturis and walked him two pitches later. Of course, Travis Ishikawa swung on the first pitch of the subsequent AB and hit a weak fly to left. Game over. Ondrusek is a fine, not special reliever, capable of finishing with a 3.15 ERA, 1.25 WHIP and 55 K’s. He’s no Aroldis Chapman or Sean Marshall though. Marshall has been exceptional aside from one outing and I fully expect him to get the bulk of the saves for the Reds.