Remember the good ol’ days when the St. Louis Cardinals were relying on Ryan Franklin to close games for them? Then when he completely flopped, everyone they auditioned as a replacement couldn’t hack it. Then, as luck would have it, they finally found their man: Fernando Salas. He notched his first save on April 28, and 22 more would follow through the end of August.
As the calendar turned to September, the fun ended for Salas and his fantasy owners. Salas worked the seventh and eighth innings of an 8-3 game on September 1, allowing one run and watching Jason Motte finish things out in a non-save situation in the ninth. Motte would then grab the next six saves for the Cardinals before blowing one on September 16 (through no fault of his own) and seeing Salas get an extra-innings save.
Unfortunately for Salas, that could prove to be his last save of the season. The two relievers have very similar numbers, but Motte is just a little bit better and he keeps the ball down. That should translate to an effective stint as closer for Motte over the rest of this season and beyond.
Kyle Farnsworth has blown two saves since recording one on September 7, and with the Rays surging and trying to catch the Red Sox for the Wild Card, that’s not going to cut the mustard. An elbow problem has kept Farnsworth off the mound over the last week-plus, with Joel Peralta collecting a couple of saves in the interim. Don’t expect the Rays to go back to Farnsworth until it’s clear he’s 100 percent — they can’t afford any more blown saves.
Kevin Gregg managed to secure his last save on September 2, allowing a walk and two hits in a scoreless inning but nevertheless slamming the door. That was the breaking point for the Orioles, who let Jim Johnson pick up the next two saves. Unfortunately, they just didn’t know how to quit Gregg, going to him for another save opportunity last weekend, which he blew by allowing two runs while only recording one out. Back to Johnson for two more saves, including one of the two-inning variety.
Johnson is clearly the guy to own here for the rest of the year, and hopefully this is the last we hear of Gregg as a closer. I think Johnson has a shot at being a solid closer in 2012, but it’s more likely the Orioles throw too much money at a guy with “experience.” You know, like Kevin Gregg.
The Mets have managed four saves in September, with two going to Bobby Parnell, one to Josh Stinson and one to Manny Acosta. Stinson’s came in extra innings as a result of a blown save by Parnell; Acosta was then called upon for the save the next day. Parnell was given the next shot at recording a save for the Mets, but he blew that one too. He ended up coming in during the seventh in his next appearance to pitch two scoreless innings. It’s best to avoid this bullpen, but it looks like Acosta may be the guy to get the next look. That’s just a guess.
Brian Wilson is on the precipice of returning, so I wouldn’t get too invested into Santiago Casilla, who notched saves on Wednesday and Thursday. I expected Sergio Romo to get some looks in the ninth inning once he returned, but despite great results, he’s not closing. It’s hard to argue against either option — Casilla and Romo rank fourth and fifth, respectively, in ERA among pitchers with at least 40 innings pitched this year.
Frank Francisco is still the guy to own in Toronto, despite a little rough patch earlier in the month. And since we’ve already talked far too much about the Toronto bullpen this year, let’s move on.
Sean Marshall is pilfering a few saves from Carlos Marmol, with two already in September. If every potential save is imporant to your team, Marshall is a good add for the rest of the year. Don’t worry about Marmol; he didn’t get a save opportunity on Saturday thanks to pitching three innings over the previous two days. I wish I got that kind of time off at my job.
Other guys that have already picked up at least one save in September and could get more while sitting on your waiver wire include Kenley Jansen and Chris Sale. Also Rafael Betancourt, though I assume he’s long gone in most competitive leagues.