If we take a look at the BS meter, we see Heath Bell still owns the pole position. It still appears that three BS this early in the season is the indicator of a closer losing his job. This means Henry Rodriguez is in some tough straights, word.
Washington Nationals: As noted, Rodriguez is creeping up the BS meter and in rather spectacular fashion: in five appearances since May 8, Rodriguez has pitched 3.2 IPs, allowed nine base runners and posted a 14.37 ERA. He has blown two saves, saved two games and recorded a hold. In the hold, his latest outing, Rodriguez threw 21 pitches, just eight for strikes. Sean Burnett had to come in and clean up the mess for the save. Rodriguez has one more blown save in him before an outright demotion. Given his lack of control, when he blows his next one is anyone’s guess. That said, it’s time to kick the tires on Burnett. When it’s all said and done, Rodriguez will have fine numbers, they will just include masterful and disastrous outings. There is no in between with him and his control. Both Brad Lidge and Drew Storen have just begun throwing following surgeries, with Storen targeting the All-star break.
Detroit Tigers: Jose Valverde, with one of the longer leashes in MLB, would have to get injured to lose the closer role. So, what did he do? He went and hurt his lower back. At the moment, there is absolutely no clarity on the type of injury. Whether Octavio Dotel or Joaquin Benoit get saves during the upheaval is also up in the air. Given how possible it is this situation bears no saves, if I’m speculating, I’ll go Benoit. He’s a good pitcher, whereas Dotel really can’t get lefties out. ROTW for Benoit: 2.89 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 11.5 K/9 rate. He has been walking guys a bit more and throwing his fastball a lot less, but expect him to get the location under control.
Chicago White Sox: After earning the save Monday night and being, ya know, good at pitching, I fully expect Addison Reed to be the closer ROTW. He’ll put up fine numbers (3.25 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, and 11.9 K /9 rate). If he’s somehow available, go get him now. This carousel stops here (god I wish I could be comfortable typing that).
New York Mets: Frank Francisco is also jumping up the BS meter, but has received a vote of confidence from his manager and might be tipping his pitches, so there’s optimism he can turn it around. It’s amazing what counts for optimism these days. He did secure his most recent save opportunity, but has also allowed at least one run in his last three outings. For the year, he’s getting a bit jobbed by a pitiful strand rate and enlarged BABIP. He’s still getting a ton of swinging strikes and maintaining his velocity. For some reason, he is throwing his splitter a bit more which could be partly to blame for his walk rate. Or it could be that it’s just 14.2 IPs. With relievers, though, we can’t really make the small sample size argument, as they are judged on SSS all year long. If healthy, I expect Francisco to be fine, posting a 3.15 ERA, 1.19 WHIP and 9.75 K/9 rate ROTW. In fact, I also think Bobby Parnell will end up with the second most saves on the squad, believing there’s a chance both Francisco and Jon Rauch get injured/traded.
Miami Marlins: The Marlins keep winning despite an unreliable bullpen. Since May 1, Heath Bell has two wins, a save and a blown save. During that span, he has pitched five innings, allowed 12 base runners and posted a 9.00 ERA. Meanwhile, Steve Cishek has two wins and two blown saves in May, but has pitched solid and Edward Mujica has three holds, two saves and a blown save. Again, I’d totally avoid this situation if possible. I do think, as commenter @Jack predicted, Cishek will be first in line for saves if this situation ever stabilizes. However, I give him a 55% chance of having the most non-Bell saves with Mujica having a 43% chance and a 2% chance the world ends because of this. ROTW, Bell probably gets the most saves, but it’s going to be ugly.
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: Scott Downs has been fantastic all year, yet Ernesto Frieri, aka Padres closer of the future, got the final out in a non-save chance Tuesday night. This is likely nothing, but is a bit confusing. I suppose Downs giving up a hit to Daric Barton would make sense to go righty-righty on Kurt Suzuki, but if that’s the case wouldn’t it make sense to give Frieri the bulk of the save opportunities? For the moment, I think Frieri is a sneaky and worthwhile add, even though I’m dubious on whether he can maintain this success away from San Diego. In addition, Jordan Walden has been good lately and really only had two bad outings. ROTW, Walden will post a 3.80 ERA, 1.34 WHIP and 9.90 K/9 rate. I think he gets the most saves rest of the way, but it’s a toss up with Downs and Frieri performing so well. Don’t rock the boat and all that.
Arizona Diamondbacks: With all the closer disasters, J.J. Putz has somewhat flown under the radar. However, he has allowed runs in five of his 12 appearances. The bulk of the damage came on May 9 when he allowed four runs starting with the bottom of the Cardinals batting order. The Diamondbacks were losing, so it wasn’t a save opportunity, but he made a winnable game totally unwinnable. Still, he pitched a relatively clean frame in his last outing. So far, on the year, he hasn’t walked anyone, is striking out a good number and getting as many ground balls as ever. He has just decided to give up all his HRs early on. He’ll be fine the rest of the season. However, he’s usually good for a DL trip a year and might be traded if the Diamondbacks find themselves out of the race, making David Hernandez a worthy pick-up.
New York Yankees: Of course, David Robertson is injured; it’s that kind of year. The strained oblique will prohibit Robertson from throwing for a week or so. While he believes he can be back in 15 days, don’t most foolish ball players? Enter Rafael Soriano. Soriano has been pretty good this year, only benefiting from allowing no HRs. ROTW, Soriano should be fine, if unspectacular: 3.40 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, and 8.5 K /9 rate. Robertson is worth a stash based on skills alone, but Soriano has the repertoire to take the job and keep it all year.