Pittsburgh Pirates: Surprisingly, Juan Cruz toed the rubber in the ninth to earn the save for the Pirates Tuesday night. Initially there was no word as to the why. Eventually, we heard that Joel Hanrahan tweaked his hamstring on the last pitch of his outing against the Giants on Sunday. Hanrahan says he’s not going to be able to go until Friday or Saturday, at which point he could be put on the DL retroactively until Sunday. Cruz could find his way to a few save chances in the interim and there’s certainly potential for this hamstring issue to linger. For a nano second, circa 2008, Cruz was one of the better relievers in baseball but injuries and walks got him down in a major way. So far this season, Cruz is flashing a great K-rate and has limited his walks. If he can do that, he’ll remain a solid reliever. Evan Meek came in for the hold in the seventh so there appears to be no short term plans for the Pirates to use him to save.
San Francisco Giants: For some time, it appeared Santiago Casilla would be the closer in Brian Wilson’s absence and he got the first chance and didn’t disappoint, with Sergio Romo getting the hold. Casilla is a fine reliever who walks a few too many batters to be an incredibly comfortable ninth inning guy. Still, he has the job and it’s possible the Giants prefer to have Romo used in higher leverage spots throughout the game. I’m not rushing to get Casilla in a trade or if there are any FAAB bids/waivers still remaining though. For one reason, there’s Heath Hembree who was drafted and groomed to replace Wilson. Hembree has posted impressive K-rates in the minors, but has paired them with somewhat high walk rates. Still he has far better stuff than Casilla and isn’t the future always now? If you’re scoring at home: Casilla has decent stuff, but walks a lot of guys, the Giants have a closer prospect waiting in the wings, and Sergio Romo is really good .
Houston Astros: No matter what they say, it’s a matter of when, not if, Brett Myers is traded. As attrition and injuries mount, many teams will need one of those newfangled reliever-starter hybrids. He won’t command much, but any sort of prospect/money back is worth dealing him for. In Myers’ first save of the year, Wilton Lopez pitched most of the eighth. Lopez is off to a fine start, not walking a guy in 7.1 IPs, and is a great long term handcuff. He has exhibited solid control (1.69 BB/9 rate in the majors) and K-numbers. He’ll be good for a 3.25 ERA, 1.15 WHIP and 50 K’s the rest of the way.
Minnesota Twins: Presumptive closer, Matt Capps, hasn’t looked great. Meanwhile, “closer-in-waiting” Glen Perkins was shut down due to a forearm issue. He had an MRI on Monday which showed only inflammation. Reportedly, his forearm feels better and he could rejoin the Twins any day now. That said, his absence has given Capps a little rope and we can’t be sure Perkins will remain healthy. He is still a handcuff in leagues where every single save matters, but in shallower leagues, it’s best scouting for saves elsewhere.
Chicago White Sox: Grey is all about Hector Santiago losing his job, and quickly. With anymore outings like Santiago’s last save opportunity (he allowed two homers and a walk), Grey could be right. That said, Santiago has a fine WHIP (1.25), has recorded six K’s in four IPs, and has only walked one batter. In addition, Robin Ventura had this to say: “But you know, the way I look at it is how he bounces back. I have confidence in taking him right back out there and letting him do it (Tuesday) night.” Ventura has staked one of his first “major” decisions on Santiago and will be slow to give up on the experiment. Meanwhile, Jesse Crain has pitched a ton in the eighth inning lately, with Addison Reed and Matt Thornton working the seventh. If you’re handcuffing, Crain looks like the next in line.
Los Angeles Dodgers: Javy Guerra finally blew his first save of the season, he’s now 5/6 in save opportunities. He has walked three batters in 6.1 IPs while striking out 6. With so few innings, it’s hard to judge whether he is taking a step forward in K’s, taking a step back in control or both. I’ve never believed in the underlying skills and know Kenley Jansen is the far better pitcher. What’s nice about Jansen is that he doesn’t have to get saves to be valuable in most any format, so rostering him for the long haul works. If you desperately need saves, it’s going to take a few more disastrous outings from Guerra to get Jansen close to closing, so you might need to look elsewhere. And, even if there are some disastrous outings, if he keeps saving at an 80% clip, I doubt he’ll lose the job.
Miami Marlins: Two times the finally in Thursday’s review, as Heath Bell finally recorded a save. His ERA sits at 9.00 and he has a 2.75 WHIP, but he has a one in the save column. He’ll have to be horrendous for about a month before a phantom DL stint removes him from the closer role.
Washington Nationals: I’ve nothing to add to Grey’s Buffy Fan Fiction: “HanK-Rod has a zero ERA and strikes out everyone; Lidge puts runners on every game and it gets harrowing!”