It’s been another wild week around Major League Baseball, as we have seen numerous closers meltdown or be replaced. Who is going to close for the White Sox? Who is the best option for the Mets? Will the Astros be making a move? Let’s take a look at all the situations around the league:
There is no questioning who the closer is, as Brett Myers has been impressive (0.77 ERA, 0.60 WHIP, 9 SV). With the Astros in a rebuilding mode, however, does anyone really expect Myers to still be closing out games in Houston come August? In fact, it wouldn’t be surprising if a contender came calling sooner than that.
So, those in deep formats looking to find saves later in the season should be examining the remainder of the Houston bullpen. While it’s too early to say with any certainty who the next inline would be, the best bet would be Wilton Lopez or David Carpenter.
Lopez has brought unbelievable control to the bullpen, having not yet walked a batter in 19.2 innings of work. He is not a big-time strikeout option (14 K), but pinpoint control goes a long way.
Carpenter is the exact opposite, with 12 K over 13.2 IP, but to go along with 9 BB. He may be labeled as a potential closer of the future, but not until he can consistently throw strikes.
If I had to bet, I would be stashing Lopez at this point.
You knew that Heath Bell wouldn’t be away from closing for long, so this tweet from Joe Capozzi really shouldn’t come as a surprise:
“Ozzie said he’s ready to give Heath bell closer’s job”
Of course, we’ll have to see exactly how long his leash is this time around. Entering in a non-save situation yesterday Bell again could not get through an inning unblemished, allowing 2 ER on 2 H and 2 BB, striking out 0, over 1.0 innings of work.
It’s hard to imagine Bell continuing to struggle the way he has, so owners need to just sit tight and wait to get something out of him. With the money he’s getting, he should continue to get opportunities to succeed. However, for now they need to do so with him on their bench.
New York Mets
Frank Francisco has had flashes of brilliance this season, but those unfortunately have been few and far between. He failed to record an out yesterday, allowing 3 ER on 2 H and 1 BB, giving him losses in back-to-back outings (5 ER over 0.2 innings).
After yesterday’s game Mets’ manager Terry Collins was quoted as saying:
“We’ll address it,” Collins said. “I have eight options,” he replied, when asked if he has other options in the bullpen to be his closer in place of Francisco. “But, I’m not going to address that right now, when emotions are running high.”
That quote came courtesy of metsblog.com (click here to view the post). There’s a good chance that Francisco is demoted today, the only question is who is going to be the next inline. Most people are eying Jon Rauch, who has been setting up for Francisco. I wouldn’t consider that a lock, however, as the Mets could easily instead turn to Bobby Parnell (who has gone seven straight outings without allowing an earned run). Parnell has widely been considered the closer of the future in New York and the Mets could opt to leave Rauch in the eighth and see how far Parnell has developed.
If you are in a deep format and want to take a flier, Parnell is the way to go.
Oakland has decided to make a change at the backend, with Brian Fuentes replacing Grant Balfour in the closer’s role. Fuentes does have plenty of history closing games, though he’s far from an exciting option and no lock to hold down the job for an extended period of time.
Fuentes has been pitching to elite control this season (1.29 BB/9 compared to a career mark of 3.69) and he no longer is the strikeout artist that he once was (7.71 K/9). Obviously, while he has the job he is usable, but don’t give up on Balfour if you are in a deeper format. It may only be a matter of time before he gets returned to the role.
Chicago White Sox
When the announcement came that Chris Sale was being moved to the bullpen and, more specifically, into the closer’s role there was a sigh of relief (for some owners anyways). The situation was no longer cloudy and we had a set path for who would be picking up save opportunities.
Apparently, that was just wishful thinking. With Sale being moved back into the rotation, the uncertainty as to who the White Sox closer has returned. According to Bradford Doolittle of mlb.com (click here for the article):
“Rookies Addison Reed and Hector Santiago, plus veteran lefty Matt Thornton have all saved games so far this season, and Ventura said he’ll continue to play mix and match with that trio.”
Not exactly what anyone wanted. Long-term Reed is probably the best fit for the role, as he entered play yesterday sporting a 0.00 ERA, 0.80 WHIP and 14 K over 10.0 innings (he got lit up yesterday in a non-save situation, allowing 6 ER in 0.1 innings, causing his ERA to balloon to 5.23). He’s also collected saves in back-t0-back appearances earlier in the week.
Santiago, who had seen the bulk of the save opportunities early in the year, is currently sporting a 5.25 ERA and 1.83 WHIP. He has posted back-to-back scoreless appearances, but is that really something to get us excited? Thornton has struggled of late, allowing runs in three straight appearances from 5/2-5/7.
While the situation remains unpredictable, at best, Reed would appear to be the reliever to target at this point (despite yesterday’s poor outing).