Remember all those guys that fantasy pundits love to tell you to add as the next dominant closer? Well, one of them might be about to get a closer role. No, sadly, itâ€™s not Vinnie Pestano. The “Free Vinnie” t-shirts are still available. It’s not Jonny Venters either. Jonny is still hurt, but due to come off the DL soon. Itâ€™s also not Joaquin Benoit, but heâ€™s probably closer than most people think.
Also, one of the former closers that has been on the DL since March is about ready to come of the DL and throw an actual pitch in an actual game. Ryan Madson? Unless 2013 Ryan Madson fell through time to July 19, 2012, heâ€™s not going to be appearing any time soon. Andrew Bailey is still working his way back.
Weâ€™ll answer these questions and more in this weekâ€™s edition of Blown Opportunities.
Andrew Bailey is making progress. Bailey hasnâ€™t even started a rehab assignment, but he did throw a 20-pitch bullpen session. Bailey still isnâ€™t worthy of being on your radar in anything but AL-only leagues or very deep mixed leagues. Heâ€™s going to come back as a set-up guy for embattled closer Alfredo Aceves. Thereâ€™s a really good chance that Bailey doesnâ€™t see a save opportunity in 2012.
Detroit closer Jose Valverde continues to pitch like a closer a few weeks away from losing his job. Heâ€™s blown four saves in 21 chances, but heâ€™s posting an anemic 6.52 K/9 while walking 4.66 batters per nine. The problem is that Joaquin Benoitâ€™s recent history hasnâ€™t been closer worthy either. Benoit has given up runs in his last three outings. The closer in waiting, Brayan Villarreal, missed about 10 days with a neck issue, but he made an appearance on Tuesday and looked fine. Villarreal gave up a hit, but struck out two in 1 2/3 innings. Villarreal looks like a future closer, but the future may be closer than the Tigers are ready to admit.
It certainly sounds like Kansas City closer Jonathan Broxton is going to be dealt before the deadline. Greg Holland and Aaron Crow are the frontrunners for saves should Broxton be dealt. The unwashed masses seem to think that Holland is the frontrunner for the job, but Crow has been the better(and healthier) pitcher all year long. Holland is posting a ridiculous 12.97 K/9, but heâ€™s just as capable of walking the bases loaded as he is striking out the side. Crow is the sleeper pick and could very well end up as the guy in Kansas City by the end of the year even if he doesnâ€™t get the first crack at saves.
Twins closer Matt Capps came off the DL only to suffer a setback and head back onto the DL. Capps is going to be shut down for â€œa while.â€ Thereâ€™s no timetable for his return, so itâ€™s probably a good idea to cut him loose if you need the roster spot. The Twins closer job likely reverts to a time share between Glen Perkins and Jared Burton with Perkins getting the bulk of the work.
The Bartender, Tom Wilhelmsen, hasnâ€™t gotten a ton of work because heâ€™s stuck on the Mariners. Leads in the ninth inning have been hard to come by in Seattle, but Wilhelmsen has managed to hang onto the job into late July. This is almost six weeks after manager Eric Wedge announced that Brandon League would be getting another opportunity to close. Somewhere, Dale Thayer is nodding and smiling.
Tampa Bay Rays reliever Kyle Farnsworth has a 9.00 ERA in five appearances since coming off the DL. Anyone still holding onto dreams of The Professor getting a save opportunity this year needs a reality check.
Sergio Santos is going to have season ending surgery on his labrum. We knew there was something wrong when Santos was shut down during his rehab and now we know why. See you next year, Sergio…possibly. Casey Janssensâ€™ job security improved without Casey having to throw a pitch. Itâ€™s his job now and no one is looking over his shoulder.
Itâ€™s been exactly one month since Diamondbacks closer J.J. Putz was last scored upon. His ERA sits at 4.20. This is reason #5,430 why you donâ€™t pay attention to a closerâ€™s ERA.
Carlos Marmol is still one of the shakiest closerâ€™s in the game(dude has a 9.88 BB/9. Thatâ€™s more than a walk per inning!), but heâ€™s somehow converted 10 of 12 save chances. Thereâ€™s still no way heâ€™s getting dealt, so it looks like the Cubs will have to roll with him. They simply donâ€™t have anyone else capable.
Aroldis Chapman is dominant again. He hasnâ€™t been scored upon since June 24th and he has at least two Kâ€™s in every appearance that heâ€™s recorded at least three outs since then. He also hasnâ€™t had any bizarre off field scandals in over a month. Craig Kimbrel and Chapman have to be near the top of the closer rankings heading into 2013, right?
Astros closer Brett Myers is unlikely to be dealt any time soon. Myers has actually been competent this year, but between his mediocre skills and inflated price tag, heâ€™s simply not what a contender would look for when looking for bullpen help. Myers will more than likely stay with Houston past the deadline.
Embattled former Marlins closer Heath Bell revealed that heâ€™s been nursing a sore calf for the past few weeks. Okay. He still didnâ€™t explain why he was awful in April. Michael Dunn and Steve Cishek earned the first two saves in Miamiâ€™s new committee. These two will likely continue in the committee role until Miami decides Heath Bell is healthy enough to try again. It was announced this week that Juan Carlos Oviedo is unlikely to pitch in 2012. He was diagnosed with a sprained ligament in his elbow. The injury combined with his legal issues have probably wiped out Oviedoâ€™s season.
In case youâ€™re living in a cave, Francisco Rodriguez has replaced John Axford as the Brewers closer. K-Rod already has two saves. One was solid, but the other was shaky. The other also came on his fourth straight day of work. Rodriguez has been mediocre for most of the year, but heâ€™s been pitching in a setup role on a bad team in a small city. Now heâ€™s closing for a bad team in a small city. Itâ€™s a step in the right direction.
Mets injured closer Frank Francisco is likely going to start a rehab assignment this weekend. He could be back with the Mets in ten days if he doesnâ€™t suffer any setbacks, but he might not be the closer if they decide to add Jonathan Broxton. Meanwhile, Bobby Parnell has been roughed up in his last two outings and looks like a guy about ready for the full-time closer to come back.
San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy announced heâ€™s planning on reviewing closer Santiago Casillaâ€™s role after Casilla blew his fifth save of the year. Free Sergio? Free Sergio, but Jeremy Affeldt is still looming as a save vulture.
We have a news flash for those of us who have been following the Washington Nationals bullpen. Drew Storen is going to be activated to the major league roster any day now. Unless Drew gets hit by a bus, heâ€™ll likely make his 2012 debut before August 1st. Tyler Clippard has been dominant since assuming closing duties and it will be tough for Storen to take the role. Storen is merely a flyer with upside in most mixed leagues right now.