Bullpens are looking more and more like bad amusement park rides every day.
The closer carousel is about to spin into June and itâ€™s shown no signs of slowing down. Managers ride relievers until the music stops. Then they pick another guy and repeat the same process.
When they get bored with that ride they walk over to â€œVenturaâ€™s Wheel of In-decision.â€ Spin the wheel and see where it lands. Oh, wait. It doesnâ€™t land anywhere because Robin Ventura doesnâ€™t like to name a closer. Addison Reed had to rack up four saves before getting a vote of confidence and he had to deal with Chris Sale moving back to the bullpen for some reason.
After that itâ€™s time to head to the Committee-coaster. Hang on tight. The coaster can dip at any second and take any save opportunities with it. Just make sure you get on the right car. Some popular choices(Vinnie Pestano, looking at you) havenâ€™t gone anywhere since the season started.
This is the ride we all signed up for on draft day, but few had any idea it would be this bumpy and itâ€™s not even June yet.
Diamondbacks closer J.J. Putz missed a game because he slept funny and tweaked his neck. This is the early front-runner for the most boring, least fantasy-relevant injury of the season. He was unavailable on Wednesday and David Hernandez vultured a save. Putz should be back as the D-Backs closer by the time you finish reading this article, but we do know the line of succession in Arizona should Putz lose his job.
Rafael Dolis is no longer blowing games for the Chicago Cubs. Heâ€™s now back to blowing games for the Iowa Cubs. The long national nightmare of Dolis getting save opportunities is over. James Russell will likely get the â€œbulkâ€ of the work until the Cubs decide to give Carlos Marmol another crack at saves. Bulk is in quotes because how many save chances is Russell really expecting? Itâ€™s not like the Cubs are going to be facing San Diego every week.
Cincinnati Reds closer Aroldis Chapman is officially a walking calamity. First, he gets pulled over for driving almost as fast as he can throw with a suspended license. Then, he gets sued for $18 million in a lawsuit that can only be called â€œbizarre.â€ Now? His hotel room was ransacked on Tuesday in Pittsburgh. He wasnâ€™t present, but a 26-year old woman was found tied up and crying in the room. Chapman still hasnâ€™t given up an earned run this season and heâ€™s rocking a 44:8 K:BB ratio. Heâ€™s also leading the league in mysterious circumstances.
Miami Marlins closer Heath Bell was rocked in consecutive games last week after recording four straight save opportunities. Bell has reeled off three more saves since getting pantsed twice in 24 hours. Itâ€™s that kind of year. Heâ€™s still, apparently, the man in Miami. Itâ€™s not like they have a lot of choices.
New York Mets closer Frank Francisco has converted his last six save opportunities since almost losing his job in mid-May. Not only is he converting clean saves, but heâ€™s racked up nine Kâ€™s in his last seven innings. Thereâ€™s streaky and then thereâ€™s Francisco streaky.
Put this one in the â€œAll Good Things Must Come to an Endâ€ file. De facto San Diego Padres closer Dale Thayer has allowed seven runs in his last two outings. Heâ€™s only blown one save, but he wasnâ€™t exactly working with a ton of breathing room. It would be a surprise to see Thayer survive another rough outing with the closer job. Huston Street threw a bullpen session on Wednesday and is set to begin a rehab assignment with the Padres Single-A affiliate on Friday. He could be back with the big club by next weekend if all goes according to plan and his lat muscles appear to be healthy.
Tyler Clippard has finally been given a shot at the Washington Nationals closer job. Heâ€™s converted three straight saves and struck out four in 2 2/3 innings so far as closer. Meanwhile, embattled former closer Henry Rodriguez slammed a door on his finger and missed most of last weekend. Brad Lidge is back throwing bullpen sessions and is aiming for a mid-June return. There hasnâ€™t been much movement on Drew Storenâ€™s elbow. Literally. Drew is still playing catch. He hasnâ€™t started ramping up to a long toss program and heâ€™s not close to starting a rehab assignment. It looks like heâ€™ll be back sometime in July as long as he doesnâ€™t suffer any setbacks.
Ernesto Frieri and Scott Downs are in what appears to be a platoon in the Los Angeles Angels bullpen. Frieri works the higher leverage situations. Heâ€™s in more of a â€œstopperâ€ role than a true closer. Ernesto comes in for the tough outs. He gets saves if they need him in the ninth or he gets holds if they need him in the earlier innings. Downs gets saves if Frieri is needed earlier. Itâ€™s an efficient use of a bullpen, but itâ€™s fairly frustrating for fantasy GMs. Both of these guys are worth a roster spot right now.
Yankees closer Rafael Soriano hasnâ€™t given up a run since recording his first dirty save on May 10th. David Robertson is set to start throwing off a mound this weekend, but thereâ€™s no reason for Soriano to lose the job when Robertson comes back.
The guy the Oakland Aâ€™s have chosen to hand the ninth inning duties over to, Brian Fuentes, gave up a walk-off, three-run bomb to the Twins on Tuesday as he blew a save in spectacular fashion. Heâ€™s not a closer per se, so itâ€™s probably best to refer to him as â€œa guy the Aâ€™s have given ninth inning duties to.â€ Meanwhile, Ryan Cookâ€™s 23-inning scoreless streak came to an end on Monday against the Twins as he was tagged for two runs. No word on whether or not Dale Thayer gave him a phone call to say, â€œYeah, happens to all of us, dude.â€
The Seattle Mariners chose to remove Brandon League from the closer job after he was awful for about a week. League has four blown saves and a 13:12 K:BB ratio. The problem is that they really donâ€™t have a clear favorite. Hisashi Iwakuma earned a save against Texas on Wednesday, but that only happened because he threw three innings during a blow out. Tom Wilhelmsen is the most likely candidate. Wilhelmsen has a 30:9 K:BB in 25 1/3 innings, but he also owns a 4.26 ERA. Charlie Furbush and the ever-present Shawn Kelley could also be in the mix. Steve Delabar is out of the mix because he will be taking his talents to Tacoma. Delabar was optioned back to Triple-A.
Tampa Bay Rays DLed closer Kyle Farnsworth threw 25 pitches off a mound and told reporters heâ€™s aiming for a return in the third week of June. Fernando Rodney blew his first save of the season against the Red Sox on May 26th, but threw w perfect ninth on the 27th to earn his 16th save. Rodney is still the man and it looks like Farnsworth is going to have to pry the closer job from his cold, dead hands when he finally does return.
Â Sergio Santos has seen his long toss program suspended by the Toronto Blue Jays. Every day that Santos doesnâ€™t throw puts him farther and farther away from a return. The Blue Jays havenâ€™t announced that Santos is dealing with any setbacks, but they wouldnâ€™t suspend his throwing program if he was the picture of health. Casey Janssen suffered through a blow up on Tuesday night against Baltimore, but came back on Wednesday to earn a save. Janssen has as at least as much leeway as Francisco Cordero had before he had to be removed from the job.