The closerÂ carouselÂ has spun into week nine with no signs of slowing down. Thankfully, it’s safe to put Rafael Dolis out of our collective consciousness and Robin Ventura managed to go a full week without playing around with his relief pitchers. Sadly, we don’t have any other challengers to Dolis’ throne as the king andÂ emperorÂ of the crappy relief pitchers who have somehow managed to hold on to a closer job for a couple weeks and a lack of stupidity from Ventura means this column is going to be a few sentences shorter than usual.
We are starting to see some of the better middle relievers get Â and hold on to closer jobs. Sergio Romo and Tyler Clippard should be sending Vinnie Pestano and Joaquin Benoit text messages saying, “Just wait guys, just wait.”
Mr. Reliable,Â Jim Johnson, blew his first save of the season against Boston on Tuesday, but managed a B.S. W. He came right back on Wednesday and recorded a perfect save with two Kâ€™s. Everyone has to blow a save at some point. Johnson is still, unbelievably, one of the better sources of saves for the surging Baltimore Orioles. Heâ€™s about as secure as it gets in the 2012 season.
Bostonâ€™s recovering closer Andrew Bailey is now playing catch at 90 ft. Stop the presses! He should be back around the All-Star game. Heâ€™s worth a stash if you have roster room. Alfredo Aceves had a few more blowups in the last week and looks like a man trying not to lose his job. Thatâ€™s usually the point when a closer gets removed.
KC closer Jonathan Broxton has a nice string of six straight appearances with a save. He owns a mediocre 14:8 K:BB ratio, but looks fairly secure in his job. There is a sinking feeling that heâ€™s just as likely to turn around and blow six games in a row, but heâ€™s healthy and has a closer job.Â
Angels relievers Scott Downs and Ernesto Frieri still appeared locked in an epic battle for saves. Frieri has the last two saves in Los Angeles and looks like he has the upper hand. Frieri gave up his first hit in an Angels uniform. Thatâ€™s one hit in nine appearances with the Angels.
SIâ€™s Jon Heyman is reporting that the Yankees intend to keep Rafael Soriano as the closer once David Robertson returns. Robertson is still a few weeks away from a return and Soriano has been solid in his stead. Soriano has eight saves in eight chances as the Yankeesâ€™ closer.
Oaklandâ€™s guy who gets saves, Brian Fuentes, was roughed up in two appearances that were almost a week apart before earning a clean save on Wednesday. Fuentes will only break your heart. If you want to use a closer as a thrown-in in a trade, Fuentes is a good place to start.
Seattleâ€™s Tom Wilhelmsen earned two saves this week and appears to be the frontrunner for saves in Seattle. Wilhelmsen may very well be legit. He has a 37:9 K:BB ratio in 31 innings so far. Heâ€™s might not be a long term answer as a closer, but heâ€™s a solid reliever. Meanwhile deposed closer Brandon League has earned two holds and has looked less terrible than he was. Itâ€™s progress, but itâ€™s safe to jettison League if you want to use the roster spot for something useful.
Injured Tampa Bay Rays reliever Kyle Farnsworth is still working his way back. Farnsy threw a 25-pitch bullpen featuring all fastballs. Heâ€™s still on pace for a mid/late June return, but he should find himself in middle relief until closer Fernando Rodney starts to struggle. Rodney is 17-18 in save opportunities with a 25:4 K:BB ratio in 26 1/3 innings. Heâ€™ll be an all-star before he loses his job.
Sergio Santos threw a 25-pitch, â€œcontrolledâ€ bullpen session. Itâ€™s not clear what â€œcontrolledâ€ means, but he probably wasnâ€™t playing Xbox. Assuming all goes well, Santos should throw another bullpen on Monday and then get clearance to face live hitters a week or two later. Casey Janssen has been fine as a fill-in and converted five out of six save chances. Itâ€™s still unclear if Santos is going to be tossed back into the mix for saves or have to work his way back once he returns to the big club.
Cubs former closer Carlos Marmol has been lit up in his last two appearances. Heâ€™s a long way away from the closer role and it wouldnâ€™t be a huge shock to see him do another turn on the DL. Both Marmol and the Cubs bullpen are a mess right now.
It turns out the robbery that took place in Aroldis Chapmanâ€™s hotel room was an elaborate hoax set up by a girlfriend. Chapman has managed to stay off the back page this week and he still has a perfect 0.00 ERA in 29 innings. Thatâ€™s like throwing three straight shutouts. Chapman looks like the best closer in baseball right now.
Marlins closer Heath Bell has five saves in his last five appearances. Welcome back to fantasy baseball relevancy, Heath!
Mets closer Frank Francisco hasnâ€™t given up a run since May 14th and picked up six saves since then. Meanwhile, Jon Rauch looks like heâ€™s headed to the DL with â€œdebrisâ€ in his elbow. If you felt the need to handcuff Rauch to Francisco, it might be a good idea to cut Rauch loose and add Bobby Parnell.
Padres closer Huston Street is off the DL and back in the closer job. It was fun while it lasted, Dale Thayer. Itâ€™s safe to toss Thayer back to the waiver wire.
Giants de facto closer Santiago Casilla has a bruised knee, but wonâ€™t be headed to the DL. Sergio Romo has been earning saves while Casilla was unavailable. It looks like the Giants have a full blown timeshare until one of these guys emerges. Romo is the better pitcher and could very well assume the full-time job. Casilla is back but his role is murky until we found out what the Giants braintrust is thinking.
Washington Nationals reliever Tyler Clippard is five for six in save opportunities since assuming closing duties. Drew Storen claims heâ€™s going to start throwing off a mound in a couple of weeks. Itâ€™s safe to say that you can hang on to Clippard for a while.
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