• Matt Reynolds recorded the first save of his career last night in the eleventh inning and tonight recorded his second save again in extras, this time the tenth inning. J.J. Putz had blown the save last night and with the day off today the D-backs turned to David Hernandez in the ninth but he couldn’t get the job done. Hernandez owners can’t be too mad as he ended up with the win, but it would have been nice to see him close the door following a Putz blown save. Before the game, D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said that Putz is still their closer. Considering that Putz did nothing wrong today, I don’t imagine the ninth inning role being handed to Matt Reynolds, or anyone else for the time being, assuming Putz is healthy. Reynolds is a tall, decent lefty out of the bullpen (not the highest of praise) but his chances of seeing any future save opportunities will have to continue to be in extra innings, when the regulars (Hernandez and Heath Bell) have already been used.
• Aroldis Chapman notched his fourth save of the year today against the Cubs and to the surprise of no one, he’s continued his dazzling ways from last year. Chapman has now thrown 11.1 scoreless innings while striking out 20 batters with only two walks. While it would certainly have been exciting to see Chapman as a starter, I guess I can settle on watching him pitch to a FIP in the ones with a 40%+ K%. Meanwhile, Chapman’s strikeout partner in crime, Craig Kimbrel, didn’t fair as well today, blowing his first save of the year against Colorado. I wouldn’t fret too much however as Kimbrel still has a 1.05 FIP even after today’s outing.
• Three days, three saves for Edward Mujica. In the eighth inning tonight Trevor Rosenthal struck out two while also giving up a solo shot to Jayson Werth. Although Rosenthal’s 4.26 ERA and 1.50 WHIP leaves a lot to be desired, once his BABIP (.412) regresses, he’ll have the ERA to match his gaudy peripherals (12.08 K/9; 2.13 BB/9). Still, if/when that even happens, Mujica has a strong hold on the role and he’ll have to struggle to lose it. For the season, Mujica has a 3.02 FIP and a terrific 8.00 K/BB, if he can keep doing this he’ll be closing games in September.
• Andrew Bailey struck out the side tonight for this fifth save of the year. The Red Sox have said that Joel Hanrahan hasn’t lost the job but right now, I’m putting my money on Bailey maintaining the ninth inning duties this season, even when Hanrahan returns. Although the Sox traded some pieces for Hanrahan to be their closer, they did the same thing last offseason for Bailey and I don’t think they have any real allegiance to Hanrahan. It also doesn’t hurt when you strike out 20 batters in 11.1 innings, which Bailey has done thus far en route to a stellar 1.59 ERA and 1.69 FIP.
• We haven’t talked much about Jon Axford here recently but Ron Roenicke said that it wouldn’t take much for Axford to be re-installed as closer. Since taking over closing duties from Axford, Jim Henderson has saved five games with some stellar numbres (0.90 ERA; 0.82 FIP) but Axford has also thrown 5.1 scoreless innings since April 9th, lowering his ERA all the way down to…9.35. When Henderson was named closer it wasn’t expected to be a permanent move, and even though he’s dominated in that role it looks like the Brewers might keep there word. If you’re in need of saves I would recommend throwing a bone or two towards Jon Axford’s owner, casually mentioning his improved 9.35 ERA should do the trick.
• Jose Valverde came on for this first save opportunity this year against the Royals and converted. He threw 100% fastballs and seemed to sit ~94 mph. It’s his job to lose and although Jim Leyland may love his Proven Closer™, I wouldn’t be shocked to see Joaquin Benoit getting save opportunities at some point this season again. Benoit looked good pitching 1.1 scoreless innings in the seventh and eighth innings this evening and might actually be more valuable in that role for the Tigers. However, whether it’s his length of time between pitches, his newly dyed chin strap, or his current mediocre offerings, something bothers me about Papa Grande and I’d still hold onto Benoit as a handcuff.
[Green light, yellow light, red light: the colors represent the volatility of the bullpen order.]
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