– Brandon League seems to enjoy skating on thin ice. The Dodgers’ ninth-inning man blew a save in New York last night — and including tonight — has surrendered four earned runs in his last six outings. Tonight’s earned run came on a leadoff solo homer by Ike Davis of the Metropolitans. League managed to sneak his way out of the ninth without any further damage to earn his sixth save — and most importantly, a Dodgers victory — but some have to be wondering how long his leash is. League’s velocity appears to be down a few ticks and his stuff isn’t causing batters to swing-and-miss (5.3% SwStr%) as they’ve done in the past. Moreover, League has recorded just three strikeouts on the season (8.1% K%). Keep close tabs on Kenley Jansen — and even make the speculative add — if you’re as concerned as I am.
– The Pirates’ bullpen entered Thursday with a 1.78 ERA, good enough for second-best in the majors. But their eighth and ninth-inning workhorses, Mark Melancon and Jason Grilli, were given the day off by skipper Clint Hurdle as each has appeared in four of the last five and four of the last six contests respectively. Tonight, the Bucs posted a three-spot in the top of the eighth to take a 6-4 lead over the Phillies and lefty Tony Watson earned the call to preserve the victory. The southpaw did just that, surrendering one earned on two hits and struck out one for the two-inning save. And while you may only get to see Watson in similar save situations when Melancon and Grilli are resting, the Pirates’ set-up man could be a nice add for those in deeper leagues that reward holds. I’ll have a bit more on Watson tomorrow in my “Scheming For Relief” column on middle relievers, so keep your eyes peeled.
– Carlos Marmol quickly got himself into a first-and-third jam prior to recording an out in the bottom of the ninth frame this evening. But with some shrewd defensive support from battery mate Welington Castillo, a fly-out and a strikeout of struggling Giancarlo Stanton, Marmol escaped South Florida with his second save of the year. For his efforts, Marmol’s ERA sunk to 4.35 on the season with his FIP dipping to 6.30. After the game, manager Dale Sveum indicated he would not name Marmol his closer because “he seems to pitch better when he doesn’t know he is” (the closer). Quick update: Kyuji Fujikawa has been throwing on flat ground, but has yet to toss a bullpen session. Sveum last indicated that Fuji would get a shot to regain the closer’s role back upon his return from the disabled list. And unless Marmol impresses in more-than-a-few save opportunities between now-and-then, Fuji should get that shot.
[Green light, yellow light, red light: the colors represent the volatility of the bullpen order.]
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