• Phil Coke got a second crack at closing a game for the Tigers but ended up being far less successful than he was in his first. After Joaquin Benoit walked Trevor Plouffe to start the ninth (never a good thing), Coke induced a fly out, but then gave up single, double to turn a 2-1 lead into a 3-2 loss. In his defense, the double really should have been caught had it not been for some outfield miscommunication, but it still wasn’t an effective outing by any metric. I have been bearish the past week on Coke’s potential given his .275/.346 versus LHH/RHH wOBA splits and this outing only underscores his platoon concerns (all of the baserunners who reached today were right-handed hitters). The walk was really Benoit’s lone blemish today, so he’s likely still an option in the ninth, although Jim Leyland could just as easily roll with Al Alburquerque or Octavio Dotel, too. Your best bet with this pen may be to just pick up one of the four, hold them on your bench for a little bit, and gamble on them picking up the hot hand. It feels like picking names out of a hat right now.
With the Tigers situation a little fluid, it wouldn’t be a terrible idea to stash guys like Rex Brothers and Luke Gregerson in the event Detroit panics and overpays in a trade for someone like Rafael Betancourt or Huston Street. I’m still not totally convinced they have completely ruled out the idea of bringing back Jose Valverde if things are still messy, and it wouldn’t be shocking if they try Bruce Rondon again if he shows (even slightly) better control in the minors.
• Chris Perez gave up a longball to Jose Bautista to blow his first save of the season. The solo shot sent the game to extras which still ended well for Cleveland after Toronto’s Sergio Santos returned the favor by letting Mark Reynolds poke one over the left-center field wall. It wasn’t a total implosion by Perez, so I wouldn’t read too much into this one. As long as he’s still healthy, the job is his and his leash should be pretty long given his bounceback 2012 (3.67 xFIP). Although I personally didn’t draft him as such, Santos was a trendy pick by some as a potential guy to sneak in and re-claim the closer’s role. Tonight’s game probably won’t help that projection (especially since current closer Casey Janssen tossed a scoreless inning in relief) but the good news for Santos is his fastball touched 95 mph today. Seeing that kind of velocity after labrum surgery is encouraging.
• Aroldis Chapman made his second appearance in a tie game and this time he was rewarded with a win for keeping it a tie game. Scott Downs lost the game for the Angels, ironically hitting Shin-Soo Choo (lefty), before Chris Heisey sacrificed (righty) to allow Joey Votto (lefty) to single home Choo. Ironic because Downs has a career .258 wOBA versus lefties (.317 versus righties). Jonathan Broxton was tagged with a blown save in this game, although it was Todd Frazier‘s fielding error that led to the tying run scoring. However, if it wasn’t abundantly clear, Broxton is freely droppable in all standard-sized mixed leagues that don’t count holds.
• I will continue to beat the Trevor Rosenthal drum. He looked fantastic last night, nearly touching 100 mph with his fastball and getting four swings-and-misses on 13 pitches even though he tossed nothing but four-seamers. If my gut is right about Jason Motte‘s injury being serious enough that his absence is measured in months, not weeks, then Rosenthal could eventually make waves as a top-5 closer. Worst case, I’m wrong, he never sees the ninth, but chips in in strikeouts and ERA/WHIP for your fantasy squad. If you have the roster space, grab him.
[Green light, yellow light, red light: the colors represent the volatility of the bullpen order.]