–Addison Reed notched his third save of the season — tying him for the early league lead after the first week with Sergio Romo — dishing a perfect ninth-inning as the White Sox clipped the Mariners, 4-3. The 24-year-old Reed induced a Dustin Ackley groundout to first, then fanned pinch-hitters Franklin Gutierrez and Jesus Montero to seal the deal. The prescription was a steady diet of sliders to both Gutierrez and Montero, each of whom ended their at-bats with swings-and-misses on Reed’s preferred offering.
-As I noted in the Phillies’ Bullpen Depth Chart Discussion, Jonathan Papelbon has been the model of consistency at arguably the most inconsistent position in baseball. In each of his last six campaigns between Boston and Philly, Pap earned at least 31 saves and boasts a fine 29.9% K%. But I also noted that the velocity on each of his offerings seemed to have dipped a bit. Then our own Jeff Zimmerman pointed out that the downward trend in velocity seems to be continuing for the veteran in 2013, albeit in just two contests. Now this could simply be a case of a veteran losing velo as he ages — or, there may be some “other” underlying issues impeding on his speed. At any rate, this is a situation we will continue to monitor as the Phillies’ closer logs some more innings.
–Kyuji Fujikawa showed off his best Carlos Marmol impression tonight against the Braves. Fuji surrendered three earned runs on four hits and a walk before inducing an inning ending double play off the bat of Reed Johnson. The eighth-inning implosion comes as good news to those with shares of Marmol as Fujikawa finished off the inning with a 5-4 lead, likely leaving the former with a save opportunity in the ninth.
Errr… And just as I finished formatting this fine piece of work, Carlos Marmol came on in the ninth frame and gave us his best Carlos Marmol impression. Yes, Dale Sveum called for the right-hander to face the heart of the Braves’ order: B.J. Upton, Jason Heyward and Justin Upton — and it didn’t exactly work out so well for the Cubbies. The elder Upton led off with a game-tying homer on a four-seamer that Marmol left in the middle of the zone, Heyward flew out, then the closer left another four-seamer in the middle of the zone for the younger Upton leading to a walk-off homer. Despite tonight’s poor outing from Fujikawa, I still think he’ll finish the season with the most saves of any current Cubs reliever.
-Jim Leyland went on record today regarding the closer’s situation in Motown. “I’m not saying Joaquin Benoit is our closer, but the ideal situation would probably be getting him in in the ninth,” Leyland said. The 35-year-old right-hander appears to become the unofficial head of the closer-by-committee and should be added where available. Benoit displayed fairly even splits last season — both lefties and righties posted a .308 wOBA against the veteran — so theoretically, Leyland could use him against lefties and keep Phil Coke on the bench.
[Green light, yellow light, red light: the colors represent the volatility of the bullpen order.]