• Lots of injury bullet points the last couple days. Matt Capps is off the disabled list but will be eased back into the closer role. Capps is still a trade candidate, so don’t drop Jared Burton or Glen Perkins just yet. Surprise, surprise, Frank Francisco suffered a setback in his rehab from a sore oblique. With Bobby Parnell (a potential long-term fit for the Mets) pitching as well as he has (3.10 xFIP, 4.25 K/BB), he could stir up a controversy if Francisco doesn’t make it back soon, even if manager Terry Collins has given Francisco the vote of confidence.
• Heath Bell claims he has been pitching with a tight calf the last few weeks, which could explain the 10.80 ERA since June 25th, although it didn’t stop Ozzie Guillen from moving to a closer-by-committee in light of Bell’s recent struggles. Steve Cishek (3.95 xFIP) would appear to be the sexy pick, but Randy Choate or Edward Mujica (when healthy) might get some opportunities against lefties. Bell will probably continue to get chances as well, and a string of good performances could put him back in Guillen’s good graces. Lastly, Juan Oviedo will be returning from a “rehab” assignment (rehabbing his image?) in 10-14 days and, even with some iffy career peripherals (4.25 xFIP), could be a wild card. If you are hurting for saves and have the roster space, a speculative add might not be a terrible idea.
• Not a good outing from Scott Downs tonight. Tasked with holding C.J. Wilson‘s 5-2 lead in the eighth inning versus the American League’s top team, he gave up a double and a walk before Mark Teixeira provided a crushing 3-run homer which tied the game. He also walked Nick Swisher before he was pulled and Kevin Jepsen allowed that run to come around and score — pegging Downs with the loss after Rafael Soriano was able to pitch a scoreless ninth. Downs two uncharacteristic walks (he had only allowed six in 30 IP coming into tonight) caused his xFIP to balloon to 3.37, substantially higher than his ERA (1.47). Ernesto Frieri has taken over the lead in the battle for saves in the Angels bullpen — while this mini-meltdown from Scott Downs doesn’t undo his body of work, he does probably give Frieri another slight edge in bullpen pecking order. Downs is probably borderline droppable in shallower leagues, even before tonight’s outing. Without a lot of saves he’s really only padding your rate stats a bit (only 16.5% K%) and is due for a bit of regression in that department anyways.
• Jonathan Broxton blew the save tonight, allowing a whopping four baserunners against the White Sox. Broxton’s ERA stands at an outstanding 2.20 but his 1.92 K/BB is underwhelming as is his 4.15 xFIP. Greg Holland tossed a scoreless eighth and remains the most likely option to take over closing duties if the one-year contract wonder (Broxton) is moved before this month’s deadline. Darkhorse saves candidate Aaron Crow (3.41 xFIP, 23.1% K%) also threw an inning and a third of scoreless relief; owners could probably do worse in deep leagues that count holds.
A Pitcher for Tomorrow: Ernesto Frieri (LAA) @ NYY
Scott Downs had a rough Friday. With Downs pitching the ninth inning, Frieri was in line for the save if the Yankees didn’t rally for four runs and a 6-5 lead. Expect Mike Scioscia to get the right-handed half of his late-inning platoon (and his sexy 40.7% K%) into the game, save situation or not.
[Green light, yellow light, red light: the colors represent the volatility of the bullpen order.]