-Apparently, Joe Nathan is the newest closer on the trade market. It’s being reported that the Rangers have had “internal discussions” about dealing from an area of surplus to possibly increase the supply of relievers available to other organizations in order to acquire the offensive spark they covet. If by chance the Rangers moved their ninth-inning man to a team like the Tigers, Red Sox or Dodgers, Texas could slide former closer Joakim Soria, Alexi Ogando or even Neftali Feliz into that role. Nelson Cruz’s association with the Biogeneisis scandal could have accelerated this process as well.
-Two additional closers that could be wearing different uniforms by the end of next week, Kevin Gregg (21) and Jose Veras (19), notched saves Saturday night. Gregg, who’s been struggling as of late, surrendered a one-out single and two free passes in his 23-pitch effort en route to the save. And if by chance the Cubs can get a bag of balls in return for Gregg at this point, Pedro Strop could be thrust into the ninth-inning role based on the impressive month of July he’s had since coming over to the Cubs.
For Veras, it was 21 pitches to induce two fly outs and a ground out to collect his 19th save in 22 chances this season. Veras is missing a few more bats this year (9.6 SwStr%) than he has in the recent past (8.2% SwStr% for his career), which is likely why there is a slight spike in his whiff rate (27% K%). However, there seems to be a dip in velocity across each of the right-handers three primary offerings — the greatest dip being on Veras’ curve piece. Might this be raising some red flags for potential suitors? Jose Cisnero would’ve been my pick to assume the closing duties in Houston if and when Veras is dealt, but he’s been pretty awful as of late, so let’s call Josh Fields the darkhorse here.
–Mark Melancon yielded a leadoff walk and a two-out single, but held the Marlins scoreless in their half of the final frame to secure the 7-4 victory for the Pirates and the right-handers fourth save of the season. Melancon earned the call on Saturday due to the Bucs’ All-Star closer, Jason Grilli, landing on the disabled list with a flexor strain in his right arm that will keep him sidelined for the next four-to-eight weeks. Melancon is now 4-of-5 in save chances this season with a 0.91 ERA and a 0.83 WHIP.
-With Francisco Rodriguez shipped off the Orioles, Jim Henderson earned the call in a save situation again Saturday evening against the Rockies. It took the 30-year-old Canadian 21 pitches, but he fanned two and induced a pop out while facing the minimum en route to his 12th save of the twenty-thirteen campaign. The lanky right-hander is now 12-of-15 on the season in save chances with a 2.09 ERA and a 1.09 WHIP.
Quick Hitters: Greg Holland (26), Kenley Jansen (14), Rafael Soriano (26), Craig Kimbrel (30), Grant Balfour (28) and Chris Perez (14) each logged saves on Saturday. It took Perez (6) and Kimbrel (7) a total of 13 pitches to earn their saves.
[Green light, yellow light, red light: the colors represent the volatility of the bullpen order.]
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