Just a few late notes from the bullpens on this holiday weekend:
-A Felix Hernandez/Jose Quintana pitching duel in Chicago this evening seemed like it would provide each club’s bullpen with some extra rest as we approach the All-Star Break. Well, that fact became clear once the game started to be honest, as both hurlers were firing on all cylinders. But, a couple of late runs from each club led to a 14-inning battle that featured 10 relievers combining for eleven-and-two-thirds innings on the hill. None of the five relievers for the Sox appeared impressive. Surkamp, Putnam and Belisario each surrendered earned runs while Javy Guerra gave up two free passes and a hit in his two frames of work. Everything about the White Sox bullpen is red right now. The Mariners, however, failed to allow an earned run on one hit, one walk and struck out seven in six innings. One of the seven strikeouts came from Fernando Rodney, who put forth a clean effort in the bottom of the 14th to earn his 25th save of the year and maintain his ~27% K%. Rodney’s 197 career saves are good enough for sixth among active closers and just 161 behind Joe Nathan’s 358 career saves.
–Santiago Casilla issued a walk, but fanned two en route to his second save of the season as a part of the Giants’ closer-by-committee. Former closer, Sergio Romo, saw some action in the bottom of the ninth on the road at Petco in a tie game. Romo didn’t allow a run, but surrendered a hit and a walk while striking out one Friar on 20 pitches. Jeremy Affeldt also saw action earlier in the game, and notched four consecutive outs between the seventh and eighth innings before giving way to Romo. This is another true CBC for the moment, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Sergio Romo back in the ninth-inning driver’s seat sooner-than-later.
-Now that trade season is officially underway — Thanks Theo! — it appears as if Detroit is interested in bringing on some relief help to bolster their bullpen. Joakim Soria and Jason Frasor of the Rangers along with Chad Qualls of the Astros are some of the names mentioned as potential trade targets for the Tigers. Entering Saturday, the Tigers bullpen owned a 4.58 ERA, good for 29th among the league’s 30 teams and have converted 22 of 30 save opportunities If one or more of the Rangers relievers find themselves changing uniforms this trade season, Neftali Feliz could find his way back into some work as the team’s closer. Feliz has 74 career saves under his belt and pitched relatively well in Triple-A this season — Feliz went 1-1 with seven saves, a 3.14 ERA and a ~21% K-BB% in 24 games — and should get another ninth-inning look. And if by chance Chad Qualls packs his bags, left-hander Tony Sipp or recently activated Josh Fields and/or Jose Veras could see some save chances. Much of this will unravel over the course of the next few weeks.
-Quick Hits: Koji Uehara trotted to the mound in the top of the ninth-inning in a tie game at home today in the first half of the Red Sox doubleheader with the Orioles. Uehara dished a clean frame with two strikeouts, then picked up the win in the home half of the inning thanks to a manufactured run from Johnny Gomes, David Ross and Jonathan Herrera. The Japanese reliever continues to defy Father Time to maintain his spot among the top five-ish closers in the league. Speaking of defying the aging curve, 41-year-old LaTroy Hawkins notched his 15th save of the year in an eight pitch effort against the Dodgers Saturday night. Hawkins fanned one this evening, but still owns more saves (15) than strikeouts (14) on the season. Mark Melancon served up a ninth-inning longball to Marlon Byrd, but managed to overcome that to pick up his 16th save of the year for the Bucs.
[Green light, yellow light, red light: the colors represent the volatility of the bullpen order.]
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