A few notes out of the bullpens on Thursday:
-The debacle that is the backend of the Angels bullpen reared its ugly head once again this afternoon in Cleveland. Skipper Mike Scioscia went with setup man Joe Smith in the bottom of the ninth in a tie game on the road, presumably leaving right-hander Ernesto Frieri to work the next frame should the Angels get on the board in their half of the tenth. The Angels indeed plated two in the top of the tenth, but Scioscia went with rookie Cam Bedrosian in the save situation instead of closer Ernesto Frieri. Bedrosian proceeded to surrender two free passes and a hit before being hooked in favor of Ernesto Frieri with one out and the bases juiced. Frieri induced a flyout to short left, then yielded a game-winning grand slam to Nick Swisher to blow his third save of the season.
Post game comments indicate that Scioscia felt the save chance would be a good opportunity for the young Bedrosian, who has “great stuff, but just missed on some pitches.” This also might give us a hunch that Scioscia still doesn’t feel comfortable giving the 28-year-old Frieri the ball in these situations. At any rate, the manager’s comments reeked of “matchups” and the feeling that the Angels will be headed back to a closer-by-committee situation. If you’re scratching and clawing for saves, you’re looking to add Joe Smith first. He’s still available in 76% of Yahoo! leagues as of this writing. This will now be a “red” situation.
–Jason Grilli blew his fourth save in 15 chances today, despite the Pirates clipping the Reds 4-3 in twelve innings. Grilli served up a one-out longball to Reds’ backstop Devin Mesoraco in the top of the ninth to tie the game at three and force the game into extras. The Bucs’ closer, who now owns a 4.34 ERA (5.83 FIP) in just over 18 innings of work, seems to be in jeopardy of keeping his current ninth-inning role. Following today’s contest, Clint Hurdle mentioned that the Pirates’ closing situation will be evaluated and that he’ll make a decision that is in the best interest of the ballclub.
The best interest of the ballclub is likely Mark Melancon, and to a lesser extent, Tony Watson. With 47 career saves under his belt, Melancon appears to be the immediate beneficiary of Grilli’s potential demotion. And despite having three blown saves himself, the 29-year-old is pitching to the tune of a 1.95 ERA (2.51 FIP) and a ~23% K%. He’s available in 45% of Yahoo leagues at the moment. Although he doesn’t have any saves, Tony Watson (available in 81% of Y!) is 5-0 with a 1.36 ERA (2.10 FIP), a ~31% K% and 16 holds in 33 innings of work. Watson is one of those middle relief arms that I’d consider rostering whether he gets the nod in the ninth or not. He posts fine ratios, picks up some scab wins and can pad the strikeout categories a bit. This is now a “red” situation, and although I believe Melancon gets the next save chance, I’m leaving the pecking order in place until we learn more tomorrow.
-Just one day after missing a save chance due to a sore back, Glen Perkins found himself back on the hill in a save situation today at home against the White Sox. Perkins surrendered a single to Jose Abreu, but picked up his 18th save in 20 chances this season in a scoreless 21-pitch effort.
-Quick Hits: Both Dellin Betances and David Robertson were unavailable for Joe Girardi and the Yankees tonight, so Matt Thornton and Adam Warren finished off the Blue Jays in the ninth-inning. Thornton got one out in each of the eighth and ninth frames before Warren earned the last two outs en route to his second save of the season. Dan Otero locked down his first save of the season while Sean Doolittle took the night off after working on two consecutive days.
[Green light, yellow light, red light: the colors represent the volatility of the bullpen order.]
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