• As Colin mentioned in the Bullpen Report last night, the “late scuttlebutt” is true and Matt Capps has been placed on the DL with shoulder inflammation. It is unknown how long Matt Capps will be out, but what we do know is that shoulder injuries can get pretty tricky, so we can’t assume Capps will be back in action as soon as he’s eligible to return from the DL. We also know that Matt Capps hasn’t been that impressive this year (4.21 xFIP) and has actually been far worse than the new co-closers in Minnesota, Glen Perkins (2.98 xFIP) and Jared Burton (3.26 xFIP). Glen Perkins is the better pitcher and has more closing experience both this year and at the end of last year, but it’s been Jared Burton who has received and converted the last two save opportunities, including tonight’s game against the White Sox. Perkins may be the better pitcher but the lefty closer is a rare breed as managers often side with the right-handed part of a closing platoon like we have seen Mike Scioscia do with Ernesto Frieri and Scott Downs.
One last point regarding Matt Capps — he has a team option for $6 million next year meaning Capps isn’t a guy the Twins are invested in long term. So, if Capps has an extended DL stint and either Burton or Perkins does well in his place, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the winner of the closing gig to hold on to it for the entire season, even when Capps returns.
• Before tonight’s game, Marlins closer Heath Bell had pitched in 10 consecutive games without allowing a run. Naturally, Bell then decided to give up four runs against the Cardinals tonight, blowing his first save since May 4th. Bell had a disastrous April leading to a 7.98 xFIP, but improved in May (4.27 xFIP) and even more so in June (1.28 xFIP). The problem for Bell was his lack of control and an inability to miss bats but after striking out only 12.5% of the batters he faced in April, Bell was mowing them down in June, striking out 41% of the batters he faced with a 10.00 K/BB. If this outing happened a couple of months ago in the midst of Bell’s awful start I would be screaming for everyone to grab Steve Cishek and/or Edward Mujica, but Bell has gotten himself back on track this year and this bad outing should be seen as just that — a bad outing, not a budding closer controversy.
• The Padres and the Rockies won’t be competing for the NL West title this year but they each have closers that could be dealt this summer and both Huston Street and Rafael Betancourt looked good tonight nailing down saves for their respective teams. Trade rumors should be monitored as we start getting closer to the deadline and we’ll be sure to report what we find here because Street or Betancourt could become set-up men on a different team and if they are traded, you’re going to want to know who will be replacing them.
For those of you who play daily fantasy games like FanGraphs: The Game, or just like to stream players, here is a matchup you may be able to exploit.
A Pitcher for Tomorrow: Jonathan Papelbon (PHI) vs. PIT
The Phillies are having a disappointing year thus far but the Pirates offense is one of the worst in the league (30th in the league in wOBA) and this game figures to be a close one with Vance Worley facing off against Erik Bedard. Although Papelbon has done poorly in his last two appearances, he’s still one of the best in the business, he’s well rested and he should have an opportunity to nail down a save against the Pirates.
[Green light, yellow light, red light: the colors represent the volatility of the bullpen order.]
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