• The Kyle Farnsworth show is ready to return to Tampa Bay, but not in the role he expected to serve entering Spring Training. Farnsworth, who has been sidelined since the end of the Spring with a strained right elbow, will join Jake McGee and Pine Tar Joel Peralta as “the eighth-inning set-up men” for Fernando Rodney. Rodney, one of the great stories of the first-half, has been nothing shy of spectacular while manning the ninth for the Rays. The righty is 21-for-22 in save opportunities with career bests in ERA (1.07), WHIP (0.77) and BB/9 (1.34).
• Rafael Soriano appeared in four of the last five games for the Bronx Bombers and was declared unavailable for Thursday’s contest against the White Sox. David Robertson was called upon in the ninth with two men on and a two-run lead, but surrendered a three-run moonshot to Dayan Viciedo for his second blown save of the season. The White Sox then turned to their closer, Addison Reed, to shut down the Yankees in the bottom of the ninth — and he did just that. Reed gave up one hit, struck out one and got a little defensive help from Alex Rios on a deep Derek Jeter fly ball en route to earning his 11th save of the season.
• Joel Hanrahan lowered his ERA to 2.10 while earning his fifth consecutive save and 20th on the year. Since blowing a save chance against the Reds on June 7th — a game in which he ultimately won — Hanrahan has appeared in eight contests, allowing just four hits, two free passes while fanning nine. The Pirates’ closer is limiting hitters to a .158 average (.138 vs. lefties) through 31 appearances, but a .190 average on balls in play versus a career .320 BABIP tells us balls should be finding holes in the defense soon. In addition to some luck in the BABIP department, Hanrahan is stranding an unsustainable career high 94.7% of those who reach base (74.1% career LOB%) making me believe his current 2.10 ERA is likely to decline towards his xFIP of 4.02. Based on the potential regression, you may be able to parlay Hanrahan’s good fortune along with a secondary player to target an elite closer, like Craig Kimbrel, as Ben Duronio suggests.
• Jose Valverde faced the minimum three batters — inducing three fly balls — to earn his 14th save of the season, and his first since June 14th. This was Valverde’s second appearance — first in a save situation — since feeling some discomfort in his wrist while warming in the bullpen on June 19th. Despite collecting the save, the Dominican closer doesn’t “look” like the guy who was 49-of-49 in save opportunities with a 2.24 ERA in 2011. He has saved 14 games in 17 chances, but his ERA has ballooned to 4.03 in 2012 while seeing his strikeouts per nine decrease for the sixth consecutive year from 8.59 to 6.21. This is another closer I’d be looking to sell.
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: Rafael Soriano (NYY) vs. CWS
As previously noted, Rafael Soriano was given the night off on Thursday, a night in which the Yankees’ bullpen imploded and ended their five game win streak. The gut isn’t alway right (just most of the time), but it tells me that manager Joe Girardi will be eager to call upon Rafael Soriano tomorrow should the Bombers be in a save situation.
[Green light, yellow light, red light: the colors represent the volatility of the bullpen order.]