• Sergio Romo is out as closer and Jeremy Affeldt and Santiago Casilla will be part of the closing committee for now. Romo is still expected to pitch in some sort of setup role but Casilla and Affeldt should be receiving the save opportunities in the meantime. Romo hasn’t been as bad as his 5.17 ERA would suggest but even a 3.93 xFIP and 3.27 SIERA is worse than we expected from him. Romo’s never been a big velocity guy but his fastball and slider have actually been a little better than last year. Also, although Romo’s K% have fallen the last few years his 14.2% SwStr% shows he can still get some whiffs, even if it hasn’t presented itself with his pedestrian K-rates this year. Barring a hidden injury I’d expect Romo to regain his job this summer but it’s Casilla and Affeldt for now. As a lefty/righty combo, gameflow should determine who sees the save on a given night. Both Affeldt (1.33 ) and Casilla (1.17) are owners of some shiny ERA’s and I would reccomend any team in need of saves to snag them if they’re available on the wire. Jean Machi is also having a nice year and could figure into some saves but he’s given up runs in his last two outings and Bochy mentioned Casilla and Affeldt as Romo’s replacements.
• Ronald Belisario is also out as closer and the White Sox aren’t looking at just one guy to replace him either. Zach Putnam recorded the first save of his career on Saturday but Jake Petricka pitched a scoreless ninth today, protecting a four run lead. Moving forward I’d lean towards Putnam but it’s clear Ventura will look to use both of his P’s at the end of games in lieu of Belisario.
• Chad Qualls has been fantastic since fully taking the reigns as Astros closer but after pitching a couple games in a row the Astros turned to Tony Sipp who notched his first save of the season. The Astros season started with a committee but everything is falling into line with Qualls and Sipp clearly one and two in the back of their bullpen. Historically, Qualls has been the better pitcher but Sipp’s been very impressive with 2.12 xFIP, allowing only four runs in 22.1 innings while striking out 29 batters against just three walks. Performance wise Qualls is in no danger of losing the job but the Astros aren’t competing for a playoff spot this year and Qualls name could be a trade target as we start to enter the trade deadline phase of the summer. Roster spots could be better served than holding Sipp on Chad Qualls trade speculation, but it’s something to monitor nonetheless.
• Jason Grilli and Ernesto Frieri were both disappointing their respective teams so the Pirates and Angels decided to swap their deposed closers. Mark Melancon has a pretty firm hold on the gig and I don’t expect Frieri to be in play for saves. However, Jason Grilli could see some ninth inning action for the Angels. Joe Smith is on top of the food chain in LA/Anaheim for now but his soft tossing sidearming ways could lead to Grilli seeing save opportunities again this season. Grilli will have to put up better results than he did tonight though, receiving the loss after allowing a run in a tied game in the bottom of the ninth.
• Jake McGee didn’t record a save today but he did on Friday and Saturday and for now seems to be on top of the pecking order in Tampa Bay. Grant Balfour has pitched a little better of late but also gave up an earned run yesterday. Although he’s a lefty, Jake McGee is getting lefties (.227 wOBA against) and righties (.177 wOBA against) out and should continue to see any save chances that come Tampa’s way while Balfour is removed from the gig. Joel Peralta who threw a scoreless ninth in a non-save situation today is also involved but McGee is starting to tighten his grasp.
• Quick Hits: In spite of trade rumors Huston Street recorded his 21st save against the Diamondbacks today. Fernando Rodney launched his 23rd arrow into the sky, securing King Felix’s 10th win of the season. Glen Perkins (20), Mark Melancon (15) and Craig Kimbrel (24) all recorded saves with Ryan Cook getting his first save of the season as Sean Doolittle received the night off.
[Green light, yellow light, red light: the colors represent the volatility of the bullpen order.]
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