–Francisco Rodriguez’s grasp on the ninth-inning role in Milwaukee may have grown little tighter this evening, without even throwing a pitch. The Brewers’ former closer, Jim Henderson, who had been lurking in Rodriguez’s shadows waiting for another shot to close games, imploded in the eighth-inning of a tie-game and took his first loss on the year. Henderson yielded five earned runs on four hits and an intentional walk, while striking out one in his two-thirds of an inning, 18 pitch effort. Prior to tonight’s implosion, Henderson was 2-0 with two holds and a 3.38 ERA (1.22 WHIP). He’s been striking out more (37.2% K%) and walking less (7.0% BB%) batters than he has in the past despite the velocity on his two primary offerings being down a tick. Henderson sat 91-94 on the 4-seam fastball tonight, while his sliders came in at 84-85. Rodriguez is a perfect 13-for-13 in save chances this season with a 0.00 ERA. All green here for the time being.
-Two save chances in a day? Two save chances in day! And both were successfully converted by Rays’ closer Grant Balfour in Boston. In all, Balfour dished two innings, allowing two hits and one walk and fanned three Red Sox on 38 pitches. Balfour is now 6-of-7 in save chances on the year with a 5.11 ERA (5.54 xFIP). Considering both Balfour and Jake McGee skipped to the bump twice today, (gulp) Heath Bell could get an ninth-inning look tomorrow should the Rays be in a save situation.
–Koji Uehara took his first loss of the season this evening as the Rays clipped the Red Sox 6-5 in the second half of a double-header. Immediately following the game Eno Sarris sends me a message to take a look at Koji’s velocity (among other things) from tonight suggesting that something could be wrong with the 38-year-old closer. We found that Uehara’s splitter sat in the 78-83 mph range while his four-seamer came in at 85-88 mph. The right-hander owns a career average 88.2 mph on the fastball, but he only touched 88 on two of his 13 pitches. Seems to be a touch low compared to that of his career averages, so I kept looking. And as I’m researching this data, I see Alex Speier write “Koji Uehara Says He’s Not Injured.” in my timeline. Weird. Tonight Koji surrendered his second homer in his last three outings and failed to fan a batter for the first time all season. Apparently Eno wasn’t the only one who noticed. Speier indicated that Uehara and John Farrell mentioned that there isn’t anything physically wrong with the reliever. And I’m not sure there is either, but it’s worth keeping a (close) eye on. Testing his trade value in your league may not be a bad idea. In the meantime, I’m going to keep digging on this…
–Quick Hits: Steve Cishek converted the famous four-out save (sixth on the season) in the Marlins’ victory over the Braves. Fernando Rodney fanned one en route to his sixth save of the year. Chris Perez fanned two in a five-out save effort in the first half of the Dodgers and Twins doubleheader in Minnesota. Kenley Jansen surrendered an earned run on two walks and a hit, but escaped a jam in the bottom of the 12th in the second half of the doubleheader to secure his 11th save. Tommy Hunter locked down his seventh successful save in just one-third of an inning.
[Green light, yellow light, red light: the colors represent the volatility of the bullpen order.]
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