Rafael Soriano untucked his shirt for the ninth time in ten chances this evening, and he did so facing some of the heaviest hitters — and most prolific whiffers — in the league today. The 33-year-old faced just one over the minimum — yielding a two-out single to Evan Gattis — en route to his 141st career save. Soriano induced consecutive groundouts to Justin Upton and Freddie Freeman, then got Dan Uggla to fly out to right-center with Gattis on first to end the game. Surprisingly, Soriano failed to record a strikeout against the Braves — who entered today with 255 strikeouts as a team, second most in the majors — causing his K% on the year to dip to 24%. And although Soriano may not be receiving the same attention as he did when pitching in the Big Apple, he’s quietly putting together another fine season, and continues to be a top ten closing option. Maybe all that Strasburg, Harper, Zimmermann talk is overshadowing him?
The San Diego Padres caught a few breaks this afternoon in Chicago allowing them to put a four-spot on the scoreboard in their half of the eighth-inning to take a 4-2 lead over the Cubbies. Huston Street took full advantage of said luck, closing out the game on just 16 pitches while facing just one over the minimum. The lone hit allowed came on a two-out double to left-center by Nate Schierholtz. But, Street fanned pinch-hitter Luis Valbuena to end the game, stranding Schierholtz at second.
Street improved to a perfect 6-for-6 on the season in save opportunities, but other than that, some things just don’t look the same. Street hasn’t missed very many bats in the first month — he owns just a 6.6 SwStr%, versus a career 12.5 SwStr% — which is likely at the root of his declining K%. The right-hander has struck out 25.5% of the batters he’s faced over his career, but is only whiffing 12% of hitters through the first month of the season. Street’s velocity appears to have dipped a tick from 2012, but with just 11 innings under his belt, maybe his engine is just getting warmed up? WIth a 6.57 FIP, the lack of save opportunities in San Diego and the potential to get dealt at the trade deadline, it may be a good time to see what you can get for the Friar.
The Red Sox recently reactivated Joel Hanrahan from the disabled list leaving the fantasy community wondering what John Farrell would do the next time his team had the opportunity to save a game. And tonight, Bailey never removed his jacket while sitting in the bullpen, leading us to believe that Hanrahan would simply jump right back into the ninth-inning role despite the success that Andrew Bailey has experienced in his absence. And Hanrahan may be the closer going forward, but that wasn’t the reason Bailey didn’t throw tonight. Bailey experienced some biceps soreness and wasn’t available to go, essentially making the skip’s call a bit easier for now. Hanrahan notched his fourth save in five chances on 14 pitches. He did allow a leadoff single to Colby Rasmus, but the veteran induced a one-out double play to seal the deal. I’m turning the Boston bullpen to “red” until we get some clear answers from the Boston brass. If you’re a Hanrahan/Bailey owner, then hold for now. If either are available in your leagues, feel free to make the speculative add until we learn more.
[Green light, yellow light, red light: the colors represent the volatility of the bullpen order.]