• Vinnie Pestano, Chris Perez and Joe Smith each gave up an earned run in the eighth, ninth and tenth innings respectively this afternoon against Seattle and in the bottom half of the tenth the Indians took back the lead, netting Joe Smith his second win of the season. Although Pestano blew the save today, back from the DL he’s slotted again into his usual set up/eighth inning role ahead of Chris Perez. Perez has struggled a tad of late, giving up a run today and blowing the save in his last appearance this weekend but his hold on the job remains secure.
In the same game, Tom Wilhelmsen blew a save of his own (his first of the year) in the ninth inning allowing a run to score via his own fielding error. On the season, Wilhelmsen’s strikeout rate (20%) is less than what we would expect thus far given his career (24.7% K%) but he’s still pitching to a 0.47 ERA and 2.24 FIP and remains in the upper half of closing options in fantasy baseball. Before the season I suspected Wilhelmsen to be a potential trade target and while that could still be a possibility, the Mariners are playing close to .500 ball and I’ve yet to hear any trade rumors/whispers. If anything were to happen however, Carter Capps and Charlie Furbush would look to take over.
• Casey Janssen had his first poor outing of the year today letting four Rays reach base and allowing two to score in a non-save situation up four runs in the ninth inning. With today’s outing, Janssen’s 1.93 ERA is still fantastic with peripherals to back it up, pitching to a 2.17 FIP with a 14/1 strikeout to walk ratio. While Sergio Santos and Steve Delabar were popular pre-season saves sleepers, Casey Janssen’s dominance this year has made them more afterthoughts than speculative save additions. Delabar’s strikeout ability (10.96 K/9) and work load (23 IP; top 15 among relievers in baseball) gives him plenty of opportunities to help your teams ratios and strikeout totals, but any preseason hope of seeing the ninth inning in 2013 is reliant on a Janssen injury. Meanwhile, Sergio Santos was transferred to the 60-day DL after having “minor” surgery to remove bone spurs from his elbow and should be out for an additional six weeks.
• Travis Hafner hit a game tying, home run off of Jim Johnson in the ninth inning this evening which would be Johnson’s third blown save in his last three appearances. In those three outings Johnson has pitched 2.1 innings, allowing eight earned runs and nine hits. While this is certainly a horrible stretch, before we sound the alarm it’s important to note that Johnson had his blips last year and still held onto the job all year en route to 51 saves. Granted, he might not have had a three game stretch quite like this, it’s still safe to say Johnson’s job is not in danger. Even after today’s outing Johnson’s xFIP (3.68) is right in line with last year’s 3.74 number and although his ground-ball rate is lower this season (53.2% in 2013; 62.3% in 2012) Johnson should continue his worm killing ways closing games in Baltimore.
[Green light, yellow light, red light: the colors represent the volatility of the bullpen order.]