• When Drew Storen went on the DL in the beginning of the season, everyone assumed that Washington Nationals manager Davey Johnson was going to use relief ace Tyler Clippard to close games. Instead, he chose to keep Clippard in his familiar 8th inning role, opting for Brad Lidge and Henry Rodriguez to split the closing dutites. However, with Brad Lidge on the DL and Henry Rodriguez struggling Davey Johnson called on Clippard for the save tonight against the Phillies and Clippard responded well, pitching a clean ninth inning with one strikeout. Sean Burnett got the save last night so this situation looks to be a committee, depending on the matchup. Burnett might get a look if there is a tough lefty, but if Johnson is willing to let Clippard pitch the ninth, don’t be shocked to see him run away with the role considering he’s been one of the most consistent relievers in baseball, and this year has been no different (1.96 FIP/10.89 K/9).
• It seems as though no amount of blown saves and/or meltdowns will prevent Frank Francisco from getting saves for the Mets as Frank Squared recorded a perfect save tonight for his 11th of the year. Jon Rauch started, but couldn’t finish the eighth inning giving up two runs and Bobby Parnell didn’t pitch tonight, having pitched in the previous two games. Frank Squared certainly doesn’t have a long leash, but neither Rauch nor Parnell has pitched consistently enough during Francisco’s struggles to get a grasp on the job. Francisco’s salary ($6.5 M due in 2013) may buy him some extra time, but Parnell is the future, and has done an excellent job limiting his walks this year (1.40 BB/9) while maintaining his no-hit stuff (9.31 K/9).
• David Robertson will be in Tampa later this week to start his rehab, but it is unlikely that he will be activated next week when he is eligible to come off of the DL. In his place, Rafael Soriano continued to do the job getting the save tonight against the Kansas City Royals. Combining Soriano’s recent success as closer, his past closing experience and Robertson’s initial struggles as closer – I wouldn’t be surprised to see Soriano hold on to the job once Robertson returns.
• Aroldis Chapman has been absolutely amazing this year and he continued his success tonight with a save against the Atlanta Braves, striking out two batters, including Jason Heyward on a 100 MPH fastball. Sean Marshall‘s struggles have led to Chapman getting the job, and if he continues to pitch like he can, he will likely run away with it, as dangerous as that is to say considering all of the closer role changes we have witnessed this year. One thing to keep in mind is that the Reds haven’t allowed Chapman pitch on consecutive days consistently, so Jose Arredondo and Sean Marshall might still receive some save opportunities.
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: Jonathan Papelbon vs WAS
Papelbon hasn’t pitched since Friday and could be in line to get an inning work in, regardless if there is a save situation. Also, since he is playing the Nationals and doesn’t have a great lineup behind him, there is a solid chance a save situation arises.
Our Bullpen Report team will also be keeping this closer grid up to date for you. Happy hunting for saves!