-With fans and fantasy owners on the edge of their seats, Red Sox skipper signaled for “new” closer Koji Uehara to close out the Blue Jays in the top of the ninth frame at Fenway today. The 38-year-old veteran needed just 16 pitches while facing the minimum to induce two strikeouts and a ground out en route to his second save since being named Andrew Bailey’s replacement last week and his third overall save on the season. The Japanese right-hander has now made eight consecutive appearances without surrendering an earned run and has lowered his twenty-thirteen ERA and WHIP to 1.97 and 0.81 respectively. Additionally, Uehara’s K% spiked to 37.4% after fanning two Toronto batters in today’s contest. Going forward, I’d consider Uehara a borderline top-ten closing option.
–Joaquin Benoit surrendered a hit and a walk, but struck out two in a scoreless inning of work against the Angels on Thursday. Benoit, who was tabbed the Tigers’ closer since Jose Valverde was designated for assignment, has now faced 16 batters in his last three-and-a-third innings of work. Not exactly efficient I know, but Benoit actually lowered his ERA to 1.95 and upped his K% to 30.7% after today’s outing. If someone in the comments were to ask me if I’d rather Uehara or Benoit for the rest of the season, I’d probably tell them Uehara, but both obviously need to be owned in all relative formats.
-Tonight’s one-hit scoreless outing gave Ernesto Frieri his second save in as many nights against the Detroit Tigers and his 19th on the season. The right-handed slinger faced one over the minimum in his 34th appearance and failed to fan an opposing batter for just the second time in his last ten outings. Despite such, Frieri still owns a K% just north of 33% on the year with a 3.12 ERA and a 1.21 WHIP. He’s now 19-of-21 in save opportunities for the Angles in ‘13, but will need a few more consecutive clean outings to prove to me that he’s a top 20 closer the rest of the way.
-Club Heath was open for Happy Hour today, but the owner of said establishment refused to serve any longball refreshments to customers for the first time in the last six times it’s opened its doors. That clearly didn’t sound as good as I wanted it too, but we’re going with it anyway. Heath Bell notched his 14th save on the season tonight as the Diamondbacks clipped the Nationals 3-2 at Nationals Park. Heath Bell’s tenure as the closer in Arizona could come to an abrupt end once J.J. Putz is activated from the disabled list. Putz could return to the club tomorrow, but skipper Kirk Gibson he’s unsure how he would use the right-hander once he returns. I’d expect Putz to get the ninth-inning back very, very soon, making Bell droppable for most fantasy owners.
-The Cleveland Indians activated closer Chris Perez from the disabled list today. Despite Vinnie Pestano being a perfect 5-for-5 in save chances with Perez shelved, it appears as if Perez will slide right back into ninth-inning duties. Although manager Terry Francona admitted Perez is “good to go,” he acknowledge that the club will not be able to call on him to the bump on three consecutive days. With that said, those who own shares of Vinnie Pestano should remain in a holding pattern until we see how Perez performs upon his return, especially those desperate for save chances on that third day should the bearded one be unavailable.
[Green light, yellow light, red light: the colors represent the volatility of the bullpen order.]