White Sox may be returning to closer committee

August 28, 2014

Chicago White Sox – One day after Jake Petricka’s second straight blown save sent him to the Hot Seat, Robin Ventura tried to squeeze a two-inning save out of Javy Guerra. When Guerra hit a batter with his 33rd pitch, putting two men on with two out, it was Zach Putnam summoned for the one-out, three-pitch save. Ventura didn’t say much after the game — the link to his postgame news conference almost immediately sent viewers to a test pattern — but earlier Wednesday, he put his struggling bullpen on notice that results will be required of anyone expecting to return next year. We won’t elevate Putnam or anyone else to the top spot without more info, but we will give Petricka his closer committee asterisk back. If Ventura does make a change, we expect the chances to be split among Putnam, Guerra, Petricka, and Matt Lindstrom, in that pecking order.

Updated hierarchy: Petricka | Putnam | Guerra.

Oakland A’s – Eric O’Flaherty gave up a solo home run, but earned his first career save on Wednesday. He remains atop the Oakland closer committee. Ryan Cook was used in the sixth and seventh; Dan Otero pitched in the seventh and eighth.

Hierarchy remains: O’Flaherty | Cook | Gregerson.

Milwaukee Brewers – Although Jeremy Jeffress struggled in the seventh last night, the former top prospect has been getting a lot of high-leverage looks for the Brewers lately. He’s moved ahead of Brandon Kintzler, whose strikeout rate is alarmingly low (4.36 K/9).

Updated hierarchy: Rodriguez | Smith | Jeffress.

Houston Astros – Chad Qualls learned on Wednesday afternoon that he would be staying in Houston; unfortunately, he blew the save that night with another awful outing against Oakland. The A’s have been responsible for three of Qualls’s four blown saves and 11 of his 18 earned runs. In non-Oakland games, Qualls has a 1.52 ERA.

Hierarchy remains: Qualls | Fields | Sipp.

Toronto Blue Jays – Chalk another one up for the Vulture Save Watch. We thought it would be Brett Cecil if the Jays needed a save on Wednesday night, and sure enough, he got the last out of the eighth, then came back out and struck out the side in an impressive ninth.

Hierarchy remains: Janssen | Loup | Cecil.

VULTURE SAVE WATCH
1. Luke Gregerson, Oakland A’s – Eric O’Flaherty got the save on Wednesday and hasn’t been used on back-to-back days since May 2013. Because he threw only eight pitches, now might be the time to take the leap — but if it isn’t, Luke Gregerson is the best A’s reliever who didn’t pitch yesterday.

Updated MLB Closer Depth Chart

Closer 1st in line 2nd in line Updated Closer 1st in line 2nd in line Updated
BAL Britton O'Day Miller 8/18/14 ATL Kimbrel Walden Carpenter 8/14/14
BOS Uehara Mujica Tazawa 8/26/14 MIA Cishek Morris Ramos 8/13/14
NYY Robertson Betances Kelley 8/20/14 NYM Mejia Familia Black 8/21/14
TB McGee Boxberger Peralta 8/25/14 PHI Papelbon Giles Diekman 8/23/14
TOR Janssen Loup Cecil 8/28/14 WAS Soriano Clippard Storen 7/31/14
.                    
CHW *Petricka Putnam Guerra 8/28/14 CHC Rondon Strop Ramirez 8/27/14
CLE Allen Shaw Atchison 8/15/14 CIN Chapman Broxton Diaz 8/25/14
DET Nathan Chamberlain Alburquerque 8/27/14 MIL Rodriguez Smith Jeffress 8/28/14
KC Holland Davis Herrera 8/3/14 PIT Melancon Watson Hughes 8/16/14
MIN Perkins Fien Burton 7/6/14 STL Rosenthal Neshek Martinez 8/19/14
    .              
HOU Qualls Fields Sipp 8/28/14 ARI Reed Ziegler Marshall 7/31/14
LAA Street Smith Jepsen 8/22/14 COL Hawkins Ottavino Brothers 7/31/14
OAK *O'Flaherty Cook Gregerson 8/28/14 LAD Jansen Wilson League 8/15/14
SEA Rodney Farquhar Medina 8/14/14 SD Benoit Quackenbush Thayer 8/27/14
TEX Feliz Cotts Tolleson 8/21/14 SF Casilla Romo Affeldt 8/17/14

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* = closer by committee

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Jake Petricka hits the hot seat

August 27, 2014

Chicago White Sox – Jake Petricka blew his second straight save on Tuesday, and the last five batters he’s faced have scratched out two doubles, two home runs, and an intentional walk. There are three other guys in the White Sox bullpen who have at least three saves this year, so Petricka can’t afford too many more nights like this.

Hierarchy remains: Petricka | Putnam | Lindstrom.
Jake Petricka to Hot Seat.

Chicago Cubs – While Kyuji Fujikawa is being used sparingly as he builds arm strength, Neil Ramirez has picked up where he left off as a dominant late-inning option. He struck out the side in the seventh on Tuesday night before turning things over to Pedro Strop and Hector Rondon.

Updated hierarchy: Rondon | Strop | Ramirez.

Detroit Tigers – Joakim Soria is still working his way back from an oblique injury and could return sometime next week. In the meantime, the Tigers put in a revocable waiver claim on Astros closer Chad Qualls, although it’s unlikely to amount to anything. If you were wondering about Jim Johnson, stop. Even after a clean 1.2-inning outing on Sunday, his WHIP remains over 2.

Hierarchy remains: Nathan | Chamberlain | Alburquerque.

Oakland A’s – Something to keep in mind when thinking about the Oakland committee is that Eric O’Flaherty has yet to pitch in back-to-back games all year. Luke Gregerson spared him the chance tonight by giving up a three-run homer in an eventual 4-2 loss.

Hierarchy remains: O’Flaherty | Cook | Gregerson.

San Diego Padres – Kevin Quackenbush struck out the side in the eighth against Milwaukee, and Kato Kaelin wept.

Hierarchy remains: Benoit | Quackenbush | Thayer.

VULTURE SAVE WATCH
1. Ken Giles, Philadelphia Phillies – Jonathan Papelbon earned a quick nine-pitch save on Tuesday, but it was his fourth outing in five days (58 pitches).
2. Brett Cecil/Aaron Loup, Toronto Blue Jays – Casey Janssen pitched one clean inning and the start of a rotten one last night, his third day of work in the last four (57 pitches). Cecil threw 15 fewer pitches than Loup on Tuesday.

Will Koji Uehara be shut down?

August 26, 2014

Boston Red Sox – Koji Uehara entered the ninth with a 3-0 lead and a bases loaded jam from which to escape, but exited having blown his fourth save of the year. After the Sox regained the lead in the 10th, Craig Breslow came on for his first save of the season. Following the game, manager John Farrell was asked about the possibility of shutting Koji down. He said they haven’t considered it yet, but that may change as the Sox enter September in last place.

Hierarchy remains: Uehara | Mujica | Tazawa.

Oakland A’s – The A’s had just a 3-2 lead entering the ninth and Eric O’Flaherty was warming for his first save chance since Sean Doolittle landed on the DL. However, Oakland scored five runs in the top half of the final frame and O’Flaherty recorded the final three outs in a non-save setting. Melvin mentioned in his postgame comments that he didn’t want to get O’Flaherty warmed up and not use him. He’s still at the top of our hierarchy, but we’ll see if Melvin gets another committee member some ninth-inning reps.

Hierarchy remains: O’Flaherty | Cook | Gregerson.

VULTURE SAVE WATCH
1. Adam Ottavino, Colorado Rockies – LaTroy Hawkins has pitched in three straight games.
2. Ken Giles, Philadelphia Phillies – Jonathan Papelbon has pitched in three of the last four games, throwing 49 pitches in the process.
3. Neal Cotts, Texas Rangers - Neftali Feliz has hurled 17 pitches in each of the last two contests.