Kyuji Fujikawa ready to return to Chicago

July 31, 2014

Chicago Cubs – After an inquiry from the Players Association about their unusual demotion of Neil Ramirez, the Cubs elected to place him on the disabled list with a sore right arm. Meanwhile, Kyuji Fujikawa made a scoreless appearance for Iowa, perhaps his final rehab outing before returning to the big club.

Updated hierarchy: Rondon | Strop | Russell.

Arizona Diamondbacks – On the eve of the trade deadline, Addison Reed picked up another ugly save, inheriting two runners and allowing them to score via home run. Rumors this week continue to suggest that Reed is available, while Brad Ziegler is untouchable.

Hierarchy remains: Reed | Ziegler | Marshall.

Washington Nationals – With Rafael Soriano unavailable for the second straight day after heavy recent use, Matt Williams kept Tyler Clippard in the eighth inning and used Drew Storen for the save opportunity. Storen gave up a solo home run and put the winning run on base, but managed to escape. Clippard got the last vulture save opp a month back, and he might get the next too, given Storen’s struggles.

Hierarchy remains: Soriano | Clippard | Storen.

Colorado Rockies – A 27-pitch outing by LaTroy Hawkins on Tuesday was tiring enough to require the services of Adam Ottavino as closer on Wednesday.

Hierarchy remains: Hawkins | Ottavino | Brothers.

Chicago White Sox – Nate Jones suffered a UCL tear during rehab from his back surgery; after undergoing Tommy John surgery on Tuesday, he is expected to be out for the next 12 to 18 months. Matt Lindstrom starts a rehab assignment on Friday.

Hierarchy remains: Petricka | Belisario | Guerra.

VULTURE SAVE WATCH
1. Darren O’Day/Tommy Hunter, Baltimore Orioles – Zach Britton has pitched in three of four, and has thrown 39 pitches in the last two days. O’Day has seen similar usage.

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 Hunter 7/23/14 ATL Kimbrel Walden Varvaro 7/30/14
BOS Uehara Mujica Tazawa 7/28/14 MIA Cishek Morris Ramos 7/25/14
NYY Robertson Betances Warren 7/8/14 NYM Mejia Familia Black 6/19/14
TB McGee Boxberger Balfour 7/29/14 PHI Papelbon Giles Bastardo 7/30/14
TOR Janssen McGowan Loup 7/24/14 WAS Soriano Clippard Storen 7/31/14
.                    
CHW Petricka Belisario Guerra 7/31/14 CHC Rondon Strop Russell 7/31/14
CLE Allen Shaw Axford 6/17/14 CIN Chapman Broxton LeCure 7/8/14
DET Nathan Soria Chamberlain 7/25/14 MIL Rodriguez Kintzler Smith 7/30/14
KC Holland Davis Crow 7/26/14 PIT Melancon Watson Hughes 7/26/14
MIN Perkins Fien Burton 7/6/14 STL Rosenthal Neshek Motte 7/28/14
    .              
HOU Qualls Fields Sipp 7/30/14 ARI Reed Ziegler Marshall 7/31/14
LAA Street Smith Jepsen 7/18/14 COL Hawkins Ottavino Brothers 7/31/14
OAK Doolittle Gregerson Cook 6/30/14 LAD Jansen Wilson League 6/26/14
SEA Rodney Farquhar Medina 7/20/14 SD Benoit Quackenbush Thayer 7/30/14
TEX Feliz Tolleson Cotts 7/26/14 SF Casilla Romo Affeldt 7/23/14

.

Another Hitch for Will Smith

July 30, 2014

Milwaukee Brewers – With only one earned run allowed in his first 26 innings, we started the season with Men in Black Will Smith: a man astride his craft, untouchable by mere mortals. A few hiccups in June downgraded him to Hancock – a flawed, complicated hero – and when he started July with nine runs in two innings, he had become a full-fledged Wild Wild West, worth watching only when Salma Hayek was with him. Smith climbed back up to Shark Tale (good intentions; poor aim) with some mid-July success, but after allowing three runs in a third of an inning on Tuesday night, he hit rock bottom. After Earth. Jim Henderson’s last scheduled rehab session was rained out on Tuesday, but once the Brewers activate him, Smith should transition into more of a DJ Jazzy Jeff.

Hierarchy remains: Rodriguez | Kintzler | Smith.

Atlanta Braves – Shae Simmons’s recent struggles have been explained by a shoulder strain that has landed him on the disabled list. Anthony Varvaro should take Simmons’s place even after a rough outing on Tuesday, completing his heartwarming comeback from a broken leg in the 2006 Preakness. Recently recalled Juan Jaime has great stuff, but also walked almost a man an inning at AAA.

Updated hierarchy: Kimbrel | Walden | Varvaro.

Houston Astros – After a clean eighth from Josh Fields put Houston in the rare position to close out Oakland, Chad Qualls gave up five runs to pick up the loss. After the game, Bo Porter defended Qualls, saying that he has been the team’s best reliever all year. And Tony Sipp and his overlooked 12.2 K/9 ratio shed a single tear.

Hierarchy remains: Qualls | Fields | Sipp.

San Diego Padres – Still a “good chance” that Joaquin Benoit gets traded in the next few days, opening the door for Kevin Quackenbush.

Hierarchy remains: Benoit | Quackenbush | Thayer.

Philadelphia Phillies – Jonathan Papelbon certainly isn’t making it any easier on the Phillies, refusing to waive his no-trade clause for any team that won’t promise to let him close. A real stand-up guy, that Paps.

Hierarchy remains: Papelbon | Giles | Bastardo.

Colorado Rockies – LaTroy Hawkins is coveted by five or six teams as a set-up guy, but his strong influence in the clubhouse makes him very unlikely to move this week.

Hierarchy remains: Hawkins | Ottavino | Brothers.

VULTURE SAVE WATCH
1. Danny Farquhar, Seattle Mariners 
– Fernando Rodney’s 20-pitch outing on Tuesday was his fourth in the last five days.
2. Jonathan Broxton, Cincinnati Reds – Aroldis Chapman has pitched on three out of four days.
3. Dustin McGowan, Toronto Blue Jays – Casey Janssen has been used in three of four.
4. Dellin Betances/Adam Warren, New York Yankees – It was a tough night for all the Yankees relievers, but David Robertson labored through 31 pitches.