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.

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 6/24/14
.                    
CHW Petricka Belisario Guerra 7/25/14 CHC Rondon Strop Schlitter 7/27/14
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 7/10/14
LAA Street Smith Jepsen 7/18/14 COL Hawkins Ottavino Brothers 7/30/14
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

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Adam Ottavino could get save chances soon

July 29, 2014

Tampa Bay Rays – After notching his fifth post-All-Star-Break save on Monday, Jake McGee has now closed out Tampa victories in six of his last seven appearances. Will he get every opportunity for the surging Rays the rest of the way? With Joe Maddon around, probably not. But if he’s getting 86% of the save chances, that’s good enough to kick our closer-by-committee asterisk for the time being.

Hierarchy remains: McGee | Boxberger | Balfour.

Colorado RockiesTrade rumors are swirling around Rockies closer LaTroy Hawkins, and since it’s extremely unlikely that he closes should he land somewhere like Pittsburgh, the fantasy spotlight has turned to what he’ll be leaving behind in the Colorado bullpen. Unfortunately, the Rockies haven’t been winning very much at all lately, so there isn’t a very big sample size to look at, in terms of July usage. Rex Brothers has been the “closer of the future” seemingly forever, and he did get the ball in the 8th inning of a tie game on Sunday. But in that appearance, he allowed two home runs and took the loss, the latest in a string of mediocre appearances for the lefty. So it might be righty Adam Ottavino who gets the first nod should Hawkins be traded. Ottavino had a tough June but has since rebounded, posting a 2.00 in 10 July appearances. Our best bet is probably the dreaded committee, with Ottavino getting save opps against righties and Brothers getting the call against lefties, but either way, Ottavino is probably worth an add if you’re hunting for saves in a deep league.

Updated hierarchy: Hawkins | Ottavino | Brothers.

VULTURE SAVE WATCH
1. Pedro Strop, Chicago Cubs – Hector Rondon has pitched in back to back games and four of five.
2. Tyler Clippard, Washington Nationals – Rafael Soriano has pitched in back to back games and three of four, including a disastrous outing yesterday in which he gave up four runs while recording only one out. His job is not in jeopardy, but he could get the day off.