September 26, 2015
Washington Nationals — Jonathan Papelbon was handed a three-game suspension for throwing at Manny Machado’s head on Wednesday night. Papelbon’s pending appeal will allow him to be on the bench — or maybe even the mound! — when his old team eliminates Washington from the playoffs, as early as Saturday. When Papelbon finally does sit out, the Nats have a vast array of mediocre options to take his spot. Matt Thornton has been seeing more LOOGYish usage lately, so we’d put him a hair behind Blake Treinen, Felipe Rivero, and Casey Janssen at this point. You’ll probably be better off avoiding the whole lot.
Updated hierarchy: Papelbon | Treinen | Rivero.
Detroit Tigers — With Bruce Rondon out of the picture, it looks like the Tigers are riding with Neftali Feliz, Proven Closer™, regardless of his 6.00+ ERA. Alex Wilson might get the next save chance to give Feliz a rest, but with the Tigers out of the playoffs, Brad Ausmus plans to go easy on him and Blaine Hardy.
Updated hierarchy: Feliz | Wilson | Hardy.
Oakland A’s — Pitching for the first time in nine days, Sean Doolittle entered in the eighth inning with a man on first. He let the first three men reach (single, single, walk), got a foul popout, then labored through the ninth for a grueling 38-pitch save. Ryan Dull got the seventh and eighth before him and (although he was touched for his first earned runs) seems to have moved ahead of Drew Pomeranz.
Updated hierarchy: *Doolittle | Dull | Pomeranz.
* = closer-by-committee
Miami Marlins — Guess we spoke too soon on that whole Carter Capps return. The simulated game went fine, but he woke up the next day with “discomfort,” and decided to shut it down for the year. If Bill James and Rob Neyer have their way, Capps’s funky delivery could be outlawed in the offseason. The Marlins are suffering without him, giving back five runs from a six-run lead in the seventh and eighth on Friday night. Bryan Morris and Mike Dunn pitched to three batters and put each one on base.
Hierarchy remains: Ramos | Dunn | Morris.
VULTURE SAVE WATCH
1. Jairo Diaz, Colorado Rockies — With a three-run lead in the ninth, Walt Weiss used John Axford in his third straight game, because the most important thing is chalking up that save. If Diaz has recovered from going in three straight from Tuesday to Thursday, he might get a shot on Saturday.
2. Ryan Dull/Drew Pomeranz, Oakland A’s — Sean Doolittle threw a ton of pitches on Friday.
3. Joakim Soria, Pittsburgh Pirates — Mark Melancon has pitched in three of four (and five of seven).
4. Alex Wilson, Detroit Tigers — Neftali Feliz has pitched in three of four also.
5. Kyle Barraclough, Miami Marlins — A.J. Ramos has gone in three straight, although he’s only needed a total of 31 pitches. Mike Dunn and Bryan Morris have also pitched in three straight, poorly. Barraclough (pronounced like the pastry) got the Marlins out of Friday’s jam, and he’s looked impressive in his two months with the team.