Brian Fuentes blows first save; Jon Rauch re-establishes himself

Oakland A’s – Brian Fuentes allowed a walkoff 3-run HR last night in what was his first blown save since he was named closer two and a half weeks ago.  But while Fuentes has been decent in his role as the A’s stopper, the A’s set-up men have been better.  Former closer Grant Balfour has held opponents scoreless in 8 of his last 9 appearances.  Ryan Cook, meanwhile, gave up his first runs of the season the other day, but still sports a 0.75 ERA.  If Fuentes falters again, the A’s could start thinking about making a move.  Brian Fuentes to Hot Seat

 |Closer |Set-Up |2nd In Line |2013 Closer |UpdatedOAK |Fuentes |Cook |Balfour |Cook |5/30/12

 
New York Mets – After getting knocked around a bit in the middle of May, Jon Rauch has settled down, allowing just one run in his last six appearances.  He pitched the 8th inning ahead of Frank Francisco yesterday; Bobby Parnell was used in the 7th.  Hierarchy change: Jon Rauch to Set-up, Bobby Parnell to 2nd in line.  

 |Closer |Set-Up |2nd In Line |2013 Closer |UpdatedNYM |Francisco |Rauch |Parnell |Francisco |5/30/12

 
VULTURE SAVE WATCH
1. Vicente Padilla, Boston Red Sox – Alfredo Aceves has pitched in three straight games.
2. Francisco Rodriguez, Milwaukee Brewers – John Axford has pitched in three straight.
3. Sergio Romo/Clay Hensley, San Francisco Giants – Santiago Casilla has pitched in three straight.
4. Edward Mujica/Steve Cishek, Miami Marlins – Heath Bell has pitched in two straight, and in four of the last five.
5. Scott Downs, Los Angeles Angels – Ernesto Frieri will get the majority of opportunities, but Mike Scioscia is still using a closer-by-committee.
6. Sean Burnett, Washington Nationals – Tyler Clippard has gotten all three save opportunities since Henry Rodriguez was demoted, but Davey Johnson has said that Sean Burnett could still get opportunities based on match-ups.

Casey Coleman a darkhorse for saves in Chicago

May 29, 2012

San Francisco Giants – While Javier Lopez has gotten a handful of saves this season when the Giants are facing lefty-heavy lineups, he wouldn’t likely inherit the full time job even if Santiago Casilla and Sergio Romo were both hurt.  Instead, the role would likely go to Clay Hensley, who pitched a scoreless 8th inning ahead of Casilla on Monday.  Hierarchy change: Clay Hensley to 2nd in line, replacing Javier Lopez. 

 |Closer |Set-Up |2nd In Line |2013 Closer |UpdatedSF |Casilla |Romo |Hensley |Wilson |5/29/12 |Wilson(DL) |

 
Chicago Cubs – Casey Coleman pitched a clean 9th inning for the Cubs on Monday.  While it was not a save opportunity– the Cubs were up by 4– Coleman was briefly mentioned by Dale Sveum over the weekend as someone who could be a 9th inning option.  While Sveum strongly endorsed James Russell and Shawn Camp for the role, Coleman could be a dark horse for saves.  Hierarchy change: Casey Coleman to 2nd in line, replacing Rafael Dolis. 

 |Closer |Set-Up |2nd In Line |2013 Closer |UpdatedCHC |Russell |Camp |Coleman |Marmol |5/29/12

 
VULTURE SAVE WATCH
1. Scott Downs, Los Angeles Angels – Ernesto Frieri will get the majority of opportunities, but Mike Scioscia is still using a closer-by-committee.
2. Sean Burnett, Washington Nationals – Tyler Clippard has gotten all three save opportunities since Henry Rodriguez was demoted, but Davey Johnson has said that Sean Burnett could still get opportunities based on match-ups.

James Russell, Shawn Camp to share closer role in Chicago

May 28, 2012

Los Angeles Angels – The Angels continue to employ a true platoon, with Scott Downs picking up the save last night against a lefty-heavy top of the lineup for the Mariners.  ”Right now, we’re going to just slot them in when they have a chance to get outs,” Mike Scioscia said to the Los Angeles Times.  As a righty, Ernesto Frieri still has the best shot to earn a save on any given night, but Downs has been just as reliable.  No hierarchy change. 

 |Closer |Set-Up |2nd In Line |2013 Closer |UpdatedLAA |Frieri |Downs |Walden |Walden |5/28/12 |Hawkins(DL) |

 
Chicago Cubs – Dale Sveum said before Sunday’s game that Rafael Dolis would be moved back to a middle relief role, and then followed through, using Dolis in the 6th inning.  Sveum said the Cubs would play match-ups in the 9th inning for the time being.  ”(James Russell) and (Shawn) Camp are our two viable options right now,” he said. Hierarchy change: James Russell to Closer, Shawn Camp to Set-up, Rafael Dolis to 2nd in line. 

 |Closer |Set-Up |2nd In Line |2013 Closer |UpdatedCHC |Russell |Camp |Dolis |Marmol |5/28/12 |Marmol(DL) |

 
VULTURE SAVE WATCH
1. Joel Peralta, Tampa Bay Rays – Fernando Rodney has pitched in three straight games, and in five of the last six.
2. Joaquin Benoit, Detroit Tigers – Jose Valverde has pitched in three straight games.
3. Sean Burnett, Washington Nationals – Tyler Clippard has gotten all three save opportunities since Henry Rodriguez was demoted, but Davey Johnson continues to say that Sean Burnett could get opportunities based on match-ups.
4. Scott Downs, Los Angeles Angels – Ernesto Frieri will get the majority of opportunities, but Mike Scioscia is still using a closer-by-committee.

Rafael Dolis removed from closer role, James Russell and Shawn Camp to share chances

Chicago Cubs – Dale Sveum told the Chicago Tribune before Sunday’s game that Rafael Dolis would be moved back to a middle relief role.  Sveum said that James Russell and Shawn Camp would share the closer role for now. Hierarchy change: James Russell to Closer, Shawn Camp to Set-up, Rafael Dolis to 2nd in line. 

 |Closer |Set-Up |2nd In Line |2013 Closer |UpdatedCHC |Russell |Camp |Dolis |Marmol |5/27/12 |Marmol(DL) |

Tom Wilhelmsen is new closer in Seattle; Rafael Dolis could lose job

May 27, 2012

Miami Marlins – For the second straight game, Heath Bell was yanked after allowing two baserunners to reach in the 9th inning, and for the second time, the Marlins held on to win.  This time, Randy Choate bailed Bell out for his first save of the season. After the game, Ozzie Guillen sounded generally supportive of Bell, but also told the Miami Herald that “Right now, it’s not working. I’m going to sleep on it and see if we come up with some ideas.”  Bell remains on the Hot Seat, though due to his contract, it’s likely he’ll continue to hang on to the job despite an 8.47 ERA.  But if he’s removed, Edward Mujica and Steve Cishek are most likely to benefit.  No hierarchy change.

 |Closer |Set-Up |2nd In Line |2013 Closer |UpdatedMIA |Bell |Mujica |Cishek |Bell |5/27/12

 
Chicago Cubs – Saturday was another rough day for Cubs closer Rafael Dolis, who couldn’t find the strike zone and ended up hitting the game’s final batter to force in the game-winning run.  Afterward, Dale Sveum said his closer’s inability to find the strike zone was “not acceptable,” though he didn’t say he would remove the young righty from the role.  Dolis remains on a blazing Hot Seat and James Russell (1.74 ERA) would be the most likely candidate to replace him.  No hierarchy change.

 |Closer |Set-Up |2nd In Line |2013 Closer |UpdatedCHC |Dolis |Russell |Camp |Marmol |5/27/12 |Marmol(DL) |

 
Seattle Mariners – Brandon League has been removed as closer, in a move manager Eric Wedge described as “very similar to what we did last year.” In 2011, League was demoted after becoming the first reliever in Mariners history to lose in four straight appearances, but regained his job only five days later, and wound up in the All-Star Game.  Wedge refused to commit to anyone as League’s replacement; Tom Wilhelmsen seems to be the most obvious candidate, but lefties Lucas Luetge and Charlie Furbush could be in the mix as well.  Hierarchy change: Tom Wilhelmsen to Closer, Brandon League to Set-Up.

 |Closer |Set-Up |2nd In Line |2013 Closer |UpdatedSEA |Wilhelmsen |League |Furbush |League |5/26/12

 
VULTURE SAVE WATCH
1. Joel Peralta/J.P. Howell, Tampa Bay Rays – Fernando Rodney has pitched in two straight games, and four of the last five. When Rodney gets a day off, Joel Peralta has been used in his place most often this season.  Peralta has also been used heavily in recent days, however, so the save chance could go to J.P. Howell.
2. Edward Mujica, Miami Marlins – Heath Bell has pitched in two straight and five of the last seven.  Steve Cishek has also pitched a lot lately, so if Bell is given a day off, Edward Mujica would close in his place.
3. Sean Burnett, Washington Nationals – Davey Johnson clarified his closer role on Saturday, saying Tyler Clippard and Sean Burnett would share opportunities based on match-ups.  Clippard has gotten the first three saves, and as a righty, stands to get the majority of chances, but Burnett could snag a save against a lefty-heavy lineup on some nights.
4. Scott Downs, Los Angeles Angels – Ernesto Frieri will get the majority of opportunities, but Mike Scioscia is still using a closer-by-committee.