Frank Francisco struggling; Junichi Tazawa ascending

April 22, 2012

New York Mets – Frank Francisco has given up 6 runs in his last three appearances, and his ERA has ballooned to 8.53.  Jon Rauch had to bail him out last night after he blew a save chance, and will be first in line for saves if Francisco continues to struggle.  Frank Francisco to Hot Seat

 |Closer |Set-Up |2nd In Line |2013 Closer |UpdatedNYM |Francisco |Rauch |Batista |Francisco |4/22/12

Boston Red Sox – Junichi Tazawa was the only member of the Red Sox bullpen who was able to get anyone out on Saturday, throwing a clean 1.1 innings.  Vicente Padilla gave up 5 runs while only recording one out.  Hierarchy change: Junichi Tazawa to 2nd in line, replacing Vicente Padilla.

 |Closer |Set-Up |2nd In Line |2013 Closer |UpdatedBOS |Aceves |Morales |Tazawa |Bailey |4/22/12

1. Vinnie Pestano, Cleveland Indians – Chris Perez has pitched on three consecutive days, and in four of the last five.

Henry Rodriguez inching ahead of Lidge for saves

April 21, 2012

Washington Nationals – Henry Rodriguez got another save on Friday, and now has four this season to Brad Lidge’s two.  Lidge has also been suffering from vertigo which has limited his availability in recent days, and while Davey Johnson continues to maintain that he’ll use both pitchers in the 9th inning, Rodriguez is now the preferable guy to own, if you only have room for one.  Hierarchy change: Henry Rodriguez to Closer, Brad Lidge to Set-up.

 |Closer |Set-Up |2nd In Line |2013 Closer |UpdatedWAS |Rodriguez |Lidge |Clippard |Storen |4/21/12 |Storen(DL) |

San Francisco Giants – Santiago Casilla only pitched to one batter in the 9th on Friday, giving up a single before giving way to Javier Lopez, who faced the next two batters (both lefties).  The duo combined to blow the save, which was eventually recorded by Clay Hensley in the bottom of the 10th.  Bruce Bochy has said that he would use a committee to close games, and he proved his statement true on Friday.  Casilla will be a short leash in the future.  Santiago Casilla to Hot Seat.

 |Closer |Set-Up |2nd In Line |2013 Closer |UpdatedSF |Casilla |Romo |Lopez |Wilson |4/21/12 |Wilson(DL) |

Philadelphia Phillies – Jose Contreras returned from the disabled list yesterday, pitching the 7th inning ahead of Chad Qualls and Jonathan Papelbon.  Contreras should continue to be used in this role, as Antonio Bastardo has settled into a LOOGY role as of late.  Hierarchy change: Jose Contreras to 2nd in line, replacing Antonio Bastardo.

 |Closer |Set-Up |2nd In Line |2013 Closer |UpdatedPHI |Papelbon |Qualls |Contreras |Papelbon |4/21/12

1. Brad Lidge, Washington Nationals – With Henry Rodriguez now the listed closer, it’s Brad Lidge’s turn to headline the Vulture Save Watch regularly. Rodriguez got the save yesterday, so if Lidge has kicked his vertigo, it’ll be his turn.
2. Vinnie Pestano, Cleveland Indians – Chris Perez has pitched on two consecutive days, and in three of the last four.
3. Mike Adams/Alexi Ogando, Texas Rangers – The Rangers and Tigers play a doubleheader today, and while Jose Valverde should close both games for the Tigers if necessary, Joe Nathan may not be able to, giving Adams or Ogando a possible opportunity if the Rangers sweep in two close games.
4. Scott Downs, Los Angeles Angels – Jordan Walden pitched yesterday, throwing 27 pitches, two days after throwing 31 pitches on Wednesday.  He could get the night off.

Jared Burton, JP Howell ascending

April 20, 2012

Minnesota Twins – Jared Burton pitched the 8th inning on Wednesday, logging his second hold of the season.  Meanwhile, Jeff Gray appears to have been relegated to a front-end role in the bullpen; he pitched in the 3rd inning on Thursday.  Hierarchy change: Jared Burton to 2nd in line, replacing Jeff Gray.

 |Closer |Set-Up |2nd In Line |2013 Closer |UpdatedMIN |Capps |Perkins |Burton |Capps |4/20/12

Tampa Bay Rays – JP Howell pitched the 7th inning yesterday while the game was still close.  Joe Maddon seems more willing to use Howell to pitch to both righties and lefties, while Jake McGee has settled into more of a LOOGY role.  Hierarchy change: JP Howell to 2nd in line, replacing Jake McGee.

 |Closer |Set-Up |2nd In Line |2013 Closer |UpdatedTB |Rodney |Peralta |Howell |Farnsworth |4/20/12 |Farnswor(DL)|

1. Juan Cruz, Pittsburgh Pirates – Joel Hanrahan remains day-to-day with a hamstring injury. If he’s still unable to pitch, Cruz will get the save chance.
2. Tom Wilhelmsen, Seattle Mariners – Brandon League had a rough outing on Thursday, throwing 20 pitches and blowing his first save of the season.  It was also the second night he’d pitched in a row, so he could get the night off tonight.  Tom Wilhelmsen would close in his place.

Juan Cruz as temporary closer; another save for Henry Rodriguez

April 19, 2012

Pittsburgh Pirates – As noted in yesterday’s vulture save watch, Joel Hanrahan is still sidelined with a mild hamstring injury, allowing Juan Cruz to pick up his second save in as many days.  While Hanrahan could return as soon as Friday, the Pirates have shown that Cruz will get any save opportunities when Hanrahan is unavailable, while Jason Grilli remains the 8th inning guy regardless.  Hierarchy change: Juan Cruz to Set-up, Jason Grilli to 2nd in line. 

 |Closer |Set-Up |2nd In Line |2013 Closer |UpdatedPIT |Hanrahan |Cruz |Grilli |Hanrahan |4/19/12

Washington Nationals – Henry Rodriguez got the save on Wednesday after Brad Lidge logged the Tuesday save.  It’s Lidge’s turn again in the Nats’ strict back-and-forth platoon.  No hierarchy change. 

 |Closer |Set-Up |2nd In Line |2013 Closer |UpdatedWAS |Lidge |Rodriguez |Clippard |Storen |4/19/12 |Storen(DL) |

1. Joaquin Benoit/Phil Coke, Detroit Tigers – Jose Valverde has pitched on back to back days, and in three of the last four.  Joaquin Benoit has also been used heavily the past four days, but he or Phil Coke could get a save opp if the Tigers give Valverde the night off.

Santiago Casilla to close for Giants; Joel Hanrahan day-to-day

April 18, 2012

San Francisco Giants – Santiago Casilla recorded the save for the Giants on Tuesday night, and Bruce Bochy indicated that he will get the majority of San Francisco’s save opportunities for the time being.  ”We have confidence in Casilla.  He’s another guy who throws 95 and gets it done like he did tonight,” said Bochy.  While Sergio Romo was, by all measures, one of the best relievers in all of baseball last year, he was hurt late in the season and Bochy may have concerns about his arm strength and ability to pitch on back-to-back nights.  The Giants skipper said before the game that this was still a platoon, but that Casilla will get the most save chances at the outset.  Hierarchy change: Santiago Casilla to Closer; Sergio Romo to Set-up.

 |Closer |Set-Up |2nd In Line |2013 Closer |UpdatedSF |Casilla |Romo |Lopez |Wilson |4/18/12 |Wilson(DL) |

Pittsburgh Pirates – Joel Hanrahan has sustained a mild hamstring injury, and Juan Cruz picked up the save in his absence last night.  Hanrahan’s job is not in jeopardy and he is considered day to day, but Cruz has been solid this season, having not allowed any runs through 5 innings so far.  Hierarchy change: Juan Cruz to 2nd in line, replacing Evan Meek.

 |Closer |Set-Up |2nd In Line |2013 Closer |UpdatedPIT |Hanrahan |Grilli |Cruz |Hanrahan |4/18/12

Oakland A’s – Ryan Cook was brought in for the 8th inning, the second consecutive game that he has been used over Brian Fuentes to bridge the gap to Grant Balfour.  Cook has yet to allow a run in 5.1 innings so far this season.  Hierarchy change: Ryan Cook to Set-up, Brian Fuentes to 2nd in line. 

 |Closer |Set-Up |2nd In Line |2013 Closer |UpdatedOAK |Balfour |Cook |Fuentes |Balfour |4/18/12

1. Henry Rodriguez, Washington Nationals – Brad Lidge, our listed closer, got the save on Tuesday.  That means Henry Rodriguez will get the next opportunity.  Davey Johnson’s strict back-and-forth platoon will only be affected if one of the two righties falters, and so far, neither of them have.
2. Juan Cruz/Jason Grilli, Pittsburgh Pirates – Joel Hanrahan could be out as much as three more days with a balky hamstring. Cruz, who got the save Tuesday, and Grilli, the Pirates 8th inning man all year, are candidates for save opps in his absence.
3. Rex Brothers, Colorado Rockies – Rafael Betancourt threw 20 pitches in recording the save last night, and has pitched on 4 of the last 6 days.