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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Siegrist returns to Cardinals bullpen; Uehara finally gets save chance

July 28, 2014

St. Louis Cardinals — Kevin Siegrist has returned from the DL and despite taking the loss on Friday night, pitched a perfect eighth inning on Sunday against the top three bats in the Cubs’ order. The left-hander appears to be a solid option for holds going forward, but Jason Motte is still likely the third choice for saves behind Trevor Rosenthal and Pat Neshek.

Hierarchy remains: Rosenthal | Neshek | Motte.

Boston Red Sox — Koji Uehara struck out the side for his 21st save on Sunday in his first chance since July 19. Given the Sox’ recent struggles over their seven-game road trip this past week, it’s still extremely likely that Uehara is traded. Meanwhile, the Sox acquired 25-year-old Heath Hembree from San Francisco on Saturday as part of a deal for Jake Peavy. Hembree was the closer for Triple-A Fresno and could play a role down the road in Boston.

Hierarchy remains: Uehara | Mujica | Tazawa.

1. Dustin McGowan, Toronto Blue Jays – Casey Janssen has pitched in two straight games and has yet to appear on three straight days this season.

Boxberger having a great month, Neil Ramirez sent down

July 27, 2014

Tampa Bay Rays — Brad Boxberger pitched a scoreless 8th inning and Jake McGee picked up his 11th save of the season last night.  Boxberger has allowed zero runs in July and has recorded a win, a save, and six holds this month.  Jake McGee has gotten the last three save opportunities for the Rays and has converted each one.

Updated hierarchy: McGee | Boxberger | Balfour.

Chicago Cubs — Neil Ramirez has been sent down to Triple-A to get some rest.  Ramirez has been one of the Cubs’ best relievers this year but since he is a rookie, they want to make sure they do not overuse him.  He should be back up shortly and resume his set-up role, but for now the Cubs will have to use Pedro Strop and Brian Schlitter in front of closer Hector Rondon.

Updated hierarchy: Rondon | Strop| Schlitter.

1. Brad Boxberger/Grant Balfour, Tampa Bay Rays – Jake McGee has pitched in two straight and three of the last four