John Axford placed on personal inactive list

June 30, 2015

Colorado Rockies –John Axford was placed on the personal inactive list Tuesday night in order to take care of things at home, though thankfully it seems as if his son, who was bit by a rattlesnake earlier this year, is fine. The Rockies bullpen has been a mess, so there’s no obvious successor in Axford’s absence, which by rule must last a minimum of three days. That means Walt Weiss will either default to a veteran (LaTroy Hawkins or Rafael Betancourt) or someone who has been pitching pretty well over the past week or so (LaTroy Hawkins or Scott Oberg). With Hawkins the only player on both of those lists, he’s probably the best add if you only have room for one reliever. We’d rank them Oberg and Betancourt after that, with lefty Boone Logan also factoring in if they decide to employ a committee.

Updated hierarchy: *Hawkins | Oberg | Betancourt.
* = closer-by-committee.

Youngster Trevor Gott off to a hot start; Jenrry Mejia due back soon

June 30, 2015

Los Angeles AngelsBaby-faced phenom Trevor Gott has pitched in 8 games for the Angels so far this year and has yet to give up a run. The 22 year-old right-hander has earned a number of high-leverage assignments since his June 13 call-up from Triple-A Salt Lake City. Expect Mike Scioscia to give the kid a chance to earn more holds in the coming weeks.

Updated hierarchy: Street | Smith | Gott.

New York Mets – A week from today, Jenrry Mejia will be eligible to return from his 80-game suspension. Given the uncertainty in the Mets bullpen behind Jeurys Familia, Mejia will likely be tapped for some late-inning work and could be a source of holds almost immediately.

Hierarchy remains: Familia | Parnell | Robles.

1. Trevor Gott/Fernando Salas, Los Angeles Angels – Huston Street and Joe Smith have now pitched in three straight, which means Closer Monkey newcomer Trevor Gott gets his first save opportunity. Fernando Salas, who was once a closer for the Cardinals, is also a possibility.
2. Will Smith, Milwaukee Brewers – Aging closer Francisco Rodriguez has been used a lot lately and has pitched in two straight (44 pitches). Will Smith has also gone in back-to-back games, but has thrown 10 fewer pitches and has shown his ability to pitch three straight, having done so four times already this season. (Yesterday, he also made a better joke about his name than we ever have.)

Fernando Rodney getting another chance for some reason

June 29, 2015

Seattle Mariners – Fernando Rodney put up another scoreless outing on Sunday, which will give Lloyd McClendon more reason to do what he’s said he wants to do anyway — get his former closer back into the 9th inning. Should-be closer Carson Smith, meanwhile, finished off the 8th inning in a tie game. This remains a committee, but we’ll bump Rodney back to the top of the pile while aiming a scowl in McClendon’s general direction.

Updated hierarchy: *Rodney | Smith | Lowe.
* = closer-by-committee

Kansas City Royals – Greg Holland got the day off after pitching twice in a row, so Wade Davis picked up his 9th save of the year. Of course, you read the Vulture Save Watch yesterday, so you already knew this was going to happen, didn’t you?

Hierarchy remains: Holland | Davis | Herrera.

Chicago Cubs – Neil Ramirez, who had a stellar rookie campaign (1.44 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 10.9 K/9) returned from the disabled list on Sunday and pitched a scoreless inning with 2 Ks. He could find his way into the hierarchy in a hurry, and could even fight his way into the Chicago closer committee if he returns to his 2014 form.

Hierarchy remains: *Rondon | Strop | Motte.
* = closer-by-committee

1. Joe Smith, Los Angeles Angels – Huston Street has pitched in back to back games and blew the save last night. Smith has also gone two straight, but has only thrown 13 total pitches in that span.

Casey Fien moving up in Twins bullpen

June 28, 2015

Minnesota Twins – Casey Fien pitched a scoreless 8th inning last night ahead of closer Glen Perkins.  Fien has only given up one run since returning from the DL at the end of May and looks to be regaining his 8th inning role for the Twins.

Updated hierarchy: Perkins | Fien | Boyer.

St. Louis Cardinals — Carlos Villanueva pitched the last three innings of a 7-run Cardinals win last night to pick up the save.  Villanueva has pitched pretty well for the Cardinals so far this season, but he is still used mostly for multiple innings and won’t see much time in the later innings of close games.

Hierarchy remains: Rosenthal | Siegrist | Maness.

1. Wade Davis, Kansas City Royals – Greg Holland has pitched in back-to-back games.
2. Steve Geltz, Tampa Bay Rays – Boxberger has pitched in two straight and four of five.  McGee and Jepsen have both pitched two straight and three of four.  Geltz could be the freshest arm in the pen after getting yesterday off.

Brad Boxberger the man in Tampa; Rafael Betancourt back in Colorado

June 27, 2015

Colorado Rockies — Rafael Betancourt was activated from the disabled list and immediately pitched the seventh inning in a close game. He will immediately return to high-leverage setup work in front of John Axford, and should soon be considered for vulture save work.

Updated hierarchy: Axford | Betancourt | Logan.

Tampa Bay Rays — After yet another conventional Jepsen-McGee-Boxberger use of the Tampa bullpen, we’re ready to pull the plug on the closer committee asterisk and acknowledge that Brad Boxberger has earned the job.

Updated hierarchy: Boxberger | McGee | Jepsen.

Houston Astros — Chad Qualls was placed on the disabled list Friday with a pinched nerve in his neck. Josh Fields has been excellent this year, with a 0.90 WHIP and 35 strikeouts in 22.1 IP.

Updated hierarchy: Gregerson | Neshek | Fields.

Seattle Mariners — With Mike Trout and Albert Pujols up in the eighth inning, Lloyd McClendon called on Carson Smith, leaving Fernando Rodney to face his first save situation since early June. Smith has done nothing wrong in his short term as head of Seattle’s closer committee, but we know McClendon is rooting for “proven closer” Rodney to earn his job back.

Hierarchy remains: *Smith | Rodney | Lowe.

1. Bobby Parnell, New York Mets — Jeurys Familia has pitched in two straight games since battling groin tightness.
2. Joba Chamberlain, Detroit Tigers — Joakim Soria has pitched in the last two games (41 total pitches).
3. Darren O’Day, Baltimore Orioles — Zach Britton has gone in three of four…
4. Tony Watson, Pittsburgh Pirates — …as has Mark Melancon.