As Kevin Nealon said, “yeah, lot of pressure. You gotta rise above it. You gotta harness in the good energy, block out the bad. Harness. Energy. Block. Bad. Feel the flow, Happy. Feel it. It’s circular. It’s like a carousel. You pay the quarter, you get on the horse. It goes up and down and around. Circular. Circle. With the music. The flow… all good things.”
It is no different than with a majority of major league closers. Sure some are like violent roller coasters (Armando Benitez, Jose Mesa) and some are like the teacups (Mariano Rivera), but most are in the muddy middle. Thus introduces your weekly reliever mash-up.
This could be the least volatile Closer Carousel of the season. Over the weekend, Francisco Cordero recorded an effortful save, Matt Capps went to 8-8 in chances, Ryan Franklin earned save number six, and Chad Qualls struck out Chase Utley en route to his fourth save.
Relievers you should be jumping on (in order):
Baltimore Orioles – It sure seems like Jim Johnson will continue to pitch in the most “important” role for the Orioles (Cla Meredith’s Sunday save notwithstanding). Over the weekend, Johnson got a win against Boston, pitching 2+ innings. Sure he allowed two runs, but that was after he was asked to come out for his third inning of work – signaling manager Dave Trembley has little trust in other bullpen arms (and why should he?). Thanks to that outing, his ERA and WHIP ballooned to 7.04 and 1.70, respectively. Still, those numbers will come down and he’ll notch a few more saves. He should be owned universally (he is only owned in 17 percent of Yahoo! leagues).
[UPDATE]According to the Baltimore Sun, Dave Trembley has no closer. Alfredo Simon got the first crack at the job with a three-run lead to protect against the Yankees. He promptly gave up two unearned runs, one hit, two walks and two Ks. Even though he “shut the door(quietly),” don’t think he’ll grab the job and run with it. Alberto Castillo (he got the win) could end up with save opportunities as well. Basically any available arm is a viable closer candidate. I still think Johnson is the best of the worst. At this point, in leagues where every save matters, every Oriole reliever should be owned. My off-the-cuff ranking: Johnson, Simon, Meredith, Castillo.
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim – Brian Fuentes calmed some nerves with his most recent outing (a one inning, no hit/no walk save). Still, Fernando Rodney continues to pitch well (3.60 ERA/0.80 WHIP). Any Fuentes falter would get Rodney closer to owning the ninth inning duties (see what I did there?).
Arizona Diamondbacks – the D-backs have one of the worst bull-pens in the majors. Closer Chad Qualls has a 9.00 ERA and 2.00 WHIP. Still, he has recorded a save in three of his last four appearances, giving him a little rope. The reason he has any rope is the ineffectiveness of the rest of the pen. Eighth-inning man, Juan Gutierrez, has a 6.00 ERA, but a usable 1.11 WHIP. He has also managed eight Ks in nine IPs. If I’m trolling for/speculating on saves I want Gutierrez.
Texas Rangers — Neftali Feliz took the loss Monday night, giving up two solo home runs. Still, Feliz has pretty good 2010 numbers 4.66 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 2.4 BB/9 and 11.3 K/9. Blame the less than optimal start on a spike in his HR-rate (currently 1.9). When that gets back to normal, he’ll be even better. Nothing really to see here. Francisco got the save Monday night because Feliz pitched back-to-back days for the first time in his career and they didn’t want him to go three days in a row. Still, it shows Francisco is the proper handcuff.
Pittsburgh Pirates — Speaking of nothing to see here, Octavio Dotel is in no jeopardy of losing his job, despite allowing six runs in his last 1.1 innings. None of those pitching opportunities came in save chances, as they were in mop up duty. Further, Dotel has a nasty 12.3 K/9 rate. He’ll be fine.
That’s it. See, I told you this was the easiest carousel ride in 2010. As always, if there is a fluke injury to a closer, please refer to the handy dandy closer chart below.
All stats as of April 26.
FB101’s 411: Stay on top of close news: grab Jim Johnson. Hold onto Fernando Rodney. Speculate on Juan Gutierrez.