It's a new face trying to fill some big shoes for this week's closer report as I fill in for the esteemed Mr. Blasi. Since he's the professional writer, I'll make a deal with everyone and stick to the analysis and leave with the wit and humor to Mr. Blasi.
Without further ado, let's take a trip around the league:
In Baltimore, interim manager Dave Trembley sent fantasy owners scrambling to the waiver wire again as he anointed Danys Baez his closer with Chris Ray on the DL. This came as a surprise after Jamie Walker and Chad Bradford had been splitting opportunities. Add in the fact that Baez hasn't been particularly good and well it's a surprising decision. Baez has posted a mediocre .62 K Rate, and ugly .49 BB Rate but is producing plenty of ground balls this year (51% rate) and has been pitching well of late (just 5 hits and 2 ER's in his last 9 1/3 innings). Chris Ray hasn't gotten to the point where he is ready to throw a ball yet and with each passing day his September return gets pushed back. Baez has got the role for now, but the Orioles aren't producing many save opportunities and he's not that great of a pitcher anyways. Only sign up if you're really desperate for saves and if you're riding it out be prepared for some rocky outings and a potential change later on down the road.
Brett Myers got his 2nd save since returning from the disabled list and appears set in Philadelphia, however it's important to note it looks like Jose Mesa's become the backup plan since Mesa closed out an extra inning game in Milwaukee. Mesa's gone 11 appearances without allowing an earned run, despite ugly peripherals (5 BB's, 3 K's).
Despite blowing a save on Monday night, Alan Embree remains the A's closer as Huston Street owners continue to quietly sob in the corner. Though Street is healthy and pitching pretty well (1 ER in last 4 innings, and 5 K's and 1 BB during that span), Embree's been pitching better and for a longer time. Embree's only allowed 1 ER in his last 12 appearances and he has struck out 13 and walked only 4 in those 13 innings. The A's continue to insist that Street will have the job by the end of the year, but if they were really looking for a chance to move Embree out of the closer's role the most recent blown save would've been the best chance.
The Texas closer situation is killing me where I hopped on Joaquin Benoit early in quite a few leagues only to see C.J. Wilson racking up save chances. Texas continues to maintain that the situation remains a committee and on Tuesday night if Wilson had let a base-runner reach, Benoit would've been in there to close it out. Last night Benoit entered in the 8th as a worn down and ineffective Texas bullpen needed help keeping the game close. He pitched a nice 1 1/3 perfect innings, striking out two. I like Benoit the most, but Wilson's been getting the chances of late, and Akinori Otsuka thinks he'll be back September 1st, so the Texas bullpen could be a bit of a mess from here on out. Both Benoit and Wilson deserve to be owned right now and ultimately I think Benoit's the better pitcher and RH, so I'd think he'd get the opportunities, but it hasn't happened yet.
Good news for David Weathers owners as Weathers came in and got the save in last night's game despite "everyday"Eddie Guardado being activated. There really is little reason Weathers should relinquish the role, but the Reds... well... they're difficult to figure out sometimes. Wednesday night was a good sign for Weathers owners.
Brian Fuentes threw from a mound on Tuesday and a decision was supposed to be made on Wednesday as to a potential timetable for Fuentes return but nothing has been reported of yet. Fuentes would likely be another week and a half away from returning and will then have to overtake Manny Corpas (who has been tremendous) to take over the closer's role. While Corpas has pitched well enough to retain the role and Fuentes is LH (another positive for Corpas) Fuentes is a FA at the end of 2008 and the most value he has to the Rockies is as a closer, so I think they'd like to work him back into that role. However, their recent surge might force their hand to keep Corpas in the role and not disrupt the current success. Both guys are roster worthy at this point, but I'd feel more comfortable as a Fuentes owner if the Rockies started losing some more games or Corpas started allowing some runs (1 ER in last 16 innings, 8-8 in save opportunities).