• The Rockies haven’t been able to give many save chances to their closer Rafael Betancourt who’s had a solid year pitching to a 3.62 xFIP with a 9.24 K/9 and they may not have many more opportunities as Betancourt trade rumors are heating up. Troy Renck lists Oakland, Atlanta, Toronto, Texas and the Anaheim part of Los Angeles as possible suitors for Betancourt and if he’s traded, Matt Belisle or Rex Brothers could take over closing duties for Colorado. Rex Brothers may have more potential and the better swing and miss stuff (11.90 K/9; 14.1% SwStr%) but he’s a lefty and I’d expect Matt Belisle to get the first nod. Belisle has been one of the more underrated relievers over the last few years and has continued to excel this season with a 2.98 xFIP in 53 innings pitched.
• Over the weekend Colin noted Jim Johnson’s recent struggles and although he let two batters reach base tonight against the Yankees he was able to strike out two en route to his 31st, and major league leading, save of the season. With the expanded playoffs, Baltimore is still in the race so Johnson’s job is still relatively secure but he can’t afford any more six run blow ups like he had last week.
• Frank Francisco is currently on the DL but that might change soon as he’s now planning on returning to the Mets this weekend against the Padres. Although Francisco had converted 18 of the 21 save opportunities he received for the Mets, he didn’t pitch particularly well with a 4.97 ERA and 4.21 xFIP. Bobby Parnell blew a couple of saves in a row a few weeks ago, but besides that he’s been great for the Mets with a 3.06 xFIP on the year. My money is on Francisco regaining the job for the Mets, but I wouldn’t be shocked to see Parnell get another chance before the season’s end as Francisco has been both injured and inconsistent while Parnell has pitched better.
• Bad news for Luke Gregerson owners this week as Huston Street signed a two-year $14 million extension with the Padres. Street was obviously in trade rumors the past few weeks but his extension ensures that he will at least stay on the Padres for the remainder of 2012. Gregerson has been a reliable reliever to help your ratios (3.17 xFIP; 1.14 WHIP) but any value he had for potential saves is now gone.
• Pitching in the seventh inning tonight against the Brewers, Francisco Cordero gave four hits and two runs and his time as the Astros closer might be over. As of this writing, no change has been made but Wilton Lopez would make a nice pick up right about now. Cordero has appeared in five games for the Astros this year and so far he’s blown three saves while giving up eight runs.
For those of you who play daily fantasy games like FanGraphs: The Game, or just like to stream players, here is a matchup you may be able to exploit.
A Pitcher for Tomorrow: Ernesto Frieri (LAA) at TEX
It’s never a bad decision to avoid pitchers in Texas but with Jered Weaver on the hill the Angels have a great shot at a win. Frieri is also well rested having last pitched on Friday, so look for him to have a chance for a save and strikeouts against the Rangers.
[Green light, yellow light, red light: the colors represent the volatility of the bullpen order.]