• On May 3rd, Mariano Rivera tore his ACL and now he is saying that his goal is to return to pitch in September. Wow. If any 42 year old player would return that quickly from an torn ACL it would have to be Mariano Rivera but color me skeptical on his return this season. However, if he were to return that would sure cause an interesting dilemma at the back of the Yankees bullpen because Rafael Soriano has been very effective closing the door for the Yankees with Mo out. Although he’s been on the good side of some luck (0.0% HR/FB%) Soriano still has a 2.22 FIP and is 24/25 on save opportunities, converting his latest tonight against the Blue Jays. It’s hard to imagine Mo not pitching the ninth inning for the Yankees, but the chances of him returning to the mound this season are slim enough to assume Soriano will be closing games all year.
In othe Yankee bullpen news, Joba Chamberlain pitched a perfect inning today on his rehab assignment, even hitting 98 mph. There is no specific timetable for Joba’s return but Girardi hinted at Joba rejoining the team early next month. With Rafael Soriano, David Robertson (and even Mariano Rivera) in his way, Joba won’t come close to accruing saves for the Yankees this season, but if he’s healthy and throwing upwards of 98 mph, he’ll be a fine source of strikeouts, holds and should help your team with the all important ratios.
• Bobby Parnell was pitching so well in Frank Francisco’s absence but he blew his second straight save opportunity tonight against the Nationals. The Mets aren’t exactly swimming in bullpen depth either (Tim Byrdak also blew a save tonight), so while Parnell has struggled over his last two outings, he’ll still get the save opportunities for the Mets while Francisco is out with a strained oblique. Speaking of Francisco’s strained oblique, he had a setback on his recovery and won’t return any time soon. Bobby Parnell owners might be annoyed at his recent struggles, but they can take solace in the fact that he will at least hold onto the role for a little while longer. That is unless the Mets trade for another reliever, and the Mets have been rumored to be looking at Jonathan Broxton. No trade is imminent, but if the Mets are serious about acquiring Broxton, it’s likely that he would take over closing duties from Parnell, and even Francisco if/when he returns.
• Tyler Clippard has done a great job for the Nationals since he took over the closer role after the Henry Rodriguez experiment ended earlier this year but he blew his first save of the year tonight against the Mets. One blown save won’t put his job in jeopardy, and the Nationals have said that he will remain closer even after Drew Storen returns, but if this becomes a pattern rather than a blip, Clippard may have to start to watch his back. Of course, Storen has to be healthy and pitching effective and he has struggled recently in his rehab, giving up four runs in only 2/3 of an inning in his last outing. Considering Clippard is the one that’s healthy, it’s still his job to lose, but when Storen comes back it will be situation worth monitoring.
• Yesterday I said that even though John Axford was struggling, his peripherals were strong enough to keep him at closer. Well, while no switch has been made, Brewers manager Ron Roenicke is now considering a change at the back of the bullpen which means that Francisco Rodriguez should be owned by any team in need of saves. The days of K-Rod’s dominance are long gone, but if a change is made and Axford can’t get his control in line, K-Rod should be able to get some saves for your team and as we all know, saves are saves are saves.
• At this point it should no longer surprise me but Fernando Rodney pitched another scoreless inning tonight (his 12th consecutive) for his 27th, and league leading, save of the year. Rodney’s been incredible since day one taking over for Kyle Farnsworth and now has a minuscule 0.86 ERA on the year. Rodney has been a little lucky on balls hit in play (.240 BABIP) and only 3.6% of his fly balls have turned into homers, but he still has impressive peripherals (2.61 xFIP) and has to be considered one of the most consistent and reliable closers going forward.
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: Kenley Jansen (LAD) vs. PHI
Cliff Lee deserves more than one measly win on the season, but I don’t think he will be getting it tomorrow as he faces off against Clayton Kershaw. In what should be a great a day time pitching duel expect Dodgers closer, Kenley Jansen, to get a chance for a save. Let’s just hope that for Jansen’s sake, nobody tries to steal home off of him.
[Green light, yellow light, red light: the colors represent the volatility of the bullpen order.]
When he's not focusing on every team's bullpen situation, Ben can be found blogging at Ben's Baseball Bias and on Twitter @BensBias