First and foremost I’d like to wish all my fellow dads a Happy Father’s Day. If possible, sit down, put your feet up, grab a cold one and enjoy the nice slate of games on Sunday. You’ve earned it.
Now on to a few bullpen notes from around the league after Saturday’s games:
–Jonathan Papelbon fanned two of the three Cubs he faced on Saturday en route to his 15th save of the season. The successful conversion moves the veteran right-hander into sole possession of 24th place on the all-time saves list in the majors with 301. On that list, Papelbon is third among active closers behind Joe Nathan (354) and Francisco Rodriguez (324). It’s still amazing to me that the combined ninth-inning achievements of Francisco Rodriguez and Jonathan Papelbon (324 + 301 = 625 saves) would still fall short of the all-time leader, Mariano Rivera, by 27 saves.
Anyway, Papelbon seems to catch a bad rep for the steady decline in velocity and strikeouts, but the guy is still 15-of-16 in save chances this season with a 1.37 ERA (2.70 FIP) and a ~22% K%. Additionally, he’s converted 15 consecutive chances and has surrendered just one earned run since blowing his only save of the season back on April 2nd. If the righty continues to post fair numbers and the Phillies turn into sellers come the trade deadline — as they should — I’m wondering if there’s a team out there that would be willing to pony up some of Papelbon’s remaining $26m for this year and next to acquire the closer?
-Since we last caught up, we learned that Hector Rondon appears to be okay after experiencing a sore elbow last week. The Cubs have held Rondon out of game action since June 6th, but insist he could be available as early as tomorrow (June 15th) after the right-hander completed an 11-pitch bullpen without any setbacks. Rondon, who underwent Tommy John surgery on his right elbow back in 2010, admitted that he speaks to the trainer if he feels “anything in his elbow” as a precaution, which is likely what occurred in this situation. Rondon is 7-of-9 in save opportunities this season with a 2.45 ERA (1.76 FIP) and a 20% K-BB%. Neil Ramirez is having himself a fine season out of the bullpen for the Cubs — he’s 2-for-2 in save chances with a 1.13 ERA and a 35% K-BB% — so if by chance Rondon experiences a setback, Ramirez could get additional looks in the ninth. And if the North Siders are looking for more of a roller coaster ninth-inning experience, Pedro Strop — who also has a couple of saves under his belt in ‘14 — could get a shot as well.
–Sergio Romo blew a save on an inside-the-park homer by Brandon Barnes in the visitor’s half of the ninth tonight in San Francisco. Sure it was an inside-the-parker, but this was Romo’s fourth blown opportunity already this season, who had five in all of 2013 (43 chances). LaTroy Hawkins, the beneficiary of Romo’s misfortunes, picked up his 13th save on three consecutive groundouts as the Rockies clipped the Giants, 4-3. the 41-year-old Hawkins needed just 11 pitches to seal the deal for Colorado.
-Results of the MRI conducted on Jenrry Mejia’s back indicated the reliever had some swelling in lower back area in addition to the stiffness he felt upon being removed from the mound. Terry Collins mentioned that despite the swelling and stiffness that he does not anticipate Mejia needing a trip to the disabled list.
Quick Hitters: Ian Krol surrendered two earned runs, but picked up his first career save in an inning-and-a-third of work. Kenley Jansen served up a longball in the ninth-inning, but overcame that to notch his 19th save of the year in a nine-pitch effort. Ernesto Frieri surrendered four earned runs on five hits to the Braves in bottom of the ninth. Frieri left the mound without retiring a batter for the first time this season, yikes! Keep Joe Smith on speed dial. Cody Allen sandwiched a fly ball out between two strikeouts to secure his seventh save of the season today on 12 pitches. Thanks to Allen’s efforts, John Axford earned his second victory of the ‘14 campaign.
[Green light, yellow light, red light: the colors represent the volatility of the bullpen order.]