Let’s look at two closers who, right now, are headed in the opposite direction…
Kyle Farnsworth | Rays
Now that the Rays have finally managed to maintain a lead for a few innings, we know who Joe Maddon is giving the ball to in the ninth inning. That guy is Farnsworth, which is what I figured would happen before the season. He earned his first save with a nine-pitch, 1-2-3 inning against the White Sox last Friday, then mowed right through the Red Sox last night for his second save. I don’t think there ever won’t be a sense of uneasiness when Farnsworth is on the mound, especially in a close game, but he’s getting save opps and is almost always good for a whiff per inning, or thereabouts. That’s enough to make him rosterable, and he doesn’t appear to be in any kind of danger of losing the job at the moment, so ride the wave.
Matt Thornton | White Sox
It hasn’t been complete self-induced (blame Juan Pierre for dropping some fly balls), but nine baserunners in Thornton’s last three outings have Ozzie Guillen fed up and saying he’ll use a committee to finish off games for the time being. Chris Sale picked up the team’s first and only save over the weekend, though even that involved a solo homer. Call me naive but I expect Thornton to right the ship at some point (hopefully soon), and when he’s right he’s worth a roster spot even as a setup man. Until then, it’s anyone’s guess who Ozzie will turn to in the ninth inning, could be Sale, could be Sergio Santos, maybe even Jesse Crain and his new contract. Play it safe with Sale for the time being, but don’t hesitate to grab either of the other two if they show their face at the end-game this week.
A few miscellaneous notes…
- Jonathan Broxton leads the league with five saves but has struck out just one of the 18 batters he’s faced. His swinging strike rate sits at 5.6% after never being below 11.1%. Hopefully this is just some small sample noise, because the Dodgers are winning games and Broxton’s getting chances.
- John Axford isn’t missing bats either; just three of the 21 batters he’s faced have gone down on strike three. He fits into the cardiac closer category, but he’s been putting quite a few guys on base this year but keeps wiggling out of it.
- After some first game weirdness, Brian Fuentes has sat down 14 of the last 16 men he’s faced, picking up four saves in the process. No matter how good he is though, Andrew Bailey is taking over closer duties once he’s healthy. That be as soon as the end of the month.