StrategyAugust 10, 2012

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Bottom of the 9th: Brew Who?

By R.J. White

We’ve discussed the Brewers closing situation in each column the last several weeks because, frankly, no one has been good enough to keep the job for an extended period of time. That may be changing. Meet Jim Henderson. A minor-league mainstay, Henderson has pitched for farm teams of the Nationals, Cubs and Brewers dating back to his 2006 debut. Over the past three seasons, he’s been a no-contact kind of guy, racking up nice strikeout numbers but also walking far too many batters in Double-A and especially Triple-A. But he managed to get through his first six appearances in Milwaukee without walking a batter and while allowing just one earned run.

The Brewers must have liked what they saw (and really, just about anyone would look good next to John Axford’s and Francisco Rodriguez’s 5.00-plus ERAs). Henderson was called upon to handle save opportunities on Tuesday and Wednesday and delivered. While the tides could turn against him at any time, especially if (or when) his newfound control turns out to be a mirage, he’s the proper add for fantasy bullpens this week. That being said, the pattern suggests will be back here discussing Axford or Rodriguez as the guy to own in a week’s time.

Now Closing

NYM Frank Francisco/Bobby Parnell
With Francisco still not 100 percent despite his activation from the DL, the Mets want to take it easy on him for the time being. However, he was tasked with cleaning up Parnell’s mess in his first game back August 4, and Francisco recorded two outs to pick up a save. I’d expect the next save opportunity to go to Francisco, but he doesn’t seem likely to pitch on consecutive days or even three times in five days, so Parnell could still get a few more opportunities when all is said and done, especially since Francisco seems like a re-injury risk. Let’s call them co-closers for now.

SF Jeremy Affeldt/Sergio Romo
Speaking of co-closers, Bruce Bochy has pulled Santiago Casilla from the ninth inning, opting to go with an Affeldt/Romo committee moving forward. Affeldt has already picked up a save, and although he’s the lefty of the pair, he might actually be in line to pick up the majority of the saves moving forward, as Bochy has been hesitant to use Romo for a full inning and Affeldt is used to getting anywhere from one to six outs in an appearance.

WAS Tyler Clippard/Drew Storen
Clippard picked up a save with a scoreless inning in his most recent performance, but he allowed multiple base runners for the third straight game and for the fifth time in his last six games. Though he’s only allowed three runs over that span, he just can’t afford to walk a tightrope with a guy as talented as Storen behind him. Each of these guys has a save over the past week, and unless Clippard starts rattling off dominant innings, I think it’s safe to call this a time share too.


ARI J.J. Putz
ATL Craig Kimbrel
BAL Jim Johnson
CHC Carlos Marmol
CHW Addison Reed
CIN Aroldis Chapman
CLE Chris Perez
COL Rafael Betancourt
DET Jose Valverde
HOU Wilton Lopez
KC Greg Holland
LAA Ernesto Frieri
LAD Kenley Jansen
MIN Glen Perkins/Jared Burton
NYY Rafael Soriano
PHI Jonathan Papelbon
PIT Joel Hanrahan
SD Huston Street
SEA Tom Wilhelmsen
STL Jason Motte
TB Fernando Rodney
TEX Joe Nathan
TOR Casey Janssen

Safe … For Now

BOS Alfredo Aceves
Andrew Bailey pitched back-to-back games on Wednesday and Thursday, and he could rejoin the Red Sox at any point. Aceves has pitched two scoreless innings since starting August with two awful appearances. His run as closer may end soon — look to trade him now while you still may be able to ring some value out of him as the current closer.

OAK Ryan Cook
Cook surrendered a single run in three straight appearances late in July, but it looked like it would be just a blip on the radar during an excellent season. But he’s now given up six runs in his last three appearances in August, failing to escape any unscathed. There’s been no indication a change may come, but speculators should own Grant Balfour just in case.

MIA Steve Cishek
Cishek has been one of the better closers in the game since inheriting the gig, and his 1.74 ERA and 1.22 WHIP in 46.2 innings show that he’s done nothing to be taken out of the ninth. But Ozzie Guillen is on record as saying earlier this week that Heath Bell could get some more save chances. Bell had been cruising before allowing a seventh-inning run on Thursday.

R.J. White is the head editor at the Cafe and has previously written for FanHouse, Razzball and FanDuel. Catch up with him in the forums under the name daullaz. Follow him on Twitter; don't follow him in real life.
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