StrategyAugust 25, 2012


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Bottom of the 9th: Red Sox Up in the Air - 2 comments

By R.J. White

It may have taken till late August, but Andrew Bailey finally picked up his first save with the Red Sox. How fitting that it came on the night of the biggest fire sale in Red Sox history, involving notable past acquisitions Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford and Josh Beckett. On Thursday, Alfredo Aceves allowed five runs in an inning-plus while throwing 37 pitches. Bailey, who had allowed a run on three hits in 0.2 innings earlier in the game, was then called upon Friday with two outs in the eighth inning and a man on second. He induced a fly out to end the inning, and slammed the door with a perfect ninth.

Is this the changing of the guard we’ve been expecting in the Red Sox bullpen? It’s obvious with his Thursday pitch count that Aceves would be unavailable on Friday, so there’s a chance things revert back to the status quo this weekend. In fact, Friday’s game was the first in which Bailey was asked to record even as many as three outs, with the recently-activated reliever picking up just six outs in his first four appearances.

With arbitration looming for Bailey and the Red Sox going nowhere, it’s conceivable they could limit his save total to gain a more favorable contract this winter. Even if he does close from this point on, his usage numbers seem to indicate he won’t be pushed too hard, meaning Aceves could wind up with a few more September saves. Both should be owned in standard leagues right now, but if I had to choose, I’d probably give Aceves the slight edge.

Safe

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
MIA Steve Cishek
MIN Glen Perkins/Jared Burton
NYY Rafael Soriano
OAK Grant Balfour
PHI Jonathan Papelbon
PIT Joel Hanrahan
SEA Tom Wilhelmsen
STL Jason Motte
TB Fernando Rodney
TEX Joe Nathan
TOR Casey Janssen
WAS Tyler Clippard

Safe … For Now

MIL John Axford
Axford picked up a couple saves this week but had to be removed from Friday’s game after giving up two hits, two walks and two runs. Francisco Rodriguez has allowed just one base runner in his last six innings pitched while striking out seven. Jim Henderson has been shakier but hasn’t allowed a run since giving up two in Colorado last week. Kameron Loe, who picked up Friday’s save in relief of Axford, has been solid in August and could vulture another save or two. This bullpen is still a mess, but it’s clear Milwaukee is invested in giving Axford every chance to right the ship in the long run.

NYM Frank Francisco
Francisco has recorded one save in his last seven outings while surrendering eight earned runs in 4.2 innings. As awful as he’s been, there’s no light at the end of the tunnel for the Mets in 2013, as Francisco signed a two-year, $12 million last offseason. They’ll likely continue to let him work things out as the closer, but Jon Rauch and Bobby Parnell could vulture a save or two in the final month.

SD Dale Thayer
Thayer has picked up two saves in his last four appearances, but the other two outings in that stretch weren’t great (five hits, three earned run in two innings). He was placed on paternity leave Friday, so Luke Gregerson, who hasn’t allowed a run since July 3 and has walked just three batters in his last 34 appearances, could get a save or two this weekend. Huston Street’s return looms, and he could be back within the next week or two, so neither Thayer nor Gregerson has many saves left in them if Street progresses without problem. However, Gregerson is still worth owning in all leagues, saves or no.

SF Javier Lopez/Sergio Romo/Jeremy Affeldt
Lopez notched three of the Giants’ four saves this week, primarily thanks to matchups as righties hit him pretty hard. Only two of his last 11 outings have involved him recording at least three outs, so don’t think for a second he’s a primary 1-2-3 closer even with the save-laden performance this week. Romo has the Giants’ other save over the last seven days, but he’s also a guy that doesn’t see three outs often (just once in his last seven appearances). It’s likely Bruce Bochy will keep playing matchups with all three relievers in the ninth, and not only does this limit the saves each will get but also the total saves available in all. If a reliever enters the beginning of the ninth with a three-run cushion, he’s eligible for a save, but if a reliever enters the ninth during the ninth inning instead, the tying run has to be on deck for the guy to be eligible for a save (meaning if the bases are empty, a three-run lead won’t do). Considering the latter scenario is exactly how Bochy has been using his ‘pen, this could limit saves for everyone.

 
R.J. White is the head editor at the Cafe and contributes to CBSSports.com's MLB Rumors blog. He 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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2 Responses to “Bottom of the 9th: Red Sox Up in the Air”

  1. User avatar MashinSpuds says:

    Since you didn’t include Santiago Casilla in the Giants’ three-headed monster, think he has any value for the final month? That situation is infuriating.

    ReplyReply
  2. User avatar daullaz says:

    @MashinSpuds: He’s had a good August, so it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if he found his way back to the 9th. No indication it’s close to happening now though.

    ReplyReply

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