First, holly cow, RenPastana actually posting something useful. Has to be a first! And something I can actually agree with. Definitely a first!
Anyway onto the topic. Here's an article on ESPN that provides some in-depth info on the Tampa relievers and suggests Wheeler is the most likely candidate to get first crack at the job. It also talks about the Kazmir/Price situation. http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/blog/ind ... y_baseball
Some quotes of interest:
"Wheeler's ERA is an ugly 5.40, but most of the damage was done in a bad mid-April stretch in which he gave up seven earned runs and three of his four home runs allowed in just 2 2/3 innings. He has not surrendered an earned run in 11 of his 12 outings since, recording four holds but also two blown saves."
According yahoo, over the last month Wheeler has a 1.93 ERA and 1.18 WHIP in 9 1/3 IP. That's closer like numbers. It also suggest one or both of the blown saves may have involved inherited runners.
he was referred to as a "Dark Horse"
"He's also pitched 11 innings in the minors, splitting time between Double-A Montgomery and Triple-A Durham, with mixed results."
While Izzy could take over, he's had a couple surgeries int he last few years, and he's getting pretty old in baseball terms. How much does he have left in the tank. Does he still have closer stuff? Maybe he'll get a chance, but expecting him to be the old Izzy that saved nearly 300 games is wishful thinking at this stage of the game.
The author of the article doesn't seem to think Balfour or Howell are likely to get the gig, however if Madden plays matchups Howell could get a few saves if the 9th inning has lefties due up in a way sort of like what Bobby Cox has done a few times in Atlanta.