Eighth-inning setup work, like most bullpen roles, is a transient occupation. Those who excel at it will likely become closers, as has happened already over the course of this season to
The Yankees' top pitching prospect prior to the arrival of
The Warrior has been a key part of the Twins' bullpen since 2005, but this year he has simply stopped walking people, issuing just nine free passes all season. Guerrier's 1.4 BB/9 has led to a 4.33 K/BB and 0.85 WHIP that helps support his 2.30 ERA. Since May 1, he's been even better, posting a 1.66 ERA and earning 21 holds. And since June 1, that ERA has been just 1.34, making Guerrier and
Gonzalez opened the season as the Braves' closer, but
History shows that Japanese pitchers tend to offer diminishing returns as the league becomes familiar with their stuff and their often-funky deliveries. Indeed, Hideki Okajima's ERA has shot up over his three seasons in Boston's 'pen from 2.22 in 2007 to 2.82 this year. That is to say that the lefty changeup artist is one of the most reliable eighth-inning setup men in the game. His rate stats over his first three seasons have shown very little variation and he ranks third among non-closers in WXRL this year. Since May 1, he's posted a 2.18 ERA with 19 holds.
A minor league starter, Madson emerged from several years of indecision regarding his role to become a dominant setup man for
A former Red Sox minor leaguer, Betancourt was a scrap-heap find by the Indians in 2003. Over the next five seasons, he posted a 2.80 ERA, 9.1 K/9, 1.06 WHIP and 4.6 K/BB. A poor 2008 and the Indians' struggles this season took him off the radar, but in 11 appearances since being traded to the wild card-leading Rockies, he has yet to allow a run (and he's allowed just one in 15 appearances since returning from a groin injury in early July, posting a 0.66 ERA and 0.73 WHIP over that stretch).
The Dodgers eighth-inning situation is a curious one. Sophomore
Speaking of former closers, Ziegler opened the season as Oakland's closer, but lost the job not through any failure of his own (he only blew one save), but because of
Part of the miserable package the Diamondbacks got for