Pecking Order: Life on the Lidge
Sherrill hasn't yielded an earned run since May 2, a nine-inning, nine-appearance run that includes 12 Ks, six saves and just two hits allowed. He's in no immediate danger of losing his job, especially since Chris Ray is now sporting an ERA of 10.13 -- in large part due to his previous two outings (0.2 IP, 2 H, 1 BB, 3 ER; 0.0 IP, 4 H, 4 ER). Fernando Rodney, Huston Street and Scott Downs are all perfect on save chances thus far, although none can be considered a sure thing to last the season. If someone's already given up on Lidge and is seeking one of the aforementioned three in return for his fantasy services, I'd jump on it. LaTroy Hawkins is still the man in Houston, and should be for at least the next month.
The flu-weakened Brad Ziegler seems to have surrendered his job to rookie hurler Andrew Bailey, although Manager Bob Geren has steadfastly refused to name an outright closer. Bailey protected a one-run lead in the ninth on Tuesday night by retiring all three batters he faced, striking out two. He's worked 29.2 innings and struck out 37, making his 11.23 K/9 rate third among closers (after Jonathan Broxton -- 13.70; and Mike Gonzalez -- 11.84) -- if that's truly the role he's assumed. David Aardsma is off to a good start as new closer in Seattle, and Joel Hanrahan looks like a new man after a brief acquiescence in Washington. In Tampa Bay, the bullpen is scrambling to dub an heir to Percival. While Joe Nelson has the early support of Joe Maddon -- and it's probably not going to be Grant Balfour (5.75 ERA, 20.1 IP, 19 K, 14 BB) or Jason Isringhausen (3 IP, 2 ER), I'm adding Dan Wheeler. He's got what it takes to be a solid closer (24 saves in 2007-08) and could be in line for plenty of save opportunities by June. C.J. Wilson won't be picking up too many more saves -- since Frank Francisco appears to be recovered from his biceps tendinitis.