Heath Bell is still rolling. He did blow his first save on Saturday at Coors Field, a likely place for something so tragic to happen. This season, the Rockies and Giants have been the most successful versus Bell (they're the only ones to score off him), and the only player with multiple hits off Bell is Brad Hawpe -- who, not surprisingly, is a lefty. In fact, of the 14 hits Bell has yielded in 21.1 innings this season, 12 have come from lefties, who are batting .300 against the dominating right-hander. Against righty hitters, he's posted a decidedly wicked .056 BAA. Now we know his weakness, correct? The truth is, his career splits aren't so unambiguously divergent (.242 v. LHH, .239 v. RHH).
Another weird anomaly: Each of the three runs Bell yielded this year were on first-pitch hits. It's one thing to deal a lot of first-pitch strikes and know how to get ahead in the count, but it's another to be perfect once you actually get one toss past the batter. I don't have a definitive explanation for all of this, but I can honestly say that despite the miraculous job he's done so far in 2009, I might be looking to deal Bell for about 80 cents for every dollar he's been worth as the Padres' closer.
All statistics through June 3.
George Sherrill, BAL11-for-13 (85%), 21.2 IP, 21 Ks, 2.49 ERA, 1.15 WHIPNext in line: Jim Johnson/Danys BáezThird in line: Jamie Walker/Chris Ray (minors)
Matt Lindstrom, FLA10-for-12 (83%), 21.2 IP, 22 Ks, 5.82 ERA, 1.80 WHIPNext in line: Leo NunezThird in line: Kiki Calero
Fernando Rodney, DET10-for-10 (100%), 21 IP, 17 Ks, 3.00 ERA, 1.10 WHIPNext in line: Brandon Lyon/ Joel ZumayaThird in line: Ryan Perry (minors)
Scott Downs, TOR7-for-8 (88%), 23 IP, 23 K, 2.35 ERA, 0.91 WHIPNext in line: Jason FrasorThird in line: B.J. Ryan/Jesse Carlson
Matt Capps, PIT12-for-14 (86%), 17.2 IP, 12 Ks, 5.60 ERA, 1.81 WHIPNext in line: John GrabowThird in line: Sean Burnett/Jesse Chavez
LaTroy Hawkins, HOU7-for-9 (78%), 22.2 IP, 22 Ks, 2.38 ERA, 1.19 WHIPNext in line: Chris SampsonThird in line: Wesley Wright
Huston Street, COL8-for-9 (89%), 22.1 IP, 24 Ks, 3.22 ERA, 1.16 WHIPNext in line: Jason GrilliThird in line: Manny Corpas
David Aardsma, SEA8-for-9 (89%), 25.1 IP, 26 Ks, 2.13 ERA, 1.30 WHIPNext in line: Brandon MorrowThird in line: Mark Lowe
Matt Capps returned to his closing role this past weekend and saved games like freakin' gangbusters, recording three in four days. His first appearance wasn't 1-2-3, but he looked sharp in the subsequent outings, rattling lefties and righties alike with his jutting fastball and late downward action. His peripherals leave something to be desired (6.11 K/9, 1.33 K/BB), but his ERA has steadily dropped since his season-high 8.18 on May 15. He's given up just one earned run and four hits in the 6.2 innings he's recorded since. George Sherrill continues to look dominant, and is oh so close to being "On Board." I'm just wary of his ability to perform on consecutive days. The same can probably be said of Fernando Rodney, although he's a little more headstrong (and a little less ghetto) than Sherrill, who flat-brimmed it even before some clown made it fashionable. Huston Street and Scott Downs blew their first saves of the season since. I've praised Downs for his impressive 11.50 K/9 ratio, but he's given up 20 fly balls to just 10 groundballs since May 9 -- a worrisome ratio for a closer. David Aardsma blew a two-run lead against the Angels this weekend giving up two hits and three free passes. Not so great, although it's his first blown save of 2009.
Chad Qualls, ARI -- Forearm soreness/stiffness
Qualls is only expected to miss a few days and is still the closer in Arizona when he returns. In the meantime, Tony Pena takes over ninth-inning duties and has already picked up a save, albeit during an embattled Monday performance where he gave up two unearned runs on three hits.
Troy Percival, TB -- Right shoulder tendonitis
After meeting with team officials on Sunday in St. Petersburg, Percival agreed to work with a chiropractor in his native California and try to get his arm back. The prospect of this warrior ever being effective enough to use in a closing role is doubtful.
José Valverde, HOU -- Right calf strain
He worked off a mound in a bullpen session this week, and signs are pointing to a late June activation.
Joey Devine, OAK -- Elbow surgery
Devine underwent Tommy John surgery and is out for the remainder of 2009.
Mike González, ATL7-for-10 (70%), 23 IP, 32 Ks, 3.13 ERA, 1.30 WHIPNext in line: Rafael SorianoThird in line: Peter Moylan
Andrew Bailey, OAK2-for-5 (40%), 32.1 IP, 2 HLDs, 38 Ks, 2.23 ERA, 0.99 WHIPNext in line: Brad ZieglerThird in line: Michael Wuertz
Joel Hanrahan, WAS5-for-8 (63%), 24.1 IP, 30 Ks, 5.55 ERA, 1.73 WHIPNext in line: Joe BeimelThird in line: Julian Tavarez
Dan Wheeler, TB0-for-2 (0%), 7 HLDs, 17.1 IP, 14 Ks, 4.67 ERA, 1.21 WHIPNext in line: Randy Choate Joe NelsonThird in line: Grant Balfour/J.P. Howell
I'm not making too much of left-hander Randy Choate's consecutive saves for the Rays this week, and I'm certainly not going into detail on why his terrible last name makes me chuckle. His peripherals have never been off the charts (career 7.13 K/9, 1.53 K/BB), and his 2009 FIP is 4.83. I know Grant Balfour's pitched well lately, and Joe Nelson is a popular waiver wire addition, but my money's still on Dan Wheeler to emerge as the closer within the next couple weeks. Speaking of emerging closers, Andrew Bailey still hasn't technically been named the ninth-inning guy in Oakland, although many fantasy owners (including yours truly) have dropped Brad Ziegler in response to the side-armer's limited save opportunities. Bailey's 10.58 K/9, 3.17 K/BB, 71.9 Z-Contact%, and .180 BAA are all superior to Ziegler's ratios. While the rookie hurler blew a save Sunday in "The Bandbox at Arlington," he's still the more valuable fantasy reliever -- even if he yields some saves back to the former closer. Juan Cruz filled in admirably as the committee head during Joakim Soria's DL stint, but "The Mexicutioner" is back in business and supposedly ready to close games as of Wednesday. Don't waste any time dropping Cruz and getting Soria back in your relief rotation.
Mariano Rivera, NYY11-for-12 (92%), 21.2 IP, 26 Ks, 2.49 ERA, 1.02 WHIPNext in line: Phil Coke/Alfredo AcevesThird in line: Brian Bruney (DL)
Jonathan Papelbon, BOS13-for-14 (93%), 23 IP, 28 Ks, 2.35 ERA, 1.43 WHIPNext in line: Takashi SaitoThird in line: Hideki Okajima/Daniel Bard
Francisco Rodríguez, NYM14-for-14 (100%), 24.2 IP, 27 Ks, 0.73 ERA, 1.01 WHIPNext in line: Bobby ParnellThird in line: Pedro Feliciano/J.J. Putz
Jonathan Broxton, LAD12-for-14 (86%), 26 IP, 41 Ks, 1.38 ERA, 0.69 WHIPNext in line: Cory WadeThird in line: Ramon Troncoso
Joe Nathan, MIN10-for-12 (83%), 20.2 IP, 22 Ks, 2.18 ERA, 0.97 WHIPNext in line: Matt GuerrierThird in line: Jesse Crain
Bobby Jenks, CWS12-for-13 (92%), 18 IP, 14 Ks, 3.00 ERA, 1.17 WHIPNext in line: Matt ThorntonThird in line: Octavio Dotel
Heath Bell, SD15-for-16 (94%), 21.1 IP, 26 Ks, 1.27 ERA, 094 WHIPNext in line: Cla MeredithThird in line: Edward Mujica
Trevor Hoffman, MIL13-for-13 (100%), 15 IP, 14 Ks, 0.00 ERA, 0.47 WHIPNext in line: Carlos VillanuevaThird in line: Todd Coffey
Francisco Cordero, CIN14-for-14 (100%), 22 IP, 22 Ks, 1.64 ERA, 1.14 WHIPNext in line: David WeathersThird in line: Arthur Rhodes/Jared Burton
Joakim Soria, KC7-for-7 (100%), 8.2 IP, 10 Ks, 2.08 ERA, 1.38 WHIPNext in line: Juan Cruz/Ron MahayThird in line: Robinson Tejeda
Frank Francisco, TEX11-for-11 (100%), 18.2 IP, 19 Ks, 0.48 ERA, 0.86 WHIPNext in line: C.J. Wilson/Eddie GuardadoThird in line: Darren O'Day
Brad Lidge, PHI13-for-17 (76%), 24.1 IP, 26 Ks, 7.40 ERA, 1.77 WHIPNext in line: Ryan MadsonThird in line: Chad Durbin/Clay Condrey
Chad Qualls, ARI12-for-14 (86%), 21 IP, 23 Ks, 3.43 ERA, 1.24 WHIPNext in line: Tony PeñaThird in line: Juan Gutierrez/Tom Gordon (DL)
Kerry Wood, CLE8-for-10 (80%), 18 IP, 21 Ks, 6.00 ERA, 1.67 WHIPNext in line: Jensen LewisThird in line: Rafael Betancourt
Brian Wilson, SF12-for-15 (80%), 24.1 IP, 23 Ks, 4.07 ERA, 1.27 WHIPNext in line: Jeremy AffeldtThird in line: Merkin Valdez
Ryan Franklin, STL13-for-14 (93%), 21 IP, 16 Ks, 1.29 ERA, 0.81 WHIPNext in line: Jason MotteThird in line: Kyle McClellan/Chris Pérez
Brian Fuentes, LAA13-for-16 (81%), 18.2 IP, 19 Ks, 5.30 ERA, 1.50 WHIPNext in line: Jose ArredondoThird in line: Justin Speier/Scot Shields (DL)
Kevin Gregg, CHC8-for-10 (80%), 22.1 IP, 26 Ks, 5.24 ERA, 1.66 WHIPNext in line: Carlos MármolThird in line: Aaron Heilman/Jeff Samardzija