For whom the Bell rolls
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.
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.
Qualls is only expected to miss a few days and is still the closer in Arizona when he returns. In the meantime,
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.
He worked off a mound in a bullpen session this week, and signs are pointing to a late June activation.
Devine underwent Tommy John surgery and is out for the remainder of 2009.
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.