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Pecking Order: How the mighty have struggled


It's been a rough July for Bobby Jenks. In seven appearances this month, he's pitched 7.1 innings, allowed 13 hits, walked four batters, struck out just nine guys, and given up eight runs (seven earned). That's good for a 9.45 ERA in his last six outings (he notched a two-out save on July 2) and back-to-back blown saves in his last two opportunities.

"I'm not even mad about this one," he said. "The way things had gone in the last week, we had worked on stuff mechanically, and we got the little kinks worked out. Tonight, everything was sharp, but I got beat on bloopers and a ball that was fair for maybe two seconds."

OK, Bobby. But you also held the major-league record for consecutive batters retired (41), a feat bested by Mark Buehrle (your own teammate, for Charlie Comiskey's sake), who followed up last Thursday's perfect game with 5.2 perfect innings Tuesday night. While Jenks has maintained a respectable fielding independent pitching statistic (3.82 FIP) and good K/9 and K/BB ratios (3.70 and 9.43) he only ranks tied for 13th in saves with 22. His .261 BAA is lackluster for a closer and his .731 OPS-against has inched above the league average. Some of this can be attributed to an unlucky run so far in 2009 (.338 BABIP, 15.2 HR/FB%), and Ozzie Guillen has said he's not in immediate jeopardy of losing his job, but it's definitely something to track if you're a Jenks owner.

Brian Fuentes has also struggled mightily, and in one week, his ERA became an evil anagram of its former self (2.94 on July 21 to 4.29 on July 28). In fact, Fuentes hasn't recorded an out in his two appearances since he picked up a win for one inning of work on July 23 -- but yielded a total of six hits, six earned runs and two HRs in that span. While manager Mike Scioscia thinks something's wrong, he sounds a bit perplexed/vexed with defining the actual problem:

"(Fuentes) is getting a little bit tired," Scioscia said. "The ball's not coming out like it normally does....He'll right his ship and get it back together. It just didn't look like he was comfortable out there."

Fuentes -- who leads the majors in saves with 30 -- and Jenks aren't the only big name closers having some issues recently. Joe Nathan, Ryan Franklin, Jonathan Papelbon and Rafael Soriano all blew a save in the past week, although they all seem to be better off than the aforementioned firemen. (stats through July 28)

Matt Capps, Pirates20-for-22 (91%), 33 IP, 26 Ks, 6.00 ERA, 1.73 WHIP Next in line: Joel HanrahanThird in line: Jesse Chavez

Scott Downs, Blue Jays9-for-12 (75%), 3 HLDs, 34 IP, 36 Ks, 3.18 ERA, 1.21 WHIP Next in line: Jason Frasor/Jeremy AccardoThird in line: Jesse Carlson

Andrew Bailey, Athletics12-for-16 (75%), 59 IP, 66 Ks, 2.14 ERA, 1.00 WHIP Next in line: Michael WuertzThird in line: Brad Ziegler

Brad Lidge, Phillies20-for-26 (77%), 38 IP, 41 Ks, 7.11 ERA, 1.79 WHIP Next in line: Ryan MadsonThird in line: Chan Ho Park/Brett Myers

Chad Qualls, Diamondbacks18-for-22 (82%), 41.2 IP, 34 Ks, 3.46 ERA, 1.18 WHIP Next in line: Jon Rauch/Juan GutierrezThird in line: Dan Schlereth/Tom Gordon (DL)

Kerry Wood, Indians -- 14-for-18 (78%), 34.2 IP, 39 Ks, 4.93 ERA, 1.38 WHIP Next in line: Joe Smith,Third in line: Chris Pérez

C.J. Wilson, Rangers11-for-13 (85%), 8 HLDs, 45 IP, 43 Ks, 2.80 ERA, 1.27 WHIP Next in line: Frank Francisco, (DL)/Darren O'DayThird in line: Eddie Guardado

Looks like I dropped Matt Capps at just the right time. He picked up a cheap win in his last performance for me on July 22 and then, on July 26 -- my birthday -- promptly blew his first save for fantasy rival "Smegadeath!" (owner D-Cain's a sweet kid, but a heart of gold doesn't win fantasy titles). Sorry, but my loss is also your loss in this case, D-Cain.

Brad Lidge notched another save on Tuesday, but he did it after allowing a two-run jack to Mark Reynolds that narrowed the three-run gap he inherited to one. He hasn't had an official blown save since June 6, but his ERA on that date (7.27) isn't much smaller now. Charlie Manuel is an old guy, and I'm sure his ticker doesn't appreciate that kind of excitement. Mike González has a bone bruise in his left forearm that will likely keep him out until next week. He was struck in the arm by Nate Schierholtz's line drive during Thursday's game against the Giants. X-rays were negative and he pitched an inning on Monday, but the Braves aren't taking any chances with their situational co-closer/setup man. While it's flat-out "BS" that Fernando Rodney hasn't yet had one in 2009, he's been pitching well, with 4 saves and a win in his last six appearances since taking the loss on July 6 against the Royals.

Accordingly, I've finally put Rodney "On Board," although it's probably the kiss of death. Andrew Bailey's last two saves, which followed consecutive losses against the Twins and Angels, actually came against the Yankees and Red Sox, the latter in the 11th inning despite two hits, an ER and zero Ks. Bailey still has a 10.07 K/9 rate (he's fanned 66 of the 236 batters he's faced this season) and a decent OPS-against of .523, but there are some concerns about his knees holding up.

Frank Francisco, Rangers -- Walking pneumonia -- 15-Day DL He's almost ready to return, but might need a few extra days to resume closing duties. For now, C.J. Wilson is still the man in Texas.

Matt Lindstrom, Marlins -- Sprained right elbow -- 15-Day DL Lindstrom threw a scoreless inning for Class A Jupiter on Monday and will pitch Thursday for Class AA Jacksonville. He could be activated as soon as this weekend.

Troy Percival, Rays -- Right shoulder tendonitis -- Return uncertain

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Braves1. Rafael Soriano -- 14-for-16 (88%), 47 IP, 62 Ks, 1.91 ERA, 0.89 WHIP 1a Mike González -- 9-for-13 (69%), 10 HLDs, 46.1 IP, 61 Ks, 3.11 ERA, 1.23 WHIP Next in line: Peter Moylan/Luis Valdez

Marlins1. Leo Nunez -- 7-for-10 (70%), 13 HLDs, 45 IP, 43 Ks, 4.00 ERA, 1.22 WHIP 1a. Dan Meyer -- 2-for-2 (100%), 13 HLDs, 38IP, 34 Ks, 2.13 ERA, 1.00 WHIP Next in line: Kiki Calero/Reynel PintoThird in line: Brendan Donnelly/Matt Lindstrom (DL)

Mariano Rivera, Yankees29-for-30 (97%), 42.2 IP, 47 Ks, 2.11 ERA, 0.82 WHIP Next in line: Phil Hughes Third in line: Alfredo Aceves/Phil Coke

Joe Nathan, Twins28-for-31 (90%), 39.2 IP, 47 Ks, 1.59 ERA, 0.76 WHIP Next in line: Jose MijaresThird in line: Matt Guerrier/Jesse Crain

Jonathan Broxton, Dodgers23-for-25 (92%), 45.2 IP, 73 Ks, 2.76 ERA, 0.90 WHIP Next in line: Ramon Troncoso/Hong-Chih KuoThird in line: Ronald Belisario/Cory Wade (DL)

Jonathan Papelbon, Red Sox25-for-28 (89%), 43 IP, 45 Ks, 2.09 ERA, 1.37 WHIP Next in line: Takashi Saito Third in line: Hideki Okajima/Daniel Bard

Heath Bell, Padres25-for-26 (96%), 40.1 IP, 48 Ks, 2.01 ERA, 1.07 WHIP Next in line: Edward MujicaThird in line: Greg Burke

Joakim Soria, Royals17-for-19 (89%), 29.2 IP, 37 Ks, 1.52 ERA, 0.94 WHIP Next in line: Juan Cruz/John Bale Third in line: Kyle Farnsworth

Francisco Rodríguez, Mets23-for-26 (88%), 46.2 IP, 48 Ks, 2.12 ERA, 1.20 WHIP Next in line: Bobby ParnellThird in line: Brian Stokes/Billy Wagner (DL)

Trevor Hoffman, Brewers22-for-24 (92%), 29 IP, 21 Ks, 1.86 ERA, 1.07 WHIP Next in line: Todd Coffey Third in line: Mark DiFelice/Mitch Stetter

Bobby Jenks, White Sox22-for-26 (85%), 35.1 IP, 37 Ks, 4.33 ERA, 1.33 WHIP Next in line: Scott Linebrink/Matt Thornton |Third in line: Octavio Dotel/Tony Peña

Francisco Cordero, Reds 23-for-24 (96%), 39.1 IP, 32 Ks, 1.83 ERA, 1.12 WHIP Next in line: David Weathers Third in line: Nick Masset/Jared Burton (DL)

David Aardsma, Mariners24-for-26 (92%), 48.1 IP, 56 Ks, 1.68 ERA, 1.12 WHIP Next in line: Mark Lowe Third in line: Sean White

Ryan Franklin, Cardinals23-for-25 (92%), 37.1 IP, 29 Ks, 1.21ERA, 0.88 WHIP Next in line: Jason Motte Third in line: Kyle McClellan

Brian Wilson, Giants26-for-30 (87%), 45.1 IP, 49 Ks, 3.18 ERA, 1.17 WHIP Next in line: Jeremy AffeldtThird in line: Sergio Romo

Huston Street, Rockies25-for-26 (96%), 42.1 IP, 48 Ks, 2.55 ERA, 0.92 WHIP Next in line: Rafael Betancourt/Matt DaleyThird in line: Joel Peralta/Jhoulys Chacin

Brian Fuentes, Angels30-for-34 (88%), 35.2 IP, 37 Ks, 4.29 ERA, 1.32 WHIP Next in line: Jason Bulger Third in line: Justin Speier

José Valverde, Astros11-for-15 (73%), 27.1 IP, 31 Ks, 2.63 ERA, 1.13 WHIP Next in line: Doug Brocail/Chris Sampson Third in line: Alberto Arias/LaTroy Hawkins (DL) J.P. Howell, Rays 11-for-16 (69%), 49.2 IP, 60 Ks, 1.81 ERA, 1.01 WHIP Next in line: Dan Wheeler Third in line: Grant Balfour/Randy Choate

Kevin Gregg, Cubs21-for-24 (88%), 47.1 IP, 46 Ks, 3.42 ERA, 1.27 WHIP Next in line: Carlos Mármol Third in line: Angel Guzman

Fernando Rodney, Tigers 21-for-21 (100%), 42 IP, 38 Ks, 3.64 ERA, 1.29 WHIP Next in line: Brandon Lyon Third in line: Bobby Seay/Ryan Perry