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Pecking Order: The sunny side of the Street


The NL Leader in saves is now Huston Street. Let me say that again, with more emphasis on my incredulity. Even though he pitches in Coors Field (the most batter-friendly park in the majors), hasn't been the Rockies' starting closer the entire season, and received little fanfare heading into 2009, Huston Street is the NL saves leader.

Before the season started, the Rockies were challenged with replacing Brian Fuentes who had absconded to Los Angeles with his 30 saves and outstanding '08 peripherals (11.78 K/9, 3.73 K/BB 0.43 HR/9, .210 BAA, 1.10 WHIP, 73.0 LOB%, 2.24 FIP). Colorado's options were homespun righty Manny Corpas, promising-albeit-injured veteran Taylor Buchholz, and Street, acquired in the Nov. 2008 Matt Holliday trade with Oakland. Corpas won the job because he displayed what many scouts refer to as "the closer mentality," while Buchholz was rehabbing from an elbow injury and Street had struggled during his final days in Oakland.

Aside from an Apr. 7 game when Corpas pitched the eighth and Street snagged a save, "Manny the Mauler" held the closer's job until the last week in April, when Street took over. In the ensuing three months and change, Street compiled 27 saves in 37 appearances, and blew just one save -- a June 2 game in which he gave up two hits and two runs, but was also forced to intentionally walk two batters. He's also compiled some very impressive peripherals:

10.52 K/91.99 BB/95.30 K/BB0.99 HR/9.190 BAA0.88 WHIP81.8 LOB%2.83 FIP

His .250 BABIP isn't that much lower than his career mark of .278 (which is eerily close to Mariano Rivera's career BABIP of .277.)

We're seeing a new side of Street. He's throwing his slider less frequently and with more efficiency (10.4 runs above average) and has greatly improved his changeup, which he's throwing seven percent more than in 2008. Think the Rockies are upset that Fuentes took off for greener pastures -- even though the Angels' closer is second only to Marinao Rivera in saves? That's a rhetorical question. Fuentes is in a serious funk; he still hasn't pitched since his two disastrous outings at the end of July. (Stats as of Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2009)

Matt Capps, Pirates21-for-23 (91%), 35.2 IP, 31 Ks, 5.80 ERA, 1.79 WHIP Next in line: Jesse ChavezThird in line: Joel Hanrahan

Andrew Bailey, Athletics 14-for-18 (78%), 61 IP, 69 Ks, 2.21 ERA, 1.02 WHIP Next in line: Michael WuertzThird in line: Brad Ziegler

Fernando Rodney, Tigers21-for-21 (100%), 42 IP, 38 Ks, 3.64 ERA, 1.29 WHIP Next in line: Brandon LyonThird in line: Bobby Seay/Ryan Perry

Chad Qualls, Diamondbacks20-for-24 (83%), 44.2 IP, 35 Ks, 3.22 ERA, 1.12 WHIP Next in line: Jon RauchThird in line: Scott Schoeneweis/Juan Gutierrez

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

Kerry Wood, Indians14-for-19 (74%), 37 IP, 42 Ks, 5.11 ERA, 1.41 WHIP Next in line: Joe SmithThird in line: Chris Pérez/Tony Sipp

Frank Francisco, Rangers15 for-17 (88%), 3 HLDs, 29.1 IP, 34 Ks, 2.15 ERA, 0.92 WHIPNext in line: C.J. Wilson/Darren O'DayThird in line: Neftali Feliz/Eddie Guardado

Jim Johnson, Orioles 2-for-5 (40%), 14 HLDs, 49.1 IP, 35 Ks, 3.28 ERA, 1.26 WHIP Next in line: Danys BáezThird in line: Cla Meredith/Chris Ray

Matt Lindstrom, Marlins14-for-16 (88%), 2 HLDs, 30 IP, 26 Ks, 6.30 ERA, 1.87 WHIPNext in line: Leo Nunez/Dan Meyer Third in line: Renyel Pinto/Kiki Calero

According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Kevin Gregg has been receiving "heavy treatment" for his "spring-training dead arm." Gregg blew saves on consecutive nights against the Marlins. The 31-year-old veteran threw 38 pitches on Saturday and ended up with a win, but on Sunday, he took the loss after surrendering back-to-back solo homers in the ninth inning to Dan Uggla and Cody Ross.

Gregg said the pain isn't acute, there's just no life to his arm: "There's no pinpoint spots, there's no nothing. When you go to throw, it doesn't seem to be reacting the way it should be ... The location seems fine. But it's missing the late life that it needs to get the hitters." Capps wasn't moved before the trading deadline, but that doesn't mean I'm upset I ditched him last week. Fernando Rodney, who had a very impressive July, finally blew a save on Saturday, but the Tigers rallied against the Indians to win 4-3 in 12 innings. The wily Dominican also earned a cheap win on Monday by pitching a scoreless ninth at home versus the Orioles. Frank Francisco should return to his closer role pretty soon, considering the recent exploits of C.J. Wilson -- who gave up three runs and retired just one batter in a BS/L on Monday against the A's. Netfali Feliz, perhaps the most talked-about young pitcher in the past week, hit 100 MPH a couple times in relief against the A's and struck out the first four batters he faced.

New Baltimore closer-of-the-moment Jim Johnson has been OK thus far, although his low K/9 and K/BB rates (6.39 and 2.19) worry me a bit. Pick him up only if you're desperate for an additional save per week. Danys Báez has experience closing games and easily could factor in within the month.

Scott Downs, Blue Jays -- Toe -- 15-Day DL: Downs is once again sidelined after aggravating the toe injury that landed him on the DL earlier in the season. The Jays are likely to play it safe with him, since it doesn't look like they're in contention and Jason Frasor has filled in admirably.

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

Braves1. Rafael Soriano -- 16-for-18, 6 HLDs, 49 IP, 66 Ks, 1.84 ERA, 0.88 WHIP2. Mike Gonzalez -- 9-for-14, 11 HLDs, 49 IP, 65 Ks, 2.94 ERA, 1.22 WHIPNext in line: Peter Moylan

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NationalsMike MacDougal9-for-10, 25.2 IP, 11 Ks, 2.81 ERA, 1.56 WHIP (NL Stats only) Next in line: Sean BurnettThird in line: Ron Villone

Blue JaysJason Frasor -- 4-for-6, 4 HLDs, 38.2 IP, 35 Ks, 2.09 ERA, 0.98 WHIPNext in line: Jesse CarlsonThird in line: Jeremy Accardo

Frasor and lefty Jesse Carlson might both be used in Toronto, although most save opportunities will go to Frasor, who has notably good '09 numbers: 8.15 K/9, 3.50 K/BB, .207 BAA .515 OPS-against). Soriano rebounded nicely from his last blown save with a couple sparkling outings. He's been downright nasty on righties this year, striking out 44 of the 89 he's faced and posting a .124 BAA and .360 OPS-against. Mike González, on the other hand, has pretty even R/L splits (.227/.217 R/L BAA). MacDougal may be the closer in Washington, but he won't earn a promotion from me to "The Fence" or the "Board" with his hideous 3.90 K/9 and 0.60 K/BB rates.

Mariano Rivera, Yankees31-for-32 (97%), 46 IP, 50 Ks, 1.96 ERA, 0.89 WHIP Next in line: Phil HughesThird in line: Alfredo Aceves/Phil Coke

Joe Nathan, Twins29-for-32 (91%), 41.2 IP, 52 Ks, 1.51 ERA, 0.77 WHIPNext in line: Jose Mijares Third in line: Matt Guerrier/Jesse Crain

Jonathan Broxton, Dodgers24-for-27 (89%), 47.2 IP, 74 Ks, 2.83 ERA, 0.92 WHIP Next in line: George Sherrill/Ramon TroncosoThird in line: Hong-Chih Kuo

Jonathan Papelbon27-for-30 (90%), 46 IP, 48 Ks, 1.96 ERA, 1.30 WHIP Next in line: Takashi SaitoThird in line: Hideki Okajima/Daniel Bard

Heath Bell, Padres27-for-28 (96%), 43.1 IP, 51 Ks, 1.87 ERA, 1.04 WHIPNext in line: Edward MujicaThird in line: Greg Burke

Joakim Soria, Royals18-for-20 (90%), 31.2 IP, 40 Ks, 1.71 ERA, 0.95 WHIP Next in line: Juan Cruz/John Bale Third in line: Kyle Farnsworth

Trevor Hoffman, Brewers24-for-26 (92%), 32 IP, 25 Ks, 1.97 ERA, 1.13 WHIP Next in line: Todd CoffeyThird in line: Mark DiFelice/Mitch Stetter

Francisco Cordero, Reds23-for-24 (96%), 42.1 IP, 36 Ks, 1.70 ERA, 1.09 WHIP Next in line: David WeathersThird in line: Nick Masset

Huston Street, Rockies28-for-29 (97%), 45.1 IP, 53 Ks, 2.38 ERA, 0.88 WHIPNext in line: Rafael Betancourt/Joe BeimelThird in line: Jhoulys Chacin

Francisco Rodriguez, Mets24-for-28 (86%), 49 IP, 50 Ks, 2.39 ERA, 1.24 WHIPNext in line: Bobby Parnell Third in line: Pedro Feliciano/Billy Wagner (Minors rehab)

Bobby Jenks, White Sox22-for-26 (85%), 36.1 IP, 37 Ks, 4.21 ERA, 1.29 WHIP Next in line: Scott Linebrink/Matt ThorntonThird in line: Octavio Dotel/Tony Peña

David Aardsma, Mariners26-for-28 (93%), 50.1 IP, 59 Ks, 1.61 ERA, 1.15 WHIP Next in line: Mark LoweThird in line: Sean White

Ryan Franklin, Cardinals24-for-26 (92%), 41.2 IP, 30 Ks, 1.30 ERA, 0.91 WHIPNext in line: Jason MotteThird in line: Kyle McClellan

Brad Lidge, Phillies|20-for-26 (77%), 39 IP, 41 Ks, 6.92 ERA, 1.74 WHIP Next in line: Ryan MadsonThird in line: Chan Ho Park/Brett Myers

Brian Wilson, Giants24-for-31 (87%), 47.1 IP, 51 Ks, 3.04 ERA, 1.12 WHIP Next in line: Jeremy AffeldtThird in line: Merkin Valdez/Sergio Romo

Brian Fuentes, Angels30-for-34 (88%), 35.2 IP, 37 Ks, 4.Next in line: Justin Speier/Kevin Jepsen

J.P. Howell, Rays11-for-16 (69%), 52.1 IP, 61 Ks, 1.89 ERA, 1.05 WHIPNext in line: Dan WheelerThird in line: Grant Balfour/Randy Choate

José Valverde, Astros13-for-17 (76%), 31 IP, 34 Ks, 2.90 ERA, 1.16 WHIPNext in line: Doug Brocail/Chris SampsonThird in line: Alberto Arias/LaTroy Hawkins (DL)

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