As this previous week proved, no pitcher, young or old, is immune to the injury bug.
In Texas, 23-year-old closer Neftali Feliz fell victim to right shoulder inflammation and landed on the DL for the first time in his career. General manager Jon Daniels stressed the move was precautionary, however, saying, "If he was 33 instead of 23 we may treat it a little differently, but given his age and what he means to the club we're going to play this one on the safe side."
Feliz certainly means a lot to the Rangers. The 2010 All-Star had five saves in five opportunities this year, and the bullpen is very thin behind him. Both Darren Oliver and Arthur Rhodes have picked up a save in his absence, but combined, they have only 37 career saves in 36 seasons (Feliz saved 40 games in '10 alone). Ron Washington is likely to lean on the two veterans for the length of Feliz's stay on the DL, but luckily for the Rangers -- and fantasy owners -- he should be back soon.
In Philadelphia, Jose Contreras, who is 16 years older than Feliz, also landed on the DL. A strained flexor pronator tendon in the right elbow was the culprit here, and the Phillies are a taking conservative approach with Contreras after losing Brad Lidge to an injury earlier this year.
Ryan Madson will take over for Contreras until the Cuban defector returns from the DL. Madson seemed like the logical candidate for saves when the first Phillies closer went on the DL, but no one in the Phillies' organization believed he had the closer mentality. Well, now they don't have a choice.
Long considered one of the best set-up men in the league, Madson is a must-add in all leagues. He's got a closer's arsenal, and no one is sure when Contreras or Lidge will return. If the Phillies' brass is right about Madson, and he falters in high-leverage situations, they will turn to Antonio Bastardo, a converted starter who's been electric in '11.
How did other major league bullpens fare this week? Let's take a look around the league:
While every other closer falters, Bell just keeps on trucking. He converted his 39th straight save chance on April 20, which is tied for the seventh longest streak in major league history. The only thing that could stop Bell is a trade to a contender with an established closer. ... Rivera blew two saves last week, but it's not a cause for concern. He is the safest best in the closing game and should rebound soon.
Papelbon picked up three straight saves last week, and now that the Red Sox have figured it out, he should be in line for a wealth of save opportunities. ... Amid the thin air of Coors Field, Street (eight saves, 15 Ks, 1.88 ERA) is having a fantastic season. But given his injury history, it's hard to believe he stays healthy for the entire season.
Broxton has been pretty awful all year (4.35 ERA, seven walks in 10.1 innings), but hadn't blown a save opportunity until April 25. L.A. skipper Don Mattingly has expressed confidence in his closer, and with a lack of other solid options in the pen, you should, too. ... Joseph Jason Putz is looking like the steal of the offseason. The Diamondbacks' stopper is 5-for-5 in save chances, and has a career-low 1.13 ERA. ... One of the hottest closers out of the gates, Hanrahan has had two save opportunities since April 8. That's what happens when you pitch for the Pirates.
The Blue Jays activated Francisco from the DL on April 19, but they are waiting for Rauch to falter before making a move. Given that Rauch gave up a home run in a save appearance on April 25, that time might be soon. ... Lyon blew his second save of the season on April 23. If he doesn't start striking out more batters (3.24 K/9), the Astros will turn to Mark Melancon ... It's safe to drop Sean Burnett in mixed leagues. Storen has given up one earned run in 12.2 innings. ... Santos recorded the final four outs for the White Sox on April 26, and he should get the nod going forward. He should be owned in all AL-only leagues.
Aardsma says he feels "great physically," and he should be activated from the DL this week. ... Bailey is unlikely to return before May, but he supposedly threw "rockets" in his bullpen session.
Backups who will ensure you're banking saves even if your closer goes down