The ERA doesn’t show it, but Jason Grilli was scuffling after he came back from an oblique injury. The strikeouts were down and the walks were up from his brilliant 2013 campaign. Grilli is hovering around the 21 percent mark in terms of strikeout rate, and the walk rate has come up to 12 percent. Couple that with a newfound propensity to give up home runs in a small sample and the writing was on the wall with Grilli. Mark Melancon will serve as the closer in the short term, and I think there is a really good chance he’s the long-term closer as well. Melancon has solid peripheral numbers and served as the closer during Grilli’s rehab.
Neil Ramirez is still making things compelling in the Cubs’ bullpen, which is a rare problem for the North Siders to have, especially after the tumultuous year Cubs relievers had in 2013. Ramirez is carrying a 1.00 ERA and a 0.77 WHIP in 18 innings. Those are outstanding numbers, and they definitely warrant consideration for the job. However, Hector Rondon has still been pitching extremely well, having only given up runs in four of his 27 appearances. I still think Rondon is the closer until he proves otherwise.
Joe Maddon is often praised for his creativity when it concerns in-game management and also concerning extracurriculars. He’s an intelligent mind who is okay with working outside of conventional wisdom. That’s part of the reason why trying to speculate on saves in this bullpen is such a challenging issue. I own Grant Balfour in a few leagues, and I have not dropped him quite yet, as I do get the small, lingering feeling that he’s just as good a bet to end up closing as Jake McGee is. This is a muddled mess right now, and to be honest, I’m just backing the horse that brought me here in the first place. If I had to rank (because you’ll ask), I would go Jake McGee, Balfour, Juan Oviedo, Joel Peralta, and Kirby Yates. Those rankings are shaky at best, however. No one has distinguished himself here.
Everyone blew a save on Saturday.
Boston Red Sox
Koji Uehara blew a save, which is okay considering he’s 39 and still executing a very tried-and-true game plan this year. The implosion will come for him, but I don’t think it’s this year.