Closer Carousal: Julian Tavarez Brings Clarity

Yesterday was a big day in closing news. In Washington, manager Manny Acta announced closer Joel Hanrahan will no longer close.  He will be replaced by Julian Tavarez, who saved last night's game.  Reports also said lefty Joe Beimel will inherit the role when he returns from the D.L.

While the saves scramble likely had Beimel picked-up along with righty Kip Wells, I wouldn't expect Tavarez to lose the job if he successfully executes his role prior to Beimel's return.  Why break what was broken and looks like it was fixed?

Philadelphia Phillies closer Brad Lidge is experiencing knee problems and may have to hit the D.L.  If he does, the teams will turn to Ryan Madson, who saved Monday's victory over the Nationals.  Assuming Lidge does go on the D.L., rookie J.A. Happ looks like he will pitch in the 8th inning role.

Houston Astros closer Jose Valverde went on the D.L. and left the job in LaTroy Hawkins' hands.  While speculators were lucky to see the Nationals provide real game clarification on the closing situation, no such thing has occurred for the same speculation in the Astros pen as the team lost 3-0 to the Cincinnati Reds last night.

After watching Hawkins get bombed with the Yankees last season, I have a hard time believing he can succeed in the role for too long.  If I were "going Beimel" (taking a completely off-the-wall guess for Saves) in the 'stros pen, I'd take a look at Chris Sampson who won the opener of the Reds series after entering in the bottom of the 8th inning and staying on to pitch the 9th after the team took the lead in the top of the last inning.  He did pitch in the 6th of yesterday's loss, so I wouldn't rush to grab him yet.

In Kansas City, closer Joakim Soria is expected to throw today with the hopes of being available this weekend.  Despite three wins in its last seven games, there has not been a save opportunity since the team shut down Soria.  All we have to go on is which innings the potential closers have used.

RHP, and extreme groundballer, Jamey Wright has thrown the 8th inning in two of the victories and pitched the 9th in one of the losses.  Juan Cruz pitched the 9th in last night's win and the 9th in one of the losses.  He also pitched in the 8th in the game Wright pitched the 9th.  Kyle Fanrsworth threw the 9th in one of the wins and the 8th in one of the losses while the third W was a complete game from Zach Greinke.

This real game usage comports with what we'd expect.  Cruz is likely to get the first save opportunity in Soria's absence with Farnsworth then Wright next in line.

8th Inning Set-Up: Jose Arredondo Los Angeles Angels (6), Scott Linebrink Chicago White Sox (1), Leo Nunez Florida Marlins (5), Chris Perez (1) and Jason Motte (5) St. Louis Cardinals, Kip Wells Washington Nationals (2)

Saves:  Brien Fuentes Los Angeles Angels (5), Carlos Villanueva Milwaukee Brewers (2),  Bobby Jenks Chicago White Sox (5), Matt Lindstrom Florida Marlins (5), Jonathan Papelbon Boston Red Sox (6), Huston Street Colorado Rockies (2), Ryan Franklin St. Louis Cardinals (7), Julian Tavarez Washington Nationals (1), Francisco Cordero Cincinnati Reds (7), Brian Wilson San Francisco Giants (5)

Blown Saves:  J.J. Putz New York Mets.  This was really a blown hold as Putz was clearly setting-up Francisco Cordero in the 9th. I wanted to note it as it cost Johan Santana a Win, and I believe the bullpen cost Santana the Cy Young last year.

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