Tier 5: Rollercoaster rides (6) (AKA: The "Parade" Tier.)
Andrew Bailey (first chair), Alfredo Aceves (second chair), Boston Red Sox
Wilton Lopez (first chair), Wesley Wright (second chair), Houston Astros
Sergio Romo (first chair), Javier Lopez (second chair), Santiago Casilla (third chair), San Francisco Giants
Frank Francisco (first chair), Bobby Parnell (second chair), Jon Rauch (third chair), New York Mets
Glen Perkins (first chair), Jared Burton (second chair), Minnesota Twins
Dale Thayer (first chair), Luke Gregerson (second chair), San Diego Padres
I've talked a lot of crap on parades, so this probably wasn't a surprise to anyone. It's really just the worst of all worlds. And if you're stuck with one of these pitchers, you know what I mean.
Once the Red Sox turned their attention to the future, this change at the closer position was inevitable. Both pitchers are under control until 2014, but Aceves' best asset is his versatility, his ability to start or relieve. Bailey owns no such versatility, and he has the strikeout and walk rates of a traditional closer. As long as he's healthy, he's the guy going forward… but that's a huge if.
Brandon Barnes, Brian Bogusevic, and Jose Altuve. Those are the batters that Sergio Romo set down in order Tuesday night to get the save. Bogusevic is a lefty, but he's also a light-hitting former pitching prospect, so maybe Bruce Bochy thought the risk was minimal. This probably doesn't mean that Sergio Romo is the full-time closer, especially since he still owns that bad platoon split. Also notable from this game was the fact that Santiago Casilla was trusted with the eighth inning in a tie game. That makes him relevant again, especially since he doesn't own those same platoon issues. Wilton Lopez probably isn't in trouble despite blowing the save against the Giants, either. He just allows contact, and this will happen from time to time. There's nobody knocking the door down in Houston anyway. Actually, given their announced attendance Tuesday night, there might not be anyone at all in Minute Maid park these days.
Bobby Parnell has a bit of trouble getting up to his max velocity right away in his appearances. Of course, 'not max' for him is still the mid-nineties, but Captain Fastball can hit the triple digits. By the end of his first inning of work Tuesday night, he was hitting 98. In any case, his fine work this year has bumped him up the depth chart. He might be next in line again when Frank Francisco next grabs a body part.
Luke Gregerson has the same platoon issues as Romo, but the Padres ran out of candidates for a second. Huston Street was out with a calf strain, and Dale Thayer's wife was having a baby. Now Thayer is back, and Street says his calf feels good. The things we do for saves.
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Sergio Santos (shoulder), Toronto Blue Jays
Matt Capps (shoulder), Minnesota Twins
Huston Street (calf), San Diego Padres
Huston Street feels good. He says his calf should allow him to return in early September.
Jordan Walden, Los Angeles Angels
Hector Santiago, Chicago White Sox
Brian Fuentes, St. Louis Cardinals
Javy Guerra, Los Angeles Dodgers
Sean Marshall, Cincinnati Reds
Henry Rodriguez, Washington Nationals
Brandon League, Seattle Mariners
Rafael Dolis, Chicago Cubs
Jonathan Broxton, Kansas City Royals
Ryan Cook, Oakland Athletics.
Santiago Casilla, San Francisco Giants
Will Santiago Casilla take his name off this list?
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The Steals Department
Ryan Kalish isn't playing regularly yet, but does a suddenly rebuilding team have any need for the skeleton formerly known as Scott Podsednik? With his current strikeout rate, Kalish is probably more of a deep leaguer, but there's still hope that he can strike out less often. Coupled with power that looks more like his minor league work, he could be a .260/15/15 kind of full-season player. Of course, if his shoulder is healed, then there's upside for more. In 2010, He hit 17 home runs and stole 32 bases over three levels, and he struck out at around a league average rate. He then lost most of 2011 to a shoulder injury suffered on a defensive play, and 2012 has been a long, slow slog back. Maybe he's more of a name to stash away for next year, but given the fact that the Sox are looking to next year more than this year, now might be the time, too.
You might have thought that was the deep league portion of The Steals Department, it does get deeper. It looked like his career might have been over when he was released by the team that drafted him, but the 31-year-old Nate McLouth has found the fountain of youth in the tougher league. What's amazing is that all of his current stats are right in line with his career rates. His isolated slugging percentage, walk rate, strikeout rate -- they're all right at career numbers. He's stolen six bases in 81 plate appearances so far the Orioles, and that's a little ahead of his pace, but he's running for his life. Expect a slightly worse batting average, power and speed, and you should get some use from McLouth, even if you have to sit him against lefties.