The Milwaukee Brewers have yanked relief pitcher Eric Gagne from the closer's role, according to the Associated Press, after he called his latest performance embarrassing and said he didn't feel he deserved to pitch the ninth inning anymore. Manager Ned Yost heard about the reliever's comments and determined that the best course of action would be to give Gagne a "mental break" while he regains his confidence and control of his pitches.
Gagne has experienced a Jekyll-and-Hyde type season thus far. He is 1-2 with a 6.89 ERA and nine saves. He is tied for the major league lead in blown saves with five, a mark he shares with St. Louis Cardinals relief pitcher Jason Isringhausen, who also lost his job as a closer recently. Gagne has posted a 21.60 ERA in his blown saves and losses but hasn't allowed a run in his other 11 appearances this year.
The 2003 NL Cy Young Award winner signed a one-year, $10 million contract with the Brewers during the offseason. He has a good chance to eventually regain his job as a closer, but his struggles shouldn't necessarily be surprising. The right-hander began last season with the Texas Rangers, posting a 2.16 ERA with 16 saves, before being dealt at the trade deadline to the Boston Red Sox, where he struggled mightily before finishing with a 2-2 record and a 6.75 ERA.
Milwaukee will rely on a closer-by-committee approach for the foreseeable future, although several members of the Brewers' bullpen have prior closing experience. Salomon Torres (30 career saves), David Riske (21 career saves) and Guillermo Mota (seven career saves) appear to be the most viable options. However, Yost said he may take a batter-by-batter approach in some save situations, depending on the matchup. Torres has recorded one save in two opportunities this season and saved 12 games in each of the previous two seasons with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Riske recorded his only save of the season March 31 after Gagne blew his opportunity; he saved four games for the Kansas City Royals last season. Mota has not closed out a game this season.
The closing situation for the Brewers is so uncertain; you may want to look elsewhere if you need a closer for your fantasy baseball team. If you want to take advantage of this open situation, Torres might be the best Milwaukee option from the waiver wire because he has the most experience in the ninth inning. Each of these relievers is worth owning in NL-only leagues if they haven't already been picked up; they each likely will see a piece of ninth-inning action.
About Jared Byrd
Byrd has served as a Hot Off the Wire Analyst with KFFL since 2003,
covering both the NFL and MLB. A recent graduate of the University of
Pennsylvania, he has played fantasy football since 1997, and fantasy
baseball, basketball, and hockey since 2001.
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