Mike Petraglia, of MLB.com, reports Oakland Athletics manager Bob Geren said he could use closer Huston Street prior to the ninth inning and could use other pitchers in the bullpen in the ninth inning on occasions. "If it's a save situation, I could still use [Street]," Geren said. "I'm not making any drastic change other than [saying that] anybody down there could be asked to throw at any time. I didn't want to make a blanket statement 'You're not my closer,' because he could still close games." Geren said he would not hesitate using relief pitcher Brad Ziegler or relief pitcher Jerry Blevins in a save opportunity.
Street has been solid this season in the closer spot. He is 2-4 with 18 saves, a 3.97 ERA and a 1.20 WHIP in 43 appearances. He has blown five saves this season. He has also struck out 46 batters and walked 16 batters in 47 2/3 innings. He was a hot name during the trading deadline but is staying with Oakland with a seemingly murkier future.
Ziegler is 1-0 with a 0.00 ERA and a 0.84 WHIP. He continues to be on a hot streak, having not allowed a run in 32 innings this season. Opponents are only hitting .194 off him this season. He is not much of a strikeout guy, striking out 15 batters this season. The righty holds the major league record for consecutive scoreless innings after his big league debut. Based on these numbers, owners could see why Geren would want to use Ziegler in a save situation.
Blevins has pitched very well in his short stint with the Athletics this season. He is 1-1 with a 0.66 ERA and 0.73 WHIP in 13 appearances. Opponents are only hitting .152 against him. Unlike Ziegler, Blevins is a strikeout pitcher, fanning 15 batters in 13 2/3 innings.
From a fantasy perspective, since Geren did not say he would definitely use other pitchers in the ninth, Street's value only decreases a bit. He likely will see the bulk of the closing opportunities for the rest of the season, but if he falters, he could see his job taken away.
Ziegler and Blevins are solid pickups in deep mixed or AL-only leagues because of their solid contributions in many categories as setup relievers. If one gets a couple of opportunities, owners in shallower leagues should look at picking up one if they are desperate for saves.
Owners could also keep an eye on relief pitchers Santiago Casilla (2.84 ERA and 33 strikeouts in 31 2/3 innings pitched) and Joey Devine (1.23 ERA and 28 strikeouts in 22 innings), who could also have a shot at picking up a save if Geren is serious about using any pitcher in any situation. However, since Geren didn't mention them initially, their value does not change.
About Tim Piotrowski
Piotrowski has been a Hot Off the Wire analyst since 2007.
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