Understudy: Koji Uehara
Though O's skipper Buck Showalter still might play matchups for the rest of the year, it's looking more and more like Uehara is pulling ahead in this race. In protecting a three-run lead Wednesday, the righty worked around a single and an RBI triple with two outs to hang on for the closure.
Despite his stumble last night, Uehara has a 2.05 ERA and 25 strikeouts in 22 innings since his return from the DL in late June. He has wrapped up Baltimore's last two chances.
There's a chance Showalter didn't want Simon, who pitched Tuesday, to come in on back-to-back nights. But given Simon's recent struggles, Showalter hasn't seen the Simon that did the job admirably earlier in the year.
Expect a pickup party to start for Uehara, who's widely unowned. If you need saves, don't waste time. Uehara seems to have found a groove in the 'pen.
Job security score: 1
Health score: 4
Closer: Jose Valverde
Papa Grande's fried second half continued Wednesday, this time in save work. Valverde allowed one run on two hits (plus an inherited runner to cross the plate) with two outs in the eighth to snap his streak of 24 straight successful save conversions. He has a 7.80 ERA and a 1.87 WHIP in 14 post-break appearances.
Since the All-Star break, Valverde has been called upon in the eighth inning four times to do some extra save work. Before Wednesday's debacle, he threw 60 pitches in one of them and walked four batters in another. In eight eighth-inning appearances this year (4 1/3 innings), he has a 4.15 ERA and a 1.38 WHIP. In the ninth (45 2/3 innings), 2.36 and 1.01.
Valverde's split-finger fastball isn't "darting like it was before," per manager Jim Leyland. The pitcher, though, believes the offering just needs to be more consistent, and he needs to do a better job of preparing. He typically watches video to garner insight after his rough outings.
The Tigs might give Valverde a brief rest here and there, but barring an injury, his job shouldn't be in danger.
Job security score: 5
Health score: 5
About Tim Heaney
Tim's work has been featured by USA Today/Sports Weekly, among numerous outlets, and recognized as a finalist in the Fantasy Sports Writers Association awards. The Boston University alum, who competes in the prestigious LABR and Tout Wars, has won numerous industry leagues in both baseball and football.
He appears frequently, including every Sunday, on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio, as well as every Wednesday on 1570 AM WNST in Baltimore.
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