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|Job security (JS) score
||1 (unstable) to 5 (untouchable)
|Health (H) score
||1 (injury-prone) to 5 (durable)
Closer: Frank Francisco
Understudy/Fill-in: Bobby Parnell
Lurkers: Jon Rauch
Still hairy for Henderson
Rauch's smoke-and-mirrors save tour continues. Francisco entered the ninth inning Thursday with the New York Mets staked to an 8-1 advantage. He promptly gave up a leadoff homer, a double and a walk before registering a strikeout and a fly-out. Unfortunately, a single and a double plated two more tallies. In comes Rauch: three pitches, strikeout, third save of the season.
Before being replaced by Francisco, Parnell entered with two out in the eighth and struck out the only batter he faced. New York then notched two runs to open up the lead in the top of the ninth, and Terry Collins probably figured the bottom half presented a chance to get Frank Frank some work with a comfy advantage. Oops.
Francisco's trials continue. Maybe his lingering lat problems are still hindering his performance. Either way, he's not long for the job if he keeps doing this.
Rauch has actually been solid over the last two months: just one earned run allowed in 13 1/3 frames. He still limits walks, but he's been better at recording punchouts recently. Though pitchers (especially fly leaners like Rauch) can often sustain such luck because of their small sample sizes, his BABIP of .224 is a bit crazy and, though he can often induce weak contact, should regress.
Don't run to pick him up in mixed leagues. He just happened to be the mop-up option today and Sunday, another recorded closure for the skyscraper; last night Parnell was used in an earlier, tighter spot. Rauch's relevance over the past week merely stemmed from makeshift duty and convenient availability, not managerial preference.
Of course, if Francisco loses favor, Rauch will deserve cred ... as the fantasy backup to Parnell.
Job security score: 1
Health score: 3
With a Chase Utley-Ryan Howard-Domonic Brown lefty-hitting trio to lead off the ninth Thursday, the Milwaukee Brewers, holding a three-run advantage, turned to southpaw Manny Parra. Parra fanned Utley but allowed singles to the other two. Jim Henderson then came in and fanned pinch hitter Ty Wigginton. He allowed a two-out one-bagger but, with the sacks jacked, induced a groundout to record his third save of the season.
The fact that Ron Roenicke played the matchups here backed up his proclamation that Milwaukee doesn't have a set stopper. Though John Axford wasn't involved, he's still the best chance to take in the long term, but Henderson or Kameron Loe could seize things in the short term and make Ax irrelevant.
Or, of course, Roenicke could keep the carousel spinning. This'll be ugly down the stretch.
After recording the first out in the ninth last night, Jason Motte allowed back-to-back solo homers to lose the one-run lead, the save chance and the game for the St. Louis Cardinals. He sandwiched a two-out double between a bouncer and a K to end the suffering.
He isn't in jeopardy. That was only the second time he's been touched for a run over his last 16 outings. He owns a 1.59 ERA and 24 K's in 17 innings in that stretch.
Other Thursday saviors
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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