Updated: July 4, 2008, 3:54 PM ET

  • Comment
  • Email
  • Share

AP Photo/Mark Avery

Joe Borowski's baffling run as a major league closer has come to an end.

Borowski out as Indians closer

Quick, name the bullpen with the highest ERA and fewest saves in the American League.

Considering they were one win away from the World Series last year, it's a shock that the answer is the Cleveland Indians. But it's true: Up is down, black is white, cats and dogs living together … total chaos. What worked brilliantly in 2007 -- to the tune of Joe Borowski racking up 45 saves with Rafael Betancourt and Rafael Perez doing the heavy lifting to set Borowski up -- has been a disaster in '08.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer reported Thursday that Borowski is "expected to be replaced" as Indians closer. On Friday, Borowski was designated fo assignment. In 10 save situations this year, Borowski had a 12.46 ERA and had allowed hitters to bat .395 against him. Eric Wedge hasn't tipped his hand about the back end of his bullpen just yet, but the Plain Dealer speculates Wedge could name Betancourt, Perez or Masa Kobayashi closer on Friday, or could simply ride with a committee until someone steps forward.

The Indians are 37-48 and last in the AL Central going into Friday's game in Minnesota, so it's not like whoever gets the fireman's role is suddenly fantasy gold. But saves are saves, and if you were, for example, a Matt Capps owner, you're probably pretty interested in who might get some chances. Perez hasn't been the same guy he was in '07 (ERA then: 1.78, ERA now: 3.44; WHIP then: 0.93, WHIP now: 1.39) and he doesn't have experience as a closer, so he figures to be on the short end of the stick. Betancourt got first crack when Borowski went on the DL earlier this season and spit the bit, and has consistently awful numbers from April straight through June. However, his BAABIP is .361 and his strand rate is a ridiculously low 65.7 percent, so you can make the argument he's been unlucky. Still, if I had to bet on one horse here, it would be Kobayashi. He's four-for-six in save situations as a major-league rookie, and remember, he had 227 saves in his Japanese career.

Yes, I think it'll come down to Betancourt or Kobayashi, and I don't feel strongly about who'll win, but again, if I'm picking one, it's Kobayashi.

If you're in a deep or AL-only league where none of these guys are available, a true darkhorse candidate could be Thomas Mastny, who was recalled from Triple-A Buffalo on June 30. He's been terrific for the Bisons, with 34 strikeouts against 8 walks in 26 1/3 innings while giving up only one home run. Mastny has never translated his minor-league success to the majors, and at 27, he's no longer much of a prospect, but he did save five games for Eric Wedge in 2006, and that may be enough to earn him a shot if none of the other options work out.

Past editions: 7/03: Kuroda's return | 7/02: Myers demoted | 7/01: Pierre shelved

Box Score Bits
Jon Lester was brilliant shutting out the Yankees Thursday night, allowing five hits and two walks while striking out eight. Want to know why this guy is 4-0 with a 2.37 ERA in his past six starts? He's no longer the nibbler who drove his fantasy owners crazy. After walking Derek Jeter in the first, Lester threw first-pitch strikes to 18 of next 23 Yankee hitters. … Meanwhile, this stat courtesy of Baseball Tonight's Buster Olney: Through the entirety of the 2007 season, the Yankees had 33 games where their offense produced two runs or fewer. After last night's shutout, the Yanks have already scored two runs or fewer in 28 games in '08. That's something to chew on when you're freaked out about your fantasy starter having to face the Bronx Bombers. Joe Girardi reportedly held a 30-minute closed-door meeting with his team after Thursday's game. … Brandon Webb's line looks crummy (6 innings, 9 hits, 5 earned runs), but he was unlucky, giving up a home run to Mike Cameron that looked foul but was called fair. … In that same game, the Diamondbacks launched an improbable comeback against the Brewers. They were down 5-0 headed into the ninth, and wound up winning 6-5 while never making an out. While Eric Gagne pitched a perfect eighth in his return from the DL, Guillermo Mota, Brian Shouse and Salomon Torres proceeded to cough up the lead. That bodes well for Gagne's short-term prospects for regaining the closer's job. … Justin Duchscherer, who's been terrific this season, was welcomed to Chicago with a leadoff homer from the surprising Dewayne Wise, and gave up two runs in the first inning against the White sox. But that's all he gave up: 7 innings, 5 hits, 2 earned runs, 2 walks, 4 K's and his ninth win of the year. … Chad Billingsley went eight innings against the Astros Thursday, giving up no earned runs, six hits and one walk while striking out five. Billingsley's 2.27 ERA is the NL's best since April 30. … Aubrey Huff hit two more dingers Thursday against the Royals, giving him 17 on the year to go with 25 doubles. He's on a pace for exactly 100 RBIs. … Johnny Cueto fanned eight while winning his seventh game yesterday, allowing three runs and seven hits in seven innings. In his previous five starts, Cueto had 17 walks; he only walked one National on Thursday. … With the Giants leading the Cubs 4-3, pinch hitter Rich Aurilia hit a huge three-run homer off Carlos Marmol to put Thursday afternoon's game out of reach and ensure Tim Lincecum would 10th win. Marmol looks less and less like a threat to Kerry Wood. … Taylor Buchholz has been good as Colorado's setup man, but he coughed up a one-run lead in the eighth Thursday, allowing a two-run blast from Jorge Cantu. Talk of Buchholz in the closer's role if the Rockies trade Brian Fuentes persists, however. … Jeff Baker started his fifth game of the season at first base for the Rockies (while Todd Helton sat with a sore back), potentially making him eligible there in some leagues. … Prince Fielder went 0-for-5 against Diamondbacks pitching Thursday, bringing his horrific slump to 2-for-36. … Coco Crisp returned from his suspension Thursday night, had two hits, two runs scored and his 13th stolen base of the season. … Jeff Kent came out in the fifth inning of the Dodgers' 5-2 win over Houston on Thursday because of a sore back. … Jose Reyes hit his 62nd career triple Thursday, tying him with Mookie Wilson for the Mets' career lead. Reyes just turned 25. … Carlos Delgado hit his 15th homer of the year last night, which gives him seven in his last 19 games.


Comments

You must be signed in to post a comment

Already have an account?

Standing Out

BACK WITH A BANG
Billy Butler, Royals
Butler hit a home run and a double, his first extra-base hits since May 18. He seemed to have found his stroke in the minors and is primed for a strong second half.

STREAK BUSTED
Andy Pettitte, Yankees
Pettitte's streak of four consecutive wins -- all six innings or better while surrendering three earned runs, total -- came to a screeching halt as the Red Sox battered him for 5 earned runs on 9 hits in 4 2/3 innings. He walked three and struck out two.
News and Notes
Chris Sampson will start Saturday's game for Houston in place of Roy Oswalt, who strained a hip in his last outing, which happened to be his best of the season. Oswalt will pitch Tuesday against Pittsburgh instead. … Ryan Braun took Thursday's game off because of his sore hand. He's currently stuck in an 0-for-18 slump, but is expected back in the lineup tonight. … According to MLB.com, the Braves are seriously considering sending struggling outfielder Jeff Francoeur to the minors today. Frenchy has been bad all year and stands at a .229 average and a .291 on-base percentage. This is a guy who hit .293 last year and has driven in 100 runs for three straight seasons. … Bobby Jenks has had four straight games off to rest a muscle pull in his non-throwing shoulder and back. His velocity was down in his most recent appearance, on Monday, but he's not expected to need a DL stint. … Brad Penny, who was supposed to start for the Dodgers on Saturday, has been scratched in favor of Chan Ho Park because of continued soreness in his shoulder. The team still hopes to get Penny active before the All-Star Break, though that's no sure thing. … Hideki Matsui's injured knee continues to be sore, and he won't take batting practice until next week, according to the Associated Press. … Willy Taveras sat for the second straight game Thursday because of his strained left quad. … Dave Roberts is set to begin a minor-league rehab stint that should put him on pace to return to the Giants after the All-Star Break. However, with Fred Lewis playing well in left, it's no sure thing that Roberts (and his steals potential) will have a full-time job. … Ryan Rowland-Smith, who wasn't good in his spot start in place of Felix Hernandez this week, will get another chance Sunday against the Tigers.
They Wrote It

"[Aaron Harang] has made 11 quality starts (one more than Cole Hamels). His [3-10] record reflects the third-worst run support in the big leagues (2.96 runs per nine innings). He has a sub-4.00 home ERA in his pitcher's-nightmare park. And he's third in the NL in innings pitched. "

-- Jayson Stark Full Story
Transactions
• The Cubs expect to activate Carlos Zambrano today, and he'll start in St. Louis against the Cardinals. Lou Piniella reportedly hopes Big Z can throw between 85 and 90 pitches.

Nomar Garciaparra will be activated and play shortstop for this afternoon's game against the Giants. With Rafael Furcal out two months because of back surgery, Garciaparra should get a chance to show the team if he can still handle the position defensively.

• The Cubs activated Reed Johnson from the DL and sent down Eric Patterson. Johnson is in line for full-time at-bats until Alfonso Soriano returns.

J.A. Happ, who leads the International League in strikeouts, will be called up today to take Brett Myers' place in the Phillies rotation and start against the Mets.

• The Mets put second baseman Luis Castillo on the DL with a strained left hip flexor. Damion Easley should get most of the starts at second base.

• The Pirates called up Steven Pearce from Triple-A on Wednesday to replace Matt Capps on the big-league roster. Pearce is a prized outfield prospect who hit fairly well (.294 with a .342 OBP) in a 23-game call-up last year, but he's not currently expected to stick in the bigs, as Ian Snell is supposed to come off the DL early next week.

• The Rays placed shortstop Jason Bartlett on the 15-day DL with a sore knee that he injured sliding into second base on Wednesday. Top shortstop prospect Reid Brignac gets a call-up to the majors as a result, and is worth watching in deeper leagues. However, Ben Zobrist also got called up, and is expected to split time with Brignac over the next two weeks .

• The Nationals activated Austin Kearns from the DL and sent down Kory Casto. Kearns raked during his rehab assignment, and gives his fantasy owners hope for a possible big second half turnaround.

On The Farm
Jason Schmidt gave up three earned runs and six hits in 2 1/3 innings in a rehab start for Triple-A Las Vegas Thursday night. He doesn't seem particularly close to being ready to return to the Dodgers rotation.

• Chris Getz has hit well as the second baseman at Triple-A Charlotte in the White Sox organization, including hitting .330 with an OPS over .800 in June. Alexei Ramirez has won the Sox big-league second-base gig, but it's not inconceivable that Getz gets a call-up at some point, especially if Ramirez winds up playing some center field.