AP Photo/Mark Avery
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.
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.
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.
-- Jayson Stark Full Story
• 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 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 .
• 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.