Closer down (USAT)Jim Henderson has been so dominant this year, there's been little reason to discuss him. He's allowed just two runs over 19.2 outstanding innings, with five walks against 23 strikeouts. He's 9-for-9 in save chances. The Brewers bullpen has been an open and shut case for a while.
And then on Friday night, Pandora's box swung open again.
Henderson was called upon to close out a 2-1 victory over Pittsburgh but his body didn't cooperate. He suffered a right hamstring strain in the ninth and was forced out of the game. "I don't think it's just going to be a day," manager Ron Roenicke told the team's official site.
Francisco Rodriguez inherited Friday's chippie, throwing two pitches, recording one out and shaking many hands. But the Brewers may not have one dedicated closer while Henderson gets hale. Let's go back to Brewers.com for the 411:
If Henderson does miss time, Roenicke said he likely wouldn't count on one pitcher to take over the closer's role. The Brewers have three other pitchers with closer experience on the roster: John Axford, left-hander Michael Gonzalez and Rodriguez.
"I don't know if we want to go with just one person in particular," Roenicke said. "We may look at the matchups and see what they are every night. If there are a couple lefties coming up, we may leave one of our left-handers in there."
K-Rod has only been back with the team for a couple of weeks; he was nothing special in 78 appearances last year (4.38/1.33). But it's interesting to see him summoned into Fridays' spot over a rested John Axford. If I had just one spin to take on a speculative play, I'm using it on Rodriguez. K-Rod is owned in 10 percent of Yahoo! leagues, while Axford trades at 35 percent.
• Has John Lackey pushed his way back into the circle of trust? He had little trouble shutting down the surging Cleveland offense Friday, allowing just one unearned run over seven terrific innings (2 H, 3 BB, 8 K). Lackey has a strikeout per inning and almost four punchouts for every walk in 2013, validating stats. And when batters do make contact against him, they're rapping the ball on the ground 53.6 percent of the time.
The "best shape of his life" meme gets plenty of dismissive waves every spring, but let's not be stubborn about it: when an athlete trims down and takes his craft more seriously, it's a good thing. Lackey came to camp in terrific condition
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