Who would you bring in, blue? (USAT)
Every reliever who plans on getting some saves this weekend, take a step forward.
Not so fast, Frieri.
It's been an awful relief season for the Angels (of whatever city they're claiming this week); note the 5.06 ERA, sixth-worst in baseball. The other cleat finally dropped Friday afternoon: struggling closer Ernesto Frieri has been moved out of the ninth inning. Mike Scioscia plans to use Joe Smith as the stopper.
Andy (The Mad Hungarian) Behrens was all over this story earlier in the week, so you should be ready to go.
Scioscia isn't going to throw Frieri under the bus, there's nothing to be gained there. But most of the time we see a closer change, the new guy at least has a chance to take the job and run with it. Frieri isn't Mariano Rivera, and he's only on a one-year contract.
Smith, for what it's worth, is in the first year of a three-year gig that pays him $15.75 million. He was a good-not-great reliever in Cleveland last year (2.29 ERA, 7.7 K/9, 2.7 BB/9), outperforming his peripherals. He's been a little unlucky in his first go-round in Anaheim; despite a better strikeout rate and less walks, his ERA is 3.60. He's coaxing a ton of ground balls. But heck, it's 10 innings, there's no need to go into the tank and over-analyze it. It comes down to this: Frieri's gasoline act (five homers allowed, 9.35 ERA) backed the manager into a corner, forced a move.
If you hold the ninth-inning baton, you have value to us. Smith has been a hot afternoon commodity, but he's still ready to add in 72 percent of Yahoo leagues. You know what to do.
Update, 6:33 pm ET: I was seconds away from heading out for a steak and a drink when the next closer shot was fired: Jason Grilli hit the DL in Pittsburgh. He's been in a funk all year, dealing with an oblique injury. The Pirates have a clear pecking order in place; Mark Melancon, a fine reliever in his own right, will step into the ninth inning. Given Grilli's age (he's 37) and journeyman status, Melancon could be a long-term handshake guy. The Melon Man is ready to go in 69 percent of Yahoo leagues.
If there's another closing shift in the next couple of hours, I'll tweet about it (@scott_pianowski). And I'll do so with a margarita in my hand.
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