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Closing Time: The last days of Belisario

Closer in Trouble
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Begoggled and beguiled (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)

Tuesday was a fun night on the sandlots, don't you think? It almost felt like an audition tape for the 2014 Wiggys.

Some of our favorite tire-kicks went deep: Brock Holt (covered him here and here), J.D. Martinez (discussed him here) and Steve Pearce (outlook here). This isn't a victory lap, it's a matter of pointing you to content on them if you want to reexamine the case (okay, in addition to appreciating the rare night where a lot of things fall into place). The sneaky Twins and home-happy Rockies also kicked up their cleats, put points on the board. If Charlie Blackmon or Corey Dickerson need anything, we'll get it for them. Devin Mesoraco eats for free. Danny Santana, you complete me. 

Mind you, some cases need to be reexamined. Messy Chicago bullpen, come on down. 

No handshake is ever easy for Ronald Belisairo, we've certainly learned that. Although he collected his eighth save in Tuesday's victory over Baltimore, it came despite three baserunners, one run, and one exasperated dugout.

Javy Guerra was warming up in the Chicago bullpen before a double play bailed out Belisairo, and in the most competitive save-chasing groups, I'd consider a Guerra spec play right now. He's thrown the ball reasonable well (despite too many walks) since joining the White Sox in late May, he has previous closing experience, and Belisario appears to be on fumes.

Sure, Belisario received a vote of confidence earlier on Tuesday, but don't forget the rocket Chris Davis launched against him Monday, in addition to all the other problems along the way. Managers have no incentive to be honest or forthcoming to the media; often the vote of confidence is merely a prequel to the inevitable pink slip. That 5.38 ERA speaks for itself. I don't expect Belisario to lead Chicago in saves from this point forward.

 Last year's Chicago closer is no bargain, either. When it comes to the carnival experience, Addison Reed is Mr. Toad's Wild Ride. Sure, he's converted 17-of-20 save chances, if you want to frame it that way. But he's also carrying a 4.18 ERA, he's allowed eight homers in 32.1 innings, and he's been scored upon in 15 of 33 appearances. Nothing is ever easy with this guy.

Reed's third blown save came Tuesday against Cleveland, though the Snakes eventually won the crazy game in extra innings. Reed generally is around the plate, but two walks hurt him in this meltdown. Arizona doesn't have immediate incentive to push Reed out of the ninth, but keep in mind the closer did have a tired arm not long ago. Brad Ziegler, stay fresh.

 Cleveland's loss spoiled a monster game from comebacking Carlos Santana; four hits, two walks, one absolute missile into the right field seats. Check what Santana has posted since he came back from the DL: .371/.48/.710, six homers, 12 walks. Heck, he even tried to steal a base. Welcome back to the Circle of Trust, big guy. The cobwebs have cleared. 

The catcher board is a curious place these days. I can't keep Mesoraco out of the Top 5 going forward, or Santana. I'd certainly take both of them over Joe Mauer. The rest of the Fab Five? How about Buster Posey, Yadier Molina, Jon Lucroy and Evan Gattis? Yeah, okay, that makes it a Super Six. Don't tell Mauer and Brian McCann where the meetings are.

• Jesse Hahn doesn't have a special fastball - it only tracks at 91.4 mph - but he's a fun watch because of his other pitches. He throws his curve about 30 percent of the time, and it was buckling knees all night Tuesday in San Francisco (6 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 8 K). How did anyone hit this guy in Double-A?

Hahn's now given us three terrific starts after the initial speed bump, so we have to take him seriously. Petco Park is a fun place for any pitcher, obviously, and the NL West also has friendly big-park stops in LA and San Francisco. He hosts the Reds and Giants over the next two weeks, and you can still make the add in 83 percent of Yahoo leagues.

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Frieri in trouble (AP)

Frieri in trouble (AP)

• I don't know why the Angels can't give Joe Smith a long-term endorsement at closer and just make things easy on everyone. Oh, Smith is currently the man with the baton, and he had a fairly easy ride Tuesday (one hit, one strikeout, happy team gathering at the mound). But manager Mike Scioscia still talks about getting Ernesto Frieri fixed, eventually moving the bullpen back to the preseason blueprint.

I understand not wanting to publicly bury your players, but late leads need to be protected, skip. Montgomery Burns wouldn't play it like this. Smith is the only late-inning option I want here, no matter what Scioscia says. Frieri's homer problem isn't going away.

• For six innings, the Reds couldn't get a scratch off Jake Arrieta. (Maybe Arrieta fed off the presence of Andy Behrens, who regularly inspires greatness.) Eventually Chicago's surprise star got tired in the seventh, allowing three hits and two runs, but there's nothing wrong with his final line (win No. 4, zero walks, nine strikeouts). 

The Cubs have all sorts of problems in 2014, but the front of rotation isn't one of them. The middle of the lineup is also shaping up nicely, with Anthony Rizzo crushing (three hits, another homer) and Starlin Castro back in form. Hopefully Castro is fine after a late-inning plunking; he took a Homer Bailey fastball off his hand or wrist. (As if fantasy owners didn't have enough reasons to be mad at Bailey.) Some courtesy Chicago Shuffles, 2014 only: Rizzo $21, Arrieta $17, Castro $17.

• We'll close up shop in reverse fashion, double back to a starting pitcher who's a little under the radar. Jose Quintana was superb over seven crisp innings (6 H, 1 R, 3 BB, 8 K), scoring his first win in a month. The 3.69 ERA and 1.32 WHIP might not look like much to you, though some of the advanced metrics are in his corner (3.08 FIP). He's also nudged his ground-ball and strikeout rates up slightly.

It's a shame the schedule won't play nicer: he's at Toronto this weekend (nope), then up against Felix Hernandez (on paper anyway) the next turn. Just remember we had this talk: I still think Quintana's pitching better than his surface stats, and I expect he'll help us at some point later this summer. 

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