I've watched most of Brian Fuentes'(notes) 41 saves this year with relative disbelief, wondering how he continues to skirt by on mediocre stuff. Perhaps the Angels share some of these concerns because Mike Scioscia is finally shortening the leash on his struggling closer.
Fuentes is 15-for-18 on save opportunities in the second half despite a dreadful line elsewhere: 5.60 ERA, 1.70 WHIP, 10 walks against 8 strikeouts. He's already picked up a loss and a blown save this month, and apparently that's been enough to spark Scioscia into action. The Los Angeles skipper announced prior to Monday's game that he'll play matchups in the ninth inning, with Fuentes and right-hander Kevin Jepsen(notes) sharing the ball. The shift in protocol didn't affect the game at New York; the Halos fell 5-3 and hardly used the bullpen (Darren Oliver(notes) recorded two outs).
Scioscia certainly didn't throw Fuentes under the bus during the announcement, and we didn't get a buzz-worthy rant from the veteran manager. If Scioscia had anything sharp to say to Fuentes during a closed-door meeting Sunday, he's not telling. "Both guys have been an important part of the back end of the bullpen," Scioscia said Monday. "But if there are some matches that could be advantageous [to use Jepsen], we will try to take advantage of [them]."
Jepsen's season numbers don't grab you but he's been rock-solid over the last 10 weeks, compiling a 1.36 ERA and going 14-for-14 on hold chances. He's also stranded 24-of-31 inherited runners over that span. He's dominated right-handed hitters all year (.209 BAA) but lefties have been a problem (.355). It would be a surprise if he ripped full control of the closing gig out of Fuentes's hands, but if you're in a competitive save-chasing league where every potential conversion has value, do what you need to do.
• Justin Morneau's(notes) back injury has him on ice for the rest of the year; the Twins finally made it official Monday. He's going to be sidelined for three months but at least he'll avoid surgery. Delmon Young(notes) might be the short-term winner as the roster shuffles around; Young got a start Monday in left field (while Michael Cuddyer(notes) manned first) and went 2-for-4.
• The Orioles have shut down Brian Matusz(notes) for the balance of the year. He took his share of knocks during his eight-start trial in The Show (4.63 ERA, 1.48 WHIP), but with 38 Ks over 44.2 IP, there's definitely something to keep an eye on here. He went seven innings in his last three turns, including a victory at Yankee Stadium on Saturday.
Injury Blog: Huston Street(notes) (biceps) will get another bullpen session Tuesday, though it's not clear when he might be ready to pitch again for the Rockies. Given how solid Franklin Morales(notes) has been, Colorado will likely ease Street back into the closing role. … Clayton Kershaw(notes) (shoulder) is making strides but he still might be a month away. … Vin Mazzaro(notes) (shoulder) is done for the rest of the year. … It's doubtful Joe Crede(notes) (back) will play again this season. … Jose Valverde(notes) (fever) didn't travel to Cincinnati with the rest of the Astros. He might be able to rejoin the club Tuesday. … Delwyn Young(notes) is dealing with a wonky back, not to mention a month-long slump. … Jay Bruce(notes) (wrist, groin) didn't hit a lick during a 10-game rehab assignment, but that didn't stop him from stroking a two-run single to lift the Reds (and Bronson Arroyo(notes)) past the Astros
Speed Round: Another homer for Derrek Lee, who now has seven in his last 10 games. … The Brewers held Ryan Braun out of the lineup Monday for the third time in eight days, though no one will confirm that there's a physical issue at play. … Brett Tomko(notes) threw a five-hit shutout in Texas on Monday and now has three wins and a 3.90 ERA since joining the A's. If you're feeling particularly frisky, he gets a home start against Cleveland on the weekend. … Joba Chamberlain's(notes) fantasy value is basically cashed for the year as the Yankees handle him with kid gloves. Chamberlain threw four solid innings against the Angels on Monday, then hit the showers. … I've been burned too much by B.J. Upton(notes) of late to trust him right now, but he did go 2-for-5 with a homer Monday. … The Tigers aren't going to keep Magglio Ordonez(notes) from his place-appearance incentive, which means the team will be on the hook for Ordonez at $18 million next season. Ordonez has already indicated that he'll exercise the option year; he's no dummy. … The Giants put up a rare nine runs, with Bengie Molina(notes) (3-3-2-1) and the widely available Juan Uribe(notes) (4-2-2-1) leading the way. Tim Lincecum(notes) didn't have any problems on the mound, allowing one run over seven innings and punching out 11. … If you're in a streaming mood for the Wednesday slate, here are three home-start pitchers to consider: Hiroki Kuroda(notes) against Pittsburgh; Edward Mujica(notes) against Arizona; Ryan Rowland-Smith(notes) against Chicago. … Fernando Rodney's(notes) suspension has been reduced to two games. He'll rejoin the Tigers on Wednesday. … A tip of the cap to Patrick Swayze, gone too soon at age 57. Score a bunch of goals up there, Derek Sutton.
- Mike Scioscia