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 and it's translated into the season. He looks like a solid stream-to-own option next week at Philadelphia. Lackey awaits your contract in 84 percent of Yahoo! leagues.
• I don't know what else we can say about Ike Davis. He struck out in all four of his Friday at-bats, dropping his slash to .143/.230/.238. He's piled up 53 whiffs over 147 at-bats, a 30-percent clip. It's painful to watch this story. A demotion to the minors seems inevitable, but I'm wondering if a mental break from baseball might be the right play. Where's Lucy Van Pelt when you need her?
• Paper covers rock, scissors cut paper, rock breaks scissors, and Tyler Chatwood beats Tim Lincecum. The rules are the rules.
Chatwood cruised to a 10-2 victory in Coors last week, and it was a similar coconut stroll Friday in San Francisco, a 5-0 final. Chatwood's 1.90 ERA is difficult to trust at face value (though he does have a 58.3 percent ground-ball rate), and you worry about a thin-air payback eventually, but the main takeaway here is Lincecum's crashing stock. Do you trust him next week against Oakland or the following week against Toronto? Both starts are at home, not that AT&T Park has been any saving grace for him in 2013.
The Rockies lineup cleans up nicely with Michael Cuddyer (neck) back in the mix. Cuddyer produced three runs in his first game back, roping a double and crushing a homer, and has a nifty .325/.387/.610 slash on the year. The fifth slot in this order is a good place to be, working behind Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki. The fun really starts on May 29, when the Rockies open a stretch of Coors Field play (15-of-18 at home). If you're thinking of trading for any Colorado bats, it's go time.
• Let's hear it for Brandon McCarthy, who's been terrific over his last three turns (24 IP, 15 H, 1 R, 4 BB, 12 K). Perhaps he's starting to get comfortable in the National League, albeit a run of favorable opponents (Padres, Marlins, Phillies) has come in handy. His ordinary strikeout rate might not be a big deal considering his excellent control; he's collecting 3.9 whiffs for every walk. But with road starts in Texas and St. Louis looming, now isn't the time to make a permanent commitment. We'll revisit streaming McCarthy when the schedule softens up.
Speed Round: Poor Curtis Granderson can't catch a break. He suffered a fractured knuckle in Friday's win over Tampa Bay, which means he'll be out another month. Brennan Boesch and Ichiro Suzuki get extra playing time in Grandy's absence . . . Mark Teixeira (wrist) is pointing to a Friday return. He'll play in a couple of minor-league rehab games next week . . . Jered Weaver (non-pitching elbow) will take a bullpen session Sunday and if all goes well, he'll pitch Wednesday against the Dodgers . . . Oswald Arcia cooled off after a hot start and the Twins optioned him to Triple-A Rochester on Friday . . . The wait drags on with Austin Jackson (hamstring), though he's doing a little throwing. He's not ready to hit off a tee yet, which tells you what you need to know . . . Trevor Plouffe (concussion) passed his early testing and will likely be good to go Wednesday, when first eligible . . . Stephen Drew is in an 0-for-17 funk, perhaps related to a cranky back that cost him a couple of games. He's not in Saturday's lineup . . . John Danks was respectable in his first turn back (6 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 0 BB, 5 K), though you might have expected better against the Marlins. Now it's time for a road trip, visiting Wrigley Field and Safeco Field . . . Melky Cabrera seems to have his mojo back, enjoying a .341 May with nine doubles, two homers and solid run-production numbers . . . It's probably just a coincidence, but Anthony Rizzo is in a .143 funk since signing the monster extension with the Cubs on May 13. I'm still a full believer in him.