Closing Thoughts: Will Ohman, last man standing in O's 'pen

The following statement is not intended as an official piece of fantasy advice, and the author assumes no responsibility for transactions made as a result of its publication: Will Ohman(notes) is expected to get save opportunities for Baltimore while Alfredo Simon(notes) (hamstring), Koji Uehara(notes) (elbow) and Michael Gonzalez(notes) (shoulder) are sidelined.'s Brittany Ghiroli just issued a full briefing on the Orioles' bullpen situation, and you're encouraged to review it before making an add/drop. Ohman is a 32-year-old lefty specialist with a career WHIP of 1.59 against right-handed batters. Obviously he's been terrific in 14.2 innings this season (0.00 ERA), pitching mostly in favorable match-ups. If you want him, he's yours. Best of luck, speculators. I won't race you to the free agent pool.

Frank Mata will be promoted from Triple-A Norfolk, according to the Baltimore Sun. He's pitched well as the Tides' closer, going 2-1 with a 1.86 ERA, eight saves, and 14 Ks in 19.1 innings. Given the disastrous situation in Baltimore, he might sneak into the saves mix. Anyone could.

Ghiroli also suggests that David Hernandez(notes) may be bumped from the O's starting rotation to the bullpen. If that were to happen, then presumably either Jake Arrieta(notes) or (more likely) Chris Tillman(notes) would be called up to start this weekend in Toronto. The Orioles begin June with nine games against the Yankees and Red Sox, so any investment in their pitching staff is loaded with short-term risk.

In case you missed it, Kerry Wood(notes) converted a save against Cincinnati on Sunday, facing the bottom of the Reds' order with a one-run lead. Chris Perez(notes) is still worth holding of course, given Wood's injury issues and the potential for a pre-deadline trade. But it's worth noting that the Tribe won't have an easy time trading that contract ($10.5M in 2010, vesting option in 2011).

There are no easy answers with the Brewers' bullpen. Trevor Hoffman(notes) has been mostly horrible this season, but he pitched a 1-2-3 eighth inning in his return from exile on Sunday. The Hoff may be required to make a few more proof-of-concept appearances in the middle innings before returning to closing duties. In the interim, Carlos Villanueva(notes) and John Axford(notes) should get the late, high-leverage situations. Villanueva offers SP-eligibility; Axford offers a mid-90s fastball and mid-1970s mustache (pictured right).

Toronto closer Kevin Gregg(notes) has allowed four hits, four earned runs, one homer and four walks over his past two appearances, and he hasn't struck anyone out since May 16. We shouldn't elevate the threat level just yet, but it's worth noting that Jason Frasor(notes) has been terrific this month (following a lousy April). Since the calendar flipped, Frasor has allowed just one run in 10.0 innings and while striking out nine batters and walking only two. Scott Downs(notes) has been excellent in the eighth inning role, per his usual. I'd feel much safer with Downs on my fantasy roster, though I'd give Frasor equal odds of someday taking over closing duties. The Jays just called up David Purcey(notes) to work in relief, so it's not as if Downs is the only lefty in the 'pen.

Francisco Rodriguez reportedly got into a "heated exchange" on Sunday with his bullpen coach, Randy Niemann, over recent usage. K-Rod converted a five-out save against the Yankees on Saturday and a two-out save on Sunday. He's on pace for 83.0 innings this season, which would be his highest total over the past six years. Unofficially, K-Rod might also lead the majors in bullpen warm-up sessions.

The Denver Post reports that Huston Street(notes) (groin, shoulder) will likely throw a bullpen session next week at Coors Field, and then he'll resume his minor league rehab assignment. The Post offers a "mid-late June" return estimate.


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