Closing Thoughts: Ziegler waifish, wheezing, weakened

Due to recent bouts of flu and asthma, Oakland closer Brad Ziegler(notes) has been uncharacteristically Byung-Hyun Kim(notes)-like in his last two appearances (2.0 IP, 8 H, 4 ER, 2 K). "I'm still probably two weeks away from being 100 percent," Ziegler has said. Send him to the bench until we get some good news.

Andrew Bailey(notes) recorded a two-inning save on Friday. He's had a brilliant start to the season (1.27 ERA, 0.61 WHIP, 24 Ks in 21.1 IP), and Bailey has already received a full Closing Time endorsement. Michael Wuertz(notes) has been terrific, too: 1.53 ERA, 0.68 WHIP, 2 SV.

Joakim Soria(notes) hit the 15-day DL with continuing shoulder issues. Kansas City manager Trey Hillman called the injury "a little bit of a strain in the rotator cuff," but of course Hillman has already acknowledged that the team has deliberately withheld information on Soria's condition. You're not going to get anything meaningful out of Hillman, because he's no fool. The Royals will officially go to a closing committee; Juan Cruz(notes) is the best add.

Rafael Soriano(notes) got the rogue save on Sunday because the Braves smartly used left-handed closer Mike Gonzalez(notes) against Ryan Howard(notes) and Raul Ibanez(notes). Don't be too worried, Gonzalez owners.

It would be an understatement to say that George Sherrill(notes) left the door open for someone to take his job in Baltimore. In fact, he opened the door, put up signs around the neighborhood, sent Evites to all his teammates, and forced his manager to say that the O's closing job would be "a day by day decision." But Sherrill has had an unexpectedly effective week, picking up a save on Thursday. Chris Ray(notes) and Jim Johnson(notes) both allowed runs in recent outings.

Once and future Nats' closer Joel Hanrahan(notes) has been plenty effective so far this month, delivering a 2.08 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, five Ks and no walks in 4.1 innings. He also earned a one-out save on Saturday in relief of a sputtering Kip Wells(notes). Hanrahan is the only Washington relief pitcher we can really make a case for right now, although that bullpen is apparently still in committee-mode.

According to Gameday, Mariano Rivera's(notes) velocity was just fine on Sunday (92-94 mph). He's a player to buy, not sell. Try to use the typical falling-sky spring nonsense to your advantage.

M's closer Brandon Morrow(notes) is off the DL and back on ninth-inning duty. He picked up a messy save on Sunday, allowing two hits, two walks and one run.

Ryan Franklin(notes) finally gave up a run (two, actually) and he blew his first save. There's still a sell-high opportunity, but you can only wait so long.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that, "Closer Matt Capps(notes) (bruised elbow bone) had a pain-free 35-pitch bullpen session and has been cleared to return tomorrow."

And another thing (posted 6:05 pm EDT): Bobby Jenks(notes), this is just incredibly foolish...

Asked if the two-out, ninth-inning pitch to Kinsler "got away from him," Jenks replied without hesitation:

"No, I meant to. To send a message. Basically I was saying, 'I'm sick of seeing our guys get hit and hurt and almost get taken out of the game.' I threw it with intention."

Seems like a suspension and/or fine could await the Chicago closer. Stay tuned. If he'd just replied, "Yup, got away from me," then he's in the clear. But of course he couldn't say that. Honest to a fault, that Jenks.


Photo via Getty Images

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