April 15, 2008
Joe Borowski is a 36-year-old with a withering arsenal. He's sitting on a 4.94 ERA from '04 to present. He led the AL with 8 blown saves in '07. And after another miserable outing on Monday, he is tied for the league lead with two blown saves this season. Something's gotta give, right?
Borowski was called in to protect a 4-3 lead against Boston on Monday. He allowed a double to Julio Lugo to lead off. Coco Crisp sacrificed him to third. Dustin Pedroia sacrificed him home. David Ortiz then singled, preceding a bomb by Manny Ramirez on an 83 mph batting practice offering that put Boston ahead by two runs. Kevin Youkilis followed with a double, at which point manager Eric Wedge finally had enough and pulled Big Joe.
Obviously, it's too early to know if this was the straw that broke the (Joe) camel's back, but I'm still putting my money on Masa Kobayashi as the next in line, whenever that time comes He averaged 30 saves over the past seven years in Japan. Maybe Jorge Julio gets a shot, because he has experience, too. But he's been a rodeo clown in his most recent closer opportunities (see Florida, '07). And it's unlikely that Wedge would want to mess with the roles of established relievers Rafael Betancourt (8th inning) and Rafael Perez (situational lefty). Nope, it's gotta be Kobayashi …
• Borowski blew another gem by starter Jake Westbrook. He allowed just one earned run in 6.1 innings, lowering his ERA to 2.38. I mentioned him in The Skinny as a likely cheap source of 15-plus wins – he averaged that from '04-'06.
• Takashi Saito ran into the wrecking ball that is Nate McLouth on Monday. The result was not favorable for the 38-year-old closer. A McLouth two-out, three-run homer in the top of the ninth erased a Dodgers one-run lead. Saito has blown just seven of 71 career chances, so there's no meal for vultures here just yet. But on those rare occasions when Saito blows a save, Jonathan Broxton stock sees a sharp upward spike.
• Randy Johnson showed that he's still a pretty Big Unit on Monday. In his first trip to the mound since back surgery knocked him out in June of '07, he didn't allow an earned run and struck out seven Giants (if you are trying to figure the exchange rate, that's roughly the equivalent of 5.5 average major leaguers). He was still available in 30 percent of Yahoo! leagues as of Sunday. But none of the leagues I'm in, because I've never met a league where I felt like Randy Johnson wasn't good enough for my team.
• Mariners manager John McClaren called KC starter Zack Greinke one of the best young pitchers in the game. I guess when a guy throws a complete game and allows just one run against your team and still raises his ERA (from 0.60 to 0.75), he deserves such accolades. Going back to last season, Greinke has posted a 1.25 ERA in his past 65 innings. It certainly appears that he's exorcised the demons of Social Anxiety Disorder. And that's a good thing because, as a career .200 hitter, his options beyond pitching were limited. Seriously, though, Greinke is one guy that I can already tell I'm going to be kicking myself for not drafting.
• K-Rod is back, although his moniker might have to go under review. Francisco Rodriguez closed out Texas on Monday with a perfect ninth inning. He allowed a run to Seattle in a non-save situation on Sunday, the first time he'd appeared in a game in a week. He's still not 100 percent (ankle), so I'll cut him some slack for not actually recording a K in any of his past four outings.
• K-Rod preserved the victory for starter Ervin Santana. It was Santana's second win of the year, both coming on the road. I think most of you know why this is somewhat significant. Yeah, this is the guy that was 1-10 with an 8.38 ERA in road contests a year ago.
• Mike Napoli hit his fourth home run on Monday. Anyone else wish they had bid on him instead of Carlos Ruiz as that sneaky cheap catcher in your deep auction league?
• Huston Street is starting to settle in. After allowing runs in each of his first three appearances of the season, he's recorded four consecutive scoreless saves. Admittedly, he was a bit of a circus closing out Chicago on Monday, giving a up a single and allowing the runner to move to second on a wild pitch. He then beaned A.J. Pierzynski, but that may have been intentional – you never know with Pierzynski since he's so bean-able. He then finished things off by whiffing Carlos Quentin and getting Joe Crede on a comebacker.
• Baltimore's George Sherrill picked up his sixth save against Toronto on Monday, but he gave up a two-run homer to a pinch-hitting Alex Rios. Luckily, he was staked to a three-run lead.
• I'll regret it later, I know, but I'm cutting Pat Neshek loose. He got knocked around and took the loss against Detroit on Monday, giving up three hits (two triples) and two runs in his inning of work. He's allowed five earned runs in his past three outings (2.1 IP).
• It took 55 at bats, but Carl Crawford finally connected for an extra-base hit on Monday, a home run off Yankees reliever Billy Traber. Turns out that rookie Evan Longoria also hit his first extra-base hit on Monday – his first home run as a major leaguer came in his ninth at bat of the year.
• Tampa Bay knocked Yankees rookie Ian Kennedy out of the game on Monday, literally. Rays shortstop Jason Bartlett lined a ball off his hip in the seventh inning that went for a single. Prior to that, he'd allowed just two runs in six innings. The relief wound up yielding a run to Bartlett, so Kennedy was charged with three earned. Still, given his first two outings of the year, Kennedy's fantasy owners had to breathe a little easier to see a quality start on the board. It's not known if the banged up hip will cost him a start.