Lots of closer happenings. Letís jump right in:
Tom Gordon is battling shoulder pain and has returned to Philadelphia to be examined. Flash has had shoulder problems before, so this could be serious.
If Gordon misses any time, expect Brett Myers to be Phillyís new closer. Hey, if youíre going to move your best starter to the bullpen, might as well make him useful, right?
Myers should excel in the role. Heís been quite good since being moved to the ípen: 13/3 K/BB in 8 1/3 innings, no homers allowed, 1.08 ERA. Myers has made the transition to relieving nicely, a good indicator that closing will suit him fine.
In addition, Myers certainly has the stuff to close. Overall, heís whiffed 32 batters in 23 2/3 innings -- you wonít find many guys with better K rates than that. I wouldnít expect the pressure that comes with being a closer to get to Myers, either. He was under a lot of stress as a starting pitcher in Philly, so itís not as if heís never had to face pressure before. Heíll be fine.
If youíre in a shallower league and someone dropped Myers when he was moved to the bullpen, by all means grab him right now. If youíve hung onto Myers all this time, congrats -- his fantasy value is about to be restored. It just isnít the kind of value you expected him to have.
When most pitchers miss a game with a sore knee, itís hardly worth mentioning. When Armando Benitez -- he of the arthritic knees -- misses a game with patella pain, we have to raise a Rikishi-sized red flag.
If Benitezí knee pain lingers or worsens, Brad Hennessey is likely to take over ninth-inning duties. Iím not too high on this guy, though. Hennessey has shown good control this year (one walk in 11 innings), but his strikeout rate is abysmal -- heís whiffed just four. Thatís a 3.27 K/9, which is bad for anyone, never mind someone who hopes to close.
I wouldnít expect Hennessey to improve his K rate much, either. His strikeout rate in the bigs has never been good, and he hardly flashed awe-inspiring dominance in the minors, either. For instance, Hennesseyís strikeout rate at Triple-A two years ago was 6.12. If thatís what he was capable of in the bushes, we shouldnít expect much better in the bigs.
Jason Frasor could lose the job; Jeremy Accardo and Scott Downs are possible replacements. Both Accardo and Downs are pitching great, and itís hard to distinguish one as a favorite for the job right now. Downs is a lefty, though, so that could work against him. But we really have to wait and see how it turns out.