Rangers closer Frank Francisco is on thin ice

Leave a comment

Last night Frank Francisco blew his second save of the season and afterward manager Ron Washington would say only “stay tuned” when asked if he’d be sticking with the Rangers’ closer.
According to Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News only five pitchers in the previous five seasons blew at least two saves in the opening week, and of those five only Mariano Rivera kept the job all season.
Of course, setting aside the opening week factor plenty of closer blow two saves in a week. In fact, last year Francisco himself blew a save on June 25 and then another on July 1. And he bounced back to convert 13-of-15 save chances with 31 strikeouts and a .230 opponents’ batting average in 25.2 innings from that point forward.
However, as Grant notes Francisco’s velocity has slipped since he returned from arm problems last June and his control has been shakier than usual as well. Since returning from the disabled list last season he has a 7.39 ERA and has blown six saves in 19 chances.
Neftali Feliz certainly has a future as a closer if the Rangers decide he doesn’t have a future as a top-of-the-rotation starter, but he’s also a 21-year-old rookie with four professional saves and has yet to pitch on back-to-back days. A closer-by-committee situation headed by Feliz and Darren O’Day is also an option, but for now we’ll simply have to follow Washington’s advice and “stay tuned.”

Carlos Martínez to work out of Cardinals’ bullpen for rest of season

Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images
3 Comments

When Cardinals starter Carlos Martínez returns from the disabled list, likely some time next week, he will pitch out of the bullpen, MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch reports. Martínez has been on the disabled list since late July with a strained right shoulder. The plan is still for Martínez to start in 2019 and beyond.

GM John Mozeliak said, “If you’re going to go down that starting path and you’re starting at ground zero, the likelihood of him being back would be sometime in mid-September. And we’ve done that twice this year and ended up in the same place after a few starts.”

Martínez, 26, has a 3.41 ERA and a 98/49 K/BB ratio in 100 1/3 innings across 18 starts this season. The Cardinals’ rotation currently features Miles Mikolas, Jack Flaherty, John Gant, Luke Weaver, and Austin Gomber.

The Cardinals entered play Monday 2.5 games out of the second Wild Card slot in the National League, so adding Martínez to the bullpen — or, subtracting him from the rotation, depending on how you look at it — could make a significant impact on the club’s playoff chances.