When you sign a three-year, $27 million deal to serve as a team’s closer you tend to get plenty of chances and not surprisingly Ozzie Guillen is ready to give Heath Bell another crack at the Marlins’ closer role.
Bell hasn’t gotten a save opportunity since coughing up three runs to blow a game against the Cardinals on July 8, at which point he was 19-for-25 converting saves with a 6.75 ERA and 32/20 K/BB ratio in 35 innings.
Since then Bell has logged 10 consecutive scoreless appearances, throwing a total of nine innings with an 8/3 K/BB ratio and .107 opponents’ batting average.
“That was his job,” Guillen told Joe Frisaro of MLB.com. “He wasn’t doing what he was supposed to do and we made that decision. Right now, I think he’s pitched good enough to get back to the closer role.”
Fill-in close Steve Cishek has pitched plenty well all season with a 1.74 ERA in 47 innings, but this isn’t really about Cishek. It’s about Bell, Bell’s contract, and the fact that the Marlins owe him another $20 million or so through 2014.
Christian Yelich simply can’t be stopped. The Brewers outfielder (and defending NL MVP) entered Saturday’s game with a league-leading 11 home runs after swatting two against the Dodgers on Friday night, then clubbed another two homers in the first six innings of Saturday’s game.
The first came on a 2-1 pitch from the Dodgers’ Hyun-Jin Ryu, who lobbed a changeup toward the bottom of the strike zone before it was lifted up and out to center field for a solo home run in the third inning.
While Chase Anderson and Alex Claudio held down the fort against the Dodgers’ lineup, Yelich prepared for his second blast in the sixth inning — this one a 421-foot double-decker on a first-pitch curveball from Ryu.
Yelich’s 13 home runs not only gave him a stronger grip on the league’s leaderboard, but helped him tie yet another franchise record, too. Per MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy, he’s tied with Prince Fielder for the most home runs hit by a Brewers player in a single month, and sits just one home run shy of tying Álex Rodríguez’s 2007 record for most home runs hit within any club’s first 22 games of the season.
It may be far too early to predict which players will finish first in the MVP races this fall, but there’s no denying Yelich has already set himself apart from the competition. Through Saturday’s performance, he’s batting .361/.459/.880 with a 1.329 OPS and MLB-best 31 RBI across 98 PA so far.