Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Hawks Blog: Grading the 2011-2012 Season

Grading the Hawks 2011-2012 Season

Another Hawks season has come and gone. The season played out in highly predictable fashion, with the Hawks finishing with a good but not great regular season record and then losing to one of the East’s best teams in the 1st round of the playoffs. Other than the obviously rare nature of the shortened/accelerated schedule, this Hawks season was more or less the same as the majority of Hawks seasons over the last 30+ years. 

It might actually seem like there’s no real point in even reviewing such a season, because the Hawks seem hopelessly stuck in their current state (just as they did in the early 80’s; late 80’s; and throughout the 90’s). But, well, to be honest, I’m feeling a little bad about only having posted one entry in May. Yeah, that’s the main reason. There are other more valid reasons, but I don’t feel like writing them down. 

By the way, I do take things like injuries, poor ownership, and realistic expectations into account when doing the team grades. 

Team Grades

Regular Season Grade: B
Regular Season Numbers: The Hawks went 40-26 (.606) during the lockout-shortened season, finishing 2nd in the Southeast Division (6 games back of Miami); 4th in the East (10 games back of Chicago); and tied for 8th in the NBA (10 games back of Chicago and San Antonio). They were the #5 seed in the playoffs because the Celtics won the Atlantic Division and could therefore not be seeded worse than #4. 

In terms of winning percentage, the Hawks had their 2nd best season of the last 13 years, with only their .646 winning percentage from 2009-2010 being higher. Projected to a normal 82-game season, the Hawks .606 winning percentage works out to a 49 or 50 win season. The Hawks SRS (Simple Rating System)--a rating that takes into account strength of schedule and average margin of victory—this season was also their 2nd best over the last 13 years (again, the only year in which their SRS was better was the 09-10 season). 

In terms of points per possession, the Hawks declined offensively for a 2nd straight year, while making a big improvement defensively. However, simply in terms of points scored and points allowed per game, the Hawks improved both offensively and defensively this season. In 2010-11 the Hawks averaged 95.0 points per game (26th) and 25.8 points allowed per game (9th); this season they scored 96.6 points per game (17th) and allowed just 93.2 points per game (6th). 

The Hawks had a +3.4 average scoring margin this season (6th), up significantly from last year when they were at -0.8 (15th). The Hawks improved their winning percentage at home and on the road this season, jumping from .585 to .697 at home, and from .488 to .515 on the road. The Hawks posted their first winning road record since the last labor strife-shortened season in 1998-1999.

Playoffs Grade: C-
Playoff Numbers: The Hawks went 2-4 in the playoffs, losing to Boston in the 1st round. They were outscored by an average of 86.8-82.2 in the series, but 5 of the 6 games were decided by single digits. The Hawks went 2-1 at home (outscoring the C’s by an average of 83.3-82.3) and 0-3 in Boston (being outscored by an average of 91.3-81.0). 

The Hawks took game 1 by 9 points. The key game in the series was game 2, when the Hawks lost Josh Smith late and ended up falling to the Rondo-less Celtics by 7 points at home. The Hawks would lose two more games in the series that they could have easily won, but from that moment on they were fighting uphill. 

Playing without Smith, the Hawks fell to the Celtics on the road in overtime by 6 in game 3. Game 4 was the only blowout in the series and was obviously Atlanta’s worst game of the playoffs. They lost by 22 in a game that was not anywhere near that competitive. 

The Hawks narrowly escaped at home with a 1-point victory in game 5, but then fell by 3 in game 6 in Boston in what would end up being the final game of their season.  

Injuries: We have to take into account the injuries that Atlanta suffered during the regular season and in the playoffs. It is true that injuries were a huge part of the season for many teams, but we still have to look at the way injuries hampered the Hawks when we judge their accomplishments this season. 

The major injury of the season for the Hawks was the torn pectoral muscle suffered by starting center Al Horford. Al played in just 11 of 66 regular season games (16.7%). That was a huge blow for a Hawks team without many better than average players and without much depth. Al also missed 3 of the 6 playoff games and was obviously not in top condition for the 3 games that he did play. 

Everyone on the roster other than Jeff Teague and Josh Smith missed at least a few games due to injuries during the regular season, but Horford suffered the only major injury. However, he was not the only player to have major injury issues in the postseason. Josh Smith injured a knee late in game 2 and missed the crucial final minutes of that key loss. He missed all of game 3, which the Hawks lost in overtime. And he was obviously not 100% at any point in the series following the injury. 

In my opinion, however, the biggest loss for the Hawks in the postseason was Pachulia. Zaza never appeared in the series. He was dearly missed in a number of different areas. The Hawks were short on size and bodies in the series. They needed his help more than ever in game 3 when Josh Smith was absent. Most importantly, the Hawks missed Pachulia’s attitude, hustle, and intensity, particularly on the defensive end, and particularly against Garnett. I know it may sound like some romanticized fantasy to some, but I’m telling you, Pachulia would have had a huge impact on the series.   

Overall Season Grade: B-
Bottom Line: For some fans, this grade may seem a little harsh. The Hawks finished with the 4th best record in the Eastern Conference, despite losing Al Horford for virtually the entire season. Injuries also hurt the team during the playoffs, with Horford missing the first 3 games; Josh Smith missing the end of game 2 and all of game 3; and Zaza Pachulia missing the entire series. 

They lost in 6 games to one of the best teams in the NBA, and 3 of the 4 games they lost went down to the wire and could easily have gone the other way. In addition, the team they lost to in the 1st round has at least 3 Hall-of-Famers on the roster, and also happens to be either the greatest or the second greatest NBA franchise of all-time, depending on what side of the Lakers/Celtics argument you come down on. 

For other fans, however, this grade may not seem harsh enough. Regardless of injuries, the team simply did not make any progress this season towards being regarded as anything more than a better than average team that doesn’t scare anyone.  Actually, you could make the case that the team took a step back in terms of becoming a serious contender. 

Last year the Hawks entered the playoffs as the #5 seed in the East. They knocked off the favored Orlando Magic in 6 games in the 1st round, before losing in 6 games to the #1 seed Bulls in the 2nd round. This year the Hawks once again entered the playoffs as the #5 seed, but this time they lost to the Celtics in 6 games in the 1st round. That ended the Hawks modest streak of reaching the 2nd round in 3 consecutive seasons. 

If you want to judge a team purely on how far they advance in the playoffs, you could actually go a step further, and say that this Hawks season wasn’t even as good as 2007-2008, for the Hawks lasted 7 games in the 1st round against Boston that year. 

I wouldn’t go that far. In fact, I have a hard time saying that just because this Hawks team had the misfortune of going up against Boston in the 1st round they weren’t as good as the 08-09 and 09-10 teams that won 1st round series. But the bottom line remains that this team once again fell short of becoming a true contender. 

I’m not even talking about contending for a championship, by the way. It would have been absolutely glorious if this Hawks team had somehow or another morphed into something totally different, and in one year gone from perennial also-ran to the best team in the NBA. But it would be no exaggeration to say that such a transformation would be regarded as a sports miracle. 

For me, the logical and realistic (or at least it should be realistic) goal for this franchise is to reach the conference finals. Assuming that we don’t go from pretender to champion overnight, the next step we should be shooting for is to make the Eastern Conference Finals. 

The Atlanta Hawks have never reached the conference finals. That is both an astonishing and embarrassing little factoid. In many ways, it is similar to the “never had consecutive winning seasons” millstone that the Falcons recently buried. In the NBA, where 16 of the 30 teams make the playoffs each season, posting a winning record and simply making the postseason is not as great a thing as it is in the NFL, so never reaching the 3rd round of the playoffs is comparable. 

The Hawks have gotten back to respectability and they’ve maintained a level of decency for a few years now. It’s time to take that next step; or at least, that’s what the aim should be. We don’t have to say that anything less is a total failure, but we simply cannot call anything less a success at this point.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Baseball Blog: Quarter Mark Musings

Strangeness at the Quarter Mark in MLB 2012
I hadn’t posted anything in a long time and it was starting to bother me so I decided to try and bang out a (relatively) quick MLB entry. Not sure why I felt the need to give you the background details on my decision to write this, but anyway…

What in Blazes? (Surprising Teams)
I’m not going to get into how wrong I was once again with my predictions. I understand that 25% of the season is still a (“all together now”) small sample size. I don’t care. It’s still ridiculous that the Baltimore Orioles are 28-16 (.636). They have the best record in the AL (2nd best in all of baseball) and they are 2 games up in 1st place in the brutal AL East. That is stunning.

You might say that Anaheim’s (yes, I know what the Angels call themselves) slow start (19-25, .432, 4th in the AL West, 8 games out of 1st) is no surprise, as the hyped, “offseason champs,” often seem to fail to live up to expectations. But I definitely didn’t foresee Albert Pujols falling prey to the pressure of the megadeal. And he most certainly was pressing a few weeks ago when things reached their lowest point. After 27 games, Pujols was hitting .194/.237/.269/.505 with no homers, 5 RBI, 6 BB, 15 K, and 3 GDP in 114 PA.

Now unless he was hurt, there’s simply no way to explain it other than that he simply wasn’t himself due to the mental aspect of the game. Hush with any excuses of luck or getting used to a new league. That switching leagues stuff shouldn’t be a big deal to a guy like Pujols. Any Angels fan could tell you he wasn’t hitting the ball hard, and the in-depth numbers showed he was swinging at pitches he didn’t ordinarily offer at.

Pujols is still not exactly raking, but he’s at least coming out of the slump somewhat with 4 dingers in 16 games since. But the Halos have other problems. They have low .300 or worse OBP’s up and down the lineup; they’ve already fired longtime hitting coach Mickey Hatcher; Bobby Abreu had to be cut loose; Vernon Wells is on the shelf; Torii Hunter is unavailable due to the legal issues of his son; the closer situation is shaky; etc. And they’ve dug a big hole in the division, with the Rangers way out in front.  

I know we’ve seen this movie before, but how the hell are the Indians 24-18 (.571) and in 1st place by 3.5 games in the AL Central? The Central is certainly a weak division, but they’re 6 games over .500. Obviously it’s still early, and Cleveland’s -2 run differential suggests there’s a bit of luck involved, but for now I guess wins are wins.

Los Angeles
It was mostly about new ownership for the Dodgers at the start of the season, then it became about Matt Kemp’s hot start. Injuries annoyingly sidelined Kemp’s Triple Crown quest for the time being. That has kind of overshadowed the fact that LAD has the best record in all of baseball at 30-13 (.698) and they are already 7 games up in the NL West. 

I spoke at length about the overblown nature of the whole Dodgers Stadium Attendance/Parking Lot Violence/Frank McCourt Scandals story. The atmosphere might be somewhat different; the team may be glad to have new ownership; but that doesn’t account for a 19-4 record at home so far. Mood is just not that crucial.

Struggling Powerhouses
The Yanks (22-21), Sox (21-22), Tigers (20-22), and Phils (21-23) are hanging out around .500. You would expect these teams to turn it on at some point, and they probably will, but there are some reasons to think that they might fall off unexpectedly this season. 

The Yanks have lost the irreplaceable Mo Rivera; their starting pitching upgrades have met bad luck; and A-Rod’s prowess at the plate has fallen off another level. 

The Sox are a mess internally. They have been crushed by injuries (Andrew Bailey, Kevin Youkilis, Carl Crawford, Jacoby Ellsbury, etc); they are managed by a total asshole; and they all seem to hate each other and the entire Red Sox organization/fan base. On the other hand, the Sox are a game under .500 in spite of a +16 run differential, so they may be better than the record and the mood around the team suggests. 

The Tigers have gotten some disappointing results from key hitters, but they should get rolling at some point. The bullpen and the rotation behind Justin Verlander are also concerns. 

Philly has injury problems. Ryan Howard and Chase Utley have yet to play this season, and they may never be at 100% this year. Cliff Lee has been banged up and Vance Worley is now on the shelf. I suspect they’ll get going at some point and make it very difficult for some team to knock them off in the NL East, but at this point they’re ordinary. 

There’s been good and bad news for the Mets this season. Some of the good news: they are 3 games over .500; David Wright is hitting .403; and Johan Santana has been healthy enough to contribute in 9 starts. Some of the bad news: they have an ominous -31 run differential; Ike Davis is hitting .160; and Jason Bay is still Jason Bay (.316 OBP).

Who the Davy? (Interesting Individual Notes)
Josh Hamilton has cooled off (homerless in last 10 games), but he and the Rangers still appear to be the favorites to win the championship after losing in the World Series in each of the last 2 years. Hamilton has been stuck on 18 homers for a while now, but he’s still on pace for 66. 

Emilio Bonifacio has also hit the DL. I bring this up because the guy has 20 SB in 21 attempts this season. He was on a pace for one of the better stolen base seasons in recent history, both in terms of volume and efficiency. 

Adam Dunn’s first year with the White Sox was absolutely miserable. He was so bad, one had to wonder if he’d lost his old guy skills (walks, homers, not playing defense) much sooner than anticipated and would soon be out of the game. Not to worry. Dunn is back. He’s on pace to hit .243/.389/.588 with 53 homers, 121 RBI, 132 BB, 241 K, 0 SB, and 49 singles.

Old School Pitching Stats/New School Pitching Stats (Neither Are My Faves)
In case anyone still hasn’t caught on, we should probably stop talking about pitcher won-loss records and just pretend that they never existed. In 7 starts, Ryan Dempster has posted a 2.28 ERA, a 1.06 WHIP, and struck out 44 over 47.1 innings. He is 0-2. 

I get annoyed with a lot of the Sabrmetric pitching stuff. I just don’t think Sabrmetrics has anywhere near as good a grasp on pitching as it does on hitting/run scoring. If a guy doesn’t give up runs, he’s getting the job done, luck or not, future results be damned. But there are times where the ultimate goal of pitching—preventing the opposition from scoring—seems to be largely determined by luck. 

Take Derek Lowe for example. What can explain his seemingly random resurgence in Cleveland so far this season? My first answer is that it can’t be explained. If he’s pitching better, there was simply no way to predict it. My second answer is that I don’t think he is pitching better. The results are better for sure. He has a 2.15 ERA over 58.2 innings in 9 starts (and, if we must, he’s 6-2). Yet he’s recorded only 15 strikeouts and has a 1.41 WHIP. He’s getting lucky. Somehow, someway, he’s not allowing runs, but I seriously don’t think he’s pitching any better.

It’s not even June and we’ve only had a bit of interleague play. Still, it’s interesting to look at some of the attendance figures (by the way, I didn’t spend much time making sure my rounding up on the 3rd digit made sense so just be aware). 

After being a bit slow to react, Dodger fans seem to be responding to the great play of the team (and yes, I suppose, the ownership change as well). LAD averaged 36.2 thousand per game last year; so far this year, they’ve averaged 39.1 (+2.9 thousand per game, roughly). 

Orioles fans have been slow to commit (understandably). They averaged 21.9/gm last year; 22.3/gm so far this year (+0.4). 

Attendance at TB games is up roughly 1.3 thousand per game so far (18.8 to 20.1). 

After all of the spending and hype, Angels attendance has dropped to 33.5/gm so far, down from 39.0/gm last year (-5.5). The slow start must have had some effect on the decrease, but again, it’s early. 

The Marlins attempted a complete makeover as a franchise this offseason/season. At the new stadium, attendance is up 9.5 thousand per game, from 19.0 last year to 29.5 so far this year. That’s nice, but maybe not as nice as they’d hoped. It’s middle of the pack in MLB, and they have a brand new stadium, a bunch of exciting players, and a good team. 

The two other attendance figures that stand out for me are in Texas and Cleveland. The Rangers are averaging 43.4/gm. They’ve been drawing well for the last few years, but they’ve never been that hot before. The Indians are at the other end of the spectrum. The winning season so far (along with a surprisingly decent year last year) hasn’t had much of a positive effect on attendance. The Indians are bringing in just 15.8 thousand fans per game, easily the worst in MLB. They play in front of just 36.5% of capacity on a nightly basis. In the mid-90’s, Jacobs Field went years in which every game was sold out. Now they’re not even to 40% capacity on average. Weird.

The Closer Carousel.
If you’ve been able to keep up with all of the changes at the closer spots of the 30 MLB teams in just the first couple of months this season you either (a) are an idiot savant; (b) have only 1 roto team in a very, very deep, ML League; (c) have been trying really hard to keep up with the changes; (d) are in solitary confinement in prison/reform school/mental facility; (e) both c and d but not a or b; (f) or all of the above. 

Here’s a surfacy rundown of each team’s closer status over the first quarter of the 2012 season. 

Baltimore: A rare/surprising bastion of stability. Jim Johnson beat out Kevin Gregg for the job and has never looked back, converting 16 of 16 save chances so far. 

Tampa Bay: Kyle Farnsworth was the incumbent, but he suffered an elbow injury this spring (or rather, re-aggravated one from late last season), was placed on the 60-day DL, and has yet to pitch this season. The Rays somehow did it again, pulling a rejuvenated Fernando Rodney out of their asses. He’s converted 14 of 14 so far. 

Toronto: The Jays traded for Sergio Santos but he recorded just a couple of saves before hitting the DL with a shoulder injury. They grudgingly turned to Francisco Cordero, who struggled, converting only 2 of 5 chances. Casey Janssen is now getting a shot and he’s 3 of 4 so far. 

New York Yankees: The shocking and unfathomable ACL injury suffered by the Great Mariano Rivera on May 3rd (while shagging fly balls before a game in KC) has been perhaps the single biggest story of the MLB season so far. He cannot be replaced. David Robertson tried but fate wouldn’t let him. He blew his 2nd save chance after Mo’s injury and then landed on the DL himself after straining an oblique muscle on May 11th. Enter Rafael Soriano, who had struggled since coming to NYY last year, but is so far 3 of 3 in 2012. 

Boston: The Red Sox gambled in relying on Andrew Bailey to replace Jonathan Papelbon. Everyone figured he would get hurt at some point in during the season. They were all wrong. He got injured before the season even began, suffering a torn ligament in his thumb, and has yet to pitch for Boston. Mark Melancon had success as a part time closer in Houston last year, but Enron is not Fenway. He disintegrated and has been in AAA since mid-April. Once again, Daniel Bard appeared to be in limbo, with the team thinking of putting him back at the tail end of the pen. After a rough start, Alfredo Aceves has settled in, and is now 10 for 12 in save chances on the year. 

Detroit: Jose “Mr. Krabs” Valverde is still the man, though he’s already blown 2 saves this season after a perfect 2011 regular season (converted 49 of 49 save chances). In addition, Valverde has been out of action for the last week due to a bad back. 

Cleveland: All of the wise guys said that Chris Perez was just a guy with a spent arm waiting to be displaced properly at some point early in the year after he sucked for enough games. “If you’re going to go with a Cleveland reliever for saves,” said the wise guys who had just read the same magazine as everyone else, “Vinnie Pestano is your guy this season.” Pestano has nary a save. Not a single one. Perez has saved 13 in 14 chances. 

Chicago White Sox: After jettisoning Santos and moving Chris Sale to the rotation, the White Sox were supposed to turn to Addison Reed  to close games this season, but they ended up giving the job to Hector Santiago instead. He converted 4 of 6 chances but began to get rocked. Santiago got hammered; to the point that he worried he was tipping his pitches. Then that old game began. Is Matt Thornton a closer? 1 for 4. How about Jesse Crain when he comes off the DL? Well, maybe we should move Sale back to the pen. Oops, Sale didn’t like that. Kenny Williams didn’t like that Sale didn’t like it. Sale back to the rotation (Robin Ventura back to the old drawing board). Oh, maybe Addison Reed can do it (4/4).  

Kansas City: Oh, those poor Royals. Joakim Soria up and blew out his shit on them (reconstructive elbow surgery; out for the year at least). Now they can’t deal him and he’s not even there to save the few late leads they have. Greg Holland and Aaron Crow were considered, but they were entrenched in the setup roles. Oh, but that fat, sweaty guy who used to close in LA had latched on in KC during the offseason. And Jonathan Broxton found himself again (apparently). He’s converted 8 of 10. 

Minnesota: Things aren’t going well in Minnesota. At least Matt Capps is 9 for 9 in save tries.

Texas: The guy the Twins used to count on for saves, Joe Nathan, has held up so far in Texas, closing 9 in 10 tries. 

Seattle: Brandon League is the guy, despite some shaky numbers, and only an 8 for 11 success rate. There just don’t appear to be any other viable options. 

Anaheim: The closer spot has been one of their many issues this season. The Angels began the year with Jordan Walden at closer. He was successful but not all that impressive in the role as a rookie last year. He lost the job after just 2 save tries. The Angels traded for Ernesto Frieri, but for the moment Scott Downs is holding down the position (4 for 5 in save tries). Jason Isringhausen (on his very lastest last leg and arm) and Latroy Hawkins (Latroy Hawkins) are some other names to kick around. 

Oakland: Grant Balfour had the job early on and didn’t do all that badly (7 for 9), but the A’s have since handed the duties over to veteran mediocre left handed closer Brian Fuentes (4 for 5 so far). The job will almost assuredly change hands again at some point this season. 

Atlanta: Killer Craig Kimbrel has closed out 13 of 14 save tries. 

Philadelphia: Papelbon has been everything Philly expected, going a perfect 12 for 12 so far. Unfortunately for Phillies fans, Slow Charlie doesn’t like to use him in non-save situations, even if the game is on the line. 

Washington: Drew Stroren was excellent for the Nats last year, but lingering arm issues this spring led him to have surgery to remove bone fragments from his elbow. He has yet to pitch this season. Instead of moving Tyler Clippard out of the setup role, the Nats first tried Brad Lidge (2 for 4 as he briefly flirted with becoming an everyday closer again) and then handed the reins to the flamethrower Henry Rodriguez. H-Rod was stellar at first, but has struggled lately (9 for 12 in save tries overall). The Nats have a plethora of solid BP arms and they’ve used a number of them in late game situations, including the lefty Sean Burnett. 

Florida (yes, I know what the Marlins are calling themselves this year): The Marlins gave a bunch of money to Heath Bell in the offseason. Bell had put up great “save” totals in San Diego, but his other numbers weren’t that special, and he had been pitching at Petco. I don’t know if the Marlins put that much thought into it, but I figured at the very least it would solve the question of “who is the closer.” Not so, as Bell has had a 4-ERA all year. Not 4.00; 4-digits. He was removed as closer in early May, but Steve Cishek and Edward Mujica didn’t get much action before Bell was reasserted in the 9th inning spot. He’s 6 of 10 in save chances overall. 

New York Mets: The closer situation figured to be messy going in. Frank Francisco has managed to convert 10 of 12 and hold off other options such as Jon Rauch (1 of 4), Ramon Ramirez (1 of 3), and Bobby Parnell. 

St. Louis: With Mike Matheny now calling the shots, it’s been clear cut: Jason Motte is the closer (7 of 10 in save tries). 

Pittsburgh: The Bucos can’t get over the hump as a franchise, but they have a good guy at the backend of the pen in Joel Hanrahan (10 of 11 in save tries). Juan Cruz has also chipped in, converting all 3 of his save opportunities. 

Houston: Many fantasy folks were wary of Brett Myers going into this season, but he’s 10 of 11 so far. 

Milwaukee: Jon Axford has struggled a bit this season, especially compared with the last couple of years. He’s 6 of 7 in save tries but it hasn’t been pretty. K-Rod has just 1 save in 2 tries. 

Cincinnati: The Reds—who typically don’t have a lot of money to play with—signed Ryan Madson to a 1-year deal last offseason. He then blew out his arm and it’s likely he will never throw a pitch for Cincinnati. The Reds had plenty of other options (which was part of the reason it was an odd signing to begin with). The Reds still haven’t figured out what to do with Aroldis Chapman, and thus they gave Sean Marshall the closing duties to start. He’s been shaky, converting 8 of 9 tries but not convincingly. They also have Logan Ondrusek (1 for 2), Jose Aredondo (1 for 1), and of course, Chapman, who is 2 for 3 in save tries and has been almost unhittable this season. 

Chicago Cubs: The Cubs’ plan was for Carlos Marmol to close games again this season. That was obviously not the best plan. He went 2 for 4 before being replaced by Rafael Dolis. Dolis is 4 for 6 closing games so far. They opted to keep James Russell at setup and Kerry Wood retired. 

Los Angeles Dodgers: Javy Guerra was supposed to be a temporary fit at the closer spot but he just wouldn’t blow any saves (21 for 23 last year). Finally he did earlier this season (8 of 11 overall in 2012) and Kenley Jansen took over (5 for 7 so far). Jansen has overpowering stuff and he now has a firm grip on the job. 

San Francisco: Brian Wilson notched 1 save this season before his arm gave out. Tommy John Surgery was in store for “The Beard.” The Giants then said that they would go with closer by committee. This was most annoying to just about everyone in the world. It was a straight tossup. It was almost impossible to say which reliever would win out, or even if one guy would eventually standout above the rest. If you were combing the waiver wires in FLB, you had to consider Sergio Romo, Guillermo Mota, Javier Lopez, Clay Hensley, Jeremy Affeldt, and Santiago Casilla all would get some save chances. But actually it worked itself out fairly quickly. Romo, Mota, Lopez, Hensley, and Affeldt have 1 save in 5 chances combined. Casilla has 10 in 11 chances. 

Arizona: JJ Putz is 9 for 11 so far. Bryan Shaw notched a couple of saves early when filling in, but David Hernandez has failed in all 3 of his save chances this season. 

Colorado: Rafael Betancourt is 7 for 8 on the year. 

San Diego: The Padres were going with Houston Street as their closer this season, which meant that at some point they would have to replace him when he went on the DL. After converting 4 of 4 chances, Street hit the shelf. The Padds opted to keep Andrew Cashner and Luke Gregerson at setup spots, trade Frieri to Anaheim, and use Dale Thayer as closer. He’s 5 for 5 so far.