by Jason Martinez
RELIEVERS ON THE RISE
Javy Guerra, RHP - Los Angeles Dodgers: The Dodgers have lost so many of their top relievers to injury - Jonathan Broxton, Hong-Chih Kuo, Vicente Padilla, Kenley Jansen, Blake Hawksworth - it's not surprising that they are just 36-44 while using 15 different pitchers in relief this season. Now that Kuo, Jansen, and Hawksworth have returned, Guerra remains on the team because he's managed to take advantage of his opportunity after being recalled from Double-A in mid-May. The Dodgers have only two saves this month (Guerra has one, Scott Elbert has the other) so it's hard to tell who the actual closer is but Guerra seems to be the guy right now. With four straight scoreless outings, the 25 year-old has lowered his ERA to 2.35 and has been scored upon in only three of 15 appearances. Armed with a low-to-mid 90's fastball and high 80's slider, he should remain an important part of their 'pen down the stretch.
|Picture courtesy of Icon Sports Media, Inc.|
Tony Watson, LHP - Pittsburgh Pirates: In case you haven't noticed, the Pirates are a much-improved team in 2011 and they have, arguably, the best closer in baseball, Joel Hanrahan. Earlier in the season, I wrote about the bullpen being the major difference in this year's team. Lefty Joe Beimel was an important part of the relief corps back then but he's been on the DL for the past month with elbow inflammation so the 25 year-old Watson (pictured) has gotten an opportunity to show the Bucs what he can do. It turns out he's pretty darn good. With his low 90's fastball, slider, and changeup arsenal, the lefty has held opponents to one run in 9.2 innings and has earned a hold in six of his last eight appearances. Beimel should be returning in the next week or two but I can't envision Watson going anywhere.
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