Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
What's going on with closers so far this season?
It hasn't been a pretty start for those that we are depending on to be ninth- inning aces, locking down saves, striking out a ton of batters and lowering our ERA and WHIP.
Instead, it has just been a carousel of blown saves and crooked innings for most bullpen stoppers in MLB's Opening Week.
However, the closer misfortune didn't begin when the games got underway this week. No, we've been experiencing issues with our prized relievers since spring training.
Andrew Bailey, Drew Storen, Ryan Madson, Joakim Soria and Kyle Farnsworth all went down with injuries that could cost them significant time this season; or in the case of Madson and Soria, the entire year.
The injury bug bit, sending fantasy owners scampering to the waiver wire to claim Alfredo Aceves, Mark Melancon, Brad Lidge, Henry Rodriguez, Sean Marshall, Jonathan Broxton, Greg Holland and, er, who is closing for Tampa Bay? It could be Joel Peralta but it's difficult to decipher the madness of Joe Maddon.
With all that going on before the games even began to count, the least we could have expected was that the closers who were left standing would do their jobs effectively.
So much for that.
On Thursday, Jose Valverde stepped on the mound against Boston having converted 51-straight save opportunities. He promptly served up three hits and two runs as the Red Sox tied the score.
On the other side of that failure, Melancon and Aceves combined to give up three hits and the game's deciding run in 1/3 of an inning.
One hundred seventy miles away, Chris Perez was toeing the rubber in Cleveland looking to protect a three-run lead. That task proved too difficult for the Indians righty, as he allowed five baserunners and three runs before being mercifully removed.
These guys are supposed to provide relief, not heartburn!
Sadly, it was far from over.
Toronto right-hander Sergio Santos was brought over from the White Sox in the offseason to stabilize the bullpen. He did his part in closing the door on Cleveland seven innings after Perez' mishap, but he didn't receive the save because he didn't enter the game soon enough.
Blue Jays manager John Farrell elected to leave Luis Perez in for one batter in the bottom of the 16th, as Santos appeared to not be ready to go. Since it was a three-run game, Santos' 2/3 of an inning of work wasn't enough to notch the save, as per MLB rules.
Meanwhile, Carlos Marmol, Chicago's electric but wild closer, was brought into a 1-1 tie in the ninth inning against Washington. Two hits and a run later, and Marmol was dealt a loss by the Nationals.
If we could count on somebody to put a stop to this insanity, it would be Mariano Rivera, right? Well, not exactly.
On Friday, Rivera entered into a 7-6 game, allowed a single by Desmond Jennings and a triple by Ben Zobrist, and the contest was suddenly tied. After Yankees manager Joe Girardi called for a WHIP-killing two intentional walks, Rivera gave up a long walk-off single by Carlos Pena.
Things got worse for Santos and Marmol on Saturday.
Each man blew a save, as Santos allowed a longball by Asdrubal Cabrera, and Marmol gave up two hits and walked two without getting anyone out.
Like a virus, these disastrous results have even extended to the men waiting in the wings, such as Los Angeles' Kenley Jansen, Cleveland's Vinnie Pestano and the aforementioned Holland and Melancon.
The four setup men have combined to give up six earned runs on 10 hits in four innings.
I never thought we'd have to look to Frank Francisco for stability, as Francisco is a guy who once launched a folding chair into a crowd of fans during an altercation, but that's the case here.
The new Mets closer has gone two-for-two in save opportunities in his first pair of games with New York.
So, for the first time, we must all hope our relievers make like Frank Francisco.
Oh boy, it should be a wild season out of the 'pen.