Tuesday, September 10, 2013
What happens to Jason Grilli?
By AJ Mass
When Jason Grilli went on the disabled list with a strained right forearm in late July, he had 30 saves and a 2.34 ERA. Even after missing all of August, he still ranks seventh in all of baseball with those 30 saves. Yet, there's a chance Grilli won't save another game in a Pittsburgh Pirates uniform.
Since being activated last Tuesday, Grilli has appeared in only two games for the Pirates. While manager Clint Hurdle has said the plan is to transition Grilli back to the closer role, so far he's only come into situations with the Pirates already trailing. In those low-pressure sitautions, Grilli has allowed three of the eight batters he's faced to reach base.
With Mark Melancon having saved 10 of 11 chances with an ERA of 0.53 and a .233 BAA since taking over for Grilli, there's absolutely no reason for the Pirates to make a change at the back end of the bullpen right now. Even if Grilli regains his pre-injury form in the next week or two, he can just as easily work the eighth inning as he can the ninth. Melancon is doing the job now, so why shake things up?
But beyond that, Grilli is scheduled to make $4.2 million in 2014 and will be a free agent in 2015. He's also 36 years old. Melancon is eight years his junior and while he will be eligible for arbitration, his 2013 salary of $521,000 likely means he can be kept in the fold for far less. Trading Grilli away in the off-season may well end up being the "new plan" in Pittsburgh.
Here's ESPN.com senior writer Eric Karabell with the fantasy impact of Grilli's return, and some advice about what you should do if you have Grilli on your team.
Eric KarabellPittsburgh could very well stick with Melancon as closer
"Pittsburgh Pirates right-hander Gerrit Cole outdueled Yu Darvish in Arlington. Cole fanned nine in seven shutout innings, permitting three singles. The rookie certainly doesn’t seem to be tiring, and there’s no talk of shutting him down. Incidentally, Mark Melancon earned the save, his 12th. His ERA remains a ridiculous 0.85. Why would the Pirates return Jason Grilli to the closing role at this point? Own Grilli, but keep expectations low."