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Wednesday afternoon saw another example of the Astros bullpen blowing a late lead, as the Reds score three in the ninth to win, 3-2. Brandon Lyon has struggled this season and the fourpitch walk to Texas EX Drew Stubbs to start the inning was just another example of that.
The game started with Aneury Rodriguez making his debut as a starter, going five innings of scoreless/one-hit ball. He was backed up by Wilton Lopez throwing a scoreless sixth inning. Fernando Abad and Mark Melancon combined to do the same in the seventh. And, Jeff Fulchino does the same in the eighth. Then we came to the ninth and saw Brandon Lyon surrender three runs without getting an out. His final line reads zero innings pitched, four hits, three earned runs, one walk and five hitters faced. All of this on his way to a fourth blown save and second loss of the season. This brings up the question… Is it time to make a move?
Who would take over for him? Mark Melancon? Jeff Fulchino? WiltonLopez?
On a team that doesn’t really have a “front line” starter in the rotation. Does it really surprise you that the closer is struggling? Lyonhas been a closer in the past. Like last year, where he saved 20 games in 79 appearances. Even going back as far as 2003 withBoston,Lyonsaved nine games in 49 appearances. 14 saves in 2005 and 26 in 2008 withArizona. So he has done it before and some closers go through lulls. Remember back in 2006, Phil Garner decided to move Brad Lidge out of the role and two years later in Philadelphia he saved every single one of his games.
Sometimes it is good to move a guy out of the role, in order to give them added motivation to win that role back. So why not do it? Mark Melancon is 2-1 in 17 appearances with a 1.76 ERA. He’s far in away been the most consistent arm out of the bullpen for Brad Mills. However, another school of thought is to make this a, “bullpen by committee.” Where everyone would get a chance to show they deserve the job. It also still givesLyonthe motivation to permanently win his job back and not feel totally left out. Therefore, you decide among Melancon, Lyon, Fulchino, and a healthy Wilton Lopez. Who showed he was the Wilton Lopez of 2010 today and not the one we saw before he went on the DL this year.
Most importantly, it is good that the Astros are putting themselves in a position to win games late. Astros fans just want to see those chances converted. So, this would be another chance to make that happen. And who knows? Maybe you can see a guy take the most important bullpen role and run with it.