After pitching out of the bullpen all season Aneury Rodriguez had a great debut as a starter today. Four other relievers did their best to finish what Rodriguez started before Brandon Lyon came in and gave up three runs without retiring a batter. Through eight innings the Reds had managed only one hit against AnRod and his bullpen mates. Chris Valaika’s third inning triple could have been scored an error on Hunter Pence. The Astros carried a 2-0 lead into the ninth and flirted with a no-hitter. Enter Brandon Lyon. The Astros beleaguered closer failed to hold a lead for the fourth time in eight opportunities. Lyon has now blown three of his last five save chances. Today’s game was proof that Lyon is not the best reliever on the staff. He’s not even the fourth best. Maybe he’s injured and just hasn’t told anyone. Whatever the case may be the time has come for Brad Mills to make a change.
In a post game interview when asked if Lyon would be replaced as the closer, Mills replied.
“Ten minutes after the game, we’re evaluating a lot of things right now. Now is not the time to really go through that. This guy was pretty special last year for us. That’s about what I can say there.”
I’m going to go ahead and translate that into: This guy can’t get anyone out right now. He’s definitely lost the job. I just need a little time to think about who I want to replace him with.
Jeff Fulchino, Wilton Lopez, and Mark Melancon are all in the mix to take over for Lyon. Perhaps Mills will go with the dreaded “bullpen by committee.” Fulchino has filled in admirably as the setup man while Lopez was on the disabled list. Melancon would be my personal choice because he has the best out pitch with that nasty breaking ball. Melancon has been used in shorter relief stints lately after going out for multiple innings earlier in the season. That leads me to believe that Mills may have been preparing Melancon to be ready to step in when Lyon faltered. Wilton Lopez started the season as the setup man and the obvious choice to eventually replace Lyon. But a recent stint on the D.L. with elbow problems has reduced the likelyhood that Lopez would be thrust into the closer’s role at this juncture. Lopez has now made two appearances since being reinstated. Earlier in the week Mills had this to say about Lopez.
“I’d like to get him in early just to get him throwing again. Let him get an inning before we have a two- or three-run lead in the eighth inning. He threw the ball extremely well in that simulated game at home. He seemed to be real confident.”
So make the move Brad. Make it now. Anyone would be an upgrade over Mr. Lyon.