Durham’s bullpen bids good luck to its mainstay, and late-inning responsibilities will make a shift. Kirby Yates, the calm Hawaiian, has gone to Tampa to pitch under the Tropicana dome. He leaves the Bulls with a question about who takes over as the top closer. Yates dealt plenty of dead-man’s hands in ninth innings since April.
Yates gave up a single earned run in 21 appearances for the Bulls, earning a save in all 16 chances, plus one win.
Josh Lueke was designated back to Durham on the same day, June 7, that Yates was recalled to Tampa.
Manager Charlie Montoyo said Lueke will split closing duties with Jeff Beliveau, who had 10 saves himself this season.
Beliveau, the lefty, is closing out games just fine. His 1.14 ERA and 46 strikeouts through June 29 still don’t quite touch Yates’ stellar numbers, but the 27-year-old is distinguishing himself in late innings.
Jake Thompson and C.J. Riefenhauser have been solid in relief. Adam Liberatore and Brandon Gomes throw heat, and so without Yates, the bullpen is stocked with talent.
Lueke, in 30 innings of ball with the Rays this season, has given up 19 earned runs and struck out the same number of batters, playing most of that time in long relief.
July is trade month for major league baseball, because after July 31, traded players must clear the waiver-wire. The Bulls have a solid set of potential big-league starters in Mike Montgomery, Merrill Kelly, Alex Colome (who has been upstairs-downstairs this year, including some league-mandated vacation time).
Would the Rays trade David Price? His future was mulled by MLB swami Peter Gammons this week.
Price, who pitched in Durham in 2008 and 2009, made $9.8 million last season and his 2014 salary was arbitrated to $14 mil.
Price leads the league in strikeouts, but with the bottom-feeding Rays of the AL East, that had translated to a losing record of 6-7 through June 29.