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Yesterday I wrote that Wickman may have been on thin ice as far as his security in the closer's role goes, and today's third straight disappointing performance may have sent him plunging through. After Rafael Soriano once again showed his ability to dominate opposing hitters in the eighth, Wickman came on with a two-run ninth inning lead and for his third straight appearance was awful. In two thirds of an inning, Wickman allowed one hit, three walks, and two earned runs to allow the Rockies to tie the game.
I would go ahead and bet money that Wickman will not be getting the call the next time the Braves have a save opportunity, as the veteran reliever is now responsible for two of the losses on this road trip and is lucky that is not three. Wickman has been missing his spots for the majority of the season, but up until this road trip, they have not caught up with him. Even for a strikeout pitcher, ten walks in less than twelve innings is going to be hard to get past, but for a guy who pitches to contact like Wickman, you just can't be effective. I would imagine Wickman will be moved into a seventh† inning role until he can get his control back and Rafael Soriano will get the first shot with Gonzalez setting up.
Soriano and Gonzalez both had slow starts, but have been almost perfect in their last couple outings. Gonzalez in his last 7 outings has pitched 6.1 scoreless innings, while Soriano has pitched 5 straight scoreless innings, allowing one hit, three walks, and striking out seven. I think we all knew in the back of our minds that at some point this season, one of the two better relievers was going to take the job, but I just didn't expect it this soon.