Reliever Brian Fuentes #40 of the St. Louis Cardinals pitches against the San Francisco Giants at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
Just three years ago, lefty relief pitcher Brian Fuentes was on top of the world.
Well, near the top, anyway. Fuentes finished that season with a pedestrian ERA (3.93) but also led the majors with 48 saves.
In the three seasons since, Fuentes has totaled only 41 saves and that's been worse than it looks. His saves in each of those three seasons: 24, 12, 5. And there now seems a good chance that the next number in that sequence will be zero.
Fuentes racked up those 48 saves in 2009. In 2010, he pitched decently enough, but did lose his job as the Angels' closer and was traded, in late August, to the Twins for a low-level prospect. He pitched in only 11 games with the Twins, including two spotless postseason appearances. In 2011, he signed with the A's for good money but didn't fare particularly well, and eventually came to loggerheads with the coaching staff. Still, he was on a two-year contract and returned to the Athletics' bullpen this year.
Which really didn't go well. Sporting a 6.84 ERA, Fuentes drew his release on the 11th of July. Three days later -- after Fuentes had gone unclaimed on waivers -- he signed as a free agent with the Cardinals.
This didn't go well, either. With St. Louis, Fuentes pitched in six games, giving up five runs in five innings. And now, this:
The St. Louis Cardinals announced today that they have placed left-handed pitcher Brian Fuentes on the restricted list after Fuentes informed the team that he needed to step away from the game due to personal reasons.
Speculation will do us little good, but we do know that players are routinely given permission to leave their team for a day or two, to attend to personal matters, without being placed on the restricted list. So we might guess that Fuentes will be away for a while, and that perhaps he won't be back with the Cardinals this season at all.
Meanwhile, the Cardinals' search for a reliable left-handed reliefer continues ...
Update: Mike Matheny says Fuentes' return to Cardinals this season is "unlikely".