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2015 Bold Predictions: A Review

This was my first foray into the Bold Predictions (emphasis on bold) so let’s see how I did:

1.) Nathan Eovaldi breaks out in New York.

Eovaldi lowered his ERA and had a pretty 14-3 record but a 4.20 ERA and only 121 strikeouts in 154 innings pitched does not constitute as a break out. In spite of increased average fastball velocity (96.7 mph compared to 95.7 mph in 2014) Eovaldi’s ability to miss bats barely improved. His SwStr% rose a few fractions of a point and his K% jumped a point and a half to 18% but both marks are below the league average. I still hold out hope that Eovaldi can break out in the near future but it wasn’t in 2015.

0 for 1

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Bullpen Report: September 30, 2015

• He allowed a two-run homer to Lucas Duda, but Ken Giles otherwise held on for his 14th save of the year. Giles was a top tier non-save relief option last year and he’s kept it up this season while accumulating saves. His K% dropped to 29.6% from a ridiculous 38.6% last year but a 30% strikeout rate is still elite and although he’ll continue to close on the Phillies, Giles should be a prime target in 2016.

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Bullpen Report: September 28, 2015

• Although Matt Williams let Jonathan Papelbon stay in the game after his throat grab on Bryce Harper, he’s now been suspended by the Washington Nationals for four games. Other people have been discussing the fight all day so I’ll only talk as it relates to the bullpen. I wouldn’t necessarily expect Papelbon to be welcomed with open arms after his suspension is over so his days of closing might be done this season and possibly even next year as well. I’ve removed him from the grid, putting Casey Janssen in his place. Matt Thornton threw a scoreless ninth today in a four-run game and could also be used in the ninth in Papelbon’s absence.

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Bullpen Report: September 8, 2015

• Rough night for the Nationals pen against the Mets. With a six run lead in the seventh, Blake Treinen, Felipe Rivero and Drew Storen walked six batters, allowing six earned runs to blow the lead. In the next inning Jonathan Papelbon gave up the go-ahead homer to Kirk Nieuwenhuis. Jeurys Familia wasn’t perfect allowing a few baserunners but held on for his 38th save of the season. The Mets have done a nice job with their in-season additions this year and it’s no different with the bullpen where Addison Reed (two strikeouts in a scoreless seventh) and Tyler Clippard (two strikeouts in a perfect eighth) have helped strengthen the bridge to Jeurys.

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Bullpen Report: September 1, 2015

A quick rundown of the early games as we head into September.

• With Brad Ziegler in need of rest after a rough outing on Monday, the Diamondbacks went to Dan Hudson for the save against the Rockies. After two hits, two strikeouts and an earned run, Hudson netted his third save of the year. Ziegler’s worm killing ways (73% GB%) are still first in line but Hudson has cemented his role in the pecking order if anything were to happen to Ziegler.

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Bullpen Report: August 31, 2015

• After a throw back performance by Bartolo Colon (8 shutout innings, nine strikeouts, and five baserunners) Jeurys Familia was called on for the save. Familia wasn’t sharp, allowing three baserunners and an earned run but otherwise escaped with a 3-1 lead and his 36th save. Familia’s ERA has jumped since the first half but he’s actually pitching better of late with a higher K% and lower B% than he had earlier this season. On the year he has a 1.78/2.83/2.64 ERA/FIP/xFIP line and should continue to rack up effective saves over the last few weeks of the season.

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Bullpen Report: August 25, 2015

• Non-closing news: It looks like Edwin Jackson and Ross Detwiler are seeing some late inning action in Atlanta. Detwiler has been less successful than Jackson while on the Braves and has been pitching worse than he was last year as a full time reliever. Jackson has been decent in his first go around strictly in relief, pitching to a 3.13/3.44/4.10 ERA/FIP/xFIP line. As expected his velocity has ticked up a bit to 94 mph and although his swinging strike rate has shown some improvement, he’s yet to see an increase in his strikeout rate. There could be some future improvement in that category assuming he stays out of the rotation. I wouldn’t expect much moving forward this season from Jackson but he could see the ninth if/when Arodys Vizcaino needs a day off and it wouldn’t shock me to see Jackson be more effective next year, with more repetition out of the pen.

Vincent Velasquez saw some time earlier this season out of the rotation and although he wasn’t amazing, he showed solid potential. He’s likely to enter the rotation again next year but for the rest of 2015 he could be used primarily out of the pen. Velazquez threw two innings with three strikeouts (and one earned run) against the Yankees tonight and teams looking for ratio help and strikeout totals could look his way. He’s likely to see multiple innings each appearance and outings like tonight could be more common in September.

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Bullpen Report: August 24, 2015

• After Junichi Tazawa‘s rough night, he was given a day off but is expected to stay as closer. Even with the words of encouragement from the interim manager, this situation is still red. I expect Tazawa to stay as closer and as Scott Lauber mentions, with Dave Dombrowski now on board the team might prefer for Tazawa to “to get the longest look” given his track record of success setting up Koji Uehara. Said another way, there’s just not many other options to choose from in Boston. Rebuilding the pen will be on Dombrowski’s agenda this offseason but for now it’s Tazawa. If he continues to falter, expect Jean Machi (who was called on tonight) to get the look.

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Bullpen Report: August 18, 2015

Tommy Kahnle started off well closing in Colorado but after back to back putrid outings his job was on shaky ground. Today it seems like he’s lost the job. Walt Weiss had good things to say about former closer John Axford and it now looks like he’s reclaimed his familiar role in the ninth. This situation is still red on the grid below as Axford hasn’t pitched well or consistently well all year but nonetheless, it’s his job to lose.

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Bullpen Report: August 17, 2015

Before we start I just want to say that I spent the weekend in Cooperstown, New York for a bachelor party. If you’re a baseball nut, and I assume you are if you traffic these parts, I would highly recommend the location. While the Hall of Fame itself is obviously worth visiting, an entire town devoted to baseball is a site to see.

To the bullpens…

• It wasn’t in a save situation but Edward Mujica had another outing to forget on Sunday, allowing three earned runs off of two homers and five hits in only one inning. Mujica’s seasonal ERA has ballooned to 5.25 and he’s been pitching as bad on the A’s as he was with the Red Sox earlier this year. Pitching poorly in the fifth inning of a blowout game probably means that your days of closing are done. I have taken the liberty to remove Mujica from the grid all together. On the bright side of the A’s pen is that Sean Doolittle  is expected back “sometime on their next road trip that begins Aug. 24 in Seattle.” Given the competition, I would expect Doolittle to reclaim his ninth inning role immediately. Until then, Fernando Rodriguez, Drew Pomeranz and/or Evan Scribner could see the next save chances but my guess is that it would be more fleeting.

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