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Bullpen Report: August 10, 2014

• Dayton Moore should send Dave Dombrowski a thank you card. That, and maybe a copy of “Building Bullpens for Dummies.” A weekend of blown saves and poor relief performance for Detroit have thrown their bullpen into turmoil and let the Royals scratch back to even in the race for the AL Central. Brad Ausmus befuddingly (not quite sure if that’s in Webster’s) took out a dealing Max Scherzer to let Joe Nathan close out Saturday’s game. Of course, in 2014 Nathan fashion a save was blown. Joakim Soria actually put out quite an inferno (pushing the game to extra innings) but suffered an oblique injury which sent him to the disabled list. On Sunday, with Nathan supposedly unavailable, Joba Chamberlain took his turn being the guy who threw gasoline onto a bonfire, blowing another save. This time, it pushed a potential Tigers win into a 19-inning affair which Toronto ended by scratching a run across against elite relief pitcher Rick Porcello (just kidding).

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Bullpen Report: August 6, 2014

• Double dip of closer results in the Minnesota/San Diego game. On the Minnesota side, Glen Perkins blew his fourth save of the season allowing the tying run to come around after a leadoff double, walk, and a few sacrifices. Don’t fear Perkins owners. Aside from being a fan of Fangraphs, Perkins continues to own a sparkling 2.11 SIERA, one of the best marks among major league relievers. Unfortunately, some of his fantasy value is sapped in that he doesn’t play for a powerhouse winner, although his 28 saves are 9th most in baseball. On the flip side, San Diego closer Joaquin Benoit made things a bit messy for himself in the after San Diego picked up the lead in the 10th, allowing the tying run to get to second (and the winning run to reach first) before getting Eduardo Nunez to pop out. While I don’t think it is probable, Benoit’s contract makes him a candidate to get moved before August 31st. Second-in-line Kevin Quackenbush picked up the win today by tossing a scoreless ninth inning, although he did walk a pair. He’s a nice saves handcuff and a decent holds play, but there are other high-end bullpen arms out there I like more if you just need rates.

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Bullpen Report: August 3, 2014

Neftali Feliz blew his first save since taking over the closer gig this afternoon, and he did so in spectacular fashion by giving up a two-run jack to David Murphy. We’ve covered Feliz a few times since his ascension to the closer role, so I recommend pawing back through the archives if you need your fix. What you really need to know is that his fastball was still sitting at 92-93 mph this afternoon, continuing a season where his velocity is well off what he was throwing when he was an up-and-coming closer a few years back. The out-of-contention Rangers will probably give him some leash, but with few save opportunities and diminished stuff, he’s not high on my list if I was re-ranking relievers for the rest of the season.

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Bullpen Report: July 30, 2014

• Only Addison Reed could pull off the amazing feat of allowing a 3-run homer and still racking up a save in the same game. After Eury De La Rosa started the ninth inning with a four-run lead, he allowed a pair of baserunners, turning a non-save situation into a save situation thanks to the tying run being on deck. Reed promptly gave up a three-run jack to Devin Mesoraco, turning the game into a razor-closer affair. Reed did manage to strike out Ryan Ludwick to preserve the 5-4 win but not before leaving a queasy feeling in Arizona fans’ stomaches.

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Bullpen Report: July 23, 2014

*Fangraphs “breaking news” chime* Reports are out that Rangers closer Joakim Soria has been traded to the Detroit Tigers for a package of prospects. Soria has posted fantastic numbers in 2014, thanks in large part to the return of his elite changeup. His 1.84 SIERA is 11th best among all qualified relievers, 7th among closers. While Joe Nathan has constantly been propped up by Brad Ausmus, the Detroit skipper is going to have an interesting decision on his hands. Nathan has the big contract and has not operated in a setup capacity recently. Soria’s contract is more reasonable and he has experience working out of the 7th and 8th innings. Nathan’s 3.40 SIERA isn’t great, but implies that he has been BABIPed (.333) and LOB%ed (64%) a bit more than you’d expect. But Soria is still the better pitcher. Who is the ninth inning guy? My gut tells me Nathan keeps the job for now, but his leash got dramatically shorter.

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Bullpen Report: July 20, 2014

• Does anyone really know what is going on in Joe Maddon’s head? Just as we were debating moving the Tampa Bay bullpen situation yellow (in Jake McGee‘s favor), the Rays’ skipper used elite relievers Brad Boxberger and McGee prior to the ninth inning in Sunday’s tilt with the Twins. Who got the ninth? Old friend Grant Balfour. Don’t run to the wire just yet; Balfour retired the first hitter before issuing a pair of walks with a two-run lead. Maddon had seen enough and yanked the righty for former Triple-A closer Kirby Yates who induced a ground out and a pop out for his first career major league save. Worth noting: Joel Peralta missed Saturday and Sunday’s games with an illness.

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Bullpen Report: July 13, 2014

Jake McGee returned from spending a few days with his new daughter and was immediately greeted with a save opportunity. He did his job, nailing down a 3-0 victory, whiffing two in a perfect ninth inning. The lefty now has six saves over the last month, the rest of the bullpen has four combined. It’s pretty clear he heads up this committee, although Joe Maddon has not quite gone the distance in committing to the southpaw.

There has been some chatter in the comments lately about Brad Boxberger. Read the rest of this entry »

Bullpen Report: July 10, 2014

• Did Jonathan Papelbon punch his ticket out of Philadelphia yesterday? After polishing off a Roberto Hernandez gem last night, the Philly closer addressed any potential trades involving him by saying “Some guys want to stay on a losing team? That’s mind-boggling to me. I think that’s a no-brainer.” Ouch. The team (and fantasy owners) would be wise to sell high if possible. While the 33-year-old owns a 1.24 ERA, his BABIP stands at a paltry .229, implying regression is likely around the corner. There’s also no guarantee that he remains in the closer role with a new team (although we have to admit, his “proven closer(TM)” track record helps). Manager Ryne Sandberg has previously said that Ken Giles and Jake Diekman would be the likely ninth-inning beneficiaries of Papelbon being unavailable (either through usage or, conceivably, trade) so both should be scooped up in all deeper leagues. The 23-year-old Giles and his 38% K% is the more intriguing pickup. Diekman has pitched much better than his 4.32 ERA would indicate, so he remains an option, but has some degree of platoon splits which could hurt him against good righty batters.

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Bullpen Report: July 9, 2014

An quick Bullpen Report return since writing after a Boston-to-Ann Arbor trek is not high on my list of desires this evening. Good news? At least I got to listen to a lot of Gameday Audio of the White Sox pen imploding…

• Robin Ventura is going to have to answer some interesting questions. After Chris Sale cruised against the now-punchless Red Sox (who started five rookie position players in a game before August for the first time since 1952 according to their radio broadcast) for exactly 7 2/3 innings, the White Sox skipper lifted his ace lefty with a runner on third. Jake Petricka (the closer du jour for Ventura’s squad) face four batters and retired none of them, allowing three hits and a walk. Javy Guerra did stop the bleeding by retiring Mike Carp with the tying and go-ahead runs in scoring position, but the former Dodger closer ran into more trouble in the ninth, hitting Mookie Betts before allowing a game-tying double to Daniel Nava and a game-winning single to Brock Holt. None of the hits either reliever gave up were particularly cheap, either, so this wasn’t a “death by BABIP” situation, but just bad relief pitching.

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Bullpen Report: June 25, 2014

• Sometimes, I feel all I do is write about Mike Scioscia and his managerial whims. See, there’s a reason I don’t cede to admonishment for being “too low” on Ernesto Frieri in our consensus ranks. Late last night, the Angels manager said that Joe Smith is in, Frieri is out. For now. Smith has the much better ERA but only slightly better peripherals. Frieri has been toasted by the homer this season, with over 20% of his fly balls leaving the yard. Interestingly, the hard-throwing righty’s problem has traditionally been the walks but he’s (so far) shaved his BB% in half. For those who may point to Smith’s 2.19 SIERA and wonder, “why isn’t he just the guy?”, his low arm slot keeps him effective against right-handers, but causes him to get ripped by lefties to the tune of a .323 wOBA against. Not matchup-independent material. Of course, we said the same thing about Steve Cishek, and he seems to have figured out how to get everyone out. So what do we know? Smith is the guy to own right now, but that will almost certainly change before the season is out. Keep Frieri rostered in all leagues of sufficient depth, although feel free to bench him if you want to protect your rates.

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