Bullpen Report: April 14, 2014

• If you were hedging your Jonathan Papelbon closer bets with Jake Diekman, well, you can probably stop. With Papelbon having tossed three straight games, the Phils turned to Diekman to try and wrap up a one-run game Monday night. It blew up in the faces, with the lefty demonstrating a complete inability to hit the strike zone (he walked B.J. Upton, that’s how bad it was) before he served up a hanging spinner to Dan Uggla. Granny style. Diekman has always struggled with control (5.05 BB/9 in the minors, 4.88 in the majors) and righties own a career .335 wOBA against him. He has the potential to be a nice half of a lefty/righty platoon, but he doesn’t have the skill set to be profitable in an everyday ninth inning role. Look elsewhere if you need Papelbon insurance (if you’re so inclined, Mike Adams was activated after the game).

• On the Braves side, Diekman’s implosion masked a similar meltdown by Luis Avilan. Avilan gave up five runs in the bottom of the eighth inning to turn a four-run lead into a one-run deficit. The lefty’s 1.52 ERA was all smoke and mirrors last year (4.02 xFIP) and he’s been shaky to open the season. As a guy with serious platoon split issues and a below-average strikeout rate, he’s not interesting in fantasy leagues.

The Braves also made an interesting choice in the ninth inning, turning to David Carpenter to lock down the three-run lead while TV shots showed Craig Kimbrel sitting in the bullpen. After the game, Fredi Gonzalez noted baseball’s best closer was day-to-day with a sore shoulder. Uh oh. Hopefully he’ll be fine with rest but Kimbrel owners, hold your breath. Carpenter wasn’t quite as good last year as his 1.78 ERA indicated, but the 28-year-old has the stuff (28% K%, 12% SwStr%) to be an well above-average option in the late innings if need be. It’s somewhat overdue, but we’ve moved Carpenter to first chair in the Braves bullpen. Jordan Walden is no slouch, but the usage doesn’t lie. I’d grab Carpenter in all available deep leagues and hold until we are sure Kimbrel’s injury is really just “day-to-day” and not something more sinister.

• There was some chatter in the comments last night about Maikel Cleto being an option in the White Sox bullpen. The 24-year-old rightly routinely posted a sub-2/1 K/BB at multiple stops in the minors. That’s bad. While he does throw hard (97 mph so far in 2014), he owns a mind-numbingly low 41.1% Zone% over 104 batters faced. The owner of a 3/4 K/BB in 2014, he hasn’t allayed any fears over the first few weeks, either. Robin Ventura might be flirting with the idea of using him in the ninth inning, but that has the feel of driving a gasoline truck into a bonfire. I would still be heavily investing in Daniel Webb and possibly Nate Jones if I wanted to speculate long-term here.

• An MRI showed Boston closer Koji Uehara is not dealing with any sort of structural damage. Exhale, Koji owners. The Red Sox relief ace will travel with the team to Chicago for their series starting Tuesday. It is unclear whether he’ll be immediately available, however, so hopefully you treaded lightly in leagues with weekly lineups. While Junichi Tazawa is probably the better pitcher, Edward Mujica will get any stray save opportunities while Uehara is sidelined. I wouldn’t cut the former Cardinals closer until I see Uehara in a game and confirm he’s over the hump.

• If you blinked, you may have missed the fact that Dane de la Rosa returned last week. After one game, the righty has been optioned to Triple-A and is “getting evaluated on some medical things and having some tests.” His fastball velocity was only at 88 mph after sitting 94 last season, so there should be some degree of concern amongst Angels brass. Owners hoping to use him in holds leagues are going to have to wait longer.

Closer Grid:

Closer First Second DL/Minors
Arizona Addison Reed J.J. Putz Brad Ziegler
Atlanta Craig Kimbrel David Carpenter Jordan Walden
Baltimore Tommy Hunter Darren O’Day Ryan Webb
Boston Koji Uehara Edward Mujica Junichi Tazawa
CHI (NL) Pedro Strop Hector Rondon Jose Veras Kyuji Fujikawa
CHI (AL) Matt Lindstrom Daniel Webb Ronald Belisario Nate Jones
Cincy Johnathan Broxton Sam LeCure J.J. Hoover Aroldis Chapman
Cleveland John Axford Cody Allen Bryan Shaw
Colorado LaTroy Hawkins Rex Brothers Matt Belisle
Detroit Joe Nathan Al Alburquerque Joba Chamberlain
Houston Josh Fields Chad Qualls Matt Albers Jesse Crain
KC Greg Holland Wade Davis Aaron Crow
LAA Ernesto Frieri Joe Smith Kevin Jepsen Dane de la Rosa
LAD Kenley Jansen Chris Perez Paco Rodriguez Brian Wilson
Miami Steve Cishek A.J. Ramos Mike Dunn
Milwaukee Francisco Rodriguez Jim Henderson Will Smith Brandon Kintzler
Minnesota Glen Perkins Jared Burton Casey Fien
NY (NL) Jose Valverde Kyle Farnsworth Gonzalez Germen Bobby Parnell
NY (AL) Shawn Kelley Adam Warren Dellin Betances David Robertson
Oakland Luke Gregerson Sean Doolittle Jim Johnson
Philly Jonathan Papelbon Antonio Bastardo Mike Adams
Pittsburgh Jason Grilli Mark Melancon Tony Watson
St. Louis Trevor Rosenthal Carlos Martinez Kevin Siegrist Jason Motte
SD Huston Street Joaquin Benoit Alex Torres
SF Sergio Romo Santiago Casilla Javier Lopez Jeremy Affeldt
Seattle Fernando Rodney Danny Farquhar Tom Wilhelmsen
TB Grant Balfour Heath Bell Joel Peralta
Texas Joakim Soria Alexi Ogando Jason Frasor Neftali Feliz
Toronto Sergio Santos Steve Delabar Brett Cecil Casey Janssen
Wash. Rafael Soriano Tyler Clippard Drew Storen

[Green light, yellow light, red light: the colors represent the volatility of the bullpen order.]

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There are few things Colin loves more in life than a pitcher with a single-digit BB%. Find him on Twitter @soxczar.

25 Responses to “Bullpen Report: April 14, 2014”

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  1. Andrew says:

    Avilan comes in with a four-run lead, coughs up five runs, and gets the Win. Sure, makes sense.

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    • McKingford says:

      Although you’re right to complain, and further justifies the “Kill the Win” movement, this is a complete failure by the official scorer: Avilan should not have been scored with a Win.

      Rule 10.17(c):
      The official scorer shall not credit as the winning pitcher a relief pitcher who is ineffective in a brief appearance, when at least one succeeding relief pitcher pitches effectively in helping his team maintain its lead. In such a case, the official scorer shall credit as the winning pitcher the succeeding relief pitcher who was most effective, in the judgment of the official scorer.

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      • McKingford says:

        By way of example, last September 12, David Robertson entered in the 8th inning with a 3 run lead against the Orioles. He gave up 3 runs (vs. FIVE given up by Avilan today). The Yankees regained the lead in the top half of the 9th. Mariano Rivera came on in the 9th, and closed the door.

        The official scorer awarded (as he should have!) the Win to Rivera, rather than Robertson (which also deprived Mo of a save, btw).

        So I don’t see how you exercise discretion to deprive an 8th inning guy the win when he gives up 3 runs, but not 5, as happened here.

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      • Jake says:

        Yes they have to stop the madness, the rule is ridiculous, in a just world the win should have been awarded to Santana.

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  2. LarryA says:

    Bastardo or adams?

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  3. BeckhamsTears says:

    Frieri just got yanked against the A’s giving up 4 hits, 2 runs and only a single out…. any trust in De La Rosa off the DL? or is it all Joe Smith? or ‘nothing to see here’

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  4. B says:

    In a holds league, I have O’Day (for Hunter insurance) but Meek is available. Meek has been getting the better hold opportunities so far (and has 2 compared to O’Day’s 0) but wondering if you see this continuing or if O’Day is a better option as the season progresses? Thanks.

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    • Bill says:

      Meek came in with a 7-1 lead in the 8th last night, and O’Day came into finish off the 9th. Does that answer your question? Meek would have to be simply dominant (I’m talking like, a sun 2 ERA with a ton of K’s) to move into the set up role in my opinion. He’s a good guy to look at if Hunter falters (then he would be setting up most likely) or O’Day gets hurt.

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      • B says:

        Thanks Bill. Unfortunately it doesn’t completely answer the question as it was a blowout so I’m not sure how much that reflects what would happen in closer games. So far it’s been Meek in those cases (e.g. last opportunity Meek came in 8th for hold and O’Day in 10th after Hunter blew save) but perhaps O’Day will get more of those opportunities going forward. Also O’Day has been solid with ratios so it’s not an urgent decision and willing to hold off for now. I do appreciate your insight on the situation. Cheers.

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  5. FeslenR says:

    “If you throw this fastball at 88 MPH…there’s going to be a chance that the Flux Capacitor will end your closing gig!”

    ….oh well, that joke sounded okay in my head…

    I wonder how many closers will lose their jobs before June?

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  6. Darren says:

    Bass leads the Astros in saves……

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    • Bass’ usage has been odd. We probably could move him onto the grid, but he’s only midpack in inLI. He’s been used for exactly one real “save” and has not had consistent usage during his other outings.

      I think him leading the save is primarily a product of Houston not generating save opportunities, not him locking down a ninth inning role.

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  7. Metsox says:

    Watch chance would you put on this being lights out for Kimbrel this season? 30%?

    Is a sore shoulder relatively common?

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    • I certainly hope they are not that high.

      Right now you just have to wait and see. Hopefully it really is just some minor stiffness and few days off will alleviate the problem. It could always be worse, but we can’t speculate on that right now.

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  8. Jeff says:

    Thinking about stashing Jones on my DL. What are chances that when he comes off DL he immediately becomes the closer? I can’t afford to keep a non-closer RP on my roster. Also, any guesses on when this will happen?

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    • I think it’s relatively unlikely he becomes “the guy” immediately after returning from the DL. He’s still a bit of a ways out, too. If you can’t afford to keep a non-closer RP stashed, I’d wait a week or two and see if he’s still around (and we hear reports about him throwing/rehab/etc.)

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  9. With so many teams having bullpen problems, is Joel Hanrahan worth a speculative add?

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  10. Jeff says:

    Thanks Colin. Similar question…someone just dropped Janssen. Does HE become the closer soon after he gets off DL or has Sergio performed well enough to keep the job?

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  11. centerfield ballhawk says:

    I just snagged Jim Johnson off of waivers in my league. The A’s are paying him to close, which is what I would assume he’ll be doing after a few good more outings. Was this a wise move on my behalf?

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  12. SKob says:

    Jordan Walden should be top choice for saves if Kimbrel is out. Read that Carpenter was only used because Walden had pitched 3 straight days. BTW during those 3 days he pitched 3 scoreless innings and struck out 6!

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  13. bryce99 says:

    Pedro Strop or Josh fields?

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  14. bryce99 says:

    Pedro Strop or Josh fields?.

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  15. bryce99 says:

    or valverde

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