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Bullpen Report: April 17, 2013

• Royals fans must have been anxious this afternoon when Greg Holland was called upon to nail down a 1-0 win. To make matters even more perilous, the first two batters he had the pleasure of facing were first-two-week MVP Justin Upton and Rookie of the First-two-weeks Evan Gattis. Ouch. Break out the dingers? He surprised everyone though, fanning both Upton and Gattis (in addition to whiff machine Dan Uggla) en route to his third save of the season. Strikeouts are not a problem for Holland — in fact, he has struck out more than one-third (8/23) of the batters he has faced this year. Like last April, BABIP hasn’t been kind to him (.556) but his six free passes are all his own doing. If he can reign those in, he should continue to be effective (or at least start being), even though his velocity is still down a notch or two from where he finished last season. His grip on the job tighted a bit after Kelvin Herrara had a three-homer meltdown last evening. None of that changes my opinion of Herrara as a high-upside setup man, but he isn’t quite hovering over Holland’s seat anymore.

Andrew Bailey owners were happy to see the Red Sox’ new closer turn in a much tidier outing tonight. After blowing the save (but getting the win Monday), Bailey went the less dramatic route, pitching a scoreless ninth while fanning two in a 6-3 Boston victory. As Ben noted last night, Joel Hanrahan ended up on the disabled list, so Bailey is a great option for at least the next two weeks. I say “at least” because John Farrell seemed to be backtracking on his staunch support for Hanrahan a bit today, saying “I don’t think we’re sitting here today ready to make that claim,” in response to a question to the effect of “is Hanrahan your closer when he comes back?” As those who read this column (or follow me on Twitter) know, I’m not a huge Hanrahan supporter, but even if you own him and think 2010-2011 “Hammer” is in there somewhere, you should be handcuffing him to Andrew Bailey if he isn’t long gone in your league.

Junichi Tazawa was pimped in this space a few times late last year, but it’s high time he gets another nod. Tazawa whiffed four guys in two perfect innings (coming in with a runner on second that was stranded) tonight to keep the Indians from creeping back into what was becoming a close game (how can Jason Giambi still hit a ball that far?). Tazawa has struck out more batters (8) than he has allowed to reach base (6 hits, 0 walks) on the young season and appears to be picking up where he left off last year (2.46 xFIP in 44+ innings). I couldn’t believe he was on the wire last week in my 16-team dynasty league; if you are looking for help in holds or just ERA/WHIP and strikeouts, feel free to drop Tazawa in there when you have a starter not going on an open slot.

Mariano Rivera racked up save number four. He surprisingly only has three strikeouts in five innings this year but a meaningless run in his first appearance of the season remains the only blemish on his scorecard. His velocity is about 0.5 mph lower than where it has been at this point in the season the last two years, but hitting 90 mph with your Hall of Fame cutter is still none to shabby for a 43-year-old. The Yankees may have a few less wins this year, but I’m not worried about Rivera returning solid (if not elite) value in your RP slot.

• I’m moving Edward Mujica ahead of Mitchell Boggs on the grid, although it still is a bit muddy as to who the actual closer is. What we do know is that Boggs appeared in a four-run game Monday, but Mujica was up right behind him, presumably ready to come in if there was a save situation. Plus, beat writer Joe Strauss tweeted “Ed Mujica: Cards closer,” while also reading the tea leaves. Mike Podhorzer had a good rundown of the Cards bullpen situation a couple days ago which pretty much lines up with my feelings on this pen, too.

Closer Grid:

Closer First Second DL/Minors
Arizona J.J. Putz David Hernandez Heath Bell
Atlanta Craig Kimbrel Eric O’Flaherty Jordan Walden
Baltimore Jim Johnson Pedro Strop Darren O’Day
Boston Andrew Bailey Junichi Tazawa Koji Uehara Joel Hanrahan
CHI (NL) James Russell Shawn Camp Carlos Marmol Kyuji Fujikawa
CHI (AL) Addison Reed Jesse Crain Matt Thornton
Cincy Aroldis Chapman Jonathan Broxton Sam LeCure
Cleveland Chris Perez Vinnie Pestano Joe Smith
Colorado Rafael Betancourt Matt Belisle Wilton Lopez
Detroit Joaquin Benoit Octavio Dotel Phil Coke Bruce Rondon
Houston Jose Veras Wesley Wright Hector Ambriz
KC Greg Holland Kelvin Herrera Tim Collins
LAA Ernesto Frieri Scott Downs Sean Burnett Ryan Madson
LAD Brandon League Kenley Jansen Ronald Belisario
Miami Steve Cishek Jon Rauch Ryan Webb
Milwaukee Jim Henderson John Axford Michael Gonzalez
Minnesota Glen Perkins Jared Burton Casey Fien
NY (NL) Bobby Parnell Brandon Lyon LaTroy Hawkins Frank Francisco
NY (AL) Mariano Rivera David Robertson Joba Chamberlain
Oakland Grant Balfour Ryan Cook Sean Doolittle
Philly Jonathan Papelbon Mike Adams Antonio Bastardo
Pittsburgh Jason Grilli Mark Melancon Tony Watson
St. Louis Edward Mujica Mitchell Boggs Trevor Rosenthal Jason Motte
SD Huston Street Luke Gregerson Dale Thayer
SF Sergio Romo Santiago Casilla Jeremy Affeldt
Seattle Tom Wilhelmsen Carter Capps Charlie Furbush
TB Fernando Rodney Joel Peralta Jake McGee
Texas Joe Nathan Jason Frasor Tanner Scheppers
Toronto Casey Janssen Steve Delabar Darren Oliver Sergio Santos
Wash. Rafael Soriano Drew Storen Tyler Clippard

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