Bullpen Report: April 27, 2014

• Well, it wasn’t quite a save situation, but Bullpen Report favorite Hector Rondon looked good in Chicago today. The Cubs right-hander put the finishing touches on a 4-0 win, doing so in fine fashion by striking out the side. Rondon doesn’t quite have eye-popping numbers, but his mid-90’s fastball is enough to keep his swinging strike rate in the double digits and complement his slider (which gets whiffs one of every five times he throws it). His primary knock historically was health, he’s dealt with a fractured arm and has already undergone Tommy John surgery once. However, he managed to make it through 2013 relatively unscathed and continues to look fairly healthy in 2014. While Pedro Strop also tossed a scoreless inning today, Rondon’s outing (both usage and the subsequent punchouts) seems to make him the odds on favorite for the next save at Wrigley. The Cubs don’t project to be a save-heavy team, but Rondon is one of the few nice speculative adds among guys with sub-10% ownership percentages.

• Some enterprising intern at the MLB Network can probably make some late night soap opera entitled “As the Houston Astros Bullpen Turns.” Next up? Raul Valdes. Raul Valdes!? Is that some super hotshot international free agent signing who boasts a triple-digits fastball? Not quite. No, we’re talking about the 36-year-old journeyman with 140 innings under his belt. Oh, and his fastball comes in at 86 mph. The elder statesman of the Houston bullpen notched a save yesterday and was also called on in a “close-but-not-quite” save situation this afternoon. Interestingly, the soft-tossing lefty’s career peripherals aren’t quite as terrible as you’d think. He’s posted 10+% SwStr% the last four years and he’s relatively platoon independent (.331/.329 wOBA against versus LHB/RHB). And last year his ugly 7.46 ERA was tempered by a much nicer 3.02 SIERA. Could he quickly turn into a pumpkin and sink your rates like Josh Fields did this week? Sure. And I still don’t like playing with this ‘pen if you don’t have to. But if you have to, Valdes seemed to have Bo Porter’s ear this weekend and acquitted himself well — he’s at least in the mix.

On Wednesday, I conjectured that Ernesto Frieri might be given a “breather” in Anaheim. In related news, Mike Scioscia is nothing if not predictable. Frieri is (temporarily, at least) out, Joe Smith is in. I covered Frieri’s struggles in the aforementioned link so I won’t expound on them here. Smith’s career 3.75 xFIP seems like it’s nothing to write home about but he does own a career .272 BABIP in almost 400 innings, which is why his career 2.99 ERA is so much lower. Is that tremendously sustainable? He does tend to give up relatively fewer line drives than the average reliever, although not immensely so. Perhaps that arm slot is inducing some weak contact? Well, anyway, Smith and his uninspiring, but solid rates will hold down the ninth for now. He needs to be picked up in all leagues. Frieri has had previous hiccups that have been treated with temporarily removals from the ninth innings. If he can right the ship in relief, he’ll get the saves back soon enough. There was a lot of chatter about Michael Kohn being a dark horse to jump past Smith on the totem pole. He may have the best raw stuff of any non-Frieri reliever on the Angels, but after tonight’s outing he has walked nine of the 55 batters he has faced. Not sustainable.

• Quick notes: Since we last saw you, Jason Grilli hit the disabled list with an oblique injury. Bummer, because he was a nice buy-low target before the injury. You don’t need me to tell you that Mark Melancon is a good pickup, although he’s likely gone by now if you didn’t scoop him up. Aroldis Chapman threw a live simulated game (somewhat oxymoronic) this weekend. It sounds like the plan is for another sim game or two, then out on a rehab assignment. If all goes well, mid-May seems doable for those who have him stashed. Jose Veras is on the disabled list. Aside from the fact he’s been terrible this year, he’s droppable in all leagues.

• More quick hits: Rafael Betancourt is back, signing a minor league deal with the Rockies. That was actually somewhat of a formality since he has been working out with the team. Don’t get too excited, the most we may see of him this year is a cup of coffee in September as his Tommy John was last August. Brandon Kintzler is back from the land of disabled as of a few days ago. Reactivate him if you need him in holds leagues, although he’s probably 4th in line behind the white-hot Francisco Rodriguez for ninth-inning duties, so save mongers need not apply.

Closer Grid:

Closer First Second DL/Minors
Arizona Addison Reed J.J. Putz Brad Ziegler
Atlanta Craig Kimbrel Jordan Walden David Carpenter
Baltimore Tommy Hunter Darren O’Day Brian Matusz
Boston Koji Uehara Edward Mujica Junichi Tazawa
CHI (NL) Hector Rondon Pedro Strop Justin Grimm Kyuji Fujikawa
CHI (AL) Matt Lindstrom Daniel Webb Ronald Belisario Nate Jones
Cincy Jonathan Broxton Sam LeCure J.J. Hoover Aroldis Chapman
Cleveland John Axford Cody Allen Bryan Shaw
Colorado LaTroy Hawkins Adam Ottavino Rex Brothers
Detroit Joe Nathan Al Alburquerque Joba Chamberlain
Houston Raul Valdes Chad Qualls Josh Fields Jesse Crain
KC Greg Holland Wade Davis Aaron Crow
LAA Joe Smith Ernesto Frieri Kevin Jepsen Dane de la Rosa
LAD Kenley Jansen Chris Perez Brian Wilson
Miami Steve Cishek A.J. Ramos Mike Dunn
Milwaukee Francisco Rodriguez Jim Henderson Will Smith
Minnesota Glen Perkins Jared Burton Casey Fien
NY (NL) Kyle Farnsworth Daisuke Matsuzaka Jose Valverde Bobby Parnell
NY (AL) David Robertson Shawn Kelley Adam Warren
Oakland Luke Gregerson Sean Doolittle Jim Johnson
Philly Jonathan Papelbon Antonio Bastardo Mike Adams
Pittsburgh Mark Melancon Tony Watson Justin Wilson Jason Grilli
St. Louis Trevor Rosenthal Carlos Martinez Kevin Siegrist Jason Motte
SD Huston Street Joaquin Benoit Alex Torres
SF Sergio Romo Santiago Casilla 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.

33 Responses to “Bullpen Report: April 27, 2014”

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  1. Jack says:

    Hey Colin Z. you may need to get together with Jeff Z for this question — Grilli’s fastball never gained back the 1 MPH it lost after his DL stint last year. Could this injury be more than “just” the oblique that is reported? Assume Melancon does as well as he did the during the last Grilli DL stint…what are the chance he keeps it all year?

    On another note…do you think I ought to drop Santos for Johnson?

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  2. Jeff says:

    Can you rate these guys in a holds league? Delabar, Fien, Duffy, Withrow, and Daniel Webb. THANKS! I love this feature.

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    • That guy says:

      1,3,5,2,4 Webb is the wildcard if he stays in the 8th he’s 1. I think he’ll be closing soon. Duffy has to leap frog Davis, Crow, and Herrera.. I dont see this happening. I like Brett Cecil over delabar in holds he’s a lefty in a really high leverage role and his K rate isn’t bad… That is saying Jensen is pitching the 8th or 9th when he gets off the DL

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      • libradawg says:

        Check out how Cecil got the K-rate that wasn’t bad. One game. Aside from that, excellence. Go with Cecil. Delabar ranked higher based solely on higher save potential.

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      • Roger says:

        I don’t see how Webb could be closing soon. He’s not had anything resembling high leverage innings.

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    • Just for holds?

      1, 4, 2, 5, 3.

      But there are no real standouts there. Only reason I rank Duffy low is I could see him back in the rotation (either MLB or Triple-A) at some point.

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  3. Save-Haven says:

    Cinci should be yellow. Broxton’s far from ideal, but he’s earmarked while Chapmon is away.

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  4. arrjcee says:

    I currently have Holland, Gregerson, and Lindstrom, as well as Casey Janssen stashed away on the DL. It’s a 2 DL Spot league and I have Cobb and Sale hurt, so running out of room to hold injured guys. Someone just dropped Frieri. Rondon is available as well. Would you drop any of my current RPs for one of them? Frieri seems like a good bet to get the job back, and Rondon’s peripherals certainly look much better than Lindstrom’s. It’s a H2H league with ERA, WHIP, K, K/BB, and Saves as the relevant pitching categories.

    Also, Bullpen Report is the tits. Keep up the awesome work.

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    • R says:

      Matt Lindstrom is a pile of shit.

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    • You can make a case for dropping Gregerson since it’s highly unlikely he’ll ever run away with that job (and Jim Johnson has pitched VERY well over the last week or two). I don’t love Lindstrom, so if you feel like rolling the dice I’d drop him for either Frieri or Rondon.

      While I like Rondon a lot, you also have to remember he’s playing for the Cubs, so factor that into your analysis.

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  5. That guy says:

    I’m in a holds league should I be adding matsuzaka just for holds? He has sp/rp eligiblity is it a good bet he gets the closer gig?

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    • Sure. I don’t think it’s a good bet he ends up in the ninth (there was a good piece over on the FG side about it last week) but he’s acquitted himself well in the late innings recently and Collins seems to trust him.

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  6. Nelson says:

    Vizcaino in the five spot for the Cubs….

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  7. Brian says:

    Hector Rondon or Farnsworth and would you drop Farnsworth for Salazar or take a wait and see approach with Salazar now?

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  8. bothdakotas says:

    Is there any shot that Brandon Morrow gets bumped from the rotation and becomes a very interesting relief option?

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    • Possibly, although the Jays have capable high-leverage arms in the late innings and while Morrow’s fastball would probably play up, a move to the pen won’t fix the whole 3 walks per inning thing.

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  9. bothdakotas says:

    Also going forward, Is it going to be Farnsworth or Matsuzaka (with his SP eligibility) to own in the Mets bullpen?

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    • If you want to corner the Mets pen, feel free to hold both. I’m a believer in holding the sure thing if the guy behind him isn’t head and shoulders better. I don’t think Dice-K is head and shoulders better than Farnsworth.

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  10. Andy says:

    Sanity check: can I drop Domonic Brown for Rondon? I feel attached since I paid a decent amount for Brown at the auction, but he appears to suck mightily.

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  11. Jorge says:

    Colin, do you foresee Frank Francisco being a factor in the Chicago ‘pen given Mr. Ventura’s infatuation with “closer experience”?

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  12. Rufus T. Firefly says:

    Better bet ROS, Perkins or Joe Nathan? Are both healthy? Thanks for the writeups and and help you can provide.

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  13. Jack says:

    Drop Santos for Johnson

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    • Jim Johnson? If he’s the closer again, sure. Ideally you’d drop another bench player and wait until the A’s situation and Jays (Janssen situation) clears itself up in the next month or so.

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