There weren’t many games on the schedule today so just a few brief bullet points for tonight. I’ll be sure to use the comment section below with any additional news that comes up later this evening or into tomorrow.
• Jim Johnson lost his closer’s role to a committee in Oakland but he might be returning to the ninth inning. Via Jane Lee, Johnson’s latest run has “elevated” his chances of regaining the closer’s role according to A’s manager Bob Melvin. Johnson’s 5.73 ERA isn’t fun to look at but he’s thrown 7.2 scoreless innings in a row since April 11th with eight strikeouts against just two walks. Earlier this season Johnson was struggling with his command, so it’s promising to see him throw strikes more consistently. A 3.83 xFIP doesn’t equate to shutdown closer, but it’s close to his career norms. If Johnson’s control is back to form while he continues to kill worms, his chances of being the closer in Oakland relatively soon look promising.
• Carlos Martinez threw a scoreless eighth inning tonight lowering his ERA to 2.93. Martinez “only” has 13 strikeouts in 15.1 innings pitched this year but his fantastic 13.5 SwStr% indicates more Ks are in his future. Martinez has maintained his high 90s velocity this year (96.9 mph) and projects to be one of the better set up men in the league. In a holds league, I’d look to buy low on Martinez’ good but not great and average K-rate if possible, knowing that both are likely to improve. Martinez won’t be sniffing saves unless Trevor Rosenthal gets hurt or moves to the rotation, neither are necessarily likely scenarios but the latter might be something to keep an eye on in deep dynasty leagues, as Martinez would clearly be the next in line.
• Brewers lefty Will Smith (2.46 xFIP) struck out both batters he faced tonight and has yet to allow a run in 11.1 innings this year. Smith’s walk-rate has been a bit high thus (4.79 B/9) far but it’s been basically average throughout his minor league career and brief time in the majors, so I don’t envision it being a concern. Smith is still behind Jim Henderson (who threw a scoreless inning tonight) on the saves ladder, but if K-Rod needs a day of rest (the dude gets saves daily) Smith could see an opportunity against a lefty heavy lineup.
[Green light, yellow light, red light: the colors represent the volatility of the bullpen order.]