– Craig Kimbrel locked down his 9th save on 10 pitches tonight in a 3-2 Braves victory over the Nationals. The right-hander whiffed just one batter in the top of the ninth-inning resulting in a dip of his K% from 38.9% to 38.5% on the season. Oof. Kimbrel is now 9-of-10 in save opportunities with a 1.69 ERA (1.03 FIP) on the year. But the narrative shouldn’t just be about ninth-inning man here. Fredi Gonazlez summonsed both Jordan Walden and Eric O’Flaherty from the ‘pen prior to calling on the closer. Combined, Walden and O’Flaherty dished 2.2 clean innings while fanning five Nationals. Entering tonight, the Braves bullpen held a 2.18 ERA (2.84 FIP) in 70.1 IP. Not bad.
– Jim Leyland spoke at length on Monday prior to the Tigers’ three-game series against the Twins. Leyland indicated he would not be willing to send Papa Grande to the hill three days in row just yet, mostly because “Valverde didn’t have any spring training and [Leyland] didn’t want to do anything stupid.” Joaquin Benoit assumed the ninth-inning gig tonight and earned his second save on just two pitches. If you’re streaming middle relievers — or just very desperate for saves — add Benoit and monitor Leyland’s use of Valverde, for a few random save opportunities. And Valverde is owned in just 67% of Y! leagues, feel free to add him where available — it’s safe for now.
– Colin and Ben have both mentioned the “ghost of Kevin Gregg” in recent editions of the Bullpen Report. And once again tonight, the ghost has returned. Gregg dished one-and-a-third innings — fanning two of the four batters he faced — en route to his fourth save of the season and a 5-3 Cubs victory over the Friars. The 34-year-old has just 5.1 innings under his belt but is currently the owner of a 0.00 ERA and a 28.6% K%. Gregg’s recent success could lead to a closer controversy next week when Kyuji Fujikawa is scheduled to return from the disabled list. Fuji hit the DL with a right forearm strain, but tossed 32 pitches in a side session today and could head out on a rehab assignment as early as Sunday with Triple-A Iowa.
[Green light, yellow light, red light: the colors represent the volatility of the bullpen order.]
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