• Oh, Jim Johnson. Oakland’s “closer” continued his rough start to the season earlier, getting yanked in the middle of a save opportunity. Oakland eventually won the game in extras, but it is little consolation to the groundballer’s fantasy owners. He’s allowed a seemingly unlucky 9 hits on 16 balls in play so far this year, but owns an ugly 4/6 K/BB ratio. His velocity is right where it should be and he’s had a history of pretty good control, so it may just be a rough couple of outings. That said, it’s an awful time for him to have a rough couple outings, as he hasn’t had a chance to establish himself in the Oakland bullpen.
There are three great arms behind Johnson if the A’s did decide to make a move. Ryan Cook just came off the disabled list. While Cook established himself as a semi-elite right-handed arm last season, the team will likely be gentle easing him in, so he probably needs some work before we get too excited. Sean Doolittle also emerged as an impressive option last season, although his left-handedness is somewhat of a problem (since managers don’t like lefty closers). In Doolittle’s case, it really shouldn’t be; he actually has reverse splits (he’s tougher on righties than lefties) over his career. Luke Gregerson actually posted the best xFIP of the late inning group of Oakland relievers listed in this article in 2013 (3.37). Small sample size, but he has shown the stuff has carried over as he took the hour-and-a-half flight from San Diego to Oakland.
So who would get a hypothetical job if hypothetically Jim Johnson were to be given a breather in Oakland’s hypothetical world? Honestly, there’s a lot of reasons to like Gregerson. He’s right-handed, is throwing well this season, and has closing expiereince (Huston Street occasionally gets hurt). In addition, he’s on a guaranteed contract, meaning any accumulated saves are not likely to hurt Oakland’s bottom line going forward; something that could happen if either Cook or Doolittle garner ninth inning chances. I’m not sold Johnson gets stripped of the job until he has another meltdown or two, but I’d prioritize Gregerson-Doolittle-Cook in that order if I wanted to speculate.
• Joe Nathan says he has a bit of a dead arm which would explain the early season 7.76 xFIP. It probably explains some of it, but he’s still 39. I’d sell if he puts together some solid outings (although I wouldn’t have bought in the first place, I suppose). EDIT: Nathan just had a large meltdown against the Dodgers. Without waiting for the post-game presser, a DL stint could be a possibility. I know the official MLB depth chart says Joba Chamberlain but I like Al Alburquerque a touch more (he never really got a fair shake under Jim Leyland). Roster both if you have the room and can wait a couple days to see if there’s any fire to Nathan’s smoky right arm.
• Shawn Kelley had a ninth inning to forget today, giving up two earned runs that sent the Yankees to another loss. It wasn’t technically a blown save since the game was tied, but owners still took a hit in the ERA/WHIP categories. Nothing in Kelley’s PitchF/X numbers or peripherals indicate anything is amiss, so I’m more apt to chalk this one up to a bad outing and not fret too much if I’m an owner. Matt Thornton and Adam Warren‘s names have appeared on “most added” lists this afternoon, but Thornton is just an all-around bad option and Warren, while passable, is a worse pitcher than Kelley. The only Yankee I might roster in really deep leagues is big arm Dellin Betances, but that’s because of his potential whiff upside. He’s still an underdog to see time in the ninth.
• Casey Janssen came out of a bullpen session feeling good and might be headed on a rehab assignment. Even if he looks great, the Jays may have an interesting ninth inning on their hands when he comes back as long as Sergio Santos is past his early game hiccups.
[Green light, yellow light, red light: the colors represent the volatility of the bullpen order.]
Print This Post