Bullpen Report: August 12, 2013

• Mariano Rivera got the day off today after a recent stretch that’s seen him blow his last three saves in a row. Trying to finish off a 2-0 gem by Hiroki Kuroda, Boone Logan came in to start the ninth and put a runner on first with one out for David Robertson. Even with a two-run lead, Robertson didn’t make things easy on himself, walking Mike Trout and giving up a bloop double to Josh Hamilton. With Trout acting as the tying run on third, the Yankees setup man intentionally walked Erick Aybar to load the bases before making Mark Trumbo and Chris Nelson look absolutely foolish on swinging strikeouts to end the game.

While tonight was a bit rocky, D-Rob is the heir apparent in New York following Rivera’s already-announced retirement at the end of the season. His 2.33 SIERA is right in line with his last two years and his BB% has continued to trend downwards. His K% has taken a bit of a hit this year, but his velocity isn’t way off and his SwStr% is right in line with his career norms so there isn’t a whole lot to worry about. There are no setup men I’d rather have in keeper/dynasty formats. If you are out of the race and have some pieces to auction off as you retool for next year, he makes an excellent acquisition target.

• Casey Janssen came in in a non-save situation (tie game) and, boy, he wasn’t a fan. After taking the bump in the top of the ninth of a 1-1 contest, Janssen didn’t head back to the dugout until the Athletics had scratched four runs across to take what eventually was confirmed to be an insurmountable lead. Janssen’s 2.89 SIERA is not quite as good as last year’s 2.42, but it’s plenty predictive of an above-average closer. A quick glance at the splits doesn’t raise any serious red flags — his xFIP is up and K’s are down a bit in August, but we’re talking four innings of sample size. His velocity (while more erratic than the average pitcher) seems fairly stable, even if it is down a bit from last year. I’m still not worried from a peripheral standpoint, especially since main competition Sergio Santos is still working back after his latest elbow injury, but don’t forget that Janssen himself is dealing with a shoulder that’s “not at full strength.” It’s something to watch as the season drags into its last couple of months.

• Is Aroldis Chapman back? After hitting a stretch from mid-June to the beginning of August that saw him put up a 5.84 ERA with a sub 3:1 K:BB ratio, Chapman has turned on the jets. After a 1-2-3 ninth with three punchouts tonight, the Cuban lefty has now recorded 12 of his last 15 outs via the “K” while not walking a single batter during that timeframe. Chapman’s 1.83 SIERA (coming into tonight) is not quite as good as it was last year, but a sub-2.00 mark combined with the same number of strikeouts as some starters keeps him planted squarely with Craig Kimbrel and Kenley Jansen in my top tier of ninth-inning relievers.

• The Rays acquired middle reliever Wesley Wright for cash considerations early Monday. Moving to a better team, Wright should see a slight uptick in value in holds leagues, but will be leaving a bullpen where he at least had a chance to scab some saves. Perhaps the biggest fantasy implication is that Josh Fields and Josh Zeid have one less warm body to battle with in the mess that is the ‘Stros pen.

Closer Grid:

Closer First Second DL/Minors
Arizona Brad Ziegler J.J. Putz David Hernandez
Atlanta Craig Kimbrel Jordan Walden Scott Downs
Baltimore Jim Johnson Francisco Rodriguez Tommy Hunter
Boston Koji Uehara Junichi Tazawa Craig Breslow Andrew Bailey
CHI (NL) Kevin Gregg Pedro Strop Blake Parker
CHI (AL) Addison Reed Nate Jones Matt Lindstrom
Cincy Aroldis Chapman J.J. Hoover Jonathan Broxton Sean Marshall
Cleveland Chris Perez Joe Smith Cody Allen Vinnie Pestano
Colorado Rex Brothers Matt Belisle Wilton Lopez Rafael Betancourt
Detroit Joaquin Benoit Jose Veras Drew Smyly
Houston Josh Fields Josh Zeid Chia-Jen Lo Jose Cisnero
KC Greg Holland Aaron Crow Kelvin Herrera
LAA Dane de la Rosa Ernesto Frieri Kevin Jepsen Robert Coello
LAD Kenley Jansen Paco Rodriguez Ronald Belisario Brian Wilson
Miami Steve Cishek Mike Dunn Chad Qualls
Milwaukee Jim Henderson John Axford Michael Gonzalez
Minnesota Glen Perkins Jared Burton Casey Fien
NY (NL) LaTroy Hawkins David Aardsma Scott Rice Bobby Parnell
NY (AL) Mariano Rivera David Robertson Joba Chamberlain
Oakland Grant Balfour Ryan Cook Sean Doolittle
Philly Jonathan Papelbon Justin De Fratus Jake Diekman Mike Adams
Pittsburgh Mark Melancon Justin Wilson Tony Watson Jason Grilli
St. Louis Edward Mujica Trevor Rosenthal Randy Choate Jason Motte
SD Huston Street Luke Gregerson Dale Thayer
SF Sergio Romo Jeremy Affeldt Santiago Casilla
Seattle Danny Farquhar Yoervis Medina Oliver Perez Tom Wilhelmsen
TB Fernando Rodney Joel Peralta Jake McGee Jesse Crain
Texas Joe Nathan Tanner Scheppers Jason Frasor
Toronto Casey Janssen Sergio Santos Brett Cecil Steve Delabar
Wash. Rafael Soriano Tyler Clippard Craig Stammen 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.

7 Responses to “Bullpen Report: August 12, 2013”

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  1. Cliff says:

    Ziegler seems to have at least earned a yellow-line distinction. I get that he’s 2-3 bad outings away from being replaced, and likely always will be this year. Yet in the 13 games pitched since his 1st save as the “closer,” he’s 1-0, 7-for-7 in save chances, 0.00 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 7/3 K/BB. Yes, he doesn’t strike out a lot of guys, but he doesn’t walk many at all either and he just seems to know how to “get the job done.” His seasonal L/R splits aren’t that drastic either. He dominates righties and he’s prolly slightly above average against lefties. Plus, it’s not as of Putz or Bell has been lights out exactly this year.

    I have more confidence in Ziegler than I do in a situation like Milwaukee, Toronto, or Cleveland. I look at it as how many bad games it would take for the guy to lose his job. And then combine that with whose behind the guy. JJ Putz and Heath Bell are both not very good pitchers at this point. Putz is streaky and injury prone. Bell is flat out awful(though he does seem to have some immeasurable amount of grit). At least in Toronto, Santos is a former closer who was pretty dominant when healthy; Cleveland hopes is Cody Allen is their future closer. Plus Perez is average at best. And in Milwaukee, Axford has looked good at times.

    Ok, I’m done ranting.

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    • Feeding the Abscess says:

      He blew a save as you were typing that. lol

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    • Thanks for the comment. Yes, but we can’t dismiss some of the concerns about Ziegler out of hand like that.

      The lack of K’s for a RP can be problematic b/c it opens them up to BABIP fluctuations (the more balls put in play, the larger the standard deviation of outcomes becomes.

      As far as the L/R splits, Ziegler has been about league average against LHH this year (.312 wOBA) but that comes in 96 PAA, a number which is far too small to throw out his .362 career wOBA against (575 PAA) in lieu of.

      Last night was a nice example of a way Ziegler can be exploited in the ninth. After Wieters (hitting lefty) grounds out, team calls back righty and pinch hits lefty who rips a single, the lefty Roberts walks, the lefty McLouth singles, the lefty Markakis hits a deep sac fly.

      He may be as good as Putz/Bell in the aggregate, but there’s a wasted opportunity cost moving his GB and RH-killer arm from the middle innings where he can come in with men on base.

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  2. Jack says:

    Read this column religiously and it’s helped a lot.

    My conundrum is that I have Melancon right now and unfortunately, Grilli COULD come back right before my leagues playoffs. All the guys I listed yesterday (Betancourt, Hawkins, de la Rosa, Putz, Frieri, Strop, Fields) are on the waiver wire. Picking one of them up now would “waste” a bench spot that could help me a little ROS with seeding. So…..do I:
    a) go ahead and pick up Betancourt now for protection and waste the slot
    b) wait until I see someone else pick one up and immediately pick up the next best guy (wasting a spot from that time forward)
    c) wait until I hear more about Grilli save the bench spot for other positions I need to finish strong but risk having one less closer for the playoffs. Grilli was supposed to throw this weekend but there is no news about him anywhere! Is no news good news for me?

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    • I’d just pick up Betancourt unless that spot is really critical (streaming?). He should be back by this weekend.

      Because Colorado is so far out of the playoff race, there is a risk (or reward) that they’ll stay with Brothers even after Betancourt comes back, but you can reevaluate and cut bait next week if that appears to be the issue.

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  3. Chris Mal says:

    Not that anyone should care, but mark my words, Chia-Jen Lo will get the next save opportunity for the Astros. He’s the only 1 of the bunch that has yet to implode, and watching the usage pattern, it appears to me that it’s as if they are trying to save him for the next high leverage situation is a similar pattern to the way they used Veras. The last time he pitched they saved him for the last inning in a close game they were losing after not having a save opportunity for a while, similar to how a team would use closer that hasn’t pitched for a bit. Granted small sample size and it could just be a coincidence, but that’s my hunch.

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    • Chris Mal says:

      :-) Less than 6 hours later… Chia-Jen Lo with his first career save. I’m so smart. Haha. (I understand it wasn’t as pretty as the line looks though. Shot to the warning track for an out, and another deep drive that was barely foul that otherwise would have been a HR.)

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