Bullpen Report: August 17, 2014

• The dreaded “closer in a non-save situation” apparently bit Aroldis Chapman today. Chapman warmed in the top of the ninth with the Reds up by two, but Jay Bruce and Bryan Pena singles stretched the lead to a four-run cushion. Rather than sit Chapman down, Dusty Baker Bryan Price brought him in, thinking “what’s the worst that could happen?” Well, four walks later (28 pitches, 12 strikes) and Chapman was yanked without recording an out. His consecutive games without a strikeout streak has now reached two. J.J. Hoover was tasked with putting out the fire, but only threw gasoline on it, eventually giving up a two-out, walkoff home run to Drew Stubbs (taking the “L” in the process).

Chapman had previously struggled with command (ex: 20% BB% in 2011) but had shaved the walk rate significantly in the years since then. That’s what made this outing so unexpected. Coming into the game, the Cuban lefty had allowed 14 walks in 142 batters faced — today, he was a perfect four-for-four. Chapman’s velocity was still in the triple-digits, so his sudden control issues weren’t an obvious injury. Interestingly, he had three location clusters this afternoon; over the plate, high, and low and inside/outside to righties/lefties. Having pitches cluster that tail away from the arm side (top to bottom) like that may imply a mechanics issue, although his release point was consistent enough. It bears watching, especially since Chapman has been dealing with a hamstring injury on and off lately, but I would need to see a few more bad outings before I start worrying too much.

• We had the always fun dueling blown saves in Washington today. First, Rafael Soriano had another poor showing, giving up three runs on a pair of hits and a walk before Mark Melancon picked up a “BS” of his own, allowing an earned run on an Asdrubal Cabrera single.

Melancon hasn’t been quite as good as he was in 2013, but his peripherals are still there. Don’t panic. Soriano’s recent performance has been more concerning, although Matt Williams gave him the vote of confidence saying “he’s been our closer all year and I don’t see that changing right now.” The Nats’ closer’s xFIP is now up to 4.05 and it’s north of 5.00 since the all-star break. His velocity isn’t down significantly, but the strikeout numbers have dropped rapidly as the summer months have dragged on. As I mentioned last week, he’s one of the top “sell high” closers, especially if you can find an owner desperate to try and climb in that roto category. It’s not inconceivable that Tyler Clippard or Drew Storen get a ninth-inning look if Soriano doesn’t right the ship soon.

Trevor Rosenthal got yanked from a save opportunity after walking three of the four batters he faced (something, something, hard throwing closers in the NL Central and throwing strikes, something). Mike Matheny had seen enough and called on Seth Maness, who immediately allowed a pair of the inherited runners to score before settling down and holding down a one-run game. The young righty’s xFIP remains a decent (if unspectacular 3.51) and, until recently, he’d been pitching as well as he had all season (1.99 ERA in July). That said, these occasional hiccups aren’t helping a team fighting for a playoff spot. While Matheny reiterated after the game that Rosenthal was his guy, you should heed Alan’s advice and roster Pat Neshek in most spots (still available in 77% of Yahoo! leagues as of this posting).

• Quick hits: Jim Johnson made his Tigers debut today. It did not go well. Jake Petricka rolled up save number nine on the season. He looks like the lead dog in Chicago… for now. Joaquin Benoit was unavailable due to shoulder soreness, but the team thinks it is minor and he’ll be ready to go Tuesday. Hector Rondon tossed a 1-2-3 inning for his 17th save of the season. He’s been a bit bumpy in spots, but is in the running for “waiver wire reliever out of nowhere of the year.”

Closer Grid:

Closer First Second DL/Minors
Arizona Addison Reed Brad Ziegler Oliver Perez
Atlanta Craig Kimbrel Jordan Walden David Carpenter Shae Simmons
Baltimore Zach Britton Tommy Hunter Andrew Miller
Boston Koji Uehara Edward Mujica Junichi Tazawa
CHI (NL) Hector Rondon Neil Ramirez Kyuji Fujikawa
CHI (AL) Jacob Petricka Zach Putnam Matt Lindstom
Cincy Aroldis Chapman Jonathan Broxton Sam LeCure Sean Marshall
Cleveland Cody Allen Bryan Shaw Scott Atchison
Colorado LaTroy Hawkins Adam Ottavino Rex Brothers
Detroit Joe Nathan Joba Chamberlain Al Alburquerque Joakim Soria
Houston Chad Qualls Tony Sipp Josh Fields
KC Greg Holland Wade Davis Jason Frasor
LAA Huston Street Joe Smith Jason Grilli
LAD Kenley Jansen Brian Wilson Brandon League
Miami Steve Cishek Bryan Morris A.J. Ramos
Milwaukee Francisco Rodriguez Will Smith Brandon Kintzler Jim Henderson
Minnesota Glen Perkins Jared Burton Casey Fien
NY (NL) Jenrry Mejia Jeurys Familia Vic Black Bobby Parnell
NY (AL) David Robertson Dellin Betances Adam Warren
Oakland Sean Doolittle Luke Gregerson Dan Otero
Philly Jonathan Papelbon Ken Giles Jake Diekman Mike Adams
Pittsburgh Mark Melancon Tony Watson Jared Hughes
St. Louis Trevor Rosenthal Pat Neshek Seth Maness Jason Motte
SD Joaquin Benoit Kevin Quackenbush Dale Thayer
SF Santiago Casilla Jeremy Affeldt Sergio Romo
Seattle Fernando Rodney Danny Farquhar Dominic Leone
TB Jake McGee Brad Boxberger Grant Balfour
Texas Neftali Feliz Neal Cotts Shawn Tolleson
Toronto Casey Janssen Aaron Loup Brett Cecil
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.

8 Responses to “Bullpen Report: August 17, 2014”

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  1. CR says:

    Dusty Baker? LOL

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  2. James Ronstadt says:

    You’re seriously criticizing Bryan Price for using Chapman with a 4-run lead at Coors Field? A 4-run advantage is basically equivalent to a 3-run lead at any other park.

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  3. Bbboston says:

    What’s the latest opinion on neftali Feliz?

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  4. jon says:

    I own Casilla and Rosenthal – do you think I should roster Romo and Neshek over speculating on Familia in order to secure the Saves on SF and STL? Or is one of them expendable to stash Familia?

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  5. BB says:

    For this week’s lineup, need to start 2 of Chapman (7 games), Doolittle (5), and McGee (6). Trying to decide who is odd man out. Only priority is number of saves (although all three of these guys are generally high-K, low ratio types anyway).



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