• Deadbeat owners who had left J.J. Putz in their lineups were rewarded with his sixth save of the year and first since April 28th. It’s far from a definitive changing of the guard as the game was a 14-inning affair and current Diamondbacks closer Brad Ziegler tossed two scoreless innings (getting the win) immediately preceding Putz’s appearance. In early July, Eno Sarris gave Putz essentially a clean bill of health upon his return from an elbow injury, citing only a slight decline in fastball velocity as the only red flag. Well, the 36-year-old has certainly picked up heat since then, with his four-seamer now sitting 92-93 — fairly close to where it’s been the last couple of years. I’ve cited the issues with Ziegler as closer before (platoon splits, low K%, effective coming in mid-inning because of GB%), so readers know where I stand on this pen. It would not shock me if Putz reclaims the job in the next couple of weeks, so if you have the roster spot to burn and he’s sitting on the wire, go get him.
• Danny Farquhar jumped right back on the horse, nailing down a 4-3 win against the Texas Rangers this afternoon. It was nice to see a 1-2-3 inning, although Seattle’s closer was unable to ring anyone up via the punchout. Still, his two saves this series (one on Friday) were likely vital to him keeping a firm grasp on the job. Even though he is the owner of a sparkling 2.21 xFIP, managers are a finicky bunch, and another meltdown like the one he fell victim last Wednesday may have cost him his position as the hot hand. He’s still not lock-down safe, especially in a bullpen like Seattle that possesses some strikeout upside, but I also wouldn’t be teetering on the brink if I owned him.
The winning pitcher to Farquhar’s save? Yoervis Medina. Medina is probably gone in a lot of leagues thanks to his on-and-off status in the Mariners pen, but he’s MLB’s leader in holds over the last two weeks. He may walk too many batters (2.72 ERA over last month, but 4.25 xFIP due in large part to 15.7% BB%) but if you can stomach the WHIP hit, he could be a useful bulk holds and strikeouts source in league where you might need help in those areas.
• Farquhar was able to pick up the save because Joe Nathan coughed up a run in the top of the inning during a tie game situation. Nathan has been one of baseball’s top closers this year with a 1.63 ERA and 36 saves. The underlying metrics are not so pretty, however, as his xFIP sits at 3.75 after today’s outing, in large part thanks to a paltry 3.6% HR/FB% on top of a 47% FB% (only two homers). His SIERA (which takes batted ball profiles into account) is a slightly better 3.15, but still a run and a half higher than current ERA mark. Really ambitious owners who are doing well in saves and ERA/WHIP should probably dip their toe in the water as fantasy trade deadlines approach. Nathan has tremendous job security and should still be a top 10-15 reliever the rest of the way, but if you can sell him at his 1.63 ERA mark to help gain in other roto cats, you should strongly consider it.
[Green light, yellow light, red light: the colors represent the volatility of the bullpen order.]
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