Bullpen Report: August 19, 2012

Steve Cishek polished off save number nine on Saturday, but not before Marlins fans had to reach for the antacid. Cishek gave up three singles to turn a three-run game into one where Jordan Pacheco came to the plate as the winning run. Luckily (for Miami) Pacheco grounded out, preserving a 6-5 win. Cishek had previously been untouchable since being installed as the new Marlins closer (0.77 ERA, 13/3 K/BB in 11.2 innings since mid-July), so owners shouldn’t panic yet. Yes, Cishek does have unfavorable platoon splits and, yes, the Marlins would surely like their $27 million man (Heath Bell) to do what he’s being paid $9 million a year to do (close games) but — for the time being — the closer job is not up for debate in Miami.

Carlos Marmol also notched a save on Saturday. Since being reissued the ninth inning role in mid-June, Marmol has quietly been very effective, putting up a 2.61 ERA (2.90 FIP, 3.76 xFIP) with a 29/13 K/BB in 20.2 innings. Marmol’s fastball velocity charts look almost like some sort of weird, low frequency wave pattern, but the big take-home is that he’s throwing harder than he has over his last two-plus years. His K% has climbed and his BB% has fallen so there is reason to suspect that whatever ailed Marmol early in the season is in the rear-view mirror. He’s unlikely to ever return to being an elite option like he was a couple years ago (especially with the Cubbies struggling to win games) but he’s probably no longer a liability to your team (expect maybe the WHIP department) and he’s capable of helping in saves and strikeouts.

Frank Francisco also pitched a clean ninth this weekend, finishing off Jonathan Niese’s gem against the Nationals. Francisco has run into trouble lately (discussed in multiple iterations of the Bullpen Report) but Terry Collins has stood behind his closer all season. Francisco’s peripherals are pedestrian (4.30 xFIP) but his 0.354 BABIP is really sending that ERA (6.06) into “Ugly Town.” It’s tough to consider him a shutdown guy (and you can make an easy argument that Bobby Parnell and his 3.09 xFIP would be a better closer) but he’s probably good enough that he can skate by and hold onto his job for the time being. He’s not out of red-light territory yet because another meltdown or two and you might see Collins make a change, but the more often the “no runs” version of Francisco shows up, the more job security he’s going to get.

For those of you who play daily fantasy games like FanGraphs: The Game, or just like to stream players, here is a matchup you may be able to exploit.

A Pitcher for Tomorrow: Matt Thornton (CHW) vs. NYY

I’m pretty much reprinting Friday’s rationale. “He might not be the closer, but Thornton might have the best ratios of anyone in the White Sox pen (3.29 xFIP, 3.5 K/BB).” While Thornton didn’t pitch Saturday against the lefty-heavy Royals, he didn’t pitch Sunday either and gets the lefty-heavy Yankees on Monday. Robin Ventura has to get him some work sometime, right?

Closer Grid:

Closer First Second Off 25-Man
Arizona J.J. Putz David Hernandez Takashi Saito
Atlanta Craig Kimbrel Eric O’Flaherty Jonny Venters
Baltimore Jim Johnson Pedro Strop Darren O’Day
Boston Alfredo Aceves Andrew Bailey Andrew Miller
Chicago (NL) Carlos Marmol James Russell Shawn Camp
Chicago (AL) Addison Reed Brett Myers Matt Thornton
Cincy Aroldis Chapman Jonathan Broxton Sean Marshall
Cleveland Chris Perez Vinnie Pestano Tony Sipp
Colorado Rafael Betancourt Matt Belisle Rex Brothers
Detroit Jose Valverde Joaquin Benoit Octavio Dotel
Houston Wilton Lopez Francisco Cordero Wesley Wright
KC Greg Holland Kelvin Herrera Aaron Crow
LAA Ernesto Frieri Scott Downs Jordan Walden
LAD Kenley Jansen Brandon League Javy Guerra
Miami Steve Cishek Heath Bell Mike Dunn
Milwaukee Jim Henderson John Axford Kameron Loe
Minnesota Glen Perkins Jared Burton Alex Burnett Matt Capps
NY (NL) Frank Francisco Bobby Parnell Jon Rauch
NY (AL) Rafael Soriano David Robertson Boone Logan
Oakland Grant Balfour Ryan Cook Sean Doolittle
Philly Jonathan Papelbon Antonio Bastardo Josh Lindblom
Pittsburgh Joel Hanrahan Jason Grilli Juan Cruz
St. Louis Jason Motte Mitchell Boggs Edward Mujica
SD Dale Thayer Luke Gregerson Brad Brach Huston Street
SF Sergio Romo Jeremy Affeldt Santiago Casilla
Seattle Tom Wilhelmsen Shawn Kelley Charlie Furbush
Tampa Bay Fernando Rodney Kyle Farnsworth Jake McGee
Texas Joe Nathan Mike Adams Alexei Ogando
Toronto Casey Janssen Brandon Lyon Darren Oliver
Wash. Tyler Clippard Drew Storen Sean Burnett

[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.

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Shouldn’t that be Matt Thornton against the Yankees today, rather than the Royals?