(I tried to come up with a good Sunday night *NSync joke but couldn’t…)
• Not a good day to be a Kevin Gregg owner. After the Cubs finally scratched out the first two runs of their game versus the Padres this afternoon in the top of the 13th, Chicago’s “still” closer promptly coughed the runs back up, meaning the 3,000 fans left at Petco had to stick around for another few innings if they wanted to see a resolution. Gregg has been bad — to put it mildly — over the last couple of months, posting a sub-1.00 K/BB (0.69) and a 5.62 xFIP (not including today) since the all-star break. He somehow has racked up nine saves over that span, but has allowed multiple baserunners in most of them. Talk about walking on the edge. There hasn’t been too much chatter as to how hot “the goggled one’s” seat is, but even if he was assured the ninth inning job, I don’t know if I could stomach the ERA/WHIP hit (and marginal K loss) as the roto season enters its final stretch.
• Gregg wasn’t the only “closer on a bad team who is tough to own” to fare poorly today. Chia-Jen Lo spoiled a Dallas Keuchel gem by allowing a pair of runs (partly thanks to three free passes) in the top of the ninth, turning a 1-0 lead into a 2-1 deficit (a margin saved by fellow, but opposing, closer Casey Janssen). Lo has also been a trendy pickup in fantasy circles for owners scrounging for saves. He brings the heat with a mid-90’s fastball, but an 7/8 K/BB rate in 10.1 innings is just not going to cut it. He has posted better walk rates in the minors (albeit while dodging injury), but closing in the majors is somewhat of a “here and now” proposition. Regardless, the Astros situation (like the Cubs) is one I’ve recommended avoiding unless you are absolutely in dire need of saves — today just underscored that point.
• I had started pimping J.J. Putz on Twitter. Here’s a guy with strikeout stuff whose velocity and control seemed to be trending back after his elbow injury earlier this season. Couple that with current closer Brad Ziegler‘s platoon/strikeout issues, and he seemed like a great target if you were looking for punchouts and saves the rest of the season. Welp. Of course Putz would suffer a dislocated finger and end up on the disabled list. This wasn’t just a typical “oh, pop it back in” dislocation either — bones protruding through skin, open wounds, infections — blech. Putz vows to be back the day he is available; he probably doesn’t need to be rostered in standard leagues right now unless you have like 10 DL slots and want to burn one, but he’s someone to watch in September. Ziegler hasn’t been perfect lately and Heath Bell is pitching like — well — last year’s Heath Bell.
• Quick hits: Rex Brothers notched another save today. I still don’t believe he’s an elite option because of his SIERA (3.31) but his mark is plenty good enough to hold the job down. He’s a good keeper buy for next year if Rafael Betancourt‘s elbow issue is anything even quasi-major. Ernesto Frieri got save number 27 yesterday — for now he appears to be back out of Mike Scioscia’s doghouse, although we know that could always change in a hurry. Frieri owners with bench spots open might want to keep Dane de la Rosa rostered as a handcuff for at least another week or two. LaTroy Hawkins blew up in a non-save situation today. It was ugly. That said, outside of maybe David Aardsma, the Mets don’t really have anyone to turn to, so expect him to get the next opportunity.
[Green light, yellow light, red light: the colors represent the volatility of the bullpen order.]