• Alfredo Aceves did not take kindly to Andrew Bailey getting a save on Friday, reportedly tearing off his jersey after the game before storming into Bobby Valentine‘s office and demanding to talk with general manager Ben Cherington. The team responded by suspending him for three games (Saturday, Sunday, and Monday). As I talked about in yesterday’s Bullpen Report, Aceves has been skating on thin ice for a while, and may have finally snapped when the guy the BoSox acquired to pitch the ninth inning finally returned from the disabled list. The Sox have not announced that Bailey is the new ninth inning guy (3.42 career xFIP, 76 saves), but with Aceves’ 4.31 xFIP and an underwhelming career 2.6 SD/MD ratio, it seems the writing is on the wall. (Mark Melancon got the save on Sunday with Aceves and Bailey unavailable. He’s been scattered around between high- and low-leverage situations lately, so nothing important to see here.)
• Frank Francisco tallied save number 21 on Saturday, but it’s been an interesting weekend for New York bullpen usage. With Jeremy Hefner running into trouble in the ninth inning while trying to pin down a complete game shutout, it was Bobby Parnell that got up and loosened in the bullpen (eventually coming in after Hefner gave up his own lead). Astute followers would probably note that Francisco had pitched both Friday and Saturday, and therefore might not have been available Sunday. This makes sense, although it should be noted that Francisco pitched in the eighth inning of a 3-1 loss on Friday — very “not a save situation.” Parnell has the lowest xFIP in the bullpen (3.12), better than both Francisco (4.15) and Jon Rauch (4.58) and is also the youngest of the trio. Parnell’s problem is that he struggled late last season when being tasked with the ninth and never seemed to regain Terry Collins’ confidence. That said, the Mets bullpen is looking more and more like it might be up for grabs — keeper leaguers looking ahead to 2013 (especially Francisco owners) should snag Parnell off the wire and keep him tucked away for safekeeping.
• Glen Perkins had to try and convert a one-run save in Texas versus the Rangers — always a difficult task. He did so with flying colors, however, tossing a one-two-three inning on eight pitches (including an impressive punchout of David Murphy). Perkins and Jared Burton have quasi-shared high leverage situations (including save opportunities) over the last few months, something fantasy owners probably haven’t cared about too much given the fact that the two of them only have 12 saves combined. Perkins has quietly been very effective this year, pitching to a 3.27 xFIP thanks to a tidy 4.1 K/BB. His fastball velocity has increased each of the last four years (89.7, 92.0, 94.0, 94.9 mph) and odds seem favorable that he’ll eventually wrestle full control of the closer gig all to himself (if not this year, in 2013). With his solid peripherals and potential job, he makes for an interesting keeper candidate but also shouldn’t be overlooked for those hoping for a late-season boost in rates as well as a handful of saves.
• Luke Gregerson got the save (his first) for the Padres tonight. Before anyone thinks there might be a changing of the guard imminent in San Diego, Dale Thayer has actually been away on paternity leave. Gregerson has significantly outperformed Thayer in the peripherals department (3.27 xFIP to 4.07, 25.7% K% to 18.7%) but the Padres have stuck by Thayer during Huston Street‘s injuries. Deep league vultures can pick up Gregerson and hope he gets more opportunities going forward, but, like Minnesota, the Padres closing situation is somewhere between the 30th and 32nd most desirable in Major League Baseball at the moment.
NOTE: While “press time” for this column is 11:00 PM Eastern, it was actually finished at 1 AM London time (8 PM ET). Thanks to some rain delays, a couple of tonight’s games may miss the cut. We’ll cover any additional Addison Reed/Tom Wilhelmsen dual-blown saves on Monday.
A Pitcher for Tomorrow: Aaron Crow (KC) vs. BOS
Crow has put up a solid 1.86 xFIP over the last 30 days and the Red Sox lineup is significantly more pedestrian with the loss of Adrian Gonzalez. Even though the Royals bullpen has been used heavily the last two days, Crow only tossed one-third an inning on Sunday — he should be good to go on Monday.
[Green light, yellow light, red light: the colors represent the volatility of the bullpen order.]