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Bullpen Report: August 26, 2012

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.

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 Andrew Bailey Alfredo Aceves Mark Melancon
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 John Axford Kameron Loe Jim Henderson
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 Chris Resop
St. Louis Jason Motte Mitchell Boggs Edward Mujica
SD Dale Thayer Luke Gregerson Brad Brach Huston Street
SF Sergio Romo Javier Lopez Santiago Casilla
Seattle Tom Wilhelmsen Stephen Pryor Charlie Furbush
Tampa Bay Fernando Rodney Joel Peralta Kyle Farnsworth
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.]