• Jason Grilli seems to be on the road to recovery. The Pirates closer threw a simulated inning on Wednesday afternoon as he works his way back from a forearm strain. Assuming he doesn’t wake up with a swollen elbow, Grilli seems destined to head out on a rehab assignment this weekend or early next week. Assuming he’ll get 2-3 outings in, we may see him back in Pittsburgh next weekend. The 36-year-old still needs to avoid setbacks, but those who stashed him on their DLs may be handsomely rewarded in the saves department for the last few
months weeks of the season. Mark Melancon would be relegated to a setup role, but with 1.89 SIERA, you’re still using him to help clean up those ERA/WHIP rates anyway.
• Don’t look now, but Blake Parker may be getting the walks under control. Tabbed as the potential replacement for Kevin Gregg at the trade deadline, one of Parker’s major warts has been his propensity for giving up the free pass. Well, his BB% has dropped from 10.2% in June to 8.5% in July to 7.0% in August. His xFIP for the month coming into today was 2.76 and it’s going to drop some more after a 1-2-3, three whiff inning against the Dodgers this afternoon. His F-Strike% is on the upswing and his SwStr% remains well above average; both good markers going forwards. With Kevin Gregg slumping mightily (5.87 xFIP since the all-star break), it’s possible Parker gets a few cracks at the ninth down the stretch for a team that’s been looking to 2014 for a while now. Of course, it’s the Cubs, so don’t bank on double-digit save opportunities as a team the rest of the way. But Parker’s an interesting candidate in keeper leagues.
• Kevin Gausman got the callup (again) for the Orioles. However, one of Baltimore’s top prospects will be relegated to the pen, at least for the near future. The nice thing is, he’ll be SP eligible in most leagues that split SP/RP (so you can keep him in a starter spot when you know one of your scheduled rotation guys isn’t going). He should be able to rack up some whiffs with a fastball that will probably tick up into the upper-90’s in the pen (he was at 95+ as a starter earlier this year). If I had the space, I’d rather toss him out there than long-held closer handcuffs like Jared Burton or Luke Gregerson for the rest of the season. You never know, he could pitch like Francisco Liriano or Matt Moore did down the stretch in their first seasons.
• Quick hits: Koji Uehara keeps on keepin’ on with save number 14 in a 1-2-3 outing versus the O’s tonight. Joel Hanrahan is but a distant memory. Kenley Jansen struck out three batters in a non-save situation at home. He’s right there with Craig Kimbrel and Aroldis Chapman in my elite-elite tier that gives you bountiful saves and starter-like strikeout totals. Mmm.
[Green light, yellow light, red light: the colors represent the volatility of the bullpen order.]
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