• Double dip of closer results in the Minnesota/San Diego game. On the Minnesota side, Glen Perkins blew his fourth save of the season allowing the tying run to come around after a leadoff double, walk, and a few sacrifices. Don’t fear Perkins owners. Aside from being a fan of Fangraphs, Perkins continues to own a sparkling 2.11 SIERA, one of the best marks among major league relievers. Unfortunately, some of his fantasy value is sapped in that he doesn’t play for a powerhouse winner, although his 28 saves are 9th most in baseball. On the flip side, San Diego closer Joaquin Benoit made things a bit messy for himself in the after San Diego picked up the lead in the 10th, allowing the tying run to get to second (and the winning run to reach first) before getting Eduardo Nunez to pop out. While I don’t think it is probable, Benoit’s contract makes him a candidate to get moved before August 31st. Second-in-line Kevin Quackenbush picked up the win today by tossing a scoreless ninth inning, although he did walk a pair. He’s a nice saves handcuff and a decent holds play, but there are other high-end bullpen arms out there I like more if you just need rates.
• Neftali Feliz bounced back from his first blown save by polishing off a 3-1 game against Chicago this afternoon. Interestedly, Neal Cotts was left in to face fellow lefty Adam Dunn before Feliz was called on to punch out the last couple batters. The two strikeouts are a positive, although Feliz’s velocity continued to be subpar. The fact that Cotts was allowed to face a batter in the ninth inning probably speaks more to this bullpen — Ron Washington may be inclined to play matchups a bit more than he would with a lockdown guy who starts every ninth inning. It also implies Cotts is the handcuff to own here if you believe Feliz is due to falter down the line.
• Kyuji Fujikawa was activated from the disabled list today. The righty is working his way back from Tommy John surgery and almost certainly will be eased into a bullpen role over the next few weeks. Today was a good example as he tossed a scoreless sixth inning (no strikeouts, no walks) with his fastball sitting around 91-92 mph (a tick down from his pre-injury numbers). I’ve seen some chatter (on “the Twitter,” for example) about him being a viable option as Chicago’s closer. While I never tell people not to stash if they have the room, it seems like a longshot for the Japanese righty right now. While Hector Rondon did blow a save yesterday (BABIP!), his SIERA remains outstanding. He also has managed to hold the gig through more than a few hiccups, implying that the team is at least quasi-comfortable with him in the role, especially if they aren’t contending this year. Look for Fujikawa to possibly play a more vital role in 2015, but his 2014 value seems likely to be rather marginal.
• It is interesting to note that five of the top six relievers by “unlucky” ERA-FIP splits are deposed closers (Ronald Belisario, Josh Fields, Ernesto Frieri, Jim Johnson, Joakim Soria). Soria doesn’t really need explanation, and if he was dropped in your deeper league, go get him for rates and as Nathan insurance. Of course, Frieri and Johnson are only on that list because their defense independent predictors are marginally less terrible than their actual ERAs (but still terrible). Belisario never really got a fair shake as a closer, but could remain a marginal source of holds and rates going forward (even if he can’t strike anyone out). Josh Fields may be the most interesting name on the list. The righty’s 2.10 SIERA has been the best in Houston’s pen and, when healthy, he has been one of the best relievers in the American League this year. His strikeout numbers are up and a 12% SwStr% imply they might be sustainable. His biggest improvement centers around getting his BB% under 10%. Should he keep these rates up, there seems to be a good chance he’s in the mix for the Astros closer gig next spring. I’d stash him in dynasty leagues if I had the roster space. Worst case, he helps you down the stretch in a few categories, best case, you hit the lottery and end up with a keepable RP next year.
[Green light, yellow light, red light: the colors represent the volatility of the bullpen order.]
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