Bullpen Report: July 1, 2013

Welcome to July and the halfway point of the season! Now is the time to see how much ground you can gain in saves and holds as we inch closer to both the MLB trading deadline and your league specific deadline. A few bullpen situations are sure to change and we’ll provide the latest and greatest rumors so you can snag that next-in-line closer before the current one is moved.

Koji Uehara blew his first save as the anointed Red Sox closer last night but was actually fortunate enough to receive the win. The last time the Sox made a closer switch, Junichi Tazawa was named closer but the Sox are now going with Uehara. I don’t think the Red Sox will be so fickle as to remove Uehara because of a rough outing or two, especially since he’s pitching to a 2.58 xFIP. However, considering the Sox gave him the first chance and the fact Uehara might receive a few more days off than a normal closer to keep him fresh, Tazawa should remained owned in fantasy leagues. Even if he wasn’t going to sniff the ninth inning Tazawa is worthwhile of a roster spot with a 2.94 xFIP, a 9.73 K/9 and the third best strikeout to walk ratio among all relievers.

• After throwing two innings the night before and picking up the win, Fernando Rodney pitched a scoreless ninth last night for his 17th save of the season. Rodney’s thrown 6.1 scoreless innings in a row but more impressive is the fact he’s struck out 11 batters while only issuing a single walk in that time frame. Rodney still supports a less than mediocre 5.97 BB/9 but in June that number was a solid 3.00 after posting a 7.50+ BB/9 in April and May. 2012 will always be Rodney’s career year but if Rodney keeps his walks in check while striking guys out at an increased rate compared to last year, Rodney could be a sneaky good closer for fantasy teams this year.

Carlos Marmol was designated for assignment on June 25th, and now the Cubs and Dodgers are discussing a possible trade because of course they are! It might sound ridiculous that the Dodgers would have interest in Carlos Marmol but remember, this is the same team that gave three-year contracts to Matt Guerrier and Brandon League. I suppose Marmol could rediscover some magic in LA but he’ll have to have a very extended hot streak before he sniffs any fantasy radar.

• In other Cubs related news, according to Ken Rosenthal, the Cubs are a safe bet to trade Kevin Gregg. Gregg picked up a save last #13 last night and will continue to receive chances while on the Cubs but if traded, don’t expect him to see too many ninth innings. Many contenders are looking for bullpen help but with the exception of Detroit, I’d expect them to want some additional arms in the late innings, not a new closer. If you’re a Gregg owner and can afford to lose out on a few saves, I would consider trading him to someone expecting him to be a closer for the remainder of the year as that doesn’t seem likely.

Steve Delabar struck out the side today against the Tigers and has 57 strikeouts in 40 innings pitched with a 1.58 ERA. For someone without any groundball tendencies, Delabar has been a little fortunate with the long ball but his 3.52 xFIP is still plenty good, especially when it comes with those strikeouts. Casey Janssen is secure as closer but Delabar has made himself an impressive setup option, and if anything were to happen to Janssen expect him to record saves instead of holds while piling on the Ks.

J.J. Putz received his first save opportunity since returning from the DL and surprise surprise he blew it against the Mets. David Hernandez gave up four earned runs on Saturday but he was back pitching in the eighth inning tonight after Heath Bell finished off the seventh. Hernandez gave up two more hits and an earned run this evening and now has an ugly 4.71 ERA with a slightly less ugly xFIP of 4.08. Heath Bell hasn’t necessarily had a great year either but his 3.28 xFIP bests both Hernandez and Putz (3.80). J.J. Putz will have a longer leash than one save opportunity to hold onto the job but with Hernandez struggling of late, I still expect Heath Bell to be next in line.

Closer Grid:


Closer First Second DL/Minors
Arizona J.J. Putz Heath Bell David Hernandez
Atlanta Craig Kimbrel Jordan Walden Cory Gearrin
Baltimore Jim Johnson Darren O’Day Tommy Hunter
Boston Koji Uehara Junichi Tazawa Andrew Bailey
CHI (NL) Kevin Gregg James Russell Blake Parker
CHI (AL) Addison Reed Jesse Crain Matt Thornton
Cincy Aroldis Chapman J.J. Hoover Sam LeCure Sean Marshall
Cleveland Chris Perez Vinnie Pestano Joe Smith
Colorado Rafael Betancourt Rex Brothers Wilton Lopez
Detroit Joaquin Benoit Drew Smyly Al Alburquerque
Houston Jose Veras Hector Ambriz Wesley Wright
KC Greg Holland Aaron Crow Tim Collins Kelvin Herrera
LAA Ernesto Frieri Scott Downs Robert Coello Ryan Madson
LAD Kenley Jansen Brandon League Ronald Belisario
Miami Steve Cishek Mike Dunn Chad Qualls
Milwaukee Francisco Rodriguez Jim Henderson John Axford
Minnesota Glen Perkins Jared Burton Casey Fien
NY (NL) Bobby Parnell Brandon Lyon LaTroy Hawkins Frank Francisco
NY (AL) Mariano Rivera David Robertson Joba Chamberlain
Oakland Grant Balfour Ryan Cook Sean Doolittle
Philly Jonathan Papelbon Antonio Bastardo Justin De Fratus Mike Adams
Pittsburgh Jason Grilli Mark Melancon Tony Watson
St. Louis Edward Mujica Trevor Rosenthal Fernando Salas Jason Motte
SD Huston Street Luke Gregerson Dale Thayer
SF Sergio Romo Jeremy Affeldt Jean Machi Santiago Casilla
Seattle Yoervis Medina Oliver Perez Tom Wilhelmsen
TB Fernando Rodney Joel Peralta Jake McGee
Texas Joe Nathan Tanner Scheppers Jason Frasor
Toronto Casey Janssen Steve Delabar Brett Cecil Sergio Santos
Wash. Rafael Soriano Drew Storen Tyler Clippard

[Green light, yellow light, red light: the colors represent the volatility of the bullpen order.]

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When he's not focusing on every team's bullpen situation, Ben can be found blogging at Ben's Baseball Bias and on Twitter @BensBias

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Ugh when will the Mariners actually have a save opportunity so we can speculate on who the closer is?


I sat on Medina for a week because of his SP eligibility. He’s flat now and on the wire. I don’t think they’ll ever need a closer again.