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