-For the second consecutive evening Kevin Gregg found himself in a bit of trouble on the hill, but unlike last night, the right-hander overcame a few mistakes — including, but not limited to a throwing error and a walk — en route to his 16th save of the twenty-thirteen campaign. Sure, Gregg didn’t take the conventional route to seal the victory for the Cubbies tonight, but he did in fact provide keep the Cardinals off the board. The save aside, are we starting to see Gregg turn back into a pumpkin? I’m not exactly sure, but the 35-year-old reliever is 0-1 and 5-of-7 in save opportunities in his last eight trips to the hill. He’s allowed four earned runs and two homers in those same eight appearances after allowing just two earned and homer in his first 24 outings. Gregg’s recent struggles parlayed with the potential of him wearing a different uniform and serving a different role come the trade deadline, I’d be asking your leaguemates what they’d be willing to give up to acquire his services.
–Craig Kimbrel locked down his 25th save of the season — and 15th consecutive save since May 9th — with a 13-pitch outing tonight in a 6-5 Braves victory over the Reds. The 25-year-old right-hander yielded a leadoff single, but fanned two and induced a line out to left to convert the save. On the year, Kimbrel is 2-2, 25-of-28 in save chances with a 1.57 ERA, a 1.02 WHIP and strikeout rate just north of 37%. Many in the fantasy community live by the “don’t pay for saves” policy — and I do at times as well — because this year, like many in the past, there has been some nice late value at the closer position. With that said, you can’t blame owners for investing in a guy like Craig Kimbrel.
–Jim Johnson earned his league-leading 31st save of the ‘13 season tonight, needing just 14 pitches to close out the Rangers, 3-1. Johnson surrendered two hits in tonight’s outing, but he got the job done by doing what he does best — inducing groundouts, three of them to be exact. The groundballer is now 31-of-37 in save opportunities with a 3.83 ERA and a 1.30 WHIP. Johnson also has just three fewer saves (31) than strikeouts (34) on the year. He will continue to get the ball in the ninth for the Orioles, but for fantasy baseballers, this one-trick pony may not be the easiest reliever to own.
-Quick Hitters: Tom Wilhelmsen took his third loss on the season tonight in a non-save situation. The lanky right-hander needed 38 pitches to get through an inning-and-a-third — a hit and two free passes lead to the lone earned run — in the closer’s losing effort. The bartender has served up 74 pitches over the last two days, so for those streaming relievers, Oliver Perez could be a nice option on Friday should Wilhelmsen be unavailable. Arizona’s doesn’t have a closer, apparently. Tonight, with J.J. Putz unavailable, Brad Ziegler earned his second save of the season. And the Diamondbacks are apparently in the market for some bullpen help, although, help from within the organization is more likely than the club making a deal for a reliever. Jake McGee picked up his first save of the year with Fernando Rodney unavailable to go tonight.
[Green light, yellow light, red light: the colors represent the volatility of the bullpen order.]