Final Bullpen Report before most players embark on a mini-vacation. I like Mariano Rivera if you are in some sort of high-stakes “who gets the save in the all-star game” pool. Or is that just me?
• There’s been some chatter over the last week or so that Jonathan Papelbon might be one of a host of closers who could be had in a trade this month. Unfortunately for Ruben Amaro, he certainly didn’t help his value today, blowing save number five and robbing Cole Hamels owners of a ‘W’ (luckily for the Phanatic, the Phils still won in extras).
Paul Swyden had a great piece on the all-star closer last week. Papelbon’s velocity is down this year, continuing a year-over-year trend since his arrival in Philly. We know velocity (especially for relievers) is correlated with K%, so the decrease raises some red flags, especially since his 22% K% in 2013 is the lowest of his big league career. At 32, Papelbon is no spring chicken, and the days of him working 95-97 may be history.
Assuming I’m a Papelbon owner (I’m not, because I don’t buy big-name closers!), I think I’d use the break as a time to evaluate my “saves situation” and determine whether or not I could (or should) extract some value. Papelbon was the second closer off the board in mixed leagues this spring, going somewhere between rounds 5 and 8 depending on your league size. If you can still get top-10 value for him, I’d jump. Those in deep, deep leagues could do worse than Antonio Bastardo as a speculative saves play, although the walk-prone Justin De Fratus has also gotten some high-leverage opportunities and could be an option as well.
• “The Bartender” appears to have reacquired his liquor license. Tom Wilhelmsen looks like he’s back in the ninth full-time as he notched another “SV” in the box score against the Angels this afternoon. Owners still aren’t out of the woods, however, since he’s still posting a 4.49 xFIP. Why? Well, the fact his BB% is now in double digits doesn’t help. His K% is way down (18%) although his fastball velocity and SwStr% are above-average (and right where they were last year) so I do think more whiffs are on the horizon.
Possibly the bigger concern for his owners may be a potential trade. Like Papelbon’s Phillies, the Mariners appear to be treading water (at absolute best) and closers tend to be pieces that bring back more actual value in deadline deals. Unlike Papelbon, Wilhelmsen also brings team control (through arbitration) at reasonable prices. There hasn’t been a ton of smoke this year regarding dealing the righty, but the Mariners have options behind him (Oliver Perez, Stephen Pryor (rehabbing), Carter Capps (now in AAA)) so don’t be surprised to see him go somewhere (possibly to set up?) if Seattle gets a sexy offer.
• Steve Cishek pitched badly in a non-save situation, getting abused by both righties and lefties alike on the Nationals. His June and July (until today) were much better (2.71, 1.60 xFIP), so he’s still the best bet for saves in Miami, but he’s going to be prone to bad innings. Matt Thornton got squeezed a bit, but still took the loss in extras against the A’s. Especially now that he’s in Boston, I wouldn’t really roster him unless my fantasy lineup had a LOOGY spot; he’s slowly losing his ability to get righties out with regularity. Pride of Worcester, Mass., Tim Collins took the loss for the Royals. His fastball velocity is still fine, but his SwStr% (and K%) are way down this year thanks to command issues. I like the strikeout upside, but I’m not using him in holds leagues until he shows at least a month of elite stuff again. Speaking of middle relievers, Santiago Casilla is also back after missing almost two months with minor knee surgery.
[Green light, yellow light, red light: the colors represent the volatility of the bullpen order.]
Print This Post