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Bullpen Report: July 18, 2012

Francisco Rodriguez earned his second save in as many days in dramatic fashion. The Brewers current closer loaded the bases, walked in a run before inducing a Lance Berkman flyout to end the game. Despite the demotion of John Axford into lower pressure situations, Brewers Manager Ron Roenicke noted that he would ideally reclaim ninth inning duties by the end of the season.

Jim Johnson is quietly having one of the better seasons for a closer, and is a perfect example of why “some” preach not to “pay for saves.” According to an unnamed worldwide leader in sports, Johnson was the 30th closer taken off the board in fantasy baseball drafts and had an overall ADP of 210. Tonight, Johnson needed just six pitches to lock down his 27th save in 29 chances, which tied him for the league lead, and ranks him sixth on the infamous “player rater” among true closers. He’s not the elite strikeout closer some may accustomed to seeing in the ninth (2.56 K/BB entering today), but he’s strutting some decent ratios: a 2.50 ERA (3.64 xFIP) and a 0.93 WHIP. For now, the 2.50 ERA looks to be a bit lucky due to the fact that batters are only hitting .212 on balls in play, but if you can deal with some potential regression, then continue to ride the wave.

• Two rough outings in a row for Tyler Clippard, who surrendered two ninth-inning homers and struck out the side en route to his 15th save of the year. The “goggled one” has now yielded five earned in his last two trips to the hill, and six earned in his last five outings. While he’s still sporting a 4.0 K/BB in his last five games, he’s given up eight hits, three of which didn’t land in the field of play. In other news, Drew Storen “threw a dominant 1-2-3 inning on Tuesday in Potomac, needing just 11 pitches to whiff two and induce a groundout.” Nationals Manager, Davey Johnson, suggested that Storen could be activated as early as tomorrow (Thursday).

• For Alfredo Aceves owners, or those chasing saves, it’s worth noting that Andrew Bailey threw another bullpen session today. The thirty-pitch session, his third since suffering a setback last month, came off the mound and featured all fastballs. There were “no setbacks reported and he’s felt as good as he’s felt in a long time.” Filling in for the injured Bailey, Aceves has saved 20-of-24 opportunities with a 4.05 ERA (4.12 xFIP) and a 2.39 K/BB.

For those of you who play daily fantasy games like FanGraphs: The Game, or just like to stream players, here is a matchup you may be able to exploit.

A Pitcher for Tomorrow: Drew Storen (WAS) vs. NYM

As previously noted, Tyler Clippard has been roughed up a bit in the past few days, and with the potential activation of Drew Storen, the Nationals may not want to overwork Clippard should they be in a save situation.

Closer Grid:

Closer First Second Off 25-Man
Arizona J.J. Putz David Hernandez Bryan Shaw
Atlanta Craig Kimbrel Eric O’Flaherty Jonny Venters
Baltimore Jim Johnson Pedro Strop Darren O’Day
Boston Alfredo Aceves Andrew Miller Mark Melancon Andrew Bailey
Chicago (NL) Carlos Marmol James Russell Shawn Camp
Chicago (AL) Addison Reed Matt Thornton Hector Santiago
Cincy Aroldis Chapman Sean Marshall Jose Arredondo
Cleveland Chris Perez Vinnie Pestano Tony Sipp
Colorado Rafael Betancourt Matt Belisle Rex Brothers
Detroit Jose Valverde Joaquin Benoit Octavio Dotel
Houston Brett Myers Brandon Lyon Wilton Lopez
KC Jonathan Broxton Greg Holland Aaron Crow
LAA Ernesto Frieri Scott Downs Jordan Walden
LAD Kenley Jansen Josh Lindblom Shawn Tolleson
Miami Heath Bell Steve Cishek Edward Mujica Juan Oviedo
Milwaukee John Axford Francisco Rodriguez Jose Veras
Minnesota Matt Capps Glen Perkins Jared Burton
NY (NL) Bobby Parnell Jon Rauch Ramon Ramirez Frank Francisco
NY (AL) Rafael Soriano David Robertson Boone Logan
Oakland Ryan Cook Grant Balfour Jerry Blevins
Philly Jonathan Papelbon Antonio Bastardo Jake Diekman
Pittsburgh Joel Hanrahan Jason Grilli Juan Cruz
St. Louis Jason Motte Mitchell Boggs Eduardo Sanchez
SD Huston Street Luke Gregerson Dale Thayer
SF Santiago Casilla Sergio Romo Javier Lopez
Seattle Tom Wilhelmsen Brandon League Charlie Furbush
Tampa Bay Fernando Rodney Kyle Farnsworth Jake McGee
Texas Joe Nathan Mike Adams Robbie Ross
Toronto Casey Janssen Francisco Cordero Darren Oliver
Wash. Tyler Clippard Sean Burnett Henry Rodriguez Drew Storen

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