• Does anyone really know what is going on in Joe Maddon’s head? Just as we were debating moving the Tampa Bay bullpen situation yellow (in Jake McGee‘s favor), the Rays’ skipper used elite relievers Brad Boxberger and McGee prior to the ninth inning in Sunday’s tilt with the Twins. Who got the ninth? Old friend Grant Balfour. Don’t run to the wire just yet; Balfour retired the first hitter before issuing a pair of walks with a two-run lead. Maddon had seen enough and yanked the righty for former Triple-A closer Kirby Yates who induced a ground out and a pop out for his first career major league save. Worth noting: Joel Peralta missed Saturday and Sunday’s games with an illness.
There’s little reason to toss around reliever statistics, since we have covered this bullpen pretty in depth over the last few weeks (the most recent iteration being last Sunday). I have to assume McGee gets the next save opportunity — I don’t actually think today’s events changed a lot. If anything, it A.) shows that the team desperately wants to get Balfour right (the latest notion is that he has been tipping his pitches) and B.) likely pushed Balfour back out of the ninth inning for another couple weeks.
• Like the Rays, the White Sox bullpen has been a bit of a fantasy quagmire. Before Sunday’s game, manager Robin Ventura said that Zach Putnam and Jake Petricka were the favorites for ninth inning chances (at least right now). The White Sox didn’t win today (Daniel Webb had a bad day), so we didn’t get to see who Ventura was going to run out there. Petricka has the better stats but the less sexy peripherals. His fastball is hard (94 mph) but doesn’t generate a lot of swings and misses, leading to a subpar K% (16% career). In addition to the lack of whiffs, he also has posted a 12% BB% over the last couple years — not something you look for in a shutdown reliever. He does push a 62% GB% which helps mitigate some of the damage the poor K/BB percentages cause.
Zach Putnam‘s ERA isn’t quite as shiny as Petricka’s, but everything under the hood looks better. Better K%, better BB%, better ERA predictors. The 27-year-old also wrapped up Chicago’s last two saves, so he looks like the de facto guy now, although a couple hiccups (unlucky or not) could change that in a hurry. Of note, Matt Lindstrom is making decent progress from his ankle injury, and could be ready sometime next month. While I am certainly no fan of Lindstrom’s peripherals, this bullpen is so messy that Ventura may run right back to his “proven closer(TM)” so it might be worth stashing him if you think you may be looking for scab saves in September.
• The Padres trade of Huston Street to the Angels was a pretty cut-and-dry affair but it’s worth touching on. Street immediately becomes the new closer in Los Angeles, bumping Joe Smith back to a relief role. Smith did nothing wrong, but Street has less severe platoon splits (not that Smith’s are terrible), a longer closing track record, and a sexy 2.45 SIERA thanks to a bounceback in his strikeout numbers this season. Heading south, Joaquin Benoit takes over as the closer in San Diego. Unfortunately, he probably was already gone in a lot of deeper leagues thanks to A.) trade speculation, B.) Street’s injury history, and C.) Benoit’s solid peripherals. Owners may not want to rely on the big righty to remain San Diego’s closer for the rest of the year, however, as trade rumors are also swirling around him (George Clooney is excited that a possible trade is “up in the air”). It’s probably worth stashing Dale Thayer in deeper leagues.
• Quick hits: Zach Britton bounced back from a blown save yesterday to record a one-out save (thanks, Darren O’Day!) today. It’s going to take more than one outing to undo the good he’s done so far in 2014. Aaron Loup also recorded a one-out save after Casey Janssen scuffled a bit in a non-save situation. It was Janssen’s first outing after missing a few games with an illness, so he’ll get a pass for this one.
[Green light, yellow light, red light: the colors represent the volatility of the bullpen order.]
Print This Post