• We still don’t know the extent of Jason Grilli‘s injury and even though some of the early signs have been encouraging, he’s been placed on the 15-day DL. As we mentioned last night, Mark Melancon will take over as closer and it should be fun to watch Melancon take his 0.95/1.78/2.21 ERA/FIP/xFIP line from the eighth inning to the ninth. I’ve long agreed with Aaron Gleeman’s premise that “closing is a
rollrole, not a skill” and Melancon owners should fully expect him to continue his great season just with saves instead of holds. As we find out more information on how much time Grilli is expected to miss we will be sure to inform you here. In the meantime, Melancon pitched a scoreless ninth today, something we might be saying a few more times here on out.
• Francisco Rodriguez was traded to the Baltimore Orioles today and while he won’t be replacing Jim Johnson, he could find himself as the main set up option in Baltimore. Tommy Hunter and Darren O’Day are both solid options out of the pen too, but if something were to happen to Johnson, my gut says that Showalter would turn to K-Rod. As far as Milwaukee is concerned, Jim Henderson and John Axford should now be considered for saves. Henderson was more recently closing for the Brewers and is having a solid season overall (2.90 FIP/3.63 xFIP) but he’s struggling a bit of late, posting a 4.46 xFIP in June and an even worse 5.11 number so far in July. Axford’s been the opposite, struggling earlier this year and pitching well of late. In fact, since April 9, Axford has a 1.64 ERA in 38.1 innings across 44 appearances. If you throw out Axford’s first four outings of the year he’s actually been the best reliever in Milwaukee.
No announcement has been made as to who will close, but although Axford has been the better pitcher of late, Henderson has been pitching in the eighth and I’m going to put him first on the closer grid, with knowledge that it could change in a moment. Plus, whoever does gets the nod could be out of town soon anyway. This situation remains very fluid.
• If Mariano Rivera isn’t always perfect, we can’t expect Joe Nathan to be. Nathan blew a save tonight against the Yankees and while his ERA in the low ones is/was unsustainable, he’ll still put up a solid ERA and strikeout batters at a high rate (9.66 K/9). Add in the fact that he does it on a solid team like Texas, and Nathan remains at least a top ten closer option in fantasy baseball. And speaking of Mariano, wouldn’t you know, Mo came on to nail his 32nd save of the year in the same game.
• Bobby Parnell came back from a blown save last night to pitch a perfect ninth with two strikeouts for his 19th save of the year this evening. Armed with a 95+ mph fastball, it would be easy to expect a few more strikeouts from Parnell (7.83 K/9) but it’s hard to argue with the effectiveness of Parnell’s control (1.96 BB/9) and worm killing ways (52.3% ground ball percentage). Unless Parnell ups his strikeout rate a bunch he won’t rank among the top relievers in fantasy baseball. However, we still collectively ranked him 12th at the break, and with a 2.40 ERA that can be sustained based off of his peripherals, Parnell’s still one of the better closer options in the game.
• Alex Torres threw two scoreless innings tonight and is now the proud supporter of a 0.30 ERA in 30.1 innings pitched. Torres is far removed from seeing any save chances but with a 34% K% and 1.69/2.80 FIP/xFIP, he is certainly rosterable, and not just in deep leagues. If you need any evidence how starters can make great relievers, Alex Torres is a pretty darn good one.
• Bad stretch for Toronto relievers lately. Steve Delabar gave up four runs last night, Brett Cecil allowed three runs in only two-thirds of an inning tonight and Darren Oliver joined the party letting four runners score. Cecil, Delabar and Casey Janssen represented one of the better 1-2-3 punches in baseball and these are likely just a few blips, but damn does it stink when your relief ace who’s supposed to help your ratios lays an egg like that.
• This is not major news, but the Braves are interested in Padres left-handed reliever Joe Thatcher. Jordan Walden has a lock as the right-handed set up man but if Thatcher joins the squad, he could be seeing some high leverage innings in Atlanta. Pitching for the Braves should provide him a few more hold opportunities than in San Diego, and with a 3.08 xFIP and a fantastic 7:0 K:BB, Thatcher’s an intriguing option for those in NL-only leagues or leagues counting holds.
[Green light, yellow light, red light: the colors represent the volatility of the bullpen order.]
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