Bullpen Report: July 28, 2013

• For those clinging to hope that John Axford will get the ninth inning role back for the Brew Crew this year… well… let’s say today didn’t go so hot for you. Coming in with a one-run lead in the eighth inning (Ron Roenicke would have gone to Jim Henderson in the ninth), Axford coughed up three hits and two runs, taking the “BS” and “L” as lovely parting gifts. Axford has curbed the walks recently (that’s good!) but has seen his already-below-career-average whiff rate continue to tumble (that’s bad!). His fastball velocity, while up a tick from his early season woes, remains down about one mph, although his SwStr% is right in line with his career norms. At this point, however, it’s fruitless to dissect his peripherals. Even though Axford had a great stretch until yesterday (0.32 ERA over 32 games), he still struggled gaining his manager’s confidence, and another outing like today may have “The Ax Man” right back in the doghouse.

• It feels like Kevin Gregg is putting the tying run on third base every outing these days. Today it wasn’t 100% his fault (thank his catcher’s throwing prowess) but once again, Gregg found himself needing to wiggle loose in a one-run game. While Gregg remains a prime target to be moved, the fact that he has a 5.63 ERA, a 10/12 K/BB, and a 25%+ LD% over his last 15 outings may get him yoinked from the role regardless. Of course, like they did with Carlos Marmol, the Cubs will keep running him out there to try and build trade value (thanks to the mystical save!). However, it’s tough to see Gregg being long for the job even if he’s not moved this week. Pedro Strop is a bit ahead of Blake Parker in the battle for number two in the Cubbies pen at the moment, but this is one relief corps is one that I’m generally staying away from unless I absolutely have to have the saves.

• Dodgers reliever Paco Rodriguez has a ridiculous 0.10 xFIP over the last month. After getting his feet wet as a 21-year-old last summer, Rodriguez has improved significantly during his second go-around in the big leagues, seeing his K% skyrocket and his BB% plunge. While he’s faced mostly lefties (and dominated them to the tune of a .161 wOBA against), he has also proved to be surprisingly solid against right-handers as well (.207 wOBA against). His GB% is 50% and climbing and his leverage index has increased since the beginning of the season, with six of his top seven games by inLI being in June or July. It remains to be seen whether he can be a true platoon-independent setup man, but he’s certainly improved his stock this year. He should be snatched in dynasty leagues and his appeal in redraft leagues counting holds only goes up the more high leverage situations he sees, as well.

Closer Grid:

Closer First Second DL/Minors
Arizona Brad Ziegler J.J. Putz David Hernandez
Atlanta Craig Kimbrel Jordan Walden Luis Avilan
Baltimore Jim Johnson Francisco Rodriguez Tommy Hunter
Boston Koji Uehara Junichi Tazawa Craig Breslow Andrew Bailey
CHI (NL) Kevin Gregg Pedro Strop Blake Parker
CHI (AL) Addison Reed Nate Jones Matt Lindstrom Jesse Crain
Cincy Aroldis Chapman J.J. Hoover Sam LeCure Sean Marshall
Cleveland Chris Perez Joe Smith Vinnie Pestano
Colorado Rex Brothers Matt Belisle Mitchell Boggs Rafael Betancourt
Detroit Joaquin Benoit Drew Smyly Al Alburquerque
Houston Jose Veras Jose Cisnero Wesley Wright
KC Greg Holland Aaron Crow Kelvin Herrera
LAA Ernesto Frieri Scott Downs Robert Coello Ryan Madson
LAD Kenley Jansen Ronald Belisario Paco Rodriguez
Miami Steve Cishek Mike Dunn Chad Qualls
Milwaukee Jim Henderson John Axford Michael Gonzalez
Minnesota Glen Perkins Jared Burton Casey Fien
NY (NL) Bobby Parnell LaTroy Hawkins David Aardsma Frank Francisco
NY (AL) Mariano Rivera David Robertson Joba Chamberlain
Oakland Grant Balfour Ryan Cook Sean Doolittle
Philly Jonathan Papelbon Antonio Bastardo Justin De Fratus Mike Adams
Pittsburgh Mark Melancon Justin Wilson Tony Watson Jason Grilli
St. Louis Edward Mujica Trevor Rosenthal Fernando Salas Jason Motte
SD Huston Street Luke Gregerson Dale Thayer
SF Sergio Romo Jeremy Affeldt Santiago Casilla
Seattle Tom Wilhelmsen Oliver Perez Yoervis Medina Carter Capps
TB Fernando Rodney Joel Peralta Jake McGee
Texas Joe Nathan Tanner Scheppers Jason Frasor
Toronto Casey Janssen Steve Delabar Brett Cecil Sergio Santos
Wash. Rafael Soriano Tyler Clippard Craig Stammen Drew Storen

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

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There are few things Colin loves more in life than a pitcher with a single-digit BB%. Find him on Twitter @soxczar.

11 Responses to “Bullpen Report: July 28, 2013”

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  1. eddiegaedel says:

    I saw Paco Rodriguez pitch in person today at Dodger stadium and he has a hitch in his mechanics that allow for batters to steal easier. He threw to first 3 or 4 times after hitting Choo before he eventually timed him out and got his second bag. The guy can pitch, but do you want the guy people can steal on in the ninth inning?

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    • Well, with Kenley Jansen there I don’t think P-Rod (can I call him that?) will the see the ninth inning anytime soon, but he’s a useful target in leagues that use MR more than your standard 5×5.

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  2. James says:

    I’m curious why you have Joe Smith listed ahead of Vinnie Pestano in the Cleveland bullpen. Smith has a 7.88 ERA, a 2.00 WHIP and a 1:5 K:BB rate in the month of July and is a sidewinder with no big league closing experience. Pestano, who saved 6/6 games while Chris Perez was on the shelf in June, has a stretch of 5 straight scoreless outings and is clearly the Tribe’s top setup man.

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    • The situation’s flipped a bit, but Pestano has a 4.52 xFIP and Smith has a 4.09. Smith also has a high gmLI which means he’s been coming in in more high-leverage situations. But they’re close.

      Cody Allen is also just off the list.

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  3. Add Bastardo says:

    Papelbon aired grievances to the press today, indirectly calling for his coach and his GM to be fired. Seems he wants out. I gather he’ll be traded in a face-saving move. Bastardo is so-so, but cheap saves are cheap saves, and he shouldn’t kill your rate stats.

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  4. George says:

    Need a little help: I’m looking @ J. Francoeur, E. Lucas, J. Satin & D. Solano. Who has the best potential? Thx.

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  5. Schnizzle says:

    Wesley Wright or Jose Cisnero???

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    • I’m going with Cisnero. I flipped them in the grid to reflect this.

      Ben will have an update tonight with the Veras trade and the new bullpen pecking orders for the Tigers and ‘Stros.

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  6. Odysseus says:

    With talk of the Rangers shopping Nathan, I’m hearing that Soria would most likely replace him in the closer role. If this trade were to play out, are you guys sticking with the idea that Scheppers would step into that role?

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