• Somehow, some way, Kevin Gregg is still with the Cubs. Maybe other teams realized he’s not good? Heck, saying Gregg hasn’t been good lately is a bit of an understatement. He’s posted a 5.79 ERA over the last month (13 appearances) but his 6.67 xFIP is even uglier. As 2013 has marched along his strikeout rate has tailed and his walk rate has climbed. While some speculate Gregg could be moved in August, it’s still somewhat surprising (to me at least) the Cubs didn’t get something (anything?) for him. Even with his recent regressions, his cool 3.05 ERA should have gotten some needy team to toss a C-level prospect back.
Pedro Strop continues to be the top guy in line behind Gregg. While “The Goggled One” has struggled over his last 14 innings, Strop has put up a (surprisingly) adept 2.60 xFIP over the same time frame. Flamethrower Blake Parker remains an option, but, although he has a lower ERA than Strop over the last 30 days, he has a higher xFIP because he’s not garnering the same number of swings and misses. Strop remains the speculative guy to own, but we’ve said it before; unless you are desperate, desperate, desperate for saves, playing around in the Chicago bullpen is probably not worth the effort.
• Don’t say I didn’t warn you. I’ve taken some flack this year for ranking Ernesto Frieri so low in our composite rankings. Well, the combination of his wildness and, well, Mike Scioscia might be taking its toll. Last night Frieri blew another save, bringing the recent counting stat totals to eight earned runs on nine hits and four walks over his last four outings. His walk rate on the season is an ugly 13.2% and he’s getting dangerously close to Carlos Marmol territory. Luckily for him (and his fantasy owners) his 33% K% has kept the xFIP in check, but the peripherals still point to a guy who is going to go through stretches of wildness and inconsistency.
Unfortunately for Frieri, inconsistency in the ninth inning is something his manager has historically dealt terribly with. So much so, that it appears the Angels may be trending back towards the dreaded “committee.” Scioscia “admitted Frieri’s confidence “might be a little nicked right now” and that he’ll try to match up a little bit more in the ninth inning.” Blech. With Frieri’s former tango partner Scott Downs having moved across three time zones, it appears Dane de la Rosa (3.30 xFIP) and Kevin Jepsen (3.95 xFIP) may get a few save opportunities going forward.
• Couple more quick hits. Mike Dunn notched a four-out save tonight in lieu of Steve Cishek who had the night off after a long misadventure yesterday. As a southpaw, he could be an option to neutralize his fellow lefties if they start bashing around the sidearming Cishek, but the Marlins job still belongs to the right-hander. Mark Melancon racked up save number five in Jason Grilli‘s absence. He should be gone from the wire in all leagues with non-comatose owners and there’s no reason to believe he won’t continue being a top-15 RP the rest of the way (he’s number seven by peripherals as of tonight).
[Green light, yellow light, red light: the colors represent the volatility of the bullpen order.]