• Aroldis Chapman allowed two baserunners but also struck two guys out en route to his 18th save of the year in game one against the Cubs today. Chapman’s ERA is higher than some of the other top tier relievers this year but he’s actually quietly having his best year yet. In 25.2 innings Chapman has 49 stirkeouts. His BB% (8.6) is the lowest it’s ever been since 2012 (8.3%) and his K% is an absurd 50.5 %. That’s right, Aroldis is now striking out over half of the batters he faces with an average fastball velocity of 100 mph. No joke. Unsurprisingly his FIP and xFIP are tremendous at 0.85 and 1.04 respectively. Chapman doesn’t register ground balls at an elite rate, but with so few bats even making contact, even less makes great contact. There’s not much else to say here, we all know he’s among the league’s best, if not the best and ranks in the top three fantasy relievers at the worst.
• Apparently Ruben Amaro didn’t trade Jonathan Papelbon last year because “the team lacked a clear replacement.” But now with Ken Giles emerging as a good, young long-term replacement there is ample reason to look to move Papelbon. Of course his contract will likely be prohibitive but if the Phillies can eat some cash, Papelbon could find a new home. If that’s the case, it seems as though Ken Giles would be closing with Antonio Bastardo remaining in a setup role. Bastardo’s history of filling in for saves kept him next in line in our grid, but I feel confident swapping those two now. We’ll be sure to keep you posted as trade rumors heat up this July, but in the meantime look for Giles as a sneaky second half save target.
• Cody Allen threw a perfect ninth with two strikeouts for his 10th save of the season tonight. When John Axford initially lost his job there were grumblings about Axford regaining the role but Allen has pitched passed the committee and taken the reigns of this job outright and that chatter has certainly stopped. Allen’s closing gig is secure and Bryan Shaw is cemented in the setup innings for Cleveland. Axford is still missing bats but his sky high walk rare (6.49 BB/9) prevents him from regaining his role again.
• Jenrry Mejia had the night off after a longer outing last night and the Mets said they would use Jeurys Familia in his place. Although there wasn’t a save situation, Familia was brought in for the final two outs in the ninth as Buddy Carlyle and Dana Eveland left the door ajar. Mejia’s hold on the job is still firm and tonight’s outing helped show Familia’s grasp as the main setup and backup closer is as well.
• Jake McGee was called on for a four-out save and closed the door for his sixth save of the season. However, it wasn’t all clear as McGee allowed two runs in the ninth but still secured the lead for the Rays. Even after a subpar outing, McGee is still the best reliever on the Rays and a couple of runs in the ninth shouldn’t sway Joe Madden too much on the next save opportunity that arises. Money might be a different issue if the Rays wish to limit McGee’s saves for his arbitration price but the team is playing well and McGee gives them the best chance to win. However, nobody has been anointed a closer as yet so this is still a committee, with McGee atop the list.
• Last we heard the Cardinals might give Rosenthal some rest but he entered tonight’s game in a 4-4 tie in the ninth inning. Rosenthal was a bit shaky, allowing a hit and a walk but escaped without any damage. His fastball velocity was looking on par with his norms so in spite of some control that has alluded him a bit this season, there aren’t any real injury concerns. Rosie may continue to slightly disappoint fantasy owners expecting Aroldis Chapman type production but he’ll still continue to rack up saves with strikeouts for a competitive team.
[Green light, yellow light, red light: the colors represent the volatility of the bullpen order.]
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