• It’s not the highest endorsement one could receive from their manager but if/when Kevin Gregg is traded, the Cubs could turn to Blake Parker as a replacement. Blake Parker is a rookie but he’s on the older side at 27 years old and with a 2.25/2.82/4.03 ERA/FIP/xFIP line, Parker’s deserving for the ninth inning even if he’s only thrown 16 innings thus far. Parker doesn’t have a fastball in the upper nineties but he’s still been able to generate a lot of whiffs with a 12.7% SwStr% leading to a solid 9 K/9 while exhibiting enough control (2.81 BB/9). Parker has shown an ability to miss bats throughout his minor league career but his control has held him back. If he’s able to maintain his walk rate like he has this season he should have continued success, if not, the Cubs might have to look elsewhere.
Elsewhere isn’t too enticing but if it’s not Parker, James Russell from the left side could receive a few save opportunities along with the recently acquired Pedro Strop. Like many a reliever, Strop has electric stuff combined with erratic command. A change to the NL will likely help but Strop’s walk rate has climbed each year and it will have to come down from it’s current 5.61 BB/9 if he wants to see meaningful innings. Unless of course the Cubs want to see another Carlos Marmol.
• In other trade related news, the Mets have said they want to hold onto Bobby Parnell but that might not be the smartest decision. As Joel Sherman mentions, the Red Sox and Tigers are looking for late inning help. However, unless the Red Sox and Tigers let a piece like Jackie Bradley Jr. or Nick Castellanos available, Parnell might be more valuable for the next great Met team. The Marlins already traded Rickey Nolasco but Joe Frisario says that Steve Cishek isn’t necessarily next to be traded. With player control for another three years, the Marlins aren’t in a rush to get something out of Cishek, and similar to the Mets with Parnell, it might be wise for them to hold out for a particularly strong deal.
• Another day, another save for Greg Holland. Holland now has 22 saves on the year to go with a 1.39 xFIP and 60 strikeouts in 35 innings pitched. His 15.43 K/9 and 44.7 K% both lead the league. Aroldis Chapman and Craig Kimbrel were previously the undisputed top closers in the league, and while that likely remains, Greg Holland is making it a three-way conversation if he keeps this up.
• Elsewhere in saveland: Fernando Rodney launched his 21st arrow, Grant Balfour remained perfect on the year with his 24th save, Antonio Bastardo picked up his second save of the year with Papelbon resting, and Craig Kimbrel (24) and Chris Perez (10) closed their team’s respective doors.
[Green light, yellow light, red light: the colors represent the volatility of the bullpen order.]