• J.J. Putz is off of the DL and back on the Diamondbacks bullpen. He threw a scoreless inning last night but he’s still behind Brad Ziegler as the Addison Reed handcuff. Reed had been diagnosed with a “tired arm” previously but he returned to the ninth inning in this afternoon’s game and struck out two Astros en route to his 16th save of the season. Reed’s fly ball tendencies and previous struggles this season should keep Ziegler on your roster a bit longer for speculative saves but the job is firmly in Reed’s hands.
• Late last night Chad Qualls picked up his eighth save of the season. The last time Qualls gave up any earned runs was on April 19th and since then he’s thrown 16.2 innings in 18 appearances with a 17/1 K/BB ratio. I wouldn’t quite call Qualls a relief ace but he’s an effective reliever getting saves on Houston. I have to eat my words a bit here because earlier in the season I said speculating and/or chasing saves in the early season Astros closer by committee situation might not be worth the trouble. Anyone who held onto Qualls has certainly been rewarded and with the Astros fielding a competitive team with their recent callups, there are worse teams to own a closer on.
• Speaking of worse teams…Jonathan Papelbon pitched around two hits for his up his 14th save (and 300th in his career) for the Phillies tonight. Papelbon has an impressive 1.48 ERA but his strikeout rate is on a four year decline while his walks have also increased since last year. His 91.3 average FB velocity would be the lowest mark of his career and it’s a safe bet to say his ERA will rise in the second half this season. Although he’s several years younger, Papelbon’s 2014 season is looking a lot like Joe Nathan‘s 2013 – minuscule ERA in spite of fewer strikeouts, increased walks, declining velocity and very few home runs allowed despite very few ground balls. We have witnessed Nathan’s blow up this year and it wouldn’t be all that surprising to see something similar with Papelbon in 2015, if not before then.
• Trevor Rosenthal has largely been disappointing for the Cardinals this season. Although 17/20 on saves isn’t particularly bad, fantasy owners expected better than an ERA approaching four. Fortunately Rosie looked better this evening throwing 1.1 scoreless innings with one walk and two strikeouts for the save but if he wants to become the relief ace he was last year he will certainly need to approve upon his 4.99 BB/9. Still, even if Rosie doesn’t end the year as one of the best fantasy closers ratio wise, he isn’t in any imminent danger of losing the job and should at least continue to rack up save totals and K’s.
• The Rays did not have a save opportunity this evening but in a one run game Joel Peralta got the final two outs of the eighth inning with Jake McGee throwing a scoreless ninth. It’s tough to determine who will get the first shot at saves in their current committee based on this one outing but I’m confident in keeping McGee atop the list in the grid below.
• Jenrry Mejia has been a bit shaky lately so it’s nice to see him put up a clean inning in the ninth tonight. Although it wasn’t a save situation he threw a perfect inning with a four run lead and his job still seems relatively safe in Queens, even with Jeurys Familia and Vic Black lurking behind him.
• As some readers pointed out Shae Simmons is gaining steam in the Braves bullpen and he might have leapfrogged David Carpenter in the pecking order. Meanwhile, Jordan Walden was activated from the DL today and even if he isn’t immediately thrown into high leverage situations, I expect him to return to his familiar setup role soon enough.
[Green light, yellow light, red light: the colors represent the volatility of the bullpen order.]