• Casey Janssen closed out a win for the Blue Jays tonight against the Rockies for his 15th save of the year but of more particular interest to us is Brett Cecil who go the last two outs in the eighth inning. Cecil recorded a win and is now 3-0 with a 1.53 ERA and 2.03 FIP on the year with a 4/1 strikeout to walk ratio. Brett Cecil came on to face two lefties in Carlos Gonzalez and Todd Helton but Cecil is more than just a LOOGY out of the pen with a .262 wOBA against right-handed batters this year. Cecil, along with Steve Delabar are the main set up options in Toronto to provide holds all year and if something were to happen to Mr. Janssen, don’t be surprised to see Cecil get a chance to see the ninth.
• Greg Holland (15) and Aroldis Chapman (18) both picked up saves tonight and both have been top notch closers, even though they aren’t necessarily atop the leaderboards in saves. Among qualified relievers, Chapman ranks second in the majors with a 43.3% strikeout percentage, right ahead of Holland (40.0%) who ranks third. Aroldis, as we all know, speaks for himself but as Holland continues to pitch extraordinarily well (1.68 FIP), we will have no choice but to rank in the upper echelon of closers this year and on draft sheets for 2014.
• Jonathan Papelbon blew his first save of the year tonight but was lucky enough to also get his first win of the year when the Phillies scored in the bottom half of the ninth inning. Papelbon remains one of the better closer options but it’s worth noting that his Ks have dropped a little this year to 8.39 K/9 after posting numbers in the double-digits the previous six seasons. After years of having a fastball velocity in the mid-90s, Papelbon was at 93.8 mph last year and only at 92.6 this year. However, even with the decreased velocity, Papelbon’s missing bats at the same rate (12.6% SwStr%) as last year, so an uptick in his strikeout rates could be in store. While teams looking looking to bolster their bullpen might be better off targeting a Jesse Crain, Papelbon’s a quality reliever that could be moving at the deadline. We’ll be sure to update you with any rumors as they appear with Papelbon, Crain and any other move that can shake the bullpens as trade talk starts to heat up.
• Everyone is wondering if Jose Valverde or Joaquin Benoit will receive the next save opp for the Tigers, so naturally it’s Drew Smyly that gets the save tonight. However, this save was of the three inning variety and the regular ninth inning role is still up in the air between Papa Grande and Mr. Benoit. Smyly might be more valuable as a multi-inning reliever but his numbers this year (1.94 ERA; 2.22 FIP and 3.5 K/BB) could play anywhere. I still feel it’s between Valverde and Benoit, but Smyly’s name is worthy of the closer grid. If I was forced to choose between the two for who will receive the next chance, my guess would be Benoit but this situation is still undecided, Leyland has shown a lot of love for Valverde and I still have an inclination that someone from outside Detroit, whether it be by trade or a minor league call up (Bruce Rondon) could closing games later this year.
[Green light, yellow light, red light: the colors represent the volatility of the bullpen order.]
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