Drew Storen is throwing off a mound and is targeting the all-star break for his eventual return to the Nationals bullpen. Tyler Clippard has a stranglehold on the ninth inning job for the time being, but given Davey Johnson’s hesitance to use Clippard outside his familiar setup role early in the season and Storen’s career rates (8.7 K/9, 3.45 xFIP), it seems like there will be at least one more closer change in the DC metro area before the season is over. If Storen is lurking on your waiver wire, it might be time to add him to the watch list (shallower leagues) or scoop him up (deeper leagues). Clippard is worth holding for the time being, but maybe some covert shopping to find an owner who will pay for Clippard as the rest-of-season closer is in order.
Matt Capps‘ shoulder sidelined him this weekend. The Twins are saying it’s nothing serious and that they hope to have him back on Tuesday (after Monday’s off day), but if Capps is more sore than we are led to believe, this might be the door crack that Glen Perkins needs to swoop in and steal the job. Since moving to the bullpen full-time, Perkins, widely considered to be Minnesota’s closer-of-the-future, has exhibited great stuff (9.5 K/9 in 2011, 11.8 in 2012) and improved velocity (mid-90′s fastball as a reliever compared to high-80′s/low-90′s as a starter). Capps hasn’t been bad this year (and he throws strikes — 1.1 BB/9), but is a useful trade chip for the Twins and lacks Perkins swing-and-miss stuff. If more negative news leaks out of the Twin Cities about Capps, run (don’t walk) to the wire and grab Perkins if you need help in saves and strikeouts.
Sean Marshall got the save Sunday after Aroldis Chapman had worked the past two nights and three of the past four. I touched on Marshall’s quasi-unfair demotion from the closer role a few weeks back, and like clockwork, his counting stats (3.16 ERA) are slowly falling back in line with his peripherals (2.22 xFIP). Cincinnati’s main setup man has only allowed one earned run in his last 14 appearances (dating back to May 20th) and should remain one of the top relievers in leagues that could holds. While it is likely somewhat premature to start thinking about this, if the Reds do indeed move Chapman into the rotation next year (something they toyed with this year), Marshall would be the odds-on favorite for saves again in Cincy’s pen. Might be a nice keeper target, either via trade or the wire.
Ernesto Frieri earned another save Sunday, easily locking down a 2-0 win. Scott Downs has only racked up one save since late May, so, even with his ribcage injury considered, it looks like Frieri may slowly be gaining the upper hand in Los Angeles. Jason Motte blew a save Sunday, serving up a two-out home run to Billy Butler. Motte’s ERA (3.41) has regressed a bit from 2011 (2.25) towards his career xFIP (3.60) but still should have leash in St. Louis. Addison Reed blew a ninth-inning lead Sunday after successfully closing out a win Saturday. Reed’s xFIP is a touch high (4.08), but that’s primarily a function of the fact that he’s only given up one home run in 22.2 innings this season. The White Sox and Robin Ventura seem committed to him in the ninth, but he’s not on rock-solid ground.
For those of you who play daily fantasy games like FanGraphs: The Game, or just like to stream players, here is a matchup you may be able to exploit.
A Pitcher for Tomorrow: Scott Downs (LAA) vs. SF
The Angels pen is well rested after Ervin Santana‘s complete game Saturday and Garrett Richards‘ eight-deep outing Sunday. Scott Downs has missed a few games with a ribcage injury, but signs point to him being available out of the pen. Whether or not Downs will get a save situation is questionable, but we do know that the Giants probably won’t score enough to blow the Angels out of the game early so look the see Downs to get in his first inning in a week Monday night.
[Green light, yellow light, red light: the colors represent the volatility of the bullpen order.]