Bullpen Report: June 19th, 2012

Joe Nathan pitched  a scoreless ninth inning last night for his 14th save of the year and currently has a 1.63 ERA with the peripherals to back it up. Nathan is showing the elite strikeout ability he had in his prime on the Twins, striking out 31.7% of the batters he has faced this year. However, what is really outstanding about Nathan this year is his walk rate which is currently a career low and league leading  0.65 BB/9. If you add it all up Nathan is pitching to a 2.13 xFIP on one of the better teams in the league — a great recipe for success and many saves. Nathan didn’t have the best year in 2011 after recovering from Tommy John surgery and many people suspected that Neftali Feliz or Mike Adams would take over the closing gig in Texas in 2012, but Nathan has had a fantastic season thus far and should be regarded as one of the top closers in the game again.

• Tigers reliever Phil Coke received the save opportunity tonight with a three run lead against the Cardinals and converted it for his first save of the year. Jose Valverde was apparently warming up in the bullpen to come in for the save chance but injured his right hand and was shut down, unable able to enter the game. It is not yet known if the injury is serious or not, but for those in need of saves be sure to pickup Joaquin Benoit who pitched a perfect eighth inning striking out a batter en route to his 17th hold of the year. Even if Valverde doesn’t miss any time, Benoit is a reliever worth owning with 44 strikeouts in 31.2 innings pitched, a 2.78 xFIP and the most holds in the league.

Aroldis Chapman blew his third save of the year tonight against the Indians off of a walk-off home run by Asdrubal Cabrera in the 10th inning. After pitching like a machine for the first two months of the year Chapman is showing his human side this month giving up six runs in nine appearances in June. Meanwhile, Sean Marshall pitched two innings tonight and has now pitched 5.1 consecutive scoreless innings and has only given up one run in his last 16 appearances. It’s worth noting that even after tonight’s mishap Chapman still has a minuscule 1.88 xFIP and a league leading 15.47 K/9, so he’s not really in any danger of losing the closing gig due to performance. However, if the Reds and Dusty Baker decide to move Chapman into the rotation, Sean Marshall is fully capable of closing as he has a fantastic 2.06 xFIP and a terrific GB% of 64.3%.

Fernando Rodney notched his 20th save of the year tonight, closing out the game against the Nationals. I’m not sure how the Rays have done it (it can’t be as easy as just shifting him on the rubber, can it?) but they have managed to take Fernando Rodney and make him one of the most valuable relievers in the game. Before the season Rodney had a career 4.29 ERA  and a 1.69 SO/BB ratio and this season his ERA stands at 1.10 while he’s striking out over six batters for every walk he issues. Maybe more relievers should wear their hat crooked, or just get traded to the Rays.

• It’s hard to talk about Carlos Marmol with even an ounce of confidence but saves are saves and he recorded his fourth save of the year and his second consecutive save tonight against the White Sox. The Cubs don’t have many better alternatives and it’s in their best interest to get everything they can out of Marmol so look for him to get the call for any save opportunities for now.

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:  Tyler Clippard (WAS) vs TB

Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Chris Archer is making his major league debut tomorrow and gets the joy of facing Stephen Strasburg. The Nationals figure to have a lead and Strasburg hasn’t shown an ability to finish games so look for a fully rested and effective Tyler Clippard to get a chance to finish the game tomorrow night.

Closer Grid:

  Closer First Second Injured
Arizona J.J. Putz David Hernandez Bryan Shaw  
Atlanta Craig Kimbrel Jonny Venters Eric O’Flaherty  
Baltimore Jim Johnson Pedro Strop Matt Lindstrom  
Boston Alfredo Aceves Andrew Miller Mark Melancon Andrew Bailey
Chicago (NL) Carlos Marmol James Russell Shawn Camp
Chicago (AL) Addison Reed Hector Santiago Matt Thornton  
Cincy Aroldis Chapman Sean Marshall Jose Arredondo  
Cleveland Chris Perez Vinnie Pestano Tony Sipp  
Colorado Rafael Betancourt Matt Belisle Matt Reynolds  
Detroit Jose Valverde Joaquin Benoit Octavio Dotel  
Houston Brett Myers Wilton Lopez David Carpenter  
KC Jonathan Broxton Greg Holland Aaron Crow  
LAA Ernesto Frieri Scott Downs Jordan Walden  
LAD Kenley Jansen Josh Lindblom Shawn Tolleson  
Miami Heath Bell Steve Cishek Edward Mujica  
Milwaukee John Axford Francisco Rodriguez Jose Veras  
Minnesota Matt Capps Glen Perkins Alex Burnett  
NY (NL) Frank Francisco Bobby Parnell Jon Rauch  
NY (AL) Rafael Soriano David Robertsonn Boone Logan  
Oakland Ryan Cook Brian Fuentes Grant Balfour  
Philly Jonathan Papelbon Antonio Bastardo Chad Qualls  
Pittsburgh Joel Hanrahan Jason Grilli Juan Cruz  
St. Louis Jason Motte Mitchell Boggs Eduardo Sanchez  
SD Huston Street Dale Thayer Luke Gregerson  
SF Santiago Casilla Sergio Romo Javier Lopez  
Seattle Tom Wilhelmsen Brandon League Charlie Furbush  
Tampa Bay Fernando Rodney Joel Peralta J.P. Howell Kyle Farnsworth
Texas Joe Nathan Mike Adams Koji Uehara  
Toronto Casey Janssen Jason Frasor Darren Oliver Sergio Santos
Wash. Tyler Clippard Sean Burnett Henry Rodriguez Drew Storen

[Green light, yellow light, red light: the colors represent the volatility of the bullpen order.]

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When he's not focusing on every team's bullpen situation, Ben can be found blogging at Ben's Baseball Bias and on Twitter @BensBias

11 Responses to “Bullpen Report: June 19th, 2012”

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  1. matlock says:

    is is possible to update the houston situation with lopez on the DL?

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    • matlock, good catch on Wilton Lopez we’ll be sure to fix that in the Closer Grid.

      For now, I would say that Brandon Lyon will slide into the set-up role and be called on for any saves if anything were to happen to Brett Myers. After a pretty disastrous year last year, Lyon’s actually been quite effective this year. His increased K/9 might not be sustainable at 9.11 K/9, but it’s aided by an increase in his swinging strike % which is 10.1% up from 7.5% in 2011.

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  2. Andrew says:

    Axford blows it again…>:(

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    • Yeah, unfortunately it happened after the article was submitted, but it’s certainly worth noting here so thanks for that.

      Axford’s underlying numbres are still worthy of the closing gig, but if he keeps blowing saves I could see a scenario where K-Rod gets a few chances while Axford gets himself sorted out. For now it’s Axford’s job still.

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  3. Kyle says:

    This is a really great feature. Keep up the good work!

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  4. Todd says:

    Worth dropping Cishek for Benoit from a project saves standpoint?

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    • Yeah, I would say so. Heath Bell got a lot of bad press early in the year but Valverde has been worse of late. Both managers are loyal to their current closers and it will take a lot to force a change but with Valverde possibly hurt, Benoit is more likely to get saves for now. Also, Benoit has put up better numbers this year and has more pedigree than Cishek.

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      • JKB says:

        I was thinking that too, does it make sense for Miami to be indexed as Yellow Light instead of Green Light given manager loyalty and Bell’s performance of late?

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    • Heath Bell is having an excellent June but his rough start and overall down year in 2011 from his previous peak, is still too much in view for me to give him a green quite yet. If he’s able to finish June how he started, I’d be more confident to make the switch.

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