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Bullpen Report: June 22, 2013

Jose Veras needed just six pitches to close out the Cubbies in the bottom of the ninth frame to lock down his 15th save of the twenty-thirteen campaign. The lanky right-hander is now 15-of-18 in save opportunities with a 27.8% K% and a 3.82 ERA (3.83 FIP). Veras’ current strikeout rate and ERA are right inline with his career numbers, but it is worth noting that he’s surrendering fewer free passes (9.8% BB%) through 33 ‘13 appearances than he has over his career (12.3% BB%). One reason for the improvement in walk rate could be that Veras is getting ahead of hitters with the first-strike (60.2% F-Strike%) more than he’s ever done before (52.4% career F-Strike%). Veras is also luring opponents to chase pitches outside of the zone more often (26.3 O-Swing%), but the righty isn’t allowing them to make contact (59.2% O-Contact%) as well as they’ve done in the past against him (63% O-Contact%).

With the recent success and relatively affordable contract, teams making a playoff push will likely inquire about Veras’ services around the trade deadline. Potentially, Veras could be dealt to a team with a proven closer, leaving him to come out of the bullpen in the seventh or eighth innings instead of the ninth. If you own stock in Veras and are the least bit worried about losing saves in August/September, you may want to put him on the block now before he gets dealt in real life. Consider offering a bat and Veras for someone who may not switch uniforms at the deadline like Bobby Parnell or Rafael Soriano.

-It wasn’t pretty, but Vinnie Pestano notched his third save in five chances tonight. The Tribe’s temporary closer allowed two hits and a walk, leading to two earned runs, but salvaged a save as the Indians clipped the Twins, 8-7. Pestano continues to fill-in for Indians closer Chris Perez, who wasn’t able to come off the disabled list this past Friday despite being eligible to do so. Apparently, a “sluggish arm and mechanical issues” were to blame for Perez’s extended stay on the DL. The right-hander was roughed up a bit in last week’s rehab appearance, but he’s expected to go it again on Sunday in Akron, then again on Tuesday if all goes well. Pestano will continue to see save chances until Perez officially returns.

-Finally. Francisco Rodriguez earned his 300th career save on Saturday in a 2-0 Brewers victory over the Braves. Rodriguez faced just one over the minimum while striking out one to remain a perfect 6-for-6 in save chances this season — which is pretty amazing in itself considering the right-hander was out of baseball just over a month ago. But since returning to the league, K-Rod has pitched very well. He owns a 0.59 ERA (2.39 FIP) and is fanning close to 30% of batters while walking just over 5%. So what do the Brewers do with Rodriguez now that he’s reached the 300 save plateau? While I can’t seem to get into the head of a MLB skipper, despite numerous attempts, one has to imagine that the Brewers go back to Jim Henderson as they’ve indicated in the past. However, I’d hold on Rodriguez for the time being until we see exactly what the Brewers brass has in store for him. Who knows? Maybe he holds onto the ninth considering how well he’s pitched.

-On Thursday I suggested that you scoop Junichi Tazawa anywhere you can with Andrew Bailey being pulled from the ninth-inning duties for the Red Sox. Naturally, the Sox decided to go with veteran Koji Uehara instead, probably because Swydan suggested it. He must own shares of Uehara and have paid off someone on the inside to make said change. Anyway, my sincerest apologies. So, here you go: Grab Uehara if he’s still available!!

Closer Grid:


Closer First Second DL/Minors
Arizona Heath Bell David Hernandez Matt Reynolds J.J. Putz
Atlanta Craig Kimbrel Jordan Walden Cory Gearrin
Baltimore Jim Johnson Darren O’Day Tommy Hunter
Boston Koji Uehara Junichi Tazawa Andrew Bailey
CHI (NL) Kevin Gregg Carlos Marmol James Russell
CHI (AL) Addison Reed Jesse Crain Matt Thornton
Cincy Aroldis Chapman Jonathan Broxton J.J. Hoover Sean Marshall
Cleveland Vinnie Pestano Joe Smith Bryan Shaw Chris Perez
Colorado Rex Brothers Wilton Lopez Matt Belisle Rafael Betancourt
Detroit Joaquin Benoit Drew Smyly Al Alburquerque
Houston Jose Veras Hector Ambriz Wesley Wright
KC Greg Holland Aaron Crow Kelvin Herrera
LAA Ernesto Frieri Scott Downs Robert Coello Ryan Madson
LAD Kenley Jansen Brandon League Ronald Belisario
Miami Steve Cishek Mike Dunn Chad Qualls
Milwaukee Francisco Rodriguez Jim Henderson John Axford
Minnesota Glen Perkins Jared Burton Casey Fien
NY (NL) Bobby Parnell Brandon Lyon LaTroy Hawkins Frank Francisco
NY (AL) Mariano Rivera David Robertson Joba Chamberlain
Oakland Grant Balfour Ryan Cook Sean Doolittle
Philly Jonathan Papelbon Mike Adams Antonio Bastardo
Pittsburgh Jason Grilli Mark Melancon Tony Watson
St. Louis Edward Mujica Trevor Rosenthal Fernando Salas Jason Motte
SD Huston Street Luke Gregerson Dale Thayer
SF Sergio Romo Jeremy Affeldt Jean Machi Santiago Casilla
Seattle Yoervis Medina Oliver Perez Tom Wilhelmsen
TB Fernando Rodney Joel Peralta Jake McGee
Texas Joe Nathan Tanner Scheppers Jason Frasor
Toronto Casey Janssen Steve Delabar Brett Cecil Sergio Santos
Wash. Rafael Soriano Drew Storen Tyler Clippard

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