• Rex Brothers notched save number four this afternoon, closing out a Sunday victory over the Nationals in the District. Brothers has been a pleasant surprise this year, today lowering his already minuscule ERA to 0.28. The 2013 version of Rex isn’t exactly a revelation however; his xFIP (3.64) is actually higher than his 2012 mark (3.43) in large part because his K% has fallen 3% from 28% to 25%. Regression should be expected given a BABIP of only .267 (with half of his games at Coors) as well as a 97% LOB%, which is well above his career 80% mark (already above league average).
While Brothers may be looking at some regression, arguably the bigger problem for his fantasy owners is the impending return of Rafael Betancourt. Word this weekend is that Colorado is shooting for a mid-week return for their 38-year-old reliever. Betancourt has the “closer” tag, so even though his peripherals are similar to Brothers, it seems likely he’ll reclaim the ninth inning soon (if not immediately) after his return. Brothers should still be held given Betancourt’s age and potential value as a trade chip next month, but the latter needs to be scooped up everywhere he was dropped when he first hit the disabled list three weeks ago.
• Huh, Fernando Rodney was last tagged in this space over a month ago as a guy on the verge of losing his job. Apparently he got the message. Rodney struck out the side in a perfect ninth this afternoon, adding to his already-much-improved stats for the month of June. Over the last three weeks, Rodney has lowered his horrendous 19% BB% to a still-mediocre (but better) 12%. This, coupled with the maintenance of his already-elite K% means his June xFIP (~2.50 after today’s outing) is light years ahead of his first two months. I am still not buying him as an elite option until I see his BB% rate back in the single digits like it was last year, but he’s back in the green.
• Ugly outings for closers in the Pirates/Angels game. Ernesto Frieri saw his xFIP bounce to 4.04 after surrounding three runs in the easiest of save situations, tagging fantasy owners with a BS. Like Rodney, Frieri is a guy whose BB% makes me squeamish (and hurts in leagues that count WHIP) but there isn’t a whole lot behind him in the Angels pen. Jason Grilli had (easily) his worst outing of 2013, nearly blowing a four-run lead (non-save situation!) in the tenth and almost doubling his ERA (1.07 coming into the game, 1.82 leaving) in the process. Grilli’s peripherals aren’t at all worrisome, but you have to wonder if the fact that he is on pace for 75 innings, a mark he hasn’t eclipsed in six years, is somewhat problematic. The Pirates have called on him a bunch in the first 45% of 2013; I wouldn’t be shocked to see his workload become a bit more managed as we head into the summer months. Regardless, Mark Melancon (who picked up the “W” today) remains a must own middle relief option for holds and rates.
• Glen Perkins and Aroldis Chapman each hurt your ERA a bit but added saves to the ledger. Chapman has been a little rough lately, but I still like both as top ten options for the rest of the season. Jim Henderson gave up three base runners and a run trying to keep a game close against Atlanta. I’m a Henderson fan, but given he’s had a couple hiccups since he’s returned from the DL, I’m not ready to cut bait on Francisco Rodriguez (even after he hit save number 300). Kenley Jansen notched another save; if you can buy low after a somewhat rough transition to the ninth inning, do it. The window will close quickly.
[Green light, yellow light, red light: the colors represent the volatility of the bullpen order.]
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