Bullpen Report: June 23, 2014

Ronald Belisario blew his fifth save of the season tonight allowing a pinch hit three-run homer to Chris Davis. Belisario was on fire from late April to late May but has struggled of late allowing 11 earned runs in his last 11 innings pitched. His ERA is now 5.50 but a 3.17/3.34 FIP/xFIP show that the sky isn’t quite falling. Still, an ERA over 5 while converting just 7/11 save opportunities isn’t how you hold a job as closer. As of this writing I haven’t heard anything about Belisario’s status as closer so I assume his job is still relatively safe but keep an eye on Zach Putnam. Putnam also gave up a homer tonight and his peripherals aren’t any better than Belisario but a few more blown saves could force Ventura to make a change.

Jonathan Papelbon‘s shiny ERA and contract mean his job is in no danger, and there are still a few guys behind him that could receive save opportunity if something were to happen to Papelbon but Ken Giles is someone to have on the radar in particularly deep or keeper leagues. Giles recorded two outs, both via strikeout tonight and now supports a 1.80/2.89/1.06 ERA/FIP/xFIP line in five innings this year with an impressive 10/2 K/BB. Antonio Bastardo and Jake Diekman are both likely ahead of Giles in the pecking order and although they’re both lefties the Phillies could use one as closer and still have a lefty setup man in the pen. Bastardo has received a few save opps for Papelbon in the past for what it’s worth as well. However, as a future long term replacement for Papelbon, Ken Giles is probably the brightest option in Philadelphia.

• Several readers mentioned Kirby Yates as a deep sleeper in the Rays bullpen and although he’s in the majors now it’s unlikely he’s a fixture for saves this year. Yates recorded five outs and three via the K tonight but also allowed four hits and two runs in the process. Yates had a  high strikeout rate in the minors and that has continued somewhat in Tampa Bay but his 8.8% SwStr % thus far doesn’t portend any elite swing and miss stuff. For now Yates projects to be another guy in the Rays pen. Joel Peralta and Jake McGee have both received save opportunities since Balfour was removed from the job and while those two should continue to see a chance here and there I’d expect Balfour to regain the job at some point this summer, provided he’s healthy.

• Pitching around an Adrian Gonzalez home run, Greg Holland nailed down his 22nd save of the season. Holland racks up saves (22), gets strikeouts (13.35 K/9)  and limits his walks (2.73 BB/9), pretty much everything you would want from an elite closer. Holland’s K-BB% is 28.7%, ranking 11th among all relievers. One guy to note who ranks ahead of Holland in that category is teammate Wade Davis who only needed one pitch to record an out in tonight’s outing. Davis’ control isn’t pin point but with an insane 54 strikeouts in 32.2 innings pitched, he doesn’t need to be. Led by Holland and Davis, the Royals have one of the best bullpens in baseball with the 6th highest WAR accrued by the pen while ranking only 26th in innings pitched.

Closer Grid:

Closer First Second DL/Minors
Arizona Addison Reed Brad Ziegler J.J. Putz
Atlanta Craig Kimbrel Jordan Walden Shae Simmons
Baltimore Zach Britton Tommy Hunter Darren O’Day
Boston Koji Uehara Junichi Tazawa Andrew Miller
CHI (NL) Hector Rondon Neil Ramirez Pedro Strop
CHI (AL) Ronald Belisario Zach Putnam Jacob Petricka Matt Lindstrom
Cincy Aroldis Chapman Jonathan Broxton Sam LeCure Sean Marshall
Cleveland Cody Allen Bryan Shaw John Axford
Colorado LaTroy Hawkins Rex Brothers Adam Ottavino
Detroit Joe Nathan Joba Chamberlain Al Alburquerque Joel Hanrahan
Houston Chad Qualls Kyle Farnsworth Tony Sipp Josh Fields
KC Greg Holland Wade Davis Aaron Crow
LAA Ernesto Frieri Joe Smith Kevin Jepsen
LAD Kenley Jansen Chris Perez Brian Wilson
Miami Steve Cishek A.J. Ramos Mike Dunn
Milwaukee Francisco Rodriguez Will Smith Brandon Kintzler Jim Henderson
Minnesota Glen Perkins Jared Burton Casey Fien
NY (NL) Jenrry Mejia Jeurys Familia Vic Black Bobby Parnell
NY (AL) David Robertson Dellin Betances Shawn Kelley
Oakland Sean Doolittle Luke Gregerson Dan Otero
Philly Jonathan Papelbon Antonio Bastardo Jake Diekman Mike Adams
Pittsburgh Mark Melancon Jason Grilli Tony Watson
St. Louis Trevor Rosenthal Pat Neshek Carlos Martinez
SD Huston Street Joaquin Benoit Alex Torres
SF Sergio Romo Santiago Casilla Jean Machi
Seattle Fernando Rodney Danny Farquhar Dominic Leone
TB Grant Balfour Jake McGee Joel Peralta
Texas Joakim Soria Jason Frasor Neal Cotts Neftali Feliz
Toronto Casey Janssen Brett Cecil Sergio Santos
Wash. Rafael Soriano Tyler Clippard 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

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Sun Tzu
Sun Tzu

“I haven’t heard anything about Belisario’s status as closer so I assume his job is still relatively safe.”

What on earth would lead you to conclude that?


Cause they have no one else.