• It took a while, but Koji Uehara finally got his first save since being anointed Boston’s fourth closer of the year last week. Uehara spun a 1-2-3 inning, striking out a pair of Rockies looking to polish off a John Lackey victory. While there remains some question as to how frequently Uehara can work back-to-back days, he continues to flaunt otherworldly peripherals; even if his BB% has “jumped” to 6% so far this season. He doesn’t have the prototypical mid-90’s gas, but his 16.1% SwStr% shows he doesn’t need it. If he hasn’t been picked up in your league already (maybe everyone is following that Aaron Hernandez saga too closely?), stop reading and grab him.
• Jim Johnson took a BS against the Indians tonight, giving up a pair of earned runs after walking two and yielding a double to the aging Jason Giambi. Johnson’s xFIP has jumped to 3.91, which is not terrible, but is also far from elite. Both his K% and BB% are up slightly, but he’s essentially the same guy as he was last year — just without the .251 BABIP. His job remains safe, but given the lack of punchouts and the regressed stats, he’s nowhere near my top-10 relief pitchers going forward. I’d honestly sell if I can get good (top-15) value and only buy if I’m desperate for saves. Of note, it was also Jim Johnson’s third game in a row, so expect Darren O’Day (or darkhorse Tommy Hunter) to get the save chance tomorrow should one arise.
In the same game, Vinnie Pestano whiffed two (including the now-god-like Chris Davis) en route to save number five. While he hasn’t been a total disappointment in the ninth inning, he still is the same “bad” Pestano he was early in the season; his June xFIP is still 4.47 thanks to a double-digit BB% and a strikeout rate that is well off his career highs. Unfortunately for him, he is not long for the ninth inning anyway, as Chris Perez is on track to return Thursday.
• Ben hit on this last night, but after a brief period of time where Miami looked to move towards a committee, Steve Cishek appears to have regained a relatively strong hold on the game’s final inning, nabbing save number 14 tonight. The fact he worked back-to-back days and has lowered his xFIP to 3.54 only cement that notion, and, while I still worry about his platoon splits, he’s probably the only guy in the Miami pen worth owning in even deeper standard leagues that don’t count holds.
• Jason Grilli got yet another night off after his Sunday meltdown, with Mark Melancon picking up the save instead. I wrote about this a couple days ago, but with Grilli on pace for 75+ innings, I wouldn’t be shocked to see the Pirates give him a breather or two over the next couple months to try and make sure his arm can hold up for the remainder of the year. Don’t panic and sell him off for $0.50 on the dollar, but don’t expect him to be ridden like a 27-year-old horse either. He’s still at the back end of my top-10, but I can’t project him in the top-5 like he’s been to date.
[Green light, yellow light, red light: the colors represent the volatility of the bullpen order.]