The latest updates on bullpens around the league since our last Bullpen Report:
• As Colin mentioned the other day, Aroldis Chapman is pretty good at his job right now and he continued to pitch well on Saturday striking out three batters (while walking one) en route to his fifth save of the year. Aroldis Chapman has yet to give up a run this season and it’s certainly not all smoke and mirrors as he has underlying numbers that are as eye popping as his perfect ERA: 16.07 k/9, 5.56 k/bb, and a 1.38 xFIP. Chapman also has 1.7 WAR so far this season, a number that would have made him one of the top-10 most valuable relief pitchers all of last year, and it’s only the beginning of June which should tell you the kind of season he is having right now. Colin said it first but it’s worth repeating, Aroldis Chapman is the best relief pitcher in baseball right now and so long as he’s getting saves for Cincinnati he’s likely the best closer as well. The one knock on Aroldis was that he may not be able to pitch many back-to-back games or three games in a row, but before today’s game Reds manager Dusty Baker said that Aroldis would be available to pitch after having pitched in the previous two games. This news should only increase Chapman’s value but be sure to monitor his workload because as we all know – pitchers are pretty fragile creatures.
• Tyler Clippard recorded his fourth save in Saturday’s game against the Braves and is now totally entrenched as the Nationals closer while Drew Storen remains on the DL. Storen was recently transferred to the 60-day DL to make room for veteren lefty reliever Mike Gonzalez who was called up from Triple-A for reliever Ryan Perry. Gonzalez pitched a scoreless 8th inning today with the Nationals down by a run but doesn’t figure to make any noise in the Nationals’ pen. Also, Storen is still expected to be back around the All-Star break and until he returns I don’t see anyone in line for saves besides Clippard.
• Santiago Casilla has done an admirable job filling in for Brian Wilson this season (14/15 in save opportunities; 3.31 xFIP) but he injured his leg on Friday and although it doesn’t look too serious, Sergio Romo got the save both on Saturday and in today’s game. However, it should be noted that lefty Javier Lopez recorded the first two outs in the ninth inning on Saturday with Romo only getting the last out to finish the game and today, Romo only needed to record the last two outs as Barry Zito pitched into the ninth. Sergio Romo is definitely next in line for saves and should receive most save opportunities if Casilla were to miss significant time, but depending on the matchup Javier Lopez could close out a game against a tough left handed hitter.
• What do Jonathan Broxton, Matt Capps, Rafael Betancourt, Joel Hanrahan and Brett Myers all have in common? They all recorded saves on Sunday, they have firm grasps of the closer role and they are all likely to be in trade rumors this summer. At this point it’s hard to tell who will be moved but we’ll do our job to keep you posted on the latest news regarding bullpens, leaving you with the next closer.
• Daniel Bard gave up 5 runs today and wasn’t even able to finish the second inning, walking six and giving up one hit – a home run to Jose Bautista. With a 5.64 xFIP and an underwhelming strikeout rate (5.56 k/9), the whispers to have Bard moved back to the bullpen may start to become screams. Alfredo Aceves has pitched well enough of late as closer and the Red Sox don’t have many other options for the rotation, but Bard’s role on the team is certainly worth keeping an eye on if you’re hunting for saves.
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: Kenley Jansen (LAD) at PHI
[Green light, yellow light, red light: the colors represent the volatility of the bullpen order.]