• Jim Henderson is over his groin issues as he was activated off the disabled list early this morning. Ron Roenicke wasted no time getting him a little action, having him follow Kyle Lohse‘s eight innings in today’s drubbing of the Phillies. It’s hard to argue that a healthy Henderson isn’t the best pitcher (currently) in the Brewers pen, but Francisco Rodriguez has a 0.87 ERA since resurfacing a month ago. A lot of that is buoyed by a .130 BABIP and a perfect strand rate, but his 3.84 xFIP doesn’t portend imminent implosion. Roenicke has been pretty coy about the ninth inning situation; I’d expect Henderson to get it back eventually but with K-Rod pitching well and sitting on 298 career saves (apparently people like round numbers?) you shouldn’t drop either guy until someone comes out and gets two-to-three save opportunities in a row.
• Ugly outing for Padres fill-in closer Luke Gregerson at Coors this afternoon, as he coughed up a three-run lead. He managed to keep the game tied, but Colorado walked off in the tenth while facing Tyson Ross. The hiccup was unfortunate for Gregerson, who saw his ERA double from 0.91 to 1.78. His xFIP is right in line with last year, when he was one of the better setup men in baseball, so his owners shouldn’t panic — he should still see the next save opportunity for the Friars. I am a bit concerned about 3% drop in K% and a 4% drop in SwStr% (from 15% to 11%) from 2012 to 2013, but he should continue to be effective as long as he remains stingy with the free passes.
• Joaquin Benoit notched save number three on the season as the Tigers took their series with the Indians. While this Bullpen Report author isn’t the biggest fan of Jose Valverde, this doesn’t signal any fundamental shift for Jim Leyland; Papa Grande had a fairly stressful ninth yesterday and was just catching a breather in a three-run game. Valverde has shown a bit of a pulse lately, as well, with improved velocity and an uptick in strikeouts. Benoit should be held as a nice option for holds and a saves handcuff, but it’ll take a decent number of ugly outings from Detroit’s current ninth inning man before he sees consistent opportunities.
• Mariano Rivera racked up save number 23. I know a lot of fans like to see future hall-of-famers go out on top, but part of me wishes he’d keep pitching for another 10 years, just because I’m curious to see how long he could be elite. Who couldn’t see him catching young-20-something lefties looking in his 50’s?
[Green light, yellow light, red light: the colors represent the volatility of the bullpen order.]