Bullpen Report: March 24, 2014

Spring is finally here and Spring Training is almost gone. The Dodgers and Diamondbacks gave us a little taste (or a tease) but luckily by this time next week the games will count, just like the All-Star Game. There will likely be a few more shakeups to the bullpens as rosters are finalized, which will naturally affect the table below, but the Bullpen Report is back on the grind with daily updates for all your save vulturing needs.

Neftali Feliz just isn’t right and Joakim Soria will begin the season as the closer. I don’t expect the Mexicutioner  Soria to return to his KC level of performance but he should be more than adequate and the competition behind him is basically relievers who have returned to the pen after failed starting campaigns. I assume Feliz will show his face again in Texas but it won’t be in the ninth inning, while Tanner Scheppers joins the rotation and Alexi Ogando moves back into the pen. What I said in the beginning of March still applies now to Soria, except he now has the job: “He wasn’t spectacular [in 2013] as his BB/9 ballooned to a career high 5.32 but he still had a respectable 3.80/3.68/3.56 ERA/FIP/xFIP and more importantly showed that he was healthy. If Soria could cut back his walks to his career norms he will be an intriguing option and arguably the best one for Texas.” With the competition behind him pretty meager and with Feliz not guaranteed to even start the season in Texas, Soria’s job should be secure and there is a chance he could provide really good value for your fantasy team.

• By now we have all seen the picture and we are thankful that Aroldis Chapman is okay. He was even able to visit the Reds clubhouse on Sunday and is expected to miss 6-8 weeks. Mike Petriello did a great job dissecting the Reds bullpen situation with Chapman out and expects J.J. Hoover to take over closing duties in his absence. Jonathan Broxton would be the favored candidate but he’s likely to start the season on the DL. Hoover isn’t fantastic but he’s certainly a capable reliever (career 9.12 K/9; 3.38 FIP) and with Brox out himself, I’d expect Hoover to hold the job until Aroldis is back and healthy.

• The Houston Astros and Bo Porter are going with a closer-by-committee approach to start the season which essentially means stay away. I’m a fan of dirty saves as much as anyone else but last year at least Jose Veras was the unquestioned closer in Houston. Several guys stand to get a chance but if I had to choose one I would say it’s Chad Qualls who will get the majority of the few saves that will come Houston’s way early on. Josh Fields, Matt Albers and really anyone who ends up making Houston’s pen stands a decent chance to snag a save or two as well. Jesse Crain is still recovering from a variety of offseason ailments and I’d bet the over on whatever the date is on his return but he remains the best choice of the bunch. I wouldn’t waste any pick of value or more than $1 or $2 in the deepest of leagues on Crain, but as the most talented reliever (when healthy) he’s worth a speculative add that you could stash on your DL while the committee goes to work.

• My apologies for not following up on a ‘Deep Coma’ save sleepers post, but here a few guys who’s names aren’t listed on the chart but should creep up in the future: Heath Hembree, Dellin Betances and Alex Meyer. Hembree has been optioned to Triple-A, despite a strong spring. Hembree was also lights out at the end of last season on the Giants and should be back in San Francisco again this season. If something were to happen to Romo, who isn’t a pillar of stability, Hembree might be the most exciting option although there are several guys he would need to leap frog. Alex Meyer is most certainly a starting pitching prospect but the Twins have had some success in years past bringing up their top young guns in a relief role to begin their careers. Meyer won’t be closing games over Glen Perkins and his new contract but he could help your ratios and strikeouts and holds later this summer.

The Yankees bullpen right now consists of David Robertson, a few retreads and non household names and Dellin Betances. Betances is the first ‘Killer Bee’ to make it to the majors and although his career as starter is likely long gone, he’s made excellent strides as reliever. He was largely uninspiring in his MLB debut last season but was able to strikeout 108 batters in 84 innings in AAA last year with a 2.68 ERA and matching 2.69 FIP. This spring Betances is proving he belongs in the majors, throwing 10.1 innings allowing one earned run while striking out nine batters. Spring Training stats are largely meaningless but Betances has certainly impressed and there isn’t much competition in Yankees bullpen – Betances could certainly be seeing meaningful innings in the majors soon.

Closer Grid:

Closer First Second DL/Minors
Arizona Addison Reed J.J. Putz Brad Ziegler
Atlanta Craig Kimbrel Jordan Walden David Carpenter
Baltimore Tommy Hunter Darren O’Day Ryan Webb
Boston Koji Uehara Junichi Tazawa Edward Mujica
CHI (NL) Jose Veras Pedro Strop Blake Parker Kyuji Fujikawa
CHI (AL) Nate Jones Matt Lindstrom Ronald Belisario
Cincy J.J. Hoover Sam Lecure Logan Ondrusak Aroldis Chapman
Cleveland John Axford Cody Allen Bryan Shaw
Colorado LaTroy Hawkins Rex Brothers Matt Belisle
Detroit Joe Nathan Joba Chamberlain Al Alburquerque
Houston Chad Qualls Josh Fields Matt Albers Jesse Crain
KC Greg Holland Kelvin Herrera Aaron Crow
LAA Ernesto Frieri Dane de la Rosa Joe Smith
LAD Kenley Jansen Brian Wilson Paco Rodriguez
Miami Steve Cishek A.J. Ramos Carter Capps
Milwaukee Jim Henderson Francisco Rodriguez Brandon Kintzler
Minnesota Glen Perkins Jared Burton Casey Fien
NY (NL) Bobby Parnell Vic Black Jose Valverde
NY (AL) David Robertson Shawn Kelley Matt Thornton
Oakland Jim Johnson Luke Gregerson Sean Doolittle Ryan Cook
Philly Jonathan Papelbon Antonio Bastardo Jake Diekman
Pittsburgh Jason Grilli Mark Melancon Tony Watson
St. Louis Trevor Rosenthal Carlos Martinez Kevin Siegrist
SD Huston Street Joaquin Benoit Alex Torres
SF Sergio Romo Santiago Casilla Jeremy Affeldt
Seattle Fernando Rodney Danny Farquhar Tom Wilhelmsen
TB Grant Balfour Heath Bell Joel Peralta
Texas Joakim Soria Alexi Ogando Jason Frasor Neftali Feliz
Toronto Casey Janssen Sergio Santos Steve Delabar
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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any word on jason grilli’s velocity? i was hoping i might catch him on espn today but the game got rained out.