• If you’re a fan of triple digits flashing up on the radar gun, you were obviously a happy guy today. One day after being activated from the disabled list, Aroldis Chapman made his 2014 debut, striking out the side (around a walk) to nail down his first save of the season. His arm looked no worse for the wear, as he averaged 101 mph with his fastball (touching 102.9). Wow. One thing we didn’t see today was a ball put in play. One potential issue that all pitchers who take liners off the body have to deal with is their reaction to balls hit back up the box. We’ll have to wait at least another outing to see how the Cuban lefty handles it, but if he brings the heat like he did today, having hitters square up pitches to rip back up the middle might be a rare occurrence.
• After throwing Friday and Saturday (albeit only 21 pitches combined), Jonathan Papelbon got Sunday off for “general soreness.” Boy, do the Phillies wish he was feeling better. Antonio Bastardo was gifted an easy 3-0 save opportunity. Four batters later and he was yanked from the game and replaced with Roberto Hernandez, fresh off a 99-pitch performance less than 48 hours before. Of course, in a cruel twist of scorekeeping fate, Hernandez got nailed with a blown save by allowing the tying run (Bastardo’s tying run) to cross the plate on his watch. Bastardo allowed three of his four batters to reach but still got a hold. It sounds like Papelbon wants to be out there next game, so while you need to keep an eye on it, don’t be overly concerned. If anything, you can probably take away that Mike Adams will get the next non-Papelbon save chance.
• In your nightly installment of “As the committee turns,” Bryan Shaw and Chad Qualls came out on top this afternoon in their battles to rise above the rest of the riff-raff (OK, it’s really Houston that has the riff-raff) that is their respective bullpens. Shaw pitched a scoreless ninth (although he allowed a loud out to end the game) after Cody Allen got a hold by notching two outs in the eighth. All four of manager Terry Francona’s “potential closers” saw work in this game, however “least attractive option” Marc Rzepczynski scuffled a bit. I covered this pen in depth yesterday, and not a lot changed here. Shaw and Allen need to be owned in most leagues of sufficient depth.
Meanwhile, Chad Qualls got Houston’s first save since the now-deposed Raul Valdes wrapped one up April 26th (that’s more than two weeks ago!). If I had to own a guy in the Astros pen, it’d be the righty who owns a nice 2.39 xFIP on the season and appears to be one of the few (if not the only) guys in the relief corps who can be counted on to not make a total mess of the late innings. However, I’m not falling over myself to try and chase saves in a pen that’s only garnered 7 total (amongst all relievers) on the year.
• After Kyle Farnsworth‘s shaky week, scuttlebutt in New York is that Jeurys Familia may be in line to garner some save opportunities for the “Amazins.” Familia’s 19.4% K% and 10.5% BB% aren’t really elite (4.21 xFIP) so he’s not some ace reliever the Mets have stashed in the seventh inning. His 12.5% SwStr% does portend better things in the stuff department, so perhaps some work on pitch sequencing is needed to boost the punchout stats. Regardless, the team continues to hurt for stability at the back end of that bullpen. Would it be shocking to see them give Familia a chance? No. Pick him up if you are desperate and hold for a few outings to see if there’s any fire behind the smoke.
• Quick hits: Both Francisco Rodriguez and Sergio Romo blew their first saves of the season. Rodriguez allowed a solo jack to Mark Teixeira while Romo served up a two-run tater to Hanley Ramirez. So, not exactly slouches that beat them. Regardless, they’ve earned your trust, so run them back out there tomorrow. Craig Kimbrel needed a breather, so David Carpenter got the save with Jordan Walden on the DL. Carpenter isn’t a bad bet for holds and those Kimbrel owners who like handcuffing should keep him around until Walden gets back.
Injury notes: Casey Janssen is back. Activate him in all leagues immediately, especially with Brett Cecil pitching poorly in a non-save situation. While Janssen is back, Sergio Santos is hitting the disabled list with a forearm strain. Uh oh. He’s droppable in everything but the deepest of dynasty leagues right now. Jason Grilli had a bullpen session that “went well.” Still needs to go through a sim game, then rehab, so don’t expect him back for at least another couple weeks.
[Green light, yellow light, red light: the colors represent the volatility of the bullpen order.]
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