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Bullpen Report: May 12, 2013

Jose Valverde picked an unfortunate time to allow his first base hit of 2013 as he took his first blown save of the season against the Indians. Even after today, his ERA sits at a respectable 1.50, but his strikeout and walk numbers appear to be no different than last year. In 2012 his SwStr% absolutely fell off a cliff and it’s even lower this year. His splitter, once his out pitch and an offering he used more than half of time, is now only accounting for 12% of his deliveries. If his fastball velocity doesn’t improve from his 92.6 mph figure, it will represent the fifth straight year in decline. If it sounds like I am down on Valverde, I am, but the good news for his fantasy owners is that Papa Grande has job security, at least until he has a few more days like today. Sell the “closer” tag if you can, but otherwise know that the saves you get might be coming at the expense of your other ratios. I find it highly unlikely he survives the season as closer.

• While we talking about 2012 pariahs blowing saves, Heath Bell joined the club as well, giving up a couple runs to the Phillies while spoiling Brandon McCarthy‘s eight scoreless innings. Today’s implosion aside, Bell has actually been fairly solid this season, posting a 2.43 xFIP thanks to a gaudy 20/3 K/BB ratio through 71 batters faced. David Hernandez still has some kinks to work through, so while he should be owned in all leagues, Bell should have a little bit of leash going forward.

Jason Grilli and Mariano Rivera kept right on truckin’ each picking up their fifteenth saves of the season. Both were great bargain picks during the spring and have come out of the gates swinging. While Grilli sports the better peripherals (1.98 xFIP compared to Rivera’s 3.60 mark) both have tremendous job security. I’d sell high if I could convince a panicked Craig Kimbrel owner that the end of the world is nigh, but otherwise, I’d hold, hold, hold.

Closer Grid:

Closer First Second DL/Minors
Arizona Heath Bell David Hernandez Matt Reynolds J.J. Putz
Atlanta Craig Kimbrel Eric O’Flaherty Jordan Walden
Baltimore Jim Johnson Darren O’Day Pedro Strop
Boston Junichi Tazawa Koji Uehara Andrew Miller Andrew Bailey
CHI (NL) Kevin Gregg Carlos Marmol James Russell Kyuji Fujikawa
CHI (AL) Addison Reed Jesse Crain Matt Thornton
Cincy Aroldis Chapman Jonathan Broxton J.J. Hoover
Cleveland Chris Perez Joe Smith Bryan Shaw Vinnie Pestano
Colorado Rafael Betancourt Wilton Lopez Matt Belisle
Detroit Jose Valverde Joaquin Benoit Al Alburquerque
Houston Jose Veras Wesley Wright Hector Ambriz
KC Greg Holland Kelvin Herrera Tim Collins
LAA Ernesto Frieri Scott Downs Jerome Williams Ryan Madson
LAD Brandon League Kenley Jansen Ronald Belisario
Miami Steve Cishek A.J. Ramos Chad Qualls
Milwaukee Jim Henderson John Axford Michael Gonzalez
Minnesota Glen Perkins Jared Burton Casey Fien
NY (NL) Bobby Parnell Brandon Lyon LaTroy Hawkins Frank Francisco
NY (AL) Mariano Rivera David Robertson Joba Chamberlain
Oakland Grant Balfour Ryan Cook Sean Doolittle
Philly Jonathan Papelbon Mike Adams Antonio Bastardo
Pittsburgh Jason Grilli Mark Melancon Tony Watson
St. Louis Edward Mujica Trevor Rosenthal Fernando Salas Jason Motte
SD Huston Street Luke Gregerson Dale Thayer
SF Sergio Romo Santiago Casilla Jeremy Affeldt
Seattle Tom Wilhelmsen Carter Capps Charlie Furbush
TB Fernando Rodney Joel Peralta Jake McGee
Texas Joe Nathan Jason Frasor Tanner Scheppers
Toronto Casey Janssen Steve Delabar Darren Oliver Sergio Santos
Wash. Rafael Soriano Drew Storen Tyler Clippard

[Green light, yellow light, red light: the colors represent the volatility of the bullpen order.]