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