Bullpen Report: May 15, 2014

-This morning, Terry Collins indicated that the Mets would call on Jenrry Mejia in the ninth-inning tonight in the Bronx against the Yankees should they be in a save situation. Mejia did indeed take the ball in the Yankees’ half of the final frame, but in a non-save situation as the Metropolitans faced a 1-0 deficit. The right-hander yielded a couple of singles, but fanned Brian McCann and induced a double play to escape the top of the ninth unscathed. Despite not earning a save, Collins’ comments shed some light into the mess that is the Mets’ bullpen at the moment. It appears as if the Mets would like Mejia to emerge from the committee to be the full-time closer when he’s ready. There’s no magical date in mind, but once Mejia is fully transitioned back to the bullpen and is able to pitch in two or three consecutive evenings, he may be close.

The right-hander is 4-0 in eight appearances (seven starts) with a 4.89 ERA (4.42 FIP) and a 22.9% K% (11.4% BB%). The walk rate is a mild concern for me, but he’s failed to allow a free pass in his two appearances out of the bullpen, so let’s hope that trend continues. Until he’s ready, Collins’ words lead us to believe this will be a true committee, with the fresh arm getting the first look.

-On the other side of the 1-0 contest in the Bronx, David Robertson was able to successfully convert his seventh save of the season. Robertson fanned two en route to the four out save, keeping the Yankees’ closer a perfect 7-for-7 on the year in save chances. But let’s set the fancy save statistic aside for just a minute to chat about another storyline out of the Yankees’ pen: Dellin Betances. I wrote a quick jammer about Betances in my middle reliever column back in April, suggesting that he could be a useful add, even for those in non-holds or solds (solds = the saves + holds category) leagues. That’s still the case. Betances continues to punish opponents with the heat and swing-and-miss stuff (13.2% SwStr%), leading to an incredible 41.3% K% entering tonight’s outing. Tonight, Betances decided to fan six of the seven batters he faced, to raise that already impressive K% to 44.8%. The strikeout, ratios and opportunity to pick up some scab wins in the late-innings makes Betances a fantastic option for roto owners looking for some steady production.

-Much like the Mets’ situation, fantasy baseballers have been closely monitoring the bullpen situation in Baltimore in an attempt to decipher if Tommy Hunter is the answer in the ninth, and if not, who could be the long-term solution. Hunter is 11-of-14 in save chances thus far in 2014, but two of those blown saves came in consecutive opportunities in the past week. As those were fresh on Buck Showalter’s mind, and Darren O’Day used up in during the sixth and seventh innings, the Orioles’ skipper signaled for Zach Britton to take the hill in tonight’s save situation. With left-hander Alex Gordon and two right-handers in Danny Valencia and Johnny Giavotella due up, the call doesn’t exactly appear to be matchup based. Britton’s .268 wOBA versus right-handed batters and Valencia’s .356 wOBA against lefties somewhat scream pitching change. But Showalter stuck with Britton and he retired each of the three in groundball fashion on twelve pitches to collect his first career save. Despite the save, Showalter refused to name Britton the closer saying “he’ll put in the best pitchers for the situation.” We’ll keep Baltimore in the yellow for the time being as this appears to be another committee, but Zach Britton will jump into the first chair, not the closer’s role just yet, until we see a definitive pattern or hear otherwise from the skip. (Argue away!)

Quick Hitters: Trevor Rosenthal has struggled a bit as of late, allowing at least a hit and a walk in each of his last five outings. Tonight, Rosenthal was called on to earn a five-out save, and he did just that, his 11th of the season. The Cardinals closer retired five of the six batters he faced, while walking one. The Twins were able to overcome a blown save by Glen Perkins — his second of the year in twelve opportunities — to take down the Red Sox 4-3 in extras. Perkins allowed two earned runs on four hits in the top half of the ninth, but struck out the side to get out of the inning. Casey Janssen dished a clean ninth inning to lock down his second save on the season.

Closer Grid:

Closer First Second DL/Minors
Arizona Addison Reed Brad Ziegler Oliver Perez J.J. Putz
Atlanta Craig Kimbrel David Carpenter Luis Avilan Jordan Walden
Baltimore Tommy Hunter Zach Britton Darren O’Day
Boston Koji Uehara Junichi Tazawa Andrew Miller
CHI (NL) Hector Rondon Justin Grimm James Russell Pedro Strop
CHI (AL) Matt Lindstrom Ronald Belisario Daniel Webb Nate Jones
Cincy Aroldis Chapman Jonathan Broxton Sam LeCure
Cleveland Cody Allen Bryan Shaw Scott Atchison
Colorado LaTroy Hawkins Adam Ottavino Rex Brothers
Detroit Joe Nathan Joba Chamberlain Al Alburquerque Joel Hanrahan
Houston Chad Qualls Anthony Bass Josh Zeid Jesse Crain
KC Greg Holland Wade Davis Aaron Crow
LAA Ernesto Frieri Joe Smith Michael Kohn Dane de la Rosa
LAD Kenley Jansen Chris Perez Chris Withrow
Miami Steve Cishek A.J. Ramos Mike Dunn
Milwaukee Francisco Rodriguez Will Smith Brandon Kintzler Jim Henderson
Minnesota Glen Perkins Jared Burton Casey Fien
NY (NL) Jenrry Mejia Jose Valverde Jeurys Familia Bobby Parnell
NY (AL) David Robertson Shawn Kelley Adam Warren
Oakland Jim Johnson Luke Gregerson Sean Doolittle
Philly Jonathan Papelbon Mike Adams Antonio Bastardo
Pittsburgh Mark Melancon Tony Watson Justin Wilson Jason Grilli
St. Louis Trevor Rosenthal Carlos Martinez Kevin Siegrist Jason Motte
SD Huston Street Joaquin Benoit Alex Torres
SF Sergio Romo Santiago Casilla Jeremy Affeldt
Seattle Fernando Rodney Danny Farquhar Tom Wilhelmsen
TB Grant Balfour Joel Peralta Jake McGee
Texas Joakim Soria Alexi Ogando Jason Frasor Neftali Feliz
Toronto Casey Janssen Brett Cecil Steve Delabar Sergio Santos
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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In addition to contributing to the RotoGraphs blog, you can find Alan at his own site, TheFantasyFix.com and follow his nonsense on Twitter @TheFantasyFix.

26 Responses to “Bullpen Report: May 15, 2014”

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  1. Sun Tzu says:

    Well, I certainly think that based on tonight’s usage the best information we have to go with is that Britton has ascended to the closer role in Baltimore. And Familia has to be somewhere in the pecking order for the New York nationals, and probably first in line.

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    • majnun says:

      Didn’t their manager say almost the exact same thing (“he’s getting closer to being the closer) about Familia like three days ago? I’ll believe it when I see it, and see it for a straight month. I’m out on the Mets, not worth it.

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    • Mike W says:

      I dont see how someone could touch the Mets bullpen except in very deep leagues. Week to week it changes with none of the guys all that exciting right now.

      I still think Hunter has the job in Balitimore. Buck did this last year as well, gave Johnson a break during one of his bad stretches and went back to him after a couple days. Could be the same thing here, of course if Hunter blows his next save it could flip.

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      • Roger says:

        …and with a bad team, the upside is only so high. Have to be very desperate for saves to mess with the Mets, Astros, etc.

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      • Paul says:

        I’m definitely going to touch the Mets’ bullpen if it looks like Mejia has a shot. Saves from an SP roster spot? Yes please!

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  2. Joe Nathans Dead Arm says:

    Time to drop Jeurys Familia? Could Britton hold on to the job?

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  3. ralph says:

    Grant Balfour got pulled from a save opportunity in order to let Mike Trout hit a walkoff 3-run HR off of Boxberger instead.

    Is Peralta really next in line to close, or would it be someone else?

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  4. Bbboston says:

    McGee. Britton and Doolittle should be in the closer spots.

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  5. novaether says:

    It would be expensive to give Britton too many saves as they enter arbitration with him next year. Plus, he’s a lefty and he’s not exactly a strikeout artist. I think the reason O’Day wasn’t used to close last night is because he was used in the game earlier to clean up Chen’s mess. That scenario could happen again, but I think O’Day is the preferred option in high leverage situations.

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    • Good point with the $, could play a factor I guess. I know Eno talks a lot about this.

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    • dude says:

      Plus, he’s a lefty and he’s not exactly a strikeout artist.

      So? With a 83.9% GB% and 1.81 SIERA, who needs K’s?

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      • Tommy says:

        But what happens to that SIERA when the GB% normalizes? Smells of smoke and mirrors a bit. He’s good, but a correction is coming.

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      • dude says:

        Yes, it will regress to the mean a little, but he’s approaching the stabilization mark of 70 balls-in-play for a pitcher’s GB%. He’s also throwing his sinker about 2.5x more than in previous years (40% -> 90%) and 3 MPH faster on average than in years past so the ground balls increasing that much is likely not a fluke.

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      • novaether says:

        Stabilization doesn’t mean you can project it going forwards. It means you can explain the past. I think we can agree that a rest-of-season mark around 60-65% wouldn’t be unreasonable for Britton – that’s still a really good mark. A manager might see that high GB% and utilize him to induce double play balls earlier in games.

        Predicting closers is more about trying to guess what the manager is going to do rather than using the best pitcher, or else Hunter would still have the job.

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  6. Andrew says:

    Britton’s .268 wOBA versus right-handed batters screamed pitching change? It’s that a pretty good wOBA against?

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    • Was meant to be a bit of sarcasm since some were discussing match-ups/platoon advantage, but the italics didn’t copy over. And yes, he does have a platoon split, but .268 wOBA against is still pretty darn good.

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  7. Joe says:

    Shawn Kelley is on the DL btw, so Warren is the 8th inning guy for now

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  8. BB says:

    Melancon was killing me yesterday. Arg.

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  9. Nick says:

    Recently read an article that had farrell saying miller is likely #2 behind koji. Then he goes and gets walked off twice in the twin cities…

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  10. Cheesewhiz says:

    Is it me or have closers been unusually shaky this year? And weird.

    After a quick look, I count maybe 10 closers that have been solid, with the two best being F-Rod and Street?

    2/3 being mediocre to shaky after 25% of a season seems unusual.

    Weird in that “elite” closers like Jansen and Rosenthal have been pretty mediocre while “soft-tossers” like Papelbon, Soriano, and Romo have been pretty lights out.

    Maybe there is something to be said about the “closer mentality” after all.

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  11. The Big Unit says:

    Which Jason would you rather have for the rest of the year in a saves & holds league? Jason Motte or Jason Grilli?

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