• Trevor Rosenthal had a no good, very bad day. After notching saves the last three days, the Cardinals closer wasn’t able to make it four, giving up a pair of hits and a pair of walks (one intentional) before Carlos Martinez relieved him as threw a wild pitch to let the Braves snag the lead. Rosenthal had a few hiccups earlier in the week but had appeared to be back on the wagon heading into Sunday’s tilt. Unfortunately, all the pitches caught up to him and he undid some of the nice rates he had picked up over the past few outings.
While one outing is unconcerning for Rosenthal owners, his xFIP now sits at a less-than-sexy 4.10. His 13.2% BB% is more than double what it was last year and is supported by a tremendous 10% decline in his first-pitch strike percentage (63% to 53%). Not helping matters is the fact that his fastball velocity is down a touch (although appears to be perhaps trending in the right direction), which may be part of the reason his swinging strike rate is off of his 2013 mark. Regardless, there is no need to panic — former closer Jason Motte will be back this week but will almost certainly be brought along slowly as he returns from Tommy John. Perhaps a scheduled off-day Monday (and hopefully another day or two after that) will give Rosenthal the rest he needs.
• I saw some people jumping off the Hector Rondon bandwagon after a blown save a few Sundays ago (and the fact the Cubs didn’t have any save situations the last week). Shame on you! Actually, given the fact that Rondon didn’t pitch with the Cubs not seeing any close games late further confirmed his status as Chicago’s stopper headed into this weekend. Those who kept him active were handsomely rewarded this weekend with back-to-back saves and a few more punchouts added to the ledger. Rondon’s SIERA was down to 2.36 (and will likely drop a bit more after today). He continues to get good results with his fastball/slider combo and gained some additional job security this weekend. Grab him if an impatient owner cut him loose.
• LaTroy Hawkins blew save numero uno this afternoon. The trendy pre-season pick to be the first closer to lose his job, the 41-year-old has somehow dodged all mines in the field thus far in 2014. Shockingly, Hawkins only has 6 strikeouts while facing 68 batters on the season. That’s an 8.8% K% for the division-impaired. While he’s only given out 3 free passes, the combination all leave his ERA predictors north of 4.50. This is especially problematic at Coors Field where guys susceptible to BABIP luck (i.e., guys who have sub-10% K%) have to deal with the most spacious ballpark in baseball. I’m buying Adam Ottavino and his 2.30 SIERA all over the place. Just because Hawkins’ job is safe for now, doesn’t mean it will be for long.
• Jenrry Mejia got his first career save on Saturday, tossing a scoreless inning against the Nationals. A popular starting pitcher sleeper headed into the season, the 24-year-old righty struggled out of the game and was moved to the bullpen after mediocre strikeout and walk rates led to iffy results. He immediately transitioned from sleeper starter to sleeper reliever as his big-league slider has the potential to be a shutdown pitch in the land of misfit relievers (more commonly referred to as the Mets bullpen). His velocity has certainly played up in relief, so there’s a very real chance he’s the guy who comes out of the committee on top. Pick up in all deeper leagues and/or if you are in need of saves.
• Quick hits: Jim Johnson walked three in two-thirds of an inning in a non-save situation. He had a chance to reclaim the ninth inning gig a week or so ago, but he started struggling again. Sean Doolittle and Luke Gregerson will continue to be options in the ninth. Both Joe Smith and Ernesto Frieri tossed scoreless innings with a pair of strikeouts in a 6-2 Angels win. Smith pitched the eighth while Frieri was on in the ninth. Frieri should be the better bet for the rest of the season, but Smith could strongarm a few more saves here and there. Orioles signed Heath Bell to a minor league deal. Don’t worry unless you are in an 80-team league.
[Green light, yellow light, red light: the colors represent the volatility of the bullpen order.]
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