Bullpen Report: May 18, 2014

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.

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 Kyle Farnsworth 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 Sean Doolittle Luke Gregerson Jim Johnson
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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There are few things Colin loves more in life than a pitcher with a single-digit BB%. Find him on Twitter @soxczar.


40 Responses to “Bullpen Report: May 18, 2014”

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  1. Richie says:

    Your closer grid looks pretty different from other ones I’ve seen. Which concerns me a bit in that I use it to decide which backups to stockpile. How sure are you that Ottavino is the next in line? (also as to Belisario, Perez, Peralta?)

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    • DoubleJ says:

      I’m guessing no more or less sure than any of the other grids you see. It’s all conjecture. I will say all last year FG was among the only ones I saw that had Hunter listed ahead of O’Day on the Orioles, and look who got the nod at the beginning of this season when they dealt Johnson.

      I will say Perralta seems odd to me given his numbers.
      Ottavino is outpitching Brothers and Perez is outpitching Brian Wilson and guessing team more likely to go with “proven closer” over Withrow.

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      • Richie says:

        Thanks, DoubleJ. So basically they all conjecture based on the box scores? Rather than research the local papers, which would be one friggin’ ton of work.

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      • It’s a mix of usage, peripheral stats, and gut feel.

        It’s almost impossible to pinpoint the exact pecking order for each bullpen every day. Unfortunately, RP don’t have high IP counts and are subject to random fluctuations which cause managers to lean towards/away from them. Sometimes peripherals win out (ex: Jansen and Uehara last year), other times bad pitchers can keep a gravy train rolling with performance that is *just* good enough to keep the job.

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  2. Navid says:

    Rosenthal got pretty hosed by the home plate umpire today. He had Jordan Schafer stuck out which would’ve ended the game, but the ump called a 3-2 pitch a ball when it was clearly in the zone.

    I am also trying to figure out why Matheny decided to run him out there for a fourth day in a row.

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    • Richie says:

      Matheny makes such decisions according to whatever images he sees in the tobacco juice that he spits on the dugout floor.

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    • cavebird says:

      “Clearly in the zone”? It was, at best, on the exact corner low and inside. Just barely a strike; one of those pitches that gets called sometimes and doesn’t get called sometimes. There were far worse calls earlier in the game, in both directions.

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  3. Mike Wimmer says:

    Would you feel comfortable dropping Johnson in a 12 team league? I also own K-Rod and Chapman, I had been hanging onto Johnson after flipping Axford for Jim Johnson. Doolittle is still on the wavier wire as is Mejia.

    I know people have pointed out Johnson should lower his BABIP and be more effective, but at this point I dont know if I can justify burning up a healthy roster spot on a guy who just destroys my ratio’s ever outing lately.

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    • Dave K says:

      I dropped him out of frustration yesterday and picked up Doolittle. Doolittle may not get a lot of saves, but at least he (hopefully) won’t destroy my ratios.

      I’d just keep an eye on Johnson for the next few weeks to see if he starts coming around again. I figure if I’m not willing to waste a roster spot right now, no one else is either. I’ll see if he has a couple good outings in a row and try to pick him up early. My guess is that it’ll be a few weeks before he can secure the role again.

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    • He definitely had a bit of a setback this week, so it’s going to be another week or two (at least) of good performances before he’ll have a chance at the 9th all to himself.

      I do like Mejia, though. The only question is whether or not he can physically hold up, but his stuff should play up in that pen.

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      • Mike Wimmer says:

        I’m waiting a bit on Mejia, just because you never know with Collins lately. That and I wanna see him do one or two back to back outings and like you point out hold up physically.

        I think Doolittle and Gregerson will continue to split the save chances, I dont see Melvin locking himself into Doolittle only pitching the 9th if a couple touch lefties are due up int he 7th or 8th.

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  4. Tom says:

    Given that Bo Porter said that Qualls is the closer don’t you think that at least turns his status yellow. If not, of all the guys in the red don’t you think Qualls job is most “secure.” I know the Astros won’t give him many opportunities but that doesn’t count when measuring security.

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    • cavebird says:

      I think that depends. Some managers when they name a closer more or less (Familia in NY for example) probably should be moved to the back of the line. Given that the Astros get about 1 save opportunity every two weeks, I doubt they should ever get out of the red.

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    • We’ll probably move him into yellow in the next couple BR’s. Honestly, he slipped a bit through the cracks this week, but the Astros bullpen is (for better or for worse) somewhat low on my priority list so I didn’t tackle it last night.

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      • Tom says:

        Thanks for the reply. Before you dismiss the Astros as having one of the lowest # of save chances know this — their rate of save chance is actually better than 10 teams so far this year including the A’s, Angels, Nats, Red Sox, Reds, Rangers and Rays.

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  5. Socrates says:

    I am surprised to see Cody Allen ahead of Shaw in Cleveland. Especially after Allen pitching in the 6th inning in a 8-1 game tonight.

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    • Pj says:

      And not even recording an out.

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    • Shaw also worked in a low-leverage situation in the 15-4 blowout a few nights ago.

      Allen slightly better pitcher, Shaw also has Francona’s confidence late. Still kind of a toss-up. I’m rostering both in a few deeper leagues b/c they’ll either give me a SV or (hopefully) good rates on any given night.

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  6. Joe Nathans Dead Arm says:

    Would dropping Shaw for Ottavino be wise at this point? I don’t see Shaw getting many more chances and Hawkins is imploding very quickly.

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    • Richie says:

      Don’t know why you don’t see Shaw getting many more chances, Allen did just implode. Colin admits Hawkins’ job is safe for now, and I don’t know that it’s self-evident the next try will go to Ottavino rather than Brothers anyway.

      On the other hand, if you’re really sold on the Indians being lousy from this point on, well, alright. But that is the main part of what you’re betting on, with Ottavino also then having to fall in place.

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    • I’d keep Shaw since you know he’s in the mix for SV right now.

      Hawkins is bad and likely isn’t long for his job, but he has some leash ATM. If he runs off a few mediocre (but non BS) outings, you’re only getting good rates from Ottavino where you could be gambling on SV from Shaw.

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      • bp says:

        There is also no guarantee Ottovino is the next in line. I think Belisle could enter the mix (post-mechanical adjustment he has pitched better).

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  7. Pj says:

    So much for Cody Allen being top 5 closer ROS. Axford probably gets job back later this week.

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    • Not so sure of that. Don’t know who said Cody Allen was top 5 closer ROS. Has stuff to be top-third probably, but needs opportunity and that’s a BIG part of RP value.

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  8. Jackson says:

    Jason Grimm can’t be the 1st chair in Chicago anymore. Look for Neil Ramirez in the 8th. Maybe Schlitter in the 7th. And the Cubs should take notice that Wesley Wright is a better lefty than James Russell.

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    • We’ll reevaluate this pen this week once the Cubbies win a couple more close games. Ramirez’s inLI is on par with Grimm’s. Russell has highest inLI of lefties and decent SIERA over last 2 weeks.

      Wright’s been “eh,” actually — 2ish ERA supported by low BABIP and high strand rate. Mid-3.00’s xFIP/SIERA which is fine, but on par (or a touch worse) than Russell.

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  9. S. Urista says:

    Rosenthal got completely hosed, first by his manager (WTF was he doing out there four days in a row, including one five-out save a couple of days ago?) then by the umpire calling that last pitch a ball. Royally screwed.

    One encouraging sign: his velocity looked fine despite the heavy work load this week – high 90’s touching 98 on a couple of pitches.

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    • Andre says:

      I have Rosenthal on my fantasy team and considered benching him given he was used 3 days in a row and 4 out of 5 prior to yesterday. But I assumed there was NO way he would be used on Sunday. Are there any stats on RP usage 3-4 days in a row? I would assume it must be very poor.

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  10. stonepie says:

    no idea who to add- doolittle, shaw, motte, britton?
    maybe ill just go betances and enjoy the insane K’s while the closer shuffle continues

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    • If you aren’t desperate for saves, Betances will give you best rates of that group.

      Like Shaw/Britton out of those 4 if you want to scrounge for saves over next few weeks.

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  11. Dave says:

    2 Scoreless outings for Veras after coming back from the DL. Signed to be the closer so I could see him getting back in to the mix ahead of some of those other names

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  12. Roger says:

    Would you take Ottavino over Farquhar in 5×5 dynasty as a Hawkins owner? Sounds like Ottavino might get a shot at the closer role sooner than Farquhar, but both Hawkins and Rodney are headed for retirement pretty soon. Neither Ottavino or Farquhar looks like a certain first chair. Having the heir to a closer you own is nice, but limiting exposure to Denver is a good thing too.

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  13. Grady says:

    I ask this only because I own Melancon – is there any chance he holds the job after Grilli returns?

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    • Dave K says:

      I’m willing to bet that Grilli gets the job back when he comes off the DL. That said, I’m planning to hold onto Melancon for a bit (in a non-hold league). His numbers have been good enough that it’ll help my ratios and Grilli wasn’t all that sharp before the injury (tho the injury could have been causing some of his issue).

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    • I doubt it, especially since he’s had a couple hiccups since taking over. That said, I like Dave K’s strategy. Grilli is an injury-prone RP and Melancon has shown he can help out in ERA/WHIP even when he’s not pitching the ninth.

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  14. Nick says:

    Britton was also warming up in the 9th when tillman was completing his game. Also, duquette was interviewed and seemed to insinuate he liked britton closing…

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  15. BB says:

    Interesting that these are both big slider guys and both have shoulder problems. That makes me a little nervous, particularly for Cingrani. I know they were calling it just a bit of “fatigue” or whatever, but I am ready to trade him for whatever I can get if he will only have one or two strong starts to pump up his value a little…

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  16. Bucfan21 says:

    Rosenthal was dealing at 97-98 mph yesterday, but his fourth straight appearance – and remember that the first in this string was 1 2/3 IP – clearly seemed to show up in Rosenthal having very little control. Yes, the ball 4 to Schafer was close, but on the prior pitch, Rosenthal benefitted from Schafer fouling off a pitch that was clearly ball 4, so it’s not as if Rosenthal was on target and just the recipient of misfortune.

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