Bullpen Report: May 21, 2013

• A day after blowing his third consecutive save chance, Jim Johnson pitched a scoreless tenth inning against the Yankees in a tie game this evening. Although it obviously wasn’t a save opportunity, Johnson was the pitcher of record when Nate McLouth hit the walk-off home run and before the game, Buck Showalter said that Johnson would still be used as the closer. While Johnson can’t really afford to blow another three consecutive saves, he’s still the man in the back of the bullpen with the support of his manager. Behind Johnson is Darren O’Day, who has been fantastic in 2013 (and 2012) with a 1.74 ERA, 3.56 FIP and a 9.58 K/9 on the season. O’Days control has left him a little this year with a 10.1 BB% after posting  a 5.3% BB% in 2012 and 6.8% in 2011 but if he can regress back to those normals this year, he should have the fancy peripherals to match the ERA.

Jordan Walden is now off of the DL and with Eric O’Flaherty and Johnny Venters both out with Tommy John Surgery, expect Walden to be the primary set up man in Atlanta. Those in holds leagues should certainly take notice as well. I wouldn’t be scared off by his unsightly 4.85 ERA as that’s on the heels of an unsustainable .436 BABIP. Although he’s only pitched 14 innings, Walden’s showcased his swing and miss stuff with a 12.4% SwStr% and a 27.1% K% and should continue to provide solid innings for the Braves and fantasy squads in needs of holds, ratio help or strikeouts in the eighth innings in Atlanta, and wherever they play on the road.

• One set up man comes back and another one goes down today as Santiago Casilla was placed on the 15-day DL with a cyst on his knee.  Jeremy Affeldt should now be the main set up option in San Francisco and like Jordan Walden, should again be counted on to receive some holds and any saves if anything were to happen to Sergio Romo. Behind Affeldt, I’d expect Javier Lopez to continue his LOOGY ways in the late innings and as a shot in the dark, I would think Jean Machi will be used in more higher leverage innings with Casilla on the shelf. In 13 innings pitched this year Machi’s struck out 13 batters against only three walks with a fastball that can reach the mid-90s.

• Nobody could have expected many saves out of Steve Cishek this year closing games in Miami but they really shouldn’t now, as Miami appears to have moved the closer-by-committee approach (hat tip to Marlins 12 from last night’s BR). Teams in need of saves should certainly pick up (or at least take a look at) Mike Dunn, Chad Qualls and/or A.J. Ramos but please be reminded that as the primary closer for the Marlins all year until now, Cishek still only received six save chances. My guess is that Cishek works his way back into the role with Mike Dunn receiving opportunities against a lefty heavy lineup in the ninth, but be sure to keep an eye on Qualls or Ramos if you are still desperate for saves, and I mean desperate. Saves are saves are saves but any way you slice this situation, it’s neither pretty nor fruitful with many saves.  Closer controversies are normally must see drama, but I’d understand if you would rather just change the channel on this season of The Real Housewives Closers of Miami.

Fernando Rodney‘s job was never in actual danger but Joel Peralta was a nice speculative add for saves down the road. However, Peralta struggled in the eighth inning tonight and Rodney pulled out the five-out save, for his ninth of the season. It wasn’t necessarily a clean one for Rodney as he let two runners reach base while allowing one to score on a wild pitch but with back-to-back saves for TB, his job is secure, or in our world, green.
Closer Grid:


Closer First Second DL/Minors
Arizona Heath Bell David Hernandez Matt Reynolds J.J. Putz
Atlanta Craig Kimbrel Jordan Walden Cory Gearrin
Baltimore Jim Johnson Darren O’Day Pedro Strop
Boston Andrew Bailey Junichi Tazawa Koji Uehara
CHI (NL) Kevin Gregg Kyuji Fujikawa Carlos Marmol
CHI (AL) Addison Reed Jesse Crain Matt Thornton
Cincy Aroldis Chapman Jonathan Broxton J.J. Hoover
Cleveland Chris Perez Vinnie Pestano Joe Smith
Colorado Rafael Betancourt Wilton Lopez Rex Brothers
Detroit Jose Valverde Joaquin Benoit Phil Coke
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 Mike Dunn 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 Jeremy Affeldt Jean Machi Santiago Casilla
Seattle Tom Wilhelmsen Carter Capps Charlie Furbush
TB Fernando Rodney Joel Peralta Jake McGee
Texas Joe Nathan Tanner Scheppers Jason Frasor
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.]

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When he's not focusing on every team's bullpen situation, Ben can be found blogging at Ben's Baseball Bias and on Twitter @BensBias

17 Responses to “Bullpen Report: May 21, 2013”

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  1. Nick says:

    Betancourt down with an injury O_o

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  2. shapular says:

    Walden isn’t back until next week.

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  3. Nick says:

    Rafael Soriano doing his best Jim Johnson impression. Second consecutive BS.

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  4. marlins12 says:

    I got a hat tip! Wooo!!

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  5. UncleCharlieVT says:

    Seems to me the most important thing to get right in a closer chart is who is first in line for saves when the closer goes down due to injury or in effectiveness. Despite this chart being updated daily numerous errors persist; Mike Adams, Wilton Lopez, John Axford, Jordan Walden, and Jesse Crain are all listed as first in line, but are unlikely to be. Perhaps this is nitpicking, or maybe I am just spoiled by the high quality of information Usually found here.

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    • Steve says:

      You may be nitpicking, and I’m pretty sure you are wrong in several cases. As long as Adams is healthy when Papelbon is hurt/traded, he will close. Lefty’s don’t close. I think that will sink Brothers as well, at least until Lopez is awful.

      As he detailed in the article, Walden IS most likely choice. Along with Axford, they are PROVEN CLOSERS! The chart isn’t about who is the BEST option, but who will get that chance. It strikes me as accurate.

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      • Jordan Walden was a mistake on my part, misreading information that he was back. So I apologize for that but he is coming back soon and will find himself as the key set up option in Atlanta.

        Additionally, apologies for missing out on Adams last night.

        We do our best to update the chart but an occasional middle relief DL stint can slip through the crack for a day or two.

        As for the other 2nd options, managers don’t announce who would receive saves if something were to happen to their successful closer, so it’s a bit of guess work.

        You can make a case for Rex Brothers’ numbers not lying, but he also is a lefty and Lopez has been great of late, even if he doesn’t miss too many bats.

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      • UncleCharlieVT says:

        Thanks for your thoughtful response Ben, you too, Steve. I hope my criticism is seen as constructive and not complaining for the sake of it. Perhaps by discussing the chart we can collectively make some more accurate guesses on some of these situations.

        There is a column on the chart for DL/minors, so Adams clearly goes in that slot, and not first in line. Of course, much of this is guesswork, but there are a few things we can rule out as unlikely. Please let me know if you disagree.

        As of this moment, I think there is now way Axford gets anywhere near the 9th. I would think even K-Rod would be given a shot first at this time.

        Jesse Crain is pitching very well, but by the “proven closer” argument wouldn’t Thornton be given first crack?

        Media and blogger-types seem to be tagging Brothers for saves in Betancourt’s absence Other than the left-handed bias do you have any reason to believe it’s going to be Lopez? I’d love for you to be right as I own Wilton in two leagues, but fear you are wrong.

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      • Uncle Charlie, never annoying, love the criticism and discussion!

        Adams will certainly be fixed for tonight’s post, I can promise you that.

        You are correct in that Axford isn’t necessarily close to the ninth but the Brewers have been committed to seeing if Axford could get the job back. It hasn’t been successful however, especially considering Henderson’s been outstanding. Good point on K-Rod, he hasn’t been up long so I felt a little hesitant to throw him right in there as most teams aren’t like the Tigers, but you make a lot of sense in having him as at least the 3rd option, if not the 2nd before Axford.

        For a few years Thornton was an outstanding reliever but he’s declined in each of the past three years and I’m confident in Crain’s positioning on our chart.

        Lastly, regarding Lopez/Brothers it’s really a coin flip but I just mean to suggest that it’s not necessarily automatically Brothers because of his numbers this year. While he’s only given up one earned run in 20 innings compared to the 10 earned runs in 23 innings by Lopez, he hasn’t necessarily pitched significantly better with a 3.21 SIERA compared to Lopez’ 3.66.

        I couldn’t in my right mind be shocked if Brothers took over if Betancourt misses time, which is now unlikely as he won’t hit the DL. However, Brothers is left handed and saving him for the ninth would leave the Rockies with Josh Outman as the only lefty set up option. This might be all for naught given that Betancourt will be back but I would expect a more committee approach with Lopez facing righties and Brothers against lefties.

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      • UncleCharlieVT says:

        Sigh. Brothers gets the save facing three right handed bats.

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  6. rbt says:

    Considering that the Royals have said the gopheriffic Kelvin Herrera isn’t even going to pitch the eight inning for now, I seriously doubt he is the first choice for closing if Holland should go down or need a breather.

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  7. big red machine says:

    Jason Grilli, Mariano Rivera etc are green, and Fernando Rodney with a BB/9 of all 9.0 is green… hmmm lol

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