• Well, we didn’t think Matt Lindstrom was going to keep the White Sox closer role for long. Of course, we didn’t expect his reign to end with a torn ankle sheath, either. Lindstrom will undergo surgery on Friday to repair what I can only assume is a “Curt Schilling injury” and will subsequently be sidelined for three months. In other words, he’s not irrelevant for fantasy purposes in 2014.
With Lindstrom’s absense, it appears Robin Ventura will bypass running a committee and turn the keys over to Ronald Belasario. Eno covered the goggled righty in depth the other day, so I’ll just leave the link here. Just know that whoever ends up racking up saves for the White Sox — they aren’t hiding some elite arm in the depths of their pen. Be prepared to sacrifice a bit in whiffs or rates.
• Mark Melancon tossed a perfect ninth, notching save number seven on the season. He’s rebounded nicely after a few iffy outings over the last couple weeks and, although his K% is way down on the season (25% in 2013 to 15% this year), he still owns a respectable 2.93 SIERA. However, the saves gravy train may be coming to an end as Jason Grilli threw in a simulated game on Wednesday. It apparently went well enough that Clint Hurdle thinks the righty could be activated as early as Saturday. He’d almost certainly be thrust back into the closer’s role, moving Melancon back into a setup situation.
While Grilli’s ERA indicators look bad right now (think 4.50+), his swinging strike rate and fastball velocity are right where they were last year, indicating his K% is due to rebound somewhat from his paltry 20% mark. If you could get him on the cheap, he might be a nice trade target. Don’t go cutting Melancon, either; his solid rates should help you even when he’s not closing, and those rates combined with Grilli’s injury history make him a top-5 closer handcuff.
• Man, guys throwing four days in a row haven’t done well lately. Trevor Rosenthal had a mini-meltdown Sunday and Hector Rondon kept Jeff Samardzija off the “win” board by allowing two runs (one earned) in the ninth inning today. After throwing in each of the last three games, the Cubbies went to the well one more time with not-so-nice results. While Rondon definitely earned the blown save, it wasn’t quite as terrible as it could have been, with only one hard-hit ball leaving the infield, and the tying run scoring on a Darwin Barney error. His rates are still good enough that I don’t think this hiccup will sink him, but you have to remember that the Cubs bullpen is not high up on the list of “potential save opportunities.” They’re not quite Astros territory, but they are a less than desirable pen to spend a lot of time fretting over. Either way, Rondon is definitely not going to be available tomorrow. Expect someone like James Russell or Neil Ramirez to get an opportunity should it arise, although it will likely be matchup-based.
• Quick hits: As Ben alluded to last night, it sounds like Bob Melvin is going to lean on Sean Doolittle to be his closer for the time being. He was true to his word tonight and the lefty worked around a one-out single to secure a save for Oakland. Aroldis Chapman bounced back from his first blown save of the season to polish off a victory tonight. Usually he takes a month or two to ramp up to maximum velocity, but he is starting hot this year. Joe Nathan blew a save today and while his 3.87 SIERA leaves a bit to be desired, his fastball velocity has bounced a bit off his early season lows. He has some job security, especially with one of his main setup men giving up a balk-off run in extras. The Dodgers optioned Chris Withrow to Triple-A. He’ll be back, but those if you who were using him in holds leagues should probably make some sort of move.
[Green light, yellow light, red light: the colors represent the volatility of the bullpen order.]
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