Bullpen Report: May 21, 2014

• 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.

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 Zach Britton Darren O’Day Tommy Hunter
Boston Koji Uehara Junichi Tazawa Andrew Miller
CHI (NL) Hector Rondon Neil Ramirez James Russell Pedro Strop
CHI (AL) Ronald Belisario Daniel Webb Jacob Petricka Matt Lindstrom
Cincy Aroldis Chapman Jonathan Broxton Sam LeCure
Cleveland Bryan Shaw Cody Allen 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 Brian Wilson
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 Dellin Betances Adam Warren Shawn Kelley
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 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 Jake McGee Joel Peralta
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.


45 Responses to “Bullpen Report: May 21, 2014”

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  1. fred Bellemore says:

    I’m still trying to wrap my head around what Jim Johnson has supposedly brought on himself…

    After being pulled from the closer’s job after one week, he had 10 consecutive appearances covering 12 innings, with no earned runs and 3 wins (2 in extra innings), culminating in a 1-2-3 9th inning save in the second game of a DH on Wednesday May 7, just two weeks ago. With no save opportunities for the A’s for 4 days, he got work in and gave up a 9th-inning run with a 9-0 lead on Sunday May 11 (big whoop).

    At this point, as far as I can figure, is when he finally lost it all, all 100+ saves the last two years out the window, because the next night, he was the victim of 2 scratch hits and was pulled after 2 batters in that ham-fistedly-managed ninth inning vs CWS. Four days later he pitched a scoreless uneventful mop-up 9th inning in an 11-1 win. Then, last Sunday he was brought in in the 6th inning of a 9-2 game, and (with 2 outs and a guy on 1st of a 9-2 game, mind you) gets squeezed a bunch by the ump and then, suddenly, that’s the end. That’s it. Done. Over. Why did we even consider this guy a closer?

    He’s sporting a BABIP of 0.400, has allowed no homers or triples, and 3 doubles (one of which was a single misplayed by Reddick), (and then 4 unearned runs the day before his 1-2-3 save were called earned run 5 days later).

    Since April 10, what exactly has this guy done that’s AT ALL different than the previous 2 years? Nothing. He’s getting BABIP’ed to death. Get him a half-way decent left side of the infield and a manager that will let him finish an inning – preferably a clean ninth inning – and he’s fine…

    And today Melvin says, “He’s the ‘wild card” — “It might be a couple innings, it might be a couple outs in the sixth, it might be two innings in an extra-inning game.”…Basically in just two weeks and no screw-ups of any substance, this guy is on mop-up detail, behind even Rodriguez….

    Could somebody please tell me what I’m missing?

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    • Bill says:

      Is JJ on your fantasy team?

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    • Navid says:

      The A’s know this shit better than you, right? Have you ever seen Moneyball?

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    • TheGrandslamwich says:

      You might be missing the fact that his walk rate is in Carlos Marmol territory.

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    • Luck Dragon says:

      What has he done that’s different from the past 2 years? How about a KK%-BB% of 3.3%, a SIERA of 4.23, and a LD% of 26.3%. Those are all way worse than usual and he’s paying for it. He’ll probably shape back up over the season, but the margin of error for an MLB closer is razor thin and he’s lost the job.

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    • Andrew says:

      How can you write an essay like that on a sabrmetrics site and conclude he’s the exact same guy as previous two years when his walk rate is 14.3%. That’s more than double the previous two years. One glance at the profile is all it took.

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      • pudieron89 says:

        No you don’t understand he’s just getting squeezed. Umps are stache-racist.

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      • Fred says:

        Regarding the Walk Rate: He’s walked 13 guys…6 of those walks came before April 10. After April 10, over the next 14 2/3 innings, he walked TWO guys unintentionally (2 IBBs),and then with 2 out and a guy on first in a 9-2, he walked 3 in a row (big whoop), getting squeezed (yes!) along the way…

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      • Andrew says:

        You’re really trying to massage the numbers to fit your narrative. That’s not really how this works. He’s been bad. Why would we ignore before April 10? What he’s done since then is still worse than Doolittle’s 1.1% BBs.

        It doesn’t matter how hard you squint, Johnson’s WHIP, K rate, BB rate, FIP, xFIP, SIERA, LD%, SwStrk%, F-Strike%, Zone% are all drastically worse than Doolittle’s.

        I’m sorry you lost your fantasy team closer. Nothing you have said or Johnson has done this season suggest he shouldn’t have lost his job though.

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      • Jason B says:

        I like that all the bad things are simply dismissed though. Walked three in a row? Eh, big whoop! They were up by seven! And he was getting squeezed! Lousy umps!

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  2. Mike W says:

    Johnson was a combination of bad timing (bad outings right around the time he was about to get the job back) and the fact is when you don’t miss bats you will always leave yourself prone to being BABIPed to death like he has been.

    Also of note, Axford had a rough outing today, probably knocked himself back from reclaiming the closers role for a little bit which gives Shaw or Allen a chance to claim the job.

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    • lowcountryjoe says:

      If I were to pitch in at the MLB level I’m pretty sure that I would get BABIPed to death, too. Yet I don’t think you’d hear calls for me to stick around because I’m due for regression to some mean. I’m of the opinion that this is a stat where something else is going on…that you’ve lost/acquired something as a pitcher or batter and that the duration this is the case, varies.

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      • Andrew says:

        The LD 26.3 % would support this. While it’s not predictive, ti does describe what’s happened to him. That and the 14+% walk rate does not for a closer make.

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  3. fred Bellemore says:

    Billy Beane is the one that brought JJ in for $10m…Since April 10, Johnson’s performance has been right in line with the previous two years, no surprises at all — the only difference is 3rd base is manned by a guy playing with a catcher’s mitt instead of Manny Machado…Beane’s Moneyball is all getting K’s so he can stack his playing field with statues who draw walks…Great, I agree with that…

    What happened here?…Let’s be honest: he’s rewarding Doolittle for taking 23 cents on the dollar for the next, oh, 8 years…If Doolittle didn;t sign that contract in April — JJ is closing, he’s not being brought in in these ridiculous situations and yanked with 2 on and 2 out in the middle of innings….

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    • gratimortui says:

      Josh Donaldson
      2014 UZR 7.4
      2014 DRS 12

      Josh Donaldson is, at least by the advanced metrics, an elite defensive third baseman. Look I won’t lie, I’m an A’s fan and those 8 errors can really stick in one’s craw… but please don’t tell me that he is not an excellent fielder.

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    • TheGrandslamwich says:

      Donaldson has been one of the top defensive 3B’s in baseball ever since he moved to the position. He may not be on the same level as Machado but saying he plays with a “catcher’s mitt” is idiocy.

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    • majnun says:

      Right, it’s a conspiracy

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    • Chris says:

      Yeah, let’s just completely ignore Doolittle’s 32-1 K/BB, filthy stuff, and ability to get out both lefties and righties, all of which screams elite closer to me.

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    • BMac says:

      You are bang-on about the contract! Thanks for reminding us all. All the Oakland pitchers getting chances to close are in a position where it does not hurt the ball club financially; the guys eligible for big arbitration wins are shunted away.

      Doolittle’s contract made him a candidate. Along of course with his amazing pitching…

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    • cavebird says:

      fred: you keep saying he has been doing just what he has always done, but you never mention the BB rate.

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      • Fred says:

        Regarding the Walk Rate: He’s walked 13 guys…6 of those walks came before April 10. After April 10, over the next 14 2/3 innings, he walked TWO guys unintentionally (2 IBBs),and then with 2 out and a guy on first in a 9-2 game, he walked 3 in a row (big whoop), getting squeezed (yes!) along the way…

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  4. mymaus says:

    So Qualls in yellow and Belisario in Red = don’t drop Qualls for Belisario?

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    • cavebird says:

      I’m not sure of that. Qualls is safer in his job, but the Astros have a total of 3 or 4 saves this year so a more volatile option somewhere else might be better.

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    • Roger says:

      Qualls has more job security as Belisario has yet to be declared the closer, but whoever is closing for the White Sox would be a better bet for saves than the Astros’ closer (Qualls) based on volume of saves… I’d hold Qualls

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    • BB says:

      I don’t think you can analyze the colors that mechanically. I mean, Melancon is in green (my sense is that they just don’t change the colors in situations like this until the looming candidate officially comes off the DL). But I’m not sure I wouldn’t drop Melancon for, say, Frieri (red) or Doolittle (yellow)

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    • mymaus says:

      The Astors actually have 50% more save chances than the White Sox so far this year. Also, Fangraphs projected standings is projecting just one more win for the White Sox (51) vs the Astros (50) ROS. Steamer and Zips projections seem to like Qualls a little more. Does all of this add up to Qualls > Belisario?

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      • Socrates says:

        No, because Jesse Crain is going to be the closer shortly. Crain > Qualls + Belisario

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  5. joey says:

    Fred, JJ is absolute trash, I’m guessing someone in your league realized this and already had Doolittle rostered?

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  6. Steinbrenner's Calzone says:

    Arenado for Robertson a decent offer in 5×5? Am I over/under-valuing Arenado?

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    • pmacho says:

      under

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    • Roger says:

      I think that’s pretty even and just depends on your need, but Robertson should end the season as the higher rated player… he’s an elite closer while Arenado has 15-20 HR power and .300ish AVG ability

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  7. matlock says:

    You might want to consider switching Burton and Fien

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  8. arthurpete says:

    So is it too early to drop Hawking for Ottavino….I mean it is only a matter of time right?

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    • BB says:

      If my bench weren’t currently littered with injured top-end guys I am reluctant to drop, I would definitely be stashing Ottavino. It’s a tougher call whether to actually drop the incumbent (Hawkins) for him. Do you have roster space to add him as a handcuff? Better to scoop him up now for a buck or 2 (if you are in a FAAB league) than wait for Hawkins to lose the job and have to throw down 10 or 20 dollars or more to get Ottavino…

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  9. posty says:

    Is Lindstrom even worth rostering in a redraft league? I could put him on the DL, but I have better players there…

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  10. Walks with four balls says:

    How save is Dolittle? Thinking about dropping Eovaldi for him.

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  11. Double J says:

    NL-Only I have Carter Capps and Tyler Thornberg, which one should I drop to try and get Neil Ramirez? Annoyed that I just added Capps last week, choosing to get him over Ramirez.

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  12. lester bangs says:

    Doolittle worked around a single, yeah – a sky-high infield pop that hit the iron at the top of the stadium. Talk about an absolute fluke. Didn’t hold him back, though he threw a bunch of extra pitches.

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