• Uh oh. Fernando Rodney is at it again. The crooked-lidded closer blew his fourth save of the season this afternoon, giving up a solo shot to Jose Bautista. While the home run was the real punch, the bigger concern for Rodney’s owners is that manager Joe Maddon initially left him in, but then yanked him after he walked yet another batter on the season. If you look at Rodney’s BB% the last five seasons, they read 16%, 12%, 11%, 19%, 5%, 20%. Spot the outlier?
Alan, Ben, and I ranked Rodney as our 19th reliever for the rest of 2013 so the control concerns are becoming widespread. 2012 showed he has the stuff to be dominant if he’s throwing strikes, so he can’t be completely written off, but it certainly would be nice if he demonstrated consistent demand of the zone. Joel Peralta‘s 3.61 xFIP isn’t otherworldly, but would be more than adequate if Maddon wanted to “give Rodney a break.” Tampa Bay’s top setup man should be owned in all leagues and Rodney owners should see if there is someone that might still treat him like a top-12 closer. It’s a bad time to try and sell, though.
• Mark Melancon got his first save of the season, spelling Jason Grilli who had the day off after he threw more than 30 pitches on Tuesday night. Melancon has rebounded after a poor year in Boston (although it wasn’t as bad as some Red Sox fans believe) with a sexy 1.69 xFIP, in large part thanks to only walking one out of 95 batters faced. Nearly unfathomable. Melancon is an elite holds option and makes a fine saves handcuff as the clear-cut number two in Pittsburgh. He should be owned in all 12-teamers and deeper as a great source of rates.
• Rafael Betancourt gave his owners a scare when he left Tuesday’s outing with an undisclosed injury. It appears he has dodged a major bullet, however, with word coming out on Wednesday that he is suffering from inflammation around scar tissue in his groin (sidenote: uh, ouch). He will take a couple days off, but the team is tentatively penciling him back into the bullpen by Friday. While a lefty, Rex Brothers is in line for saves the next couple days and makes a nice streaming option in non-holds leagues (if he’s available in holds leagues, you should probably go get him).
• Ryan Madson has suffered yet another setback in his attempt to return from Tommy John surgery. The seemingly snakebitten right-hander will be shut down indefinitely with more elbow soreness. Madson is proving to be a cautionary tale that, while elbow surgery has improved by leaps and bounds over the last two decades, it is not a guaranteed easy return.
[Green light, yellow light, red light: the colors represent the volatility of the bullpen order.]
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