It was a slow day on the diamond with just five games on the schedule, so here are just a few bullpen notes to hold you over…
Jason Grilli’s early season ninth-inning heroics vaulted him to the number seven slot in the Bullpen Report’s “Updated Consensus Closer Ranks,” and this afternoon’s 14-pitch effort did nothing but solidify that ranking. The Pirates closer faced the minimum in the ninth and struck out the final two Cubbies to remain a perfect 19-for-19 in save chances this year. The two looking strikeouts — courtesy of Luis Valbuena and Welington Castillo — inflated the right-handers whiff rate to 41.4% on the year, which as of tonight, is a major league best. In addition to the fantastic strikeout rate, Grilli lowered his ERA and WHIP to 1.25 and 0.74 WHIP on the year respectively.
To be fair, Jason Grilli isn’t the only story coming out of the Pirates ‘pen these days. Twenty-eight-year-old Mark Melancon owns a 0.72 ERA, 0.80 WHIP a 27.4% K%, a 1.1% BB% and has notched a league-leading 16 holds in 25 trips to the hill. Yes, those numbers are real. Parlay those ratios and whiffs with a scab win here, a scab save there and you could have yourself a top 100 player. Melancon is owned in just 20% of Y! leagues, but at this point, he’ll be more than useful in all 12-team and deeper mixed formats.
Papa Grande shook hands for the fifth time this season as the Tigers closed out the Twins, 7-6. Valverde sat down the Twinkies in order — including two via the strikeout — to raise his strikeout rate to 25% on the season. In 11 appearance since rejoining the Tigers, Valverde is 4-of-4 in save chances with a 0.82 ERA and a 0.54 WHIP. Today’s save pushes Jose Valverde’s career save total up to 282, placing him 28th on the all-time career saves list and only behind Mariano Rivera, Joe Nathan and Francisco Rodriguez among those still in the game. Watch out Mo, Jose is just 343 saves away!
There are seven middle relievers that have earned four or more holds in the past two weeks. Joel Peralta (6) notched the most of the bunch, while Trevor Rosenthal and David Robertson are the only two with a minimum of four holds and ten strikeouts. Four of the seven — Jesse Crain, Sean Doolittle, Jake McGee and Trevor Rosenthal — own a perfect 0.00 ERA. And what do you get when you add Rosenthal, McGee and Doolittle’s efforts together over that time? A 2-0 pitcher who sports a glistening 0.00 ERA and a 7.6 K/BB. Yes, that’s Chris Sale territory. Moral of the blurb? If the top 20 starting pitcher you’re looking to acquire continues to elude you, simply stack a few elite middle relievers and get close to the same result — if you have the roster spots.
[Green light, yellow light, red light: the colors represent the volatility of the bullpen order.]