• Uh oh. Jim Henderson went down with a left leg injury trying to finish off a one-run game tonight in Milwaukee. It didn’t look good; his plant leg essentially buckled on a pitch to Russell Martin. He tried one warmup pitch but grabbed at back of the leg again before being led off the field. Who came in for the last out of the game? None other than Francisco Rodriguez, who induced a Neil Walker groundout to pick up career save number 295. After the game, Henderson was diagnosed with a hamstring injury. Ouch.
Rodriguez has taken a lot of heat for his pitching (and non-baseball antics) the last few years, although some of it unduly so (at least on the pitching front). Somehow only 31, his SIERA the last three years has been 2.72, 2.75, 3.50. Yes, last year wasn’t outstanding, in large part because his BB% crept up into double digits for the first time since 2009, but he’s been extremely serviceable as a high-leverage arm. If there was one major concern about him in 2013, it’d be that his fastball is below 90 mph, although a quick glance at his velocity charts show that his current stretch is not unprecedented. Grab K-Rod in all leagues. With him being summoned tonight, you can gamble that he’s first in line behind Henderson.
Of course, if Henderson’s bum hammy requires a disabled list stint, this could also be the door opening Milwaukee’s mustachioed ex-closer needs. John Axford‘s ERA still sits north of 6.00, and his xFIP was actually higher in May (4.65) that it was in April (3.51). Walks will do that to you. But Ron Roenicke has tried to give him the closer job back when he wasn’t doing well before, so it can’t totally be ruled out. If Axford was dropped in deeper leagues, he’s worth a stash until Henderson’s injury situation shakes itself out.
• Double uh oh. Ernesto Frieri‘s wild fours over his last three outings (four hits, four walks, four runs) may have him in the doghouse in Los Angeles. A day after Frieri threw 35 pitches before being yanked from a save situation, Mike Scioscia let righty (and Jeff Weaver-lookalike) Garrett Richards finish a multi-inning save against the Royals. Frieri’s 17.6% BB% is reminiscent of a Carlos Marmol line, and it’s showing in his ERA predictors, with his SIERA (3.95) and xFIP (4.79) being well north of his 3.05 ERA mark. Scioscia showed last year (see, Scott Downs) that he isn’t afraid of a committee or riding the hot hand, so Frieri owners should be a little fidgety tonight. Given his peripherals, I’d try and sell him if I have him.
One thing in Frieri’s favor is the total decimation of the rest of the Angels bullpen. The half-starter/half-reliever Richards (and his 3.87 xFIP) is getting high-leverage opportunities primarily because he’s one of the last options left. Downs is still an option, as is the strikeout-fearing Jerome Williams, but neither have elite upside in either the eighth or ninth innings. Robert Coello strikes out a ton of guys, but copious walks make him a mini-Frieri. The darkhorse here is Dane de la Rosa, a career minor leaguer who showcases an improved fastball this season, helping him to a 3.73 xFIP. Unfortunately for those looking for a diamond in the rough, his career AAA FIP is a solid, but unspectacular 3.35. I guess I’d roll the dice on him or Richards if I wanted to really speculate in a deep league, but if I don’t have free roster spots to play with, I’m waiting to see whether or not Frieri gets tossed back into the fire, rendering this talk moot.
• Fernando Rodney is still the closer in Tampa Bay. Well, at least, so decrees Joe Maddon. Check out the Bullpen Report archive for more crooked hat jokes than you’ll ever want. Rather than rehash, the real take home message here is that Joel Peralta (3.11 SIERA) needs to be owned in all leagues in case Rodney can’t find the strike zone (it’s right there!)
• Sean Marshall‘s season of injury continues. The southpaw was sent to the disabled list with a sprained left shoulder. This is the second time his pitching shoulder has given him trouble, so there is reason for concern. Marshall’s peripherals aren’t too far off of last season (his K% is down a couple percentage points) but the fact that his velocity is below 90 mph for the first time since 2009 (when he was still being used occasionally as a starter) might be a marker of his shoulder woes. While Marshall has the potential to be one of the elite holds guys in baseball when healthy, no one would blame you for dropping him in all but the deepest of leagues.
[Green light, yellow light, red light: the colors represent the volatility of the bullpen order.]
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