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Bullpen Report: May 29th, 2012

• The Cubs closing situation sounds like it could become as foggy as the one Mike Scioscia has control over in southern California. Apparently earlier this morning, Dale Sveum was quoted as saying Casey Coleman would have closed yesterday had a save situation arose. This comment was made all the more interesting by the fact that the Cubs had a save situation today and Casey Coleman was nowhere to be found. Instead, Shawn Camp pitched the eighth (stranding a runner at third he inherited with no outs), leading everyone in Wrigley to figure “OK, James Russell for the ninth.” Well, surprise, surprise, out trots Camp for the ninth — so, two-inning save? Not really. Sveum left Camp in to pitch to Chase Headley — ironically, a switch-hitter without a discernible platoon split. After Headley was retired, Sveum switched gears and called on Russell to face the left-handed John Baker, the switch-hitting Everth Cabrera and the pinch-hitting righty, Nick Hundley. Outside of a bloop double just out of the reach of Darwin Barney, Russell was able to finish off the 5-3 game uneventfully and provide his fantasy owners with the key “S” in the box score.

Camp (and even Coleman) are both right-handed and superior pitchers peripherally to Russell (who sports a mediocre career big league xFIP of 4.50) so it would seem Camp or Coleman would be the logical favorites for ninth inning duties. However, Russell appears to have the all-important manager’s confidence, and, combined with the fact that today’s game showed Sveum seems content to play matchups and/or ride the hot hand, is very much in the mix as well. Side note: Carlos Marmol is now back from the DL — he is not imminently close to the ninth inning, but it wouldn’t be out of the question for him to slip back into the mix down the road. Keep an eye on him as he works low-leverage situations.

• Heath Bell pitched an impressive (for him) ninth inning in the Marlins 3-1 win over the Nats. A notable part of the outing was that he brought the heat (fastball) on 12 out of his 14 pitches (a pitch that has been absolutely awful for him this year — -2.54 wFB/C (runs per 100 fastballs)) and did a good job of not leaving any of them hanging out over the center of the plate. That makes two “non-terrible” outings in a row for Bell, but today’s two strikeouts (combined with no walks) were needed to bring his K/BB back up to 1.00 for the season. As has been said in this space pretty much every night for the last week, Bell’s leash is long because of his contract, but the Marlins probably want to see him string together quite a few more outings like tonight before that queasy feeling when Bell trots through the bullpen door finally subsides.

• Casey Janssen had a rough non-save situation against the Orioles. He came in with a four-run lead but quickly gave up a two-run shot to hot-hot-hot Adam Jones before allowing a single and a walk (bringing the go-ahead run to the plate). Thankfully (for Jays fans, at least) he then induced Chris Davis to pop out to third and Wilson Betemit to ground out to short to wrap up the victory. Janssen is still sporting a tidy 3.38 xFIP, doesn’t walk a lot of guys (career 2.39 BB/9), and had not allowed an earned run since April 26th before tonight, so one shaky outing shouldn’t do much to dent John Farrell’s or fantasy owners’ confidence.

For those of you who play daily fantasy games like FanGraphs: The Game, or just like to stream players, here is a matchup you may be able to exploit.

A Pitcher for Tomorrow: David Hernandez (ARI) @ SF

Even with Tim Lincecum‘s un-Lincecum-like start to 2012, a betting man would certainly drop some coin on it being a low-scoring battle between him and Ian Kennedy in the “City by the Bay.” As the Diamondbacks top setup guy, Hernandez figures to see some action whether Arizona is up, down, or tied as long as they’re still in it. He’s only allowed 1 ER in May to go along with 15 punchouts in 10.2 innings. Why stop now?

Closer Grid:

  Closer First Second Injured
Dbacks J.J. Putz David Hernandez Bryan Shaw  
Braves Craig Kimbrel Jonny Venters Eric O’Flaherty  
Orioles Jim Johnson Pedro Strop Matt Lindstrom  
Red Sox Alfredo Aceves Franklin Morales Daniel Bard Andrew Bailey
Cubs James Russell Shawn Camp Carlos Marmol
White Sox Addison Reed Hector Santiago Matt Thornton  
Reds Aroldis Chapman Sean Marshall Jose Arredondo  
Indians Chris Perez Vinnie Pestano Tony Sipp  
Rockies Rafael Betancourt Matt Belisle Matt Reynolds  
Tigers Jose Valverde Joaquin Benoit Octavio Dotel  
Astros Brett Myers Wilton Lopez David Carpenter  
Royals Jonathan Broxton Greg Holland Aaron Crow  
Angels Scott Downs Ernesto Frieri Jordan Walden  
Dodgers Kenley Jansen Josh Lindblom Javy Guerra  
Marlins Heath Bell Steve Cishek Edward Mujica  
Brewers John Axford Francisco Rodriguez Jose Veras  
Twins Matt Capps Glen Perkins Alex Burnett  
Mets Frank Francisco Jon Rauch Bobby Parnell  
Yankees Rafael Soriano David Robertson Boone Logan  
Athletics Brian Fuentes Ryan Cook Grant Balfour  
Phillies Jonathan Papelbon Antonio Bastardo Chad Qualls  
Pirates Joel Hanrahan Juan Cruz Jason Grilli  
Cardinals Jason Motte Mitchell Boggs Fernando Salas  
Padres Dale Thayer Andrew Cashner Luke Gregerson Huston Street
Giants Santiago Casilla Sergio Romo Javier Lopez  
Mariners Tom Wilhelmsen Brandon League Charlie Furbush  
Rays Fernando Rodney Joel Peralta J.P. Howell Kyle Farnsworth
Rangers Joe Nathan Mike Adams Koji Uehara  
Blue Jays Casey Janssen Jason Frasor Darren Oliver Sergio Santos
Nationals Tyler Clippard Sean Burnett Henry Rodriguez Drew Storen

[Green light, yellow light, red light: the colors represent the volatility of the bullpen order.]