• Giddy up, Jim Johnson owners. We’ve been imploring people to pick up the worm-burning righty if he’s been dropped in leagues, and the window to snag him has likely come to a close. One night after getting BABIPed around, the formerly deposed closer was called up on again, this time to polish off a 2-0 win versus the Mariners. He didn’t disappoint, retiring the side in order. Johnson’s 3.90 SIERA (coming into today) remains nothing to write home about, but he has gotten much better results since being removed from the closer role. Oakland also has a vested interest in the big money man finishing games as it could spike his trade value (should something happen and they go that route) while also keeping Ryan Cook from garnering too many saves (thereby driving up his arbitration cost). We can’t go green with this bullpen just yet, but assuming Johnson can look decent during his next few outings, he’ll be back on good standing fairly quickly.
• John Axford didn’t get you a save tonight, but he did score you a win out of your RP slot. Can’t say no to that! Per the new usual, it didn’t quite come easy for The Ax Man who gave up a two-out double and a walk in the top of the ninth (tie game) before wriggling out without any runs scoring. Casey Fien gave up a run in the bottom of the frame and Indians fans went home happy. Axford’s current 17.1% BB% is beyond even Carlos Marmol levels and there’s good reason his xFIP is 5.35. There is little chance he can continue with his peripherals and been an effective closer long-term. Making things doubly problematic for him (and his owners), Cody Allen and Bryan Shaw have looked fantastic setting up for him in the early going. Allen has the superior peripherals, but Shaw notched the SV the other day. Both are worth owning in deep leagues as speculative plays. Peddle Axford. Hard.
• Tommy Hunter looks shaky. After putting the tying run on base yesterday, he one-upped that and put the winning run on tonight. Probably not something you want to be doing night-in and night-out. The good? Hunter’s peripherals aren’t too bad. A 22% and a 6% K% mean his xFIP and SIERA sit south of 3.50. The bad? For someone with a mid-90’s fastball, his SwStr% is well down in 2014, sitting at 7.3% after touching double-digits last season. That puts him 143rd out of 172 qualified relievers coming into today. It’s tough to believe that’s a rousing recipe for success, so he needs to find a way to get batters to swing through that fastball a bit more (whether it be pitch sequencing, location, or sacrificing a touch of velocity for a little more run). No need to panic yet, Hunter’s leash is fairly long, but he could jump up from the bottom tier of closers if he could showcase his big right arm a bit more.
• The walkoff run in the Mets-Marlins game today occurred on Kyle Farnsworth‘s watch. It’s a bit unfair to pin all the blame on him, after all, he inherited a one-out, runners on first and third situation in the bottom of the ninth inning (he allowed a sacrifice fly). pr0FF3ss0r_F4rsnw0rth has managed to keep his ERA predictors below 4.00 on the young season and his fastball velocity (which was somewhat of a concern when he first got the gig) seems to be holding steady in the mid-90’s. Couple that with poor performances from closer competitors Daiuske Matsuzaka and Gonzalez Germen in recent days and the next save opportunity will probably be tossed Farnsworth’s way.
• Quick hits: Rafael Soriano notched a 1-2-3 save today, posting his 25th consecutive scoreless inning. He’s sending mixed signals with his velocity (down) and swinging strike rate (up), but, while his xFIP is 3.04 (not 0.000), he will remain successful if he can keep doing whatever he’s doing. Mark Melancon bounced back with a save — he’s had a couple rocky outings recently, but his job is pretty safe until Jason Grilli is ready to return. I’m not panicking. Fernando Rodney tallied a save in the other game of the Seattle-Oakland double dip (the one Jim Johnson didn’t pitch in). Arrows for everyone.
• Transaction city: Pedro Strop to the DL. Still like Hector Rondon to get the next save opportunity in the Cubs bullpen, even though he coughed up a couple runs Sunday night. Josh Fields has been optioned to Triple-A after some brutal, brutal outings lately. Hope you haven’t accidentally left him rostered. Scott Baker has been called up to operate out as a long man of the Rangers bullpen. He wasn’t terrible tonight, so if you are in a super-deep league and want to try and get some scab innings out of an SP slot when your starters aren’t going, he may be worth a look. In case you missed it, J.J. Putz hit the DL a couple days ago. Addison Reed seems to have gotten over a couple early-season hiccups, so while those in holds leagues may be scrambling, Putz’s attractiveness as a handcuff is on the wane.
[Green light, yellow light, red light: the colors represent the volatility of the bullpen order.]
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