Bullpen Report: May 7, 2014

• 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.

Closer Grid:

Closer First Second DL/Minors
Arizona Addison Reed Brad Ziegler Oliver Perez J.J. Putz
Atlanta Craig Kimbrel Jordan Walden David Carpenter
Baltimore Tommy Hunter Darren O’Day Brian Matusz
Boston Koji Uehara Junichi Tazawa Edward Mujica
CHI (NL) Hector Rondon Justin Grimm James Russell Pedro Strop
CHI (AL) Matt Lindstrom Ronald Belisario Daniel Webb Nate Jones
Cincy Jonathan Broxton Sam LeCure J.J. Hoover Aroldis Chapman
Cleveland John Axford Cody Allen Bryan Shaw
Colorado LaTroy Hawkins Adam Ottavino Rex Brothers
Detroit Joe Nathan Joba Chamberlain Al Alburquerque Joel Hanrahan
Houston Chad Qualls Anthony Bass Jose Cisnero Jesse Crain
KC Greg Holland Wade Davis Aaron Crow
LAA Joe Smith Ernesto Frieri Michael Kohn Dane de la Rosa
LAD Kenley Jansen Chris Perez Brian Wilson
Miami Steve Cishek A.J. Ramos Mike Dunn
Milwaukee Francisco Rodriguez Will Smith Brandon Kintzler Jim Henderson
Minnesota Glen Perkins Jared Burton Casey Fien
NY (NL) Kyle Farnsworth Daisuke Matsuzaka Jose Valverde Bobby Parnell
NY (AL) David Robertson Shawn Kelley Adam Warren
Oakland Luke Gregerson Jim Johnson Sean Doolittle
Philly Jonathan Papelbon Antonio Bastardo Mike Adams
Pittsburgh Mark Melancon Tony Watson Justin Wilson Jason Grilli
St. Louis Trevor Rosenthal Carlos Martinez Kevin Siegrist Jason Motte
SD Huston Street Joaquin Benoit Alex Torres
SF Sergio Romo Santiago Casilla Jeremy Affeldt
Seattle Fernando Rodney Danny Farquhar Tom Wilhelmsen
TB Grant Balfour Joel Peralta Jake McGee
Texas Joakim Soria Alexi Ogando Jason Frasor Neftali Feliz
Toronto Brett Cecil Steve Delabar Aaron Loup Casey Janssen
Wash. Rafael Soriano Tyler Clippard Drew Storen

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

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There are few things Colin loves more in life than a pitcher with a single-digit BB%. Find him on Twitter @soxczar.

22 Responses to “Bullpen Report: May 7, 2014”

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  1. Yolo says:

    It’s also worth noting that Ryan Cook had to be removed mid-inning with a forearm strain. Which is absolutely terrifying.

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  2. potcircle says:

    who knew? mitch moreland has better stuff than anyone on the cubs or astros…

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  3. Tom says:

    Drop Melancon for Janssen? I’d like to wait but I’m not sure how much longer CJ will be on the wire. I don’t know how to measure Melancon’s risk vs Janssen’s risk.

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    • Can you pick up Janssen for someone else and stash Janssen on the DL? (thereby getting that slot back?)

      Janssen has had a couple setbacks, so I think he’ll get the ninth when healthy, but I need to see him at the big league level before I cut a de facto closer in Melancon for him.

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      • Tom says:

        Thanks for the reply. I currently have Zimm on the DL with Bruce waiting in line so I have no bench spots. What’s your best guess at the chances of Melancon holding onto the closer job?

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      • Last I heard, Grilli wasn’t even throwing. Melancon should have the job for at least another month I would guess. Given Grilli’s health history, I wouldn’t be surprised if he was the closer again later in the summer.

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  4. Thor says:

    Also worth noting that Andrew Miller has been moved into the 8th inning role in Boston

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    • ned says:

      Without watching the game I am guessing he faced votto during his inning.

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    • This should have been updated on the grid over the last couple days but we missed it.

      I wrote up Miller’s FG+ profile this offseason. Needless to say, he’s been quietly elite since moving to the bullpen full-time. Eighth best K% amongst guys with >80 IP since 2012.

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  5. stuck in a slump says:

    What should I be doing about Tazawa, if anything? Dude has only two holds, TWO! He doesn’t seem to be getting much in the way of IP, and his K/9 is the lowest of all of my RP’s. Is he someone I should hang on to and hope that he gets better usage, or should I cut bait to make room for Headley on the 10th?

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    • FeslenR says:

      I’d not bother with Headley, honestly. But, Tanzawa is droppable.

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      • stuck in a slump says:

        It’s a very deep league and I really have no better 3B option, currently running out Schoop, so even if you like him better than Headley, being able to play the matchups should at least give me a slight boost.

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    • Tazawa’s SwStr% is fine and his velocity is actually up a touch from last year. He’s not quite getting the punchouts this year and has had a bit of gopheritis but I’m not cutting bait in a holds league unless there are good wire options.

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  6. Adam Medeiros says:

    I think Britton has definitely jumped O’Day and Matusz for the set-up job in Baltimore. He’s on 2 straight 8th inning holds (7 on the year) and his ERA and WHIP are both sub-1.00.

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    • Tommy says:

      Looks like you are right. Holy crap, he has an 84% GB rate! Not sustainable of course, but he’s good for 50%+. Great guy to speculate on for holds and possible saves.

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    • We’ve looked at Britton but he has a middling K% and a higher-than-expected BB% for a guy who pitches to contact.

      If he can keep inducing GB, he should be valuable as a Jim Johnson-esque RP but the lack of K’s hurts his appeal a tad in holds leagues.

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  7. Steve says:

    Lindstrom’s last four outings have been… ok. Not good, mind you, but about how you’d expect him to be in the closer role. (He’s never going to be a good closer, and that’s fine.)

    The White Sox bullpen has been working pretty well overall as of recently, so it’s unlikely that they’re going to rock the boat by removing him from that role for no real reason. So that closer situation shouldn’t be red any more. Maybe yellow – because again, Lindstrom isn’t all that good – but he’s not really in much jeopardy of losing his job.

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    • Lindstrom’s ERA predictors remain north of 4.50 and his K/BB is 9/8 in 15 IP. Blech.

      You’re probably right — he’s yellow in this pen now given recent outings, but it’s more a function of no one else being good. I still doubt Lindstrom lasts the year.

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  8. Jimmy McYolo says:

    If Jose Veras comes off of the DL this weekend, is he immediately the #2 guy in the Cubs’ bullpen?

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    • After how poorly he pitched to open the season, I doubt it. He needs to pitch well for a couple weeks before the Cubs should consider him a viable late inning candidate.

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  9. Bbboston says:

    Britton is an interesting speculative bet. Can help you as a reliever, possible closer and possible starter. With his shoulder “right” again and his velocity back up 2-3 mph, he looks like the same guy who originally was so impressive.

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