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Bullpen Report: September 1, 2013

We’ve hit September. Where has the year gone?

Joaquin Benoit is hoping the rest of September doesn’t go like today went. The Detroit closer gave up three free passes and a killer home run in losing a 0-0 tie against the Indians at Comerica. This was surprisingly out-of-character for Benoit; the right-hander had only given up two earned runs since July. Of course, that was before Mike Aviles cracked a grand slam. The good news? Benoit holds a 2.74 SIERA and the seeming support of manager Jim Leyland. On a team that had so much closer “instability” earlier in the year, Benoit has really stabilized the back of the pen. Until he gives up a few more homers to big-calved shortstops, I’m not concerned.

• Think Benoit had a bad day? What about half the Yankees bullpen? After spinning six scoreless innings, Andy Pettitte allowed a pair of singles to open the seventh. That is when the wheels came off — and when the dust settled, the triumvirate of Shawn Kelley, Boone Logan, and Joba Chamberlain had allowed a 3-0 lead to become a 7-3 deficit.

Kelly’s poor pitching may have been the most surprising; the right-hander has emerged as a solid reliever in his first year in pinstripes, posting a 0.8 WAR (third among Yankee relievers) and 2.70 SIERA. If you are in a league deep enough where he’s an own, I wouldn’t panic, non-elite guys have bad days. One of Boone Logan’s redeeming qualities is getting lefties out; he didn’t do that today (Brian Roberts and Nick Markakis reached). He actually hasn’t had quite the platoon splits this year his career marks would indicate, but he’s still a mostly-lefty guy. Not a lot of fantasy value in that, unless you are really stretching for WHIP/K help in an absurdly deep league. Remember the “Joba rules?” Erk. His 4.10 SIERA isn’t terrible, but is merely serviceable. It speaks volumes that, even in relief, he owns a sub-10% SwStr% (contributing to his 19% K%) even paired with a mid-90’s fastball. At 28, he still could end up in a high leverage bullpen situation someday (see guys like, Wilhelmsen, Tom or Henderson, Jim), but there are better options for your fantasy team in the here and now. Such as…

• I pimped Kevin Gausman in this space a couple nights ago and he’s scored me some big points in the leagues where I scooped him up to provide some rates in a “SP” slot. Since then, he’s tossed three innings with five punchouts while getting a scab win after the aforementioned Yankee bullpen meltdown. Gausman has the ability to post a 10+ K/9 out of the pen; he touched 98 and sat at 96 mph in today’s outing, while getting six swings-and-misses on 36 pitches (17% SwStr%, albeit in an absurdly small sample size!). Go pick him up if he’s available and you could use some help in holds/ERA/WHIP/strikeouts. Rotate him in and out when your starters aren’t pitching.

• Quick hits: Sean Marshall has been cleared for a bullpen session. If you’re in a super-deep league, you might snag him for holds help down the stretch, but he’s probably going to only give you a couple weeks of regular season games in a best-case scenario. Plus, shoulder injuries suck. David Hernandez is back up from AAA. He posted a 12/5 K/BB ratio (0.93 ERA) over 9+ innings in the minors. Given Arizona’s bullpen, he could work his way into at least a setup role quickly. If he’s been dropped in NL-only or dynasty -type leagues, I’d roll the dice. Tom Wilhelmsen will be back as rosters expand. Won’t be closing, though. The Red Sox designated Daniel Bard for assignment. What an Ankielsian fall. Even with his amazingly awful 2013 minor league numbers (27 walks and 11 wild pitches in 15.1 innings), I’d guess someone (the Rays?) will take a stab, but he’s a long, long way from being fantasy relevant. Sad.

Closer Grid:

Closer First Second DL/Minors
Arizona Brad Ziegler Heath Bell David Hernandez J.J. Putz
Atlanta Craig Kimbrel Jordan Walden Scott Downs
Baltimore Jim Johnson Tommy Hunter Francisco Rodriguez
Boston Koji Uehara Junichi Tazawa Craig Breslow Andrew Bailey
CHI (NL) Kevin Gregg Blake Parker Pedro Strop
CHI (AL) Addison Reed Nate Jones Matt Lindstrom
Cincy Aroldis Chapman J.J. Hoover Sam Lecure Sean Marshall
Cleveland Chris Perez Joe Smith Cody Allen Vinnie Pestano
Colorado Rex Brothers Matt Belisle Wilton Lopez Rafael Betancourt
Detroit Joaquin Benoit Jose Veras Drew Smyly
Houston Chia-Jen Lo Josh Fields Josh Zeid Jose Cisnero
KC Greg Holland Aaron Crow Kelvin Herrera
LAA Ernesto Frieri Dane de la Rosa Kevin Jepsen Robert Coello
LAD Kenley Jansen Paco Rodriguez Brian Wilson
Miami Steve Cishek Mike Dunn Chad Qualls
Milwaukee Jim Henderson John Axford Brandon Kintzler
Minnesota Glen Perkins Jared Burton Casey Fien
NY (NL) LaTroy Hawkins David Aardsma Scott Rice Bobby Parnell
NY (AL) Mariano Rivera David Robertson Shawn Kelley
Oakland Grant Balfour Ryan Cook Sean Doolittle
Philly Jonathan Papelbon Justin De Fratus Jake Diekman Mike Adams
Pittsburgh Mark Melancon Justin Wilson Tony Watson Jason Grilli
St. Louis Edward Mujica Trevor Rosenthal Randy Choate Jason Motte
SD Huston Street Luke Gregerson Dale Thayer
SF Sergio Romo Jeremy Affeldt Santiago Casilla
Seattle Danny Farquhar Yoervis Medina Tom Wilhelmsen
TB Fernando Rodney Joel Peralta Jake McGee Jesse Crain
Texas Joe Nathan Tanner Scheppers Jason Frasor
Toronto Casey Janssen Sergio Santos Brett Cecil Steve Delabar
Wash. Rafael Soriano Tyler Clippard Drew Storen

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