Bullpen Report: September 14, 2013

• A few weeks ago, it certainly looked like the closer role was Jason Grilli‘s upon his return. Well, things apparently have changed. Mark Melancon (he of 2.08 xFIP) tossed a scoreless ninth Saturday for save number 15 in 2013. Grilli has struggled since returning from a forearm strain, allowing earned runs in three of his four post-DL appearances. His 5/2 K/BB in three innings isn’t atrocious, but nonetheless, the hits have been falling. Grilli’s velocity has been down 1-2 mph, a large red flag for a pitcher whose injury originally looked fairly serious. The Pirates (probably rightfully) seem content to let him work out his issues in a setup role, while letting Melancon (third in MLB by WAR) finish out games. I recommended holding Melancon for his rates even if Grilli took the job back, but hopefully his owners are reaping even more dividends now. With the season slipping away, if you can afford to risk missing out on a couple saves, Grilli might be worth tossing back into the pool in redraft leagues, too.

Grant Balfour was the last pitcher in a game that saw Yu Darvish shut out 1-0 for the fourth time this season. The save was the Aussie’s 38th of the season and the scoreless inning lowered his ERA to 2.50. It isn’t quite all roses for the righty, however, as his xFIP has steadily climbed since the all-star break. His 3.69 mark since (4.08 in August and September) shows that his not-so-stellar pitching lately is not all bad luck. His velocity remains OK but the walk rate has quietly reached into the double digits. Balfour has posted sub-10% BB%’s the last three years, so maybe this is just a blip in the road, but he’ll need to corral the free passes as the Athletics push into October if he wants to regain quasi-elite status. Ryan Cook would be next in line here, but with Balfour’s cumulative stats and the fantasy season in its final throes, I wouldn’t be too desperate to pick him up in standard leagues.

• Other notes: Chase Headley hit a home run off Craig Kimbrel. He still struck out a pair, but his owners aren’t used to seeing a non-zero ERA in his column. Still got save number 47, though. Steve Cishek and LaTroy Hawkins traded saves in a doubleheader. Neither are great bets for copious appearances over the next couple weeks, but both are solidly their teams respective closers. Cishek carries keeper value, but he’ll probably still be outside my top-20 next season. Aroldis Chapman got a four out save, notching all four outs via the whiff. More total strikeouts than Bartolo Colon and Jeremy Guthrie, among many other starters with three times the innings.

Closer Grid:

Closer First Second DL/Minors
Arizona Brad Ziegler J.J. Putz Heath Bell
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 Pedro Strop Blake Parker
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
Colorado Rex Brothers Matt Belisle Wilton Lopez Rafael Betancourt
Detroit Joaquin Benoit Jose Veras Drew Smyly
Houston Josh Fields Chia-Jen Lo Josh Zeid Jose Cisnero
KC Greg Holland Kelvin Herrera Aaron Crow
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 Brandon Kintzler Michael Gonzalez
Minnesota Glen Perkins Jared Burton Casey Fien
NY (NL) LaTroy Hawkins David Aardsma Gonzalez Germen 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 Jason Grilli Justin Wilson
St. Louis Edward Mujica Trevor Rosenthal John Axford 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 Steve Delabar Sergio Santos
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.

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Fields is the closer in Houston:

Bo Porter announced that Fields had earned the role as team closer.