Bullpen Report: September 20, 2012

Jason Motte took to the bump tonight for the third night in-a-row — and fifth straight game for the Cardinals, dating back to September 15th. Motte surrendered an infield single to Matt Dominguez, but struck out the Astros in the ninth en route to his 38th save in 45 chances this year. The former 19th round pick sports a 2.94 ERA (0.95 WHIP) on the year, with a 5.64 K/BB — and his 38th save is tops in the National League.

John Axford sank the Pirates’ ship in the ninth frame to notch his 13th consecutive save, and 31st on the season in 39 chances. Andrew McCutchen, Neil Walker and Pedro Alvarez were each a whiff victim for Axford, who lowered his September ERA to 2.89. Axford isn’t the only fantasy relevant reliever in Milwaukee over the last month — Jim Henderson has earned 11 holds in the last thirty, good enough for second best in the league behind only David Robertson (12) of the Yankees. For those in need of some last minute holds, Henderson is available in 96 percent of Yahoo! league.

Davey Johnson indicated Tyler Clippard would be available out of the Nationals’ bullpen tonight should they be in save situation, despite appearing in both ends of a double header yesterday. Apparently the Nats skipper experienced a change of heart in the top of the ninth-inning with Matt Kemp, Adrian Gonzalez and Hanley Ramirez due up for Los Angeles, because he called Drew Storen, not Clippard, to the mound with a save on the line. Storen trotted to the hill and fanned the Dodgers big three in order on just 13 pitches to earn his third save of the year. Although Storen got the call tonight, Johnson went on record as saying “Clippard was his best option at closer, and that he was going to stick with him.” Maybe Johnson just didn’t want to send Clip out there to face Kemp, who ruined a save chance for him last night, with a home run that hit the moon.

• Weird saves: Both Alfredo Simon of the Reds and Anthony Bass of the Padres earned their first save of the season tonight. Each came in a unique situation, so don’t expect to see their names inching left on the closer grid anytime soon.

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: Edward Mujica (STL) vs. CHC

The Cardinals’ bullpen has been used and abused lately by rookie skipper Mike Matheny. As noted above, Jason Motte has appeared in each of the last three days — and last five games overall. Their set-up man, Mitchell Boggs, has also appeared in three consecutive nights since returning to the club after a minor injury. It’s only been two games in-a-row for veteran Edward Mujica, and despite his rough outing on Thursday — one earned run on three hits and a walk in just a frame of work — he seems to be the best save candidate for the Red Birds on Friday.

Closer Grid:

Closer First Second Off 25-Man
Arizona J.J. Putz David Hernandez Takashi Saito
Atlanta Craig Kimbrel Eric O’Flaherty Jonny Venters
Baltimore Jim Johnson Pedro Strop Darren O’Day
Boston Andrew Bailey Vicente Padilla Junichi Tazawa
Chicago (NL) Carlos Marmol James Russell Shawn Camp
Chicago (AL) Addison Reed Brett Myers Matt Thornton
Cincy Aroldis Chapman Jonathan Broxton Sean Marshall
Cleveland Chris Perez Vinnie Pestano Tony Sipp
Colorado Rafael Betancourt Matt Belisle Rex Brothers
Detroit Jose Valverde Joaquin Benoit Octavio Dotel
Houston Wilton Lopez Wesley Wright Fernando Rodriguez
KC Greg Holland Kelvin Herrera Aaron Crow
LAA Ernesto Frieri Kevin Jepsen Scott Downs
LAD Kenley Jansen Brandon League Ronald Belisario
Miami Steve Cishek Heath Bell Mike Dunn
Milwaukee John Axford Kameron Loe Francisco Rodriguez
Minnesota Glen Perkins Jared Burton Alex Burnett Matt Capps
NY (NL) Frank Francisco Bobby Parnell Jon Rauch
NY (AL) Rafael Soriano David Robertson Boone Logan
Oakland Grant Balfour Ryan Cook Sean Doolittle
Philly Jonathan Papelbon Antonio Bastardo Josh Lindblom
Pittsburgh Joel Hanrahan Jason Grilli Chris Resop
St. Louis Jason Motte Mitchell Boggs Edward Mujica
SD Luke Gregerson Dale Thayer Brad Brach Huston Street
SF Sergio Romo Javier Lopez Santiago Casilla
Seattle Tom Wilhelmsen Stephen Pryor Charlie Furbush
Tampa Bay Fernando Rodney Joel Peralta Kyle Farnsworth
Texas Joe Nathan Mike Adams Alexei Ogando
Toronto Casey Janssen Brandon Lyon Darren Oliver
Wash. Tyler Clippard Drew Storen Sean Burnett

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

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In addition to contributing to the RotoGraphs blog, you can find Alan at his own site, TheFantasyFix.com and follow his nonsense on Twitter @TheFantasyFix.

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