Hope you all had a wonderful Labor Day weekend but it’s now time to get back to work, or at least talk about those bullpens…
• Last we spoke the Dodgers were not sure about Kenley Jansen and his irregular heartbeat. Now, after seeing another heart specialist today, the Dodgers hope Jansen will “be able to pitch again by Sept. 17.” This is obviously good news considering Jansen might have needed to miss the rest of the season but there is no guarantee he’s able to pitch at towards the end of September, especially with surgery awaiting him soon.
As far as his replacement is concerned, both Brandon League and Ronald Belisario are sharing the duties at the moment. Brandon League has previous closing experience and although he’s struggled a bit this season, he’s also showed improvement of late having pitching in eight consecutive appearances without giving up a run, striking out 13 in nine innings pitched. Belisario is having a solid season himself pitching to a 3.06 xFIP, so the situation is certainly unsettled without an official announcement being made. However, if I have to choose between the two, I’d grab League over Belisario.
• Luke Gregerson blew the save last night against the Dodgers but the job is still his until Huston Street returns. Street remains sidelined with a calf injury and is still taking it day to day recovering from a set back he had last week. Without a timetable in place look for Gregerson to hold onto the job and receive any upcoming save opportunities in San Diego.
• Chris Perez had missed the last three games on paternity leave but he returned to the Indians tonight and pitched a pefect ninth inning for his 34th save of the season. Perez isn’t a top tier close by any means but considering everyone had Pestano on watch to take over for Perez at some point this season, Perez has put together quite a season. His 3.59 ERA is actually higher than last year (3.32), but he has drastically improved his strikeout rate (10.36 K/9) from last year (5.88 K/9) and his 3.17 xFIP illustrates he’s not the same pitcher as he was in 2011 (5.01 xFIP).
• Greg Holland notched his 11th save of the season against the Rangers tonight and has now gone 10 straight appearances without giving up a run. Holland struggled with his control earlier this season but it has improved every month since May and Holland’s 2.51 BB/9 in August is quite good considering his ability to miss bats (11.73 K/9). The Royals might have a loaded bullpen with Kelvin Herrera and Aaron Crow more than capable of closing out games, but Holland is the guy in Kansas City and should finish the season strong.
• There isn’t much left to say about the seasons that Fernando Rodney and Aroldis Chapman have had this year but both converted saves tonight. Rodney now has 42 saves and a 0.71 ERA and Aroldis Chapman is on pace to finish with more saves than hits allowed. Wow.
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: Craig Kimbrel (ATL) vs. COL
Since we mentioned the other top closers in fantasy baseball (Fernando Rodney and Aroldis Chapman) it’s only fair we find a place for Kimbrel. Whether he’s throwing 75 or 100 pitches, Alex White isn’t a great pitcher (yet, at least) and with the Braves fighting for a playoff spot, Mike Minor should give them a chance to win the game with Kimbrel on to close. Oh, it also doesn’t hurt when you can strike out over 49% of the batters you face.
[Green light, yellow light, red light: the colors represent the volatility of the bullpen order.]
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