• He’s human! Aroldis Chapman allowed a three-run shot to Matt Dominguez on Friday night, turning a potential win for the (likely) playoff-bound Reds into a loss to the lowly Astros. The outing absolutely killed Chapman’s peripherals, sending his xFIP soaring to… 1.63. Chapman’s otherworldly fastball velocity has ebbed and flowed a bit this year and is currently on a mini-downward slide, which may be in small part due to the fact that he’s already thrown more innings than he did all of last year (1 1/3 IP up on all levels with a month to go). That said, his xFIP is only up slightly to 2.37 since the start of August — up slightly because he put up a ridiculous -0.18 (yes, negative) in July. No reason to stop riding the Chapman train now.
• The other half of “the world’s best closer” duo, Craig Kimbrel wrapped up save number 35 last night — fanning two while walking one. Kimbrel’s 2012 xFIP stands at a miniscule 0.98, almost half of his already 2011 league leading xFIP of 1.94. Other than that, only Eric Gagne (2003) has posted an xFIP for a qualified reliever that has been below 2.00 (1.18). MLB also tweeted an amazing (if somewhat arbitrary — but who doesn’t love arbitrary stats!?) factoid yesterday; now with 96 strikeouts and 22 hits allowed, Kimbrel is on pace to be the first 50+ inning pitcher to have more than four times as many whiffs as base knocks. Given the volatility of relief pitchers’ careers, there is no reason not to sit back and thoroughly enjoy what Kimbrel is doing this year — he’s having a once in a decade season.
• The platoon closing situation in San Francisco continues, with Sergio Romo finishing off a 3-run victory over the rival Dodgers out west. Romo came in on the eighth to put out a small fire by pitching to righties Juan Rivera and A.J. Ellis, and then pitched to the meat of the Dodgers lineup (Shane Victorino, Adrian Gonzalez, and Matt Kemp) in the ninth (another couple right-handed hitters). Romo is actually relatively platoon-independent (career 0.240 wOBA versus LHH, 0.242 versus RHH), but Javier Lopez will continue to get save chances during left-heavy ninths thanks to his 0.232, 0.199, 0.255 wOBAs versus fellow southpaws over the last three years (although, ironically, his career wOBA versus LHH of 0.280 is worse than Romo’s). If you’re really hunting saves and have an empty plug-and-play roster spot, the best strategy might be to add and start (Romo and Lopez only owned in 47% and 19% of Yahoo! leagues, respectively) both relief pitchers when possible.
• A couple days after ripping Indians ownership, Chris Perez had a somewhat shaky ninth against the lowly Minnesota Twins, allowing a double and a groundout to bring the tying run to the plate before fanning pinch-hitter Matt Carson to send fans streaming for the gates. Perez has bounced back from a rough 2011 with improved strikeout and walk rates as well as a solid 3.18 xFIP. That said, Perez’s public comments (and the fact that he’s only under contract for two more years at increasing arbitration rates) might be the kindling to see the offseason trade fires aflame. Keeper league owners looking towards next year would be wise to snag Vinnie Pestano if he’s still on the wire, although with a decent, but unspectacular, 3.77 xFIP, he has struggled a bit after a great April.
• Addison Reed coughed up a tie against the Royals — therefore not registering a blown save, but he still took his second loss of the year. Reed’s xFIP sits at an unimpressive 4.06 and he’s coming off an August where he had a 9.8% BB%. After last night’s debacle, he has now allowed earned runs in five of his last six outings. Reed still seems to have Robin Ventura’s confidence on the South Side (and is the White Sox closer of the future) but owners should keep an eye out just in case he decides to use Brett Myers or Matt Thornton (not that either have been good over the last 30 days either, with 4.83 and 4.46 xFIPs, respectively) to spell Reed for a game or two.
A Pitcher for
Tomorrow Today: Shelby Miller (STL) vs. MIL
Miller had a sparkling MLB debut on Wednesday and, as a reward, got Thursday and Friday off. With the Cardinals dipping deep into their bullpen on Friday night in a 13-inning tilt versus the Brew Crew, expect Miller to toe the slab for an inning or two and he strives to become the 2012 version of 2011 Matt Moore (37.5% K%, and 1.85 xFIP last September/October).
[Green light, yellow light, red light: the colors represent the volatility of the bullpen order.]