Archive for Middle Relievers

Bullpen Report: July 8, 2014

Aroldis Chapman allowed two baserunners but also struck two guys out en route to his 18th save of the year in game one against the Cubs today. Chapman’s ERA is higher than some of the other top tier relievers this year but he’s actually quietly having his best year yet. In 25.2 innings Chapman has 49 stirkeouts. His BB% (8.6) is the lowest it’s ever been since 2012 (8.3%) and his K% is an absurd 50.5 %. That’s right, Aroldis is now striking out over half of the batters he faces with an average fastball velocity of 100 mph. No joke.  Unsurprisingly his FIP and xFIP are tremendous at 0.85 and 1.04 respectively. Chapman doesn’t register ground balls at an elite rate, but with so few bats even making contact, even less makes great contact. There’s not much else to say here, we all know he’s among the league’s best, if not the best and ranks in the top three fantasy relievers at the worst.

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Bullpen Report: July 7, 2014

Jenrry Mejia entered tonight’s game in the eighth inning for a four out save, and although he got four outs he also blew the one-run lead allowing a run and five baserunners. Before tonight’s outing Mejia had six consecutive scoreless appearances stretching over 6.2 innings. Mejia had a bumpy road in early June but has looked good of late and his job is still relatively secure.

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Bullpen Report: July 2, 2014

• Quick Recap from last night: Grant Balfour picked up the save last night with Jake McGee pitching the eighth. This is still a committee and McGee is the best reliever so he’d still be my favored option in the Rays pen for fantasy. Joe Smith picked up two saves, his eighth and ninth of the season and it doesn’t seem like Grilli is taking over the ninth in the near future. Koji Uehara got the loss entering the ninth in a tie game and although he said he’s “fatigued” he was also available to pitch tonight so no injury worries, yet. If Uehera can’t close it’s unclear who is next in line. Junichi Tazawa and Andrew Miller have been better than Mujica, but Mujica received an opportunity this year.  Of course Mujica pitched poorly in an inning tonight and I’d wager the Sox would go to a committee type if Uehara’s fatigue caused him to miss any time. Addison Reed did what the Diamondbacks have done all year, blown. Hector Rondon also recorded a save, his 11th of the season and after a few hiccups last week that situation is going from Red –> Yellow.

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Bullpen Report: June 30, 2014

Jake Arrieta was four outs away from throwing a no-no before Stephen Drew singled and at 120 pitches, Pedro Strop came in to get the final out of the eighth inning. Hector Rondon entered for the ninth and pitched around a lead off single to record his 10th save of the season. Rondon has had a few flare ups of late but he’s still the Cubs closer and should continue to get save chances as they come, especially if he pitches more like he did tonight. However if he struggles again soon or is put on the trading block, look for Neil Ramirez to fill in for saves.

Dellin Betances finally showed he was human allowing two-walks and an unearned run in the eighth inning tonight against the Rays. With the “off” outing Betances still supports a 1.69 xFIP with a 14.25 K/9 and remains the likely best non-save option in fantasy baseball.  Robertson finished the eighth, allowing Betances’ inherited run to score and stayed on to throw a scoreless frame in ninth as well.

• Jake McGee entered tonight’s game with a one-run lead in the eighth and pitched around a couple of base hits for a scoreless inning, lowering his ERA to 1.24. Even though a couple of lefties were due up in the ninth, it was Joel Peralta who came on for the save that he quickly blew on a home run by an unlikely source in Brian Roberts. This is obvioulsy good news for McGee owners. He has received the last two save opportunities for the Rays and given Peralta’s performance tonight, I fully expect McGee to receive the next opportunity as well.

• There wasn’t a save situation in the Nationals game today but Drew Storen pitched a scoreless seventh inning. Tyler Clippard is likely next in line in the pecking order but Drew Storen is having a nice comeback season after a down year in 2013. His 1.03 ERA is likely to regress but Storen is keeping the ball in the park and avoiding the free pass. There are likely more exciting non-save options for strikeouts and even ratio help, but in Saves+Holds leagues, on a competitive Nationals team that should have a few leads to protect, Storen is certainly a sound option.

Sean Doolittle has had an incredible season a forgettable June 30th. Doolittle started the ninth in a 4-1 game, but ended up allowing a grand slam walk-off homer to Rajai Davis for his third loss of the season. This was actually Doolittle’s second blown save in a row but even after tonight’s blowup, Doolittle still has an ERA under three with an insane 57/2 strikeout to walk ratio and remains a top tier closer in both real life and fantasy baseball.

Closer Grid:

Closer First Second DL/Minors
Arizona Addison Reed Brad Ziegler Oliver Perez
Atlanta Craig Kimbrel Jordan Walden Shae Simmons
Baltimore Zach Britton Tommy Hunter Darren O’Day
Boston Koji Uehara Junichi Tazawa Andrew Miller
CHI (NL) Hector Rondon Neil Ramirez Pedro Strop
CHI (AL) Zach Putnam Jacob Petricka Javy Guerra Matt Lindstrom
Cincy Aroldis Chapman Jonathan Broxton Sam LeCure Sean Marshall
Cleveland Cody Allen Bryan Shaw John Axford
Colorado LaTroy Hawkins Rex Brothers Adam Ottavino
Detroit Joe Nathan Joba Chamberlain Al Alburquerque Joel Hanrahan
Houston Chad Qualls Tony Sipp Josh Fields
KC Greg Holland Wade Davis Aaron Crow
LAA Joe Smith Jason Grilli Kevin Jepsen
LAD Kenley Jansen Chris Perez Brian Wilson
Miami Steve Cishek A.J. Ramos Mike Dunn
Milwaukee Francisco Rodriguez Will Smith Brandon Kintzler Jim Henderson
Minnesota Glen Perkins Jared Burton Casey Fien
NY (NL) Jenrry Mejia Jeurys Familia Vic Black Bobby Parnell
NY (AL) David Robertson Dellin Betances Adam Warren
Oakland Sean Doolittle Luke Gregerson Dan Otero
Philly Jonathan Papelbon Antonio Bastardo Ken Giles Mike Adams
Pittsburgh Mark Melancon Tony Watson Ernesto Frieri
St. Louis Trevor Rosenthal Pat Neshek Jason Motte
SD Huston Street Joaquin Benoit Alex Torres
SF Santiago Casilla Jeremy Affeldt Sergio Romo
Seattle Fernando Rodney Danny Farquhar Dominic Leone
TB Jake McGee Grant Balfour Joel Peralta
Texas Joakim Soria Jason Frasor Neal Cotts Neftali Feliz
Toronto Casey Janssen Sergio Santos Aaron Loup Brett Cecil
Wash. Rafael Soriano Tyler Clippard Drew Storen

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

Bullpen Report: June 29, 2014

Sergio Romo is out as closer and Jeremy Affeldt and Santiago Casilla will be part of the closing committee for now. Romo is still expected to pitch in some sort of setup role but Casilla and Affeldt should be receiving the save opportunities in the meantime. Romo hasn’t been as bad as his 5.17 ERA would suggest but even a 3.93 xFIP and 3.27 SIERA is worse than we expected from him. Romo’s never been a big velocity guy but his fastball and slider have actually been a little better than last year. Also, although Romo’s K% have fallen the last few years  his 14.2% SwStr% shows he can still get some whiffs, even if it hasn’t presented itself with his pedestrian K-rates this year. Barring a hidden injury I’d expect Romo to regain his job this summer but it’s Casilla and Affeldt for now. As a lefty/righty combo, gameflow should determine who sees the save on a given night. Both Affeldt (1.33 ) and Casilla (1.17) are owners of some shiny ERA’s and I would reccomend any team in need of saves to snag them if they’re available on the wire. Jean Machi is also having a nice year and could figure into some saves but he’s given up runs in his last two outings and Bochy mentioned Casilla and Affeldt as Romo’s replacements.

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Bullpen Report: June 23, 2014

Ronald Belisario blew his fifth save of the season tonight allowing a pinch hit three-run homer to Chris Davis. Belisario was on fire from late April to late May but has struggled of late allowing 11 earned runs in his last 11 innings pitched. His ERA is now 5.50 but a 3.17/3.34 FIP/xFIP show that the sky isn’t quite falling. Still, an ERA over 5 while converting just 7/11 save opportunities isn’t how you hold a job as closer. As of this writing I haven’t heard anything about Belisario’s status as closer so I assume his job is still relatively safe but keep an eye on Zach Putnam. Putnam also gave up a homer tonight and his peripherals aren’t any better than Belisario but a few more blown saves could force Ventura to make a change.

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Bullpen Report: June 17, 2014

Koji Uehara had a day off after throwing on three consecutive days and Edward Mujica came on for his second save of the year. Mujica has had a largely forgettable year and after tonight’s perfect inning his ERA dropped all the way to 6.04. Although I’d still say Junichi Tazawa or Andrew Miller could see saves if Uehara were to suddenly get hurt, it’s worth noting that Mujica could be in the mix. Also worth noting, even on his off day, is Uehara’s outstanding season with a 33% K-BB% and only two earned runs in 31.2 innings pitched. Uehara has somehow managed to maybe be even better than his phenomenal 2013. Unreal.

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The Best Fantasy Relievers of the Year so Far

Saves are king when it comes to the value of relievers in fantasy baseball, but in the right type of league, top middle relievers can be very useful. In leagues with start limits, top middle relievers can help with ratios and, maybe more importantly, they can help you rack up strikeouts, which is a category than can be a tight race in start limit leagues.

To determine who the most valuable relievers have been so far, I took the top 100 relievers from ESPN’s player rater and stripped out the categorical contributions from wins and saves. I took out saves because most closers are owned, and you probably don’t need help chasing saves. I took out wins because they’re even harder to predict for relievers than they are for starters. Below is a list of the relievers with the greatest combined contributions in ERA, WHIP and Ks on the player rater so far this year along with their ESPN ownership percentage. Read the rest of this entry »

Bullpen Report: June 10, 2014

J.J. Putz is off of the DL and back on the Diamondbacks bullpen. He threw a scoreless inning last night but he’s still behind Brad Ziegler as the Addison Reed handcuff. Reed had been diagnosed with a “tired arm” previously but he returned to the ninth inning in this afternoon’s game and struck out two Astros en route to his 16th save of the season. Reed’s fly ball tendencies and previous struggles this season should keep Ziegler on your roster a bit longer for speculative saves but the job is firmly in Reed’s hands.

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Bullpen Report: June 9, 2014

Colin did  a great analysis of the Rays bullpen situation after Grant Balfour‘s meltdown last night and the Rays are now looking at a bullpen by committee approach for the near future. Madden wants Balfour to regain the job but his problems might run deeper than anything a few days removed from the ninth inning can solve. For now I’d expect Joel Peralta, Jake McGee and Juan Oviedo to see the first chances with Brad Boxberger (12.63 K/9, 2.47 SIERA xFIP) as a potential sleeper. Balfour isn’t injured or on the DL but I’ll place him there on the grid for the time being as he lingers in the background.

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