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Middle Relievers: One Riser, One Faller

Let’s take a quick look at two middle relievers heading in the opposite fantasy directions…

Rising: Matt Lindstrom | Rockies

Before the season started, I wondered aloud who would serve as Huston Street‘s backup in Colorado, and two weeks into the season it seems like we have our answer. Lindstrom picked up his first save of the year in the team’s seventh game, when Street was unavailable because he’d thrown three innings the previous day. Save number two came yesterday, when Jim Tracy called on him to bail out his closer mid-implosion. Lindstrom has gotten plenty of eighth inning work in the early going, and his strikeout (6.35 K/9) and walk (4.76 BB/9) rates have more to do with sample size than talent level. They should regress to his career norms (7.45 K/9 and 3.67 BB/9) in time. Lindstrom is getting plenty of holds and vulturing some saves for the team with baseball’s best record, and there’s a better than good chance that he’ll step in as closer when Street deals with his annual injury.

Falling: Aroldis Chapman | Reds

You’ve probably heard by now, but Chapman’s suddenly declining velocity was a cause of concern recently. The Reds are shutting him down for a few days just to take it easy on him (he appeared in four of five games at one point), but any sharp decline like that has to be a concern. Of course Aroldis is not human, he lost 5-6 mph off the heat and is still throwing 95, but something’s not right here. He’s walked four guys in his last 2.1 IP (four whiffs as well), and the swing-and-miss rate is decidedly average (8.9%) for a guy of this caliber. Chapman was racking up holds before being shut down, but it’s likely that Dusty Baker will have to monitor his usage a little more closely going forward, perhaps limiting back-to-back days, stuff like that. Take a second to see what he looks like after his brief hiatus. I’d he’s throwing his usual gas, then consider it a blip. If the velo is still down, you might want to consider finding a replacement (in non-keeper leagues).