Bullpen Report: April 23, 2013

• Colin said it last night, and I don’t really have all that much to add so, “All aboard the Edward Mujica bandwagon!” Adam Wainwright couldn’t quite complete what he started and Mujica came on for the two out save, his third of the year. I’d be interested in betting some gummy bears or Jelly Beans on Trevor Rosenthal finishing the year with the ninth inning role but sometimes a pitcher can just run away with the job once he gets a hold of it and for now, Mujica has that opportunity.  Mujica has always had fantastic control (career 4.1% BB%) and this year he’s striking out a few more batters than he has in years past (28.6% K%) on the heels of an increased SwStr% of 14.9%, which would be  a career high. Small sample size warnings obviously apply, but if Mujica maintains any improvement in missing bats, it will go a long way in cementing him not only as the closer in St. Louis, but a particularly good one for fantasy.

• Viva Papa Grande! I’ll admit that I didn’t think the Tigers were going to have Jose Valverde closing games in Detroit anytime soon (if at all) when news first broke that he was signing with Detroit, but clearly I was wrong as Valverde will now be used as the teams closer. Valverde posted a decent 3.78 ERA last year but was a little lucky with the long ball, with an unsustainable 3.3% HR/FB%. His production last year and what we can expect in 2013 is probably better seen through the lens of his 5.01 xFIP. Valverde still threw the ball pretty hard last year (93.4 mph) but batters just weren’t missing much as Valverde posted his lowest SwStr% of his career (7.1%). Without good control (career 3.78 BB/9) and an inability to get swings and misses at a league average rate it’s hard to suggest Valverde will be all that good in 2013. Still, as a teams closer, Valverde is a must own.

• The Cubs brought in Carlos Marmol for the save tonight and naturally, he blew it. Unnaturally, the ghost of Kevin Gregg came in and recorded the save in 10th inning. Yes, that Kevin Gregg. James Russell had pitched 2.1 innings over the last two games and although Dale Sveum said he won’t use Russell as the team’s (primary) closer, I wonder if he would have gotten the nod in the 10th if he was fresh. Russell is a lefty but he’s also yet to allow a run this season with a 9.0 K/BB while Shawn Camp (5.59 FIP) and Marmol (6.55 FIP) have struggled mightily. Kevin Gregg is, well, Kevin Gregg but at this point it would be hard to be surprised to see him jump right into the meat of the closer competition. I’ll wait to hear word from Chicago before updating the Cubs Grid, but consider Gregg a decent speculative add if you are desperate for saves or just have a fondness for pitchers with eye gear.

Fernando Rodney allowed five earned runs in 2012. In 2013 Rodney has now allowed four, including one tonight against the Yankees. Before 2012, Rodney’s career BB/9 was 4.9, last year that dropped to 1.81 and this year it’s 8.1. I’m not sounding the alarm on Rodney quite yet, but his control is certainly something to look out for. If it doesn’t improve and Rodney reverts closer to his pre-2012 form, it’s unlikely that he’ll hold onto the job all year. Joel Peralta is worth owning for his ratios and with Rodney’s seemingly under the radar problems thus far this year, I’d take a flier on Peralta.

Closer Grid:

Closer First Second DL/Minors
Arizona J.J. Putz David Hernandez Heath Bell
Atlanta Craig Kimbrel Eric O’Flaherty Jordan Walden
Baltimore Jim Johnson Darren O’Day Pedro Strop
Boston Andrew Bailey Junichi Tazawa Koji Uehara Joel Hanrahan
CHI (NL) James Russell Shawn Camp Carlos Marmol Kyuji Fujikawa
CHI (AL) Addison Reed Jesse Crain Matt Thornton
Cincy Aroldis Chapman Jonathan Broxton Sam LeCure
Cleveland Chris Perez Vinnie Pestano Joe Smith
Colorado Rafael Betancourt Wilton Lopez Matt Belisle
Detroit Jose Valverde Joaquin Benoit Phil Coke
Houston Jose Veras Wesley Wright Hector Ambriz
KC Greg Holland Kelvin Herrera Tim Collins
LAA Ernesto Frieri Scott Downs Sean Burnett Ryan Madson
LAD Brandon League Kenley Jansen Ronald Belisario
Miami Steve Cishek Jon Rauch Ryan Webb
Milwaukee Jim Henderson John Axford Michael Gonzalez
Minnesota Glen Perkins Jared Burton Casey Fien
NY (NL) Bobby Parnell Brandon Lyon LaTroy Hawkins Frank Francisco
NY (AL) Mariano Rivera David Robertson Joba Chamberlain
Oakland Grant Balfour Ryan Cook Sean Doolittle
Philly Jonathan Papelbon Mike Adams Antonio Bastardo
Pittsburgh Jason Grilli Mark Melancon Tony Watson
St. Louis Edward Mujica Trevor Rosenthal Mitchell Boggs Jason Motte
SD Huston Street Luke Gregerson Dale Thayer
SF Sergio Romo Santiago Casilla Jeremy Affeldt
Seattle Tom Wilhelmsen Carter Capps Charlie Furbush
TB Fernando Rodney Joel Peralta Jake McGee
Texas Joe Nathan Jason Frasor Tanner Scheppers
Toronto Casey Janssen Steve Delabar Darren Oliver Sergio Santos
Wash. Rafael Soriano Drew Storen Tyler Clippard

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

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When he's not focusing on every team's bullpen situation, Ben can be found blogging at Ben's Baseball Bias and on Twitter @BensBias

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I really think you’re wrong on Mujica. He pounds the zone, has the splitter working, gets some strikeouts tied to zero walks, and induces a lot of ground balls. Rosenthal’s arsenal is more electric, okay, but what has Mujica done wrong since joining the Cardinals? Watch him pitch, he looks very good.