Bullpen Report: August 21, 2013

• Well, OK. Baltimore’s closer situation officially might be becoming interesting. After bringing on Jim Johnson in a non-save situation last night, Buck Showalter screamed “matchups, ho!” from the dugout while nursing a two-run lead in the ninth today. Darren O’Day started the inning against the right-handed Wil Myers who promptly singled. Next up was Brian Matusz, tasked with facing the left-handed James Loney. Walk! Likely exasperated, Showalter finally turned to Tommy Hunter who retired the next three hitters to preserve the win (technically only two, as Kelly Johnson was gunned down with two outs trying to get himself into scoring position as the tying run).

So it appears the job may not be Johnson’s — at least at the moment. Hunter has been an interesting reliever since his unceremonious move to the bullpen last year. His fastball velocity jumped an impressive 3-4 mph to the mid-upper 90’s. Interestingly, his K% has trended up, but at 18.5%, isn’t terribly impressive. In fact, even with a cool 4.2% BB%, Hunter’s SIERA is a solid (but non-elite) 3.45 thanks to the lack of whiffs. The good news? His 9% SwStr% projects more of a low 20’s K%, so there is still room for a few more punchouts. Of course, it may just be he pounds the zone so much (career 50% Zone% with a league average of 45%) he’s trading them for balls in play.

Either way, Hunter needs to be owned in all leagues, at least for the moment. His usage tonight didn’t scream “new closer” (if he was Buck’s new closer(TM) he almost surely would have gotten a clean set of bathpaths to start the inning) but he may have bought himself another couple outings with today’s performance. Johnson has slumped recently but his SIERA is actually slightly lower than Hunter’s at 3.41. Francisco Rodriguez is also conceivably another option in the pen (and his 2.79 SIERA is lowest of the bunch), although his usage hasn’t been quite as high-leverage as some others. Regardless, keep Johnson, roster Hunter, roster K-Rod if you’re in a deep league, and wait for the O’s to shake this out.

Rafael Betancourt blew his first save since returning from the DL, giving up three hits and a walk while only retiring a single batter. He wasn’t getting beat up all over the field (giving up a couple doubles to “shallow left”) but any blown save for who barely avoided getting Wally Pipp‘d is cause for concern. It’s also worth noting he had retired all six guys in his previous two outings this week. However, his fastball velocity remains down after his latest return from injury (although it’s been down most of the season, so it’s not a recent thing). If he were to keep his 9.8 SwStr%, it would be the first time in his career it was not in the double-digits. Yikes. It’s too early to give up on him in fantasy leagues, especially since Colorado has a vested interest in having him rack up a few high-profile saves (to inflate his trade value) but don’t kick Rex Brothers to the curb just yet.

• Do you own Edward Mujica? If the answer is yes, stop reading right now and go see if Trevor Rosenthal is available on the wire. I’ll wait. OK, ready? Alright, well Mujica’s fairy tale season could have a speed bump in his future. Clearly showing some discomfort in his pitching arm, Mujica needed to be examined by trainers during tonight’s outing. He was able to stay in and rack up the save (albeit after allowing a long homer) but word came out after the game that he is dealing with some shoulder soreness. Mujica claims the injury is not something to be concerned about and he vows to pitch through it. It is worth noting he was unavailable due to “general fatigue” a few days ago after working multiple innings in multiple outings of a week-long stretch. Players are generally not the most reliable sources on whether or not injury affects them, and Rosenthal immediately becomes a top-6 closer if he gets the job, so scoop him up and keep an eye on St. Louis over the next week or two.

Closer Grid:

Closer First Second DL/Minors
Arizona Brad Ziegler J.J. Putz David Hernandez
Atlanta Craig Kimbrel Jordan Walden Scott Downs
Baltimore Jim Johnson Tommy Hunter Francisco Rodriguez
Boston Koji Uehara Junichi Tazawa Craig Breslow Andrew Bailey
CHI (NL) Kevin Gregg Pedro Strop Blake Parker
CHI (AL) Addison Reed Nate Jones Matt Lindstrom
Cincy Aroldis Chapman J.J. Hoover Jonathan Broxton Sean Marshall
Cleveland Chris Perez Joe Smith Cody Allen Vinnie Pestano
Colorado Rafael Betancourt Rex Brothers Matt Belisle
Detroit Joaquin Benoit Jose Veras Drew Smyly
Houston Chia-Jen Lo Josh Fields Josh Zeid Jose Cisnero
KC Greg Holland Aaron Crow Kelvin Herrera
LAA Ernesto Frieri Dane de la Rosa Kevin Jepsen Robert Coello
LAD Kenley Jansen Paco Rodriguez Ronald Belisario Brian Wilson
Miami Steve Cishek Mike Dunn Chad Qualls
Milwaukee Jim Henderson John Axford Michael Gonzalez
Minnesota Glen Perkins Jared Burton Casey Fien
NY (NL) LaTroy Hawkins David Aardsma Scott Rice Bobby Parnell
NY (AL) Mariano Rivera David Robertson Joba Chamberlain
Oakland Grant Balfour Ryan Cook Sean Doolittle
Philly Jonathan Papelbon Justin De Fratus Jake Diekman Mike Adams
Pittsburgh Mark Melancon Justin Wilson Tony Watson Jason Grilli
St. Louis Edward Mujica Trevor Rosenthal Randy Choate Jason Motte
SD Huston Street Luke Gregerson Dale Thayer
SF Sergio Romo Jeremy Affeldt Santiago Casilla
Seattle Danny Farquhar Yoervis Medina Oliver Perez Tom Wilhelmsen
TB Fernando Rodney Joel Peralta Jake McGee Jesse Crain
Texas Joe Nathan Tanner Scheppers Jason Frasor
Toronto Casey Janssen Sergio Santos Brett Cecil Steve Delabar
Wash. Rafael Soriano Tyler Clippard Drew Storen

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

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There are few things Colin loves more in life than a pitcher with a single-digit BB%. Find him on Twitter @soxczar.

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James N.
James N.

Drop Jim Johnson for Rosenthal?


no. Johnson for now retains his job, and has a track record. They haven’t turned to Rosenthal just yet.

I would pick up Rosenthal and drop an extra pitcher if you have one.


Yes. The difference in Ks and ratios alone makes Rosenthal more valuable even if he never gets the job.