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Bullpen Report: August 3, 2012

Steve Cishek recorded his sixth save — coming on to retire Danny Espinosa via strikeout after Josh Johnson was unable to finish off a complete game. Ozzie Guillen had stated that he was planning on going with a committee after Heath Bell‘s lastest run of implosions but it’s growing clear that Cishek is (at the very least) way out in front of the group. Cishek’s 1.81 ERA makes him out to be a bit better of a pitcher than he actually has been this season (3.93 xFIP) mostly because he probably has a few too many walks on the whole (10.7%). The other major concern with investing in Cishek as a full-time closer remains his platoon splits — the low arm slot righty has a sterling career 0.239 wOBA against right-handed hitters, but has a more pedestrian 0.307 versus lefties (0.349 in 2012). That said, even if these numbers may not imply long-time stability in the closer’s role, it’s pretty obvious that @srSHREK31 has a good enough grip on the majority of save opps that he deserves to be lifted from red-light territory (for now).

Alexi Ogando wrapped up the save tonight for the Rangers. Joe Nathan owners might look at the box score and shout “oh no!” but, rest easy, ol’ Joe was merely getting a day off after throwing 61 pitches over the last two games (a couple pedestrian performances). Ogando has been solid in the bullpen this year, putting up a 3.62 xFIP while watching his K% jump all the way to 25.9% (career average = 20.2%). Joe Nathan’s job certainly isn’t in any jeopardy (2.82 xFIP, 6.38 K/BB) but Ogando would probably be an option if something were to happen to him on the injury-front. It might have to happen quite soon, however, as Ogando is a possibility for one of the openings in the Texas rotation so this might be one of his last times being mentioned in the Bullpen Report for a little while.

Jared Burton was given the save situation (tenth inning) tonight as the Twinkies downed the Red Sox for the second straight evening. The other half of the Twins closing duo, Glen Perkins, got the save yesterday, although it was a bit of a fluke since manager Ron Gardenhire originally put Perkins in in the eighth — he only left him in for the ninth after the Twins stretched out the lead enough that it wasn’t a save situation for Burton. As you’ve read in this space before, Perkins (3.18 xFIP, 27.2% K%) is probably the better pitcher (and a bigger part of Minnesota’s future) but Burton is the all-important right-hander at the back end of the bullpen and should continue to see save chances thanks to his improved 2012 peripherals (3.85 xFIP versus career 4.28). Perkins will remain ahead of him in the closer grid based on talent and the fact that he’s still gotten save chances recently, but it certainly feels like a coinflip situation right now.

• Yesterday, Alan suggested Aroldis Chapman as a reliever for use in FanGraphs: The Game. Chapman pitched a 1-2-3 inning and (ho-hum) struck out another couple batters. He has a 48.7% K% and a 1.37 xFIP. You know, no big deal. In terms of non-fantasy value, the Reds would be smart to give Chapman a go-around in the rotation next spring, but it’s gotten to the point where Chapman might have top-30 keeper potential out of the pen. Now fantasy owners are probably begging Dusty to just leave him in the ninth after lamenting the decision to move him out of the rotation in March.

For those of you who play daily fantasy games like FanGraphs: The Game, or just like to stream players, here is a matchup you may be able to exploit.

A Pitcher for Tomorrow: David Robertson (NYY) vs. SEA

Robertson might not have won the Battle Royale to see who got Mariano Rivera‘s old job but a 2.63 xFIP and a 13.5 K/9 aren’t too shabby. With C.C. Sabathia twirling a complete game on Friday, you know the Yankee pen is rested, and with the offensively inept Mariners in town, expect an inning and a couple K’s from the right-hander.

Closer Grid:

Closer First Second Off 25-Man
Arizona J.J. Putz David Hernandez Takashi Saito
Atlanta Craig Kimbrel Eric O’Flaherty Jonny Venters
Baltimore Jim Johnson Pedro Strop Darren O’Day
Boston Alfredo Aceves Andrew Miller Mark Melancon Andrew Bailey
Chicago (NL) Carlos Marmol James Russell Shawn Camp
Chicago (AL) Addison Reed Brett Myers Matt Thornton
Cincy Aroldis Chapman Jonathan Broxton Sean Marshall
Cleveland Chris Perez Vinnie Pestano Tony Sipp
Colorado Rafael Betancourt Matt Belisle Rex Brothers
Detroit Jose Valverde Joaquin Benoit Octavio Dotel
Houston Wilton Lopez Francisco Cordero Wesley Wright
KC Greg Holland Kelvin Herrera Aaron Crow
LAA Ernesto Frieri Kevin Jepsen LaTroy Hawkins Jordan Walden
LAD Kenley Jansen Brandon League Javy Guerra
Miami Steve Cishek Heath Bell Mike Dunn
Milwaukee John Axford Francisco Rodriguez Kameron Loe
Minnesota Glen Perkins Jared Burton Alex Burnett Matt Capps
NY (NL) Bobby Parnell Jon Rauch Ramon Ramirez Frank Francisco
NY (AL) Rafael Soriano David Robertson Boone Logan
Oakland Ryan Cook Sean Doolittle Grant Balfour
Philly Jonathan Papelbon Antonio Bastardo Josh Lindblom
Pittsburgh Joel Hanrahan Jason Grilli Jared Hughes
St. Louis Jason Motte Mitchell Boggs Edward Mujica
SD Huston Street Luke Gregerson Dale Thayer
SF Santiago Casilla Sergio Romo Javier Lopez
Seattle Tom Wilhelmsen Shawn Kelley Stephen Pryor
Tampa Bay Fernando Rodney Kyle Farnsworth Jake McGee
Texas Joe Nathan Mike Adams Alexei Ogando
Toronto Casey Janssen Brandon Lyon Darren Oliver
Wash. Tyler Clippard Drew Storen Sean Burnett

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