Bullpen Report: July 23, 2012

• Chris Perez converted his 27th save tonight against the Orioles and though he’s been having a great year for the Indians (2.95 xFIP; 27/29 on save opportunities) his days of closing for them might be coming to an end as the Giants are rumored to be interested in acquiring his services. The Giants could use some bullpen depth with Santiago Casilla in a rut, blowing five of his past nine save opportunities (although he converted the last one) and since the Giants seem to prefer to have Sergio Romo pitch in a set up role, it’s possible that if Perez is traded that he could remain closing games. However, it’s worth noting that the Indians are currently 48-48 and only four games behind the division lead, so they could still try to compete. But, with the trading deadline rapidly approaching, their next few games may determine if they choose to hold onto some of their valuable trade pieces like Chris Perez and while no trade is imminent, the Giants are looking for bullpen depth and they might turn their eyes to Perez.

• Francisco Rodriguez blew his fifth save of the season tonight against the Phillies, his first since being named closer last week. John Axford, who had been struggling before being replaced by K-Rod pitched 1.1 scoreless innings tonight and could get the next save opportunity for the Brewers although nothing has been mentioned by their manager. Axford’s issues this year have stemmed from some a lack of control (as well as some bad luck), but after tonight’s game, K-Rod’s 4.87 BB/9 isn’t much better than Axford’s 4.91 BB/9  and with the better strikeout ability, Axford’s clearly been better this year, pitching to a  3.20  xFIP compared to K-Rod’s 3.94 xFIP. If K-Rod was converting clean saves for the Brewers I’d expect him to hold onto the job for a little while, but if he’s going to pitch like this it’s probably only a matter of time until Axford regains his old role in the ninth inning.

Brett Myers made his White Sox debut tonight, entering the game in the middle of the eighth inning against the Twins. After acquiring Myers, the White Sox said they are sticking with Addison Reed at closer and it looks like they meant it with Myers pitching in a setup role and Reed getting his 16th save of the year this evening.

• It wasn’t necessarily a pretty one as he gave up two hits and let an inherited runner score tonight against the Braves, but Steve Cishek recorded his third save of the year for the Marlins. Heath Bell is very expensive and therefore will likely get another chance to close games down in South Beach but for now, it’s Cishek’s job to lose.  Heath Bell was briefly discussed in a trade rumor with the Red Sox and the Marlins are sellers, having traded Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante earlier today to the Tigers, but it will be very hard for them to unload Heath Bell and the $18 million he is still owed in 2013 and 2014. Still, for that reason, I imagine the Marlins giving Bell another shot to close, similar to what the Cubs have done with their closer…

Carlos Marmol, who converted his 12th save of the year tonight against the first place Pirates. Since June 15h, Marmol has been a perfect 10/10 on save opportunities for the Cubs and his job looks relatively secure going forward. Marmol also has a $9.8 million price tag owed to him next year so it’s in the Cubs best interest to give him a chance to close and at this point, he’s also probably their best option.

• The Mets and their bullpen are a complete mess right now as they gave up six runs in the tenth inning tonight against the Nationals only a day after giving up five runs in extra innings to the Dodgers. Bobby Parnell pitched a scoreless inning tonight and has a grip on the job at least until Frank Francisco returns from injury. Francisco Francisco will start a rehab assignment tomorrow and it should take a few appearances before he is ready to return to the Mets. A big fuss was made last week when he blew a couple of saves, but with a 3.07 xFIP, a heater that averages 95.6 mph and a solid 1.82 BB/9, Parnell remains a solid option for the Mets and could stand to hold on as closer if Francisco struggles upon his return.

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:  Joe Nathan (TEX) vs. BOS

Joe Nathan has been incredible all season with a terrific 2.36 xFIP and an even more impressive and league leading 9.20 K/BB among pitchers with a minimum of 30 innings pitched. Although the Rangers only have Martin Perez on the hill, I don’t particularly trust Clay Buchholz against the Rangers lineup and can see Nathan getting a save opportunity tomorrow against the Red Sox. Also, having only pitched in two games since the All-Star break, Nathan could be in line for some work regardless of the score, to help improve your team’s ratios.

Closer Grid:

Closer First Second Off 25-Man
Arizona J.J. Putz David Hernandez Bryan Shaw
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 Sean Marshall Jose Arredondo
Cleveland Chris Perez Vinnie Pestano Tony Sipp
Colorado Rafael Betancourt Matt Belisle Rex Brothers
Detroit Jose Valverde Joaquin Benoit Octavio Dotel
Houston Francisco Cordero Wilton Lopez Wesley Wright
KC Jonathan Broxton Greg Holland Aaron Crow
LAA Ernesto Frieri Scott Downs Kevin Jepsen Jordan Walden
LAD Kenley Jansen Javy Guerra Ronald Bellisario
Miami Steve Cishek Heath Bell Edward Mujica
Milwaukee Francisco Rodriguez John Axford Jose Veras
Minnesota Jared Burton Glen Perkins 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 Jake Diekman
Pittsburgh Joel Hanrahan Jason Grilli Juan Cruz
St. Louis Jason Motte Mitchell Boggs Eduardo Sanchez
SD Huston Street Luke Gregerson Dale Thayer
SF Santiago Casilla Sergio Romo Javier Lopez
Seattle Tom Wilhelmsen Brandon League Charlie Furbush
Tampa Bay Fernando Rodney Kyle Farnsworth Jake McGee
Texas Joe Nathan Mike Adams Robbie Ross
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.]

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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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Neal Huntington
Neal Huntington

No one gives the Buccos any love. Juan Cruz is on the DL, and Jared Hughes stepped in as the 7th inning guy…