Bullpen Report: June 24, 2013

Joe Nathan is having a fine 2013. After picking up save number 25 last night he’s now supporting a 2.90 FIP. Nathan gives up a lot of fly balls (47.6% FB%) and he’s running a little hot with so few of them going over the fence (3.80 xFIP)  but he’s a solid reliever who will give you about a strikeout per inning on one of the better teams in the league. Behind Nathan in the Texas bullpen has been Tanner Scheppers but that soon may change with Joakim Soria on a rehab assignment, scheduled to return around the All-Star break. Soria last pitched in 2011 on the Royals and if he can find some of his former mojo, he and Nathan could form one of the premier set up and closer combos in the game.

Chris Perez hasn’t had a rehab to remember while recovering from a right shoulder injury (and some marijuana charges) but he continues to work his way back to the majors Tuesday in Mahoning Valley where he will throw in a minor league rehab game. Assuming there are no more set backs (not necessarily a given), Perez should be back in Cleveland soon but until then Vinnie Pestano (4.71 xFIP) will continue to receive opportunities like he did tonight for his fourth save of the year.  Pestano isn’t the same pitcher he once was and Joe Smith (3.13 xFIP) and Cody Allen (3.08 xFIP) are likely better relievers at this point but Francona is sticking with Pestano in Perez’ absence.

Kevin Gregg (3.06 xFIP; 11/11 saves) and Jose Veras (3.68 xFIP; 15/18 saves) have been solid for a couple of non-solid teams this year and both should be named in many a trade rumor as we near the trading deadline. While it may seem unrealistic (or just straight up surreal) for a playoff bound team to be excited about handing the ball to Gregg in a close game with runners on, a 35 year old closer on a last place team is a bit of a novelty and it shouldn’t take much for a team to acquire Gregg’s services to bolster their pen. If Gregg were to go, expect the Cubs to try to squeeze whatever juice might be left of Carlos Marmol or look to James Russell. If Jose Veras is traded, Hector Ambriz (4.09 xFIP) could step in but keep an eye on Jose Cisnero. In 32.2 innings pitched already this year, Cisnero has 2.20 ERA and 3.73 xFIP and he could be a more valuable fixture in Houston if Veras is moved.

Fernando Rodney shot his 16th arrow in the air tonight striking out two batters against no walks.  That last part is of particular interest because as Colin noted last night, Rodney has been cutting down his walks of late. Rodney lowered his xFIP to 3.41 and although 2012 will always be his career year, his job is very secure right now and he might end up helping fantasy teams in non-save categories this year if  he maintains his strikeout rate while continuing to limit his walks.

Closer Grid:


Closer First Second DL/Minors
Arizona Heath Bell David Hernandez Matt Reynolds J.J. Putz
Atlanta Craig Kimbrel Jordan Walden Cory Gearrin
Baltimore Jim Johnson Darren O’Day Tommy Hunter
Boston Koji Uehara Junichi Tazawa Andrew Bailey
CHI (NL) Kevin Gregg Carlos Marmol James Russell
CHI (AL) Addison Reed Jesse Crain Matt Thornton
Cincy Aroldis Chapman Jonathan Broxton J.J. Hoover Sean Marshall
Cleveland Vinnie Pestano Joe Smith Bryan Shaw Chris Perez
Colorado Rex Brothers Wilton Lopez Matt Belisle Rafael Betancourt
Detroit Joaquin Benoit Drew Smyly Al Alburquerque
Houston Jose Veras Hector Ambriz Wesley Wright
KC Greg Holland Aaron Crow Kelvin Herrera
LAA Ernesto Frieri Scott Downs Robert Coello Ryan Madson
LAD Kenley Jansen Brandon League Ronald Belisario
Miami Steve Cishek Mike Dunn Chad Qualls
Milwaukee Francisco Rodriguez Jim Henderson John Axford
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 Antonio Bastardo Justin De Fratus Mike Adams
Pittsburgh Jason Grilli Mark Melancon Tony Watson
St. Louis Edward Mujica Trevor Rosenthal Fernando Salas Jason Motte
SD Huston Street Luke Gregerson Dale Thayer
SF Sergio Romo Jeremy Affeldt Jean Machi Santiago Casilla
Seattle Yoervis Medina Oliver Perez Tom Wilhelmsen
TB Fernando Rodney Joel Peralta Jake McGee
Texas Joe Nathan Tanner Scheppers Jason Frasor
Toronto Casey Janssen Steve Delabar Brett Cecil 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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Sun Tzu
Sun Tzu

I follow a number of closer charts on the web, and I find this one to be the most consistently accurate. Nice work, indeed.