Bullpen Report: June 24th, 2012

• Uh oh. Frank Francisco is been battling a left oblique injury that he suffered Friday night. The Mets originally didn’t seem too concerned, essentially deeming him day-to-day, but as we’ve historically seen with pitchers, opposite side oblique injuries are “nothing to sneeze at.” Well, word has come down mid-sentence (no, literally) that Francisco is indeed hitting the disabled list. And in an obvious move of goodwill to the fantasy community, manager Terry Collins has made life easy on owners by decreeing that Bobby Parnell had the ninth inning tonight (when he knew no Francisco this evening but prior to the DL announcement). Parnell certainly brings the heat (mid-upper 90’s on the fastball) and has career 8.4 K/9 that he’s improved a touch on this year (9.0). Maybe most impressively, he’s a flamethrower who keeps the walks down (3.8 BB/9 career, down to 2.4 this year) — put the whole package together and he has a career 3.78 xFIP (3.12 since the start of 2010). Pick him up in all leagues; I already have. He may only be a short-term hold, but with oblique injuries having a tendency to linger (see Doug Fister), he might be a bit more than a short-term investment.

• On Friday I wrote about the potential bullpen upheaval in Minnesota thanks to the bum shoulder of Matt Capps, even with the team claiming he was ready to return to game action. Well, turns out he was indeed still sore finally after appearing Saturday and that, in the words of Ron Gardenhire, he’s “back to square one.” In that column I did laud Glen Perkins‘ peripherals (11.7 K/9, 2.98 xFIP) but I also mentioned that I didn’t think Jared Burton was in the mix, even though Gardenhire had mentioned using more of a committee approach last week when Capps first went down. My reasoning was that the right-handed Burton’s career 2.3 K/BB and 4.19 xFIP were nothing to write home about, even if his fastball velocity is back to the speeds he threw five to six years ago. Well, guess who made me look stupid by putting a nice, little bow on Sunday’s matinee? I still think Perkins is a must-own in this bullpen (and late scuttlebutt is Capps to the DL tomorrow) because of his pedigree and superior peripherals but Burton remains worth a look if you are desperate for saves. I might be wrong, but Capps’ injury strikes me as one that might be a problem beyond the 15-day DL window.

• Davey Johnson has anointed the robotic (at least in his pitching) Tyler Clippard his closer, even when Drew Storen returns from the disabled list after the all-star break. “Right now he’s my closer, and the way he’s going I can’t see going to somebody else. They’d have to show me up here probably in a setup role before they have the opportunity to close.” Clippard is probably long gone in all leagues by now, but this is certainly comfort for owners who picked him up thinking they might get a month or so of saves out of him. If you are a Storen owner still holding him like a binky, you either have a lot of DL slots or you are in a pretty deep league — you might as well hold him if you’ve kept him this long, but it also might not be a terrible idea to proposition the Clippard owner (if it’s not you) and see if he is still squeamish about him holding the job. Who knows, maybe he sells him cheaper than a rest-of-season closer with a 10.9 K/9 and 3.69 xFIP for a contending team would normally go for.

• Aroldis Chapman gave up yet another longball today, blowing his third save in his last six outings. He has now allowed eight runs (partly thanks to three gopherballs) over his last seven games. The good news is his K/9 is still a healthy (god-like?) 15.5 and his walk rate remains 2.8 BB/9; almost half his career average. The bad news is that Sean Marshall‘s ERA is 0.63 since May 20th (15/3 K/BB) and with another few Chapman blowups like this, he could squeeze his way back into the ninth inning picture.

• Three days, two massively blown saves in the Giants/Athletics series. After post time Friday night, Ryan Cook suffered a meltdown trying to wrap up a 4-2 win; facing four runners and allowing them all to reach. When all was said and done, three of them came around to score, giving Cook the loss/blown save and more than doubling his ERA to 1.71. Most concerning was how bad Cook looked — he only threw seven strikes in 19 pitches (and two of those were the allowed hits). He almost hit two batters and also threw a pitch to the backstop on ball four (therefore not getting charged with a wild pitch in the box score). Cook’s ERA/WHIP is 1.71/0.98, but his peripherals aren’t quite as rosy. A 1.6 K/BB, 0.157 BABIP, and no home runs allowed on any of his fly balls imply some degree of regression is on the horizon — highlighted by his 4.33 xFIP. Honestly, if you can get an owner to take his shiny ERA/WHIP combo and think they are getting a top-10 or top-15 closer, I’d strongly consider selling high.

Obviously to keep Cook from feeling bad, Santiago Casilla gave up a three-run homer to Derek Norris (nice time to hit your first major league bomb!) and blew a two-run save in Oakland Sunday. That said, the similarities end there — Casilla’s outlook is a bit brighter than Cook’s. Couple the fact that today was only his second blown save of the season with a 8.4 K/9 and 3.43 xFIP and his job as San Francisco closer in 2012 is pretty safe (barring a bionic arm transplant for Brian Wilson, which, let’s be honest, might not be as far-fetched as you’d like to believe).

• Ernesto Frieri wrapped up his ninth save of the season this afternoon. After virtually splitting the ninth with Scott Downs as recently as a few weeks ago, Frieri has now gotten six of the last seven save opportunities. In fact, Downs picked up the win after coming on in the seventh inning today, so, while it doesn’t look like Frieri is the bonafide every-game closer (yet), he’s obviously the Angels bullpen arm to own who distances himself more and more with each outing. And with a scalding (Chapman-like?) 15.0 K/9 and 2.98 xFIP, it doesn’t look like Frieri will be moving from that spot any time soon.

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: Glen Perkins (MIN) vs. CHW

Perkins wasn’t used today in lieu of Jared Burton so long for him to be ready to go if called on tomorrow. The resurgent Francisco Liriano should keep the Twins at home in the game against the White Sox to the point where Perkins may used late in the game– save situation or not.

Closer Grid:

  Closer First Second Injured
Arizona J.J. Putz David Hernandez Bryan Shaw  
Atlanta Craig Kimbrel Jonny Venters Eric O’Flaherty  
Baltimore Jim Johnson Pedro Strop Matt Lindstrom  
Boston Alfredo Aceves Andrew Miller Mark Melancon Andrew Bailey
Chicago (NL) Carlos Marmol James Russell Shawn Camp
Chicago (AL) Addison Reed Hector Santiago Matt Thornton  
Cincy Aroldis Chapman Sean Marshall Jose Arredondo  
Cleveland Chris Perez Vinnie Pestano Tony Sipp  
Colorado Rafael Betancourt Matt Belisle Matt Reynolds  
Detroit Jose Valverde Joaquin Benoit Octavio Dotel  
Houston Brett Myers Wilton Lopez David Carpenter  
KC Jonathan Broxton Greg Holland Aaron Crow  
LAA Ernesto Frieri Scott Downs Jordan Walden  
LAD Kenley Jansen Josh Lindblom Shawn Tolleson  
Miami Heath Bell Steve Cishek Edward Mujica  
Milwaukee John Axford Francisco Rodriguez Jose Veras  
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 Brian Fuentes Grant Balfour  
Philly Jonathan Papelbon Antonio Bastardo Chad Qualls  
Pittsburgh Joel Hanrahan Jason Grilli Juan Cruz  
St. Louis Jason Motte Mitchell Boggs Eduardo Sanchez  
SD Huston Street Dale Thayer Luke Gregerson  
SF Santiago Casilla Sergio Romo Javier Lopez  
Seattle Tom Wilhelmsen Brandon League Charlie Furbush  
Tampa Bay Fernando Rodney Joel Peralta J.P. Howell Kyle Farnsworth
Texas Joe Nathan Mike Adams Mark Lowe  
Toronto Casey Janssen Jason Frasor Darren Oliver Sergio Santos
Wash. Tyler Clippard Sean Burnett Henry Rodriguez 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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Colin – these posts are just beyond useful. Thanks so much for posting. In my 10-team roto league (which counts SVs and K/9), I own Bell, Clippard, Reed and Janssen. Given that setup, who would you advise owning out of the guys you mention above: Parnell or Perkins? I’m in the habit of stockpiling RPs and right now I own Parnell (he looked good v. Yanks tonight). I dropped Perkins for him, figuring that at least for now Gardenhire has made good on his promise to use both Perkins and Burton whereas Parnell is the guy. I’m tied for 1st in Saves but want to stay there: what would you advise? Thanks!