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Bullpen Report: June 27, 2013

-With fans and fantasy owners on the edge of their seats, Red Sox skipper signaled for “new” closer Koji Uehara to close out the Blue Jays in the top of the ninth frame at Fenway today. The 38-year-old veteran needed just 16 pitches while facing the minimum to induce two strikeouts and a ground out en route to his second save since being named Andrew Bailey’s replacement last week and his third overall save on the season. The Japanese right-hander has now made eight consecutive appearances without surrendering an earned run and has lowered his twenty-thirteen ERA and WHIP to 1.97 and 0.81 respectively. Additionally, Uehara’s K% spiked to 37.4% after fanning two Toronto batters in today’s contest. Going forward, I’d consider Uehara a borderline top-ten closing option.

Joaquin Benoit surrendered a hit and a walk, but struck out two in a scoreless inning of work against the Angels on Thursday. Benoit, who was tabbed the Tigers’ closer since Jose Valverde was designated for assignment, has now faced 16 batters in his last three-and-a-third innings of work. Not exactly efficient I know, but Benoit actually lowered his ERA to 1.95 and upped his K% to 30.7% after today’s outing. If someone in the comments were to ask me if I’d rather Uehara or Benoit for the rest of the season, I’d probably tell them Uehara, but both obviously need to be owned in all relative formats.

-Tonight’s one-hit scoreless outing gave Ernesto Frieri his second save in as many nights against the Detroit Tigers and his 19th on the season. The right-handed slinger faced one over the minimum in his 34th appearance and failed to fan an opposing batter for just the second time in his last ten outings. Despite such, Frieri still owns a K% just north of 33% on the year with a 3.12 ERA and a 1.21 WHIP. He’s now 19-of-21 in save opportunities for the Angles in ‘13, but will need a few more consecutive clean outings to prove to me that he’s a top 20 closer the rest of the way.

-Club Heath was open for Happy Hour today, but the owner of said establishment refused to serve any longball refreshments to customers for the first time in the last six times it’s opened its doors. That clearly didn’t sound as good as I wanted it too, but we’re going with it anyway. Heath Bell notched his 14th save on the season tonight as the Diamondbacks clipped the Nationals 3-2 at Nationals Park. Heath Bell’s tenure as the closer in Arizona could come to an abrupt end once J.J. Putz is activated from the disabled list. Putz could return to the club tomorrow, but skipper Kirk Gibson he’s unsure how he would use the right-hander once he returns. I’d expect Putz to get the ninth-inning back very, very soon, making Bell droppable for most fantasy owners.

-The Cleveland Indians activated closer Chris Perez from the disabled list today. Despite Vinnie Pestano being a perfect 5-for-5 in save chances with Perez shelved, it appears as if Perez will slide right back into ninth-inning duties. Although manager Terry Francona admitted Perez is “good to go,” he acknowledge that the club will not be able to call on him to the bump on three consecutive days. With that said, those who own shares of Vinnie Pestano should remain in a holding pattern until we see how Perez performs upon his return, especially those desperate for save chances on that third day should the bearded one be unavailable.

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 James Russell Blake Parker
CHI (AL) Addison Reed Jesse Crain Matt Thornton
Cincy Aroldis Chapman J.J. Hoover Sam LeCure Sean Marshall
Cleveland Chris Perez Vinnie Pestano Joe Smith
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.]