Bullpen Report: May 14, 2013

• Andrew Bailey is close to returning to the Red Sox, and when he’s back he’ll be in the closers role that Junichi Tazawa is currently occupying.  Tazawa has had a great season (2.86 xFIP) but since April 24 he’s given up five earned runs in 6.2 innings pitched. During that same rough stretch Tazawa was still able to showcase his swing and miss stuff, striking out 11 batters. Tazawa should continue to close in Bailey’ absence and when Bailey is back, Tazawa will remain a fine relief ace for your fantasy team providing elite strikeouts (11.57) with potential for  saves because as we all know, Bailey’s health always remains a risk.   Before getting hurt Bailey had 20 strikeouts in 12.1 innings pitched with a 2.74 xFIP and while he likely won’t maintain a strikeout percentage of 42.6%, Bailey’s always been very effective when healthy and that should continue while saving game in Boston.

• I’ve been critical of Fernando Rodney this year but he’s pitching better of late. Rodney recorded his seventh save of the season tonight, striking out the side in a perfect inning against Boston. In his last four appearances Rodney’s thrown four innings, recording three saves and striking out nine batters against two walks. While it’s always nice to see Rodney rack up the K’s, the improved control might be the more positive sign as Rodney has struggled mightily with his location this season (6.75 BB/9). Nobody could have expected Rodney to have a repeat of his 2012 season, but if Rodney can avoid reverting completely back to his pre-2012 levels he would remain a solid closing option for the rest of 2013. However, if Rodney’s control problems persist, Joel Peralta’s name could be called and for what it’ worth, Peralta’s 2.20 FIP and 10.38 K/9 are numbers worth rostering even if he’s not receiving saves.

Huston Street recorded his ninth save of the year and is now 9/10 on save opportunities. However, by any other metric you would want to use, 2013 has not been kind to Street. Street’s 6.32 K/9 would be a career low and his 6.91/4.88 FIP/xFIP leave a lot to be desired to say the least. Still, with the Padres not likely contending for a playoff spot and Street owed $7 million this year and in 2014, Street will have long leash on the role. Meanwhile, Luke Gregerson has only given up two earned runs in 18 innings pitched with a 3.01/3.34 FIP/xFIP. Although he will have to wait for a Street injury, continued collapse or midseason trade before seeing the ninth inning, Gregerson won’t hurt your fantasy team and if you’re in need of saves, he’s an intriguing guy to keep an eye on.

• Jon Axford blew his third save of the year in the eighth inning tonight against the Pirates. Ron Roenicke had  previously mentioned that Axford would return to the closers role but he’s now given up six earned runs in his last six four innings pitched. All the while Jim Henderson continues to pitch brilliantly with a 1.36 FIP and 10.59 K/9.  I previously had the Brewers situation listed as yellow, but with Axford’s continued struggles I’m moving it to green. Any rough patch by Henderson or prolonged hot streak by Axford could start up chatter again about a potential closer switch but for now Henderson is safe.

Closer Grid:


Closer First Second DL/Minors
Arizona Heath Bell David Hernandez Matt Reynolds J.J. Putz
Atlanta Craig Kimbrel Eric O’Flaherty Jordan Walden
Baltimore Jim Johnson Darren O’Day Pedro Strop
Boston Junichi Tazawa Koji Uehara Andrew Miller Andrew Bailey
CHI (NL) Kevin Gregg Carlos Marmol Kyuji Fujikawa
CHI (AL) Addison Reed Jesse Crain Matt Thornton
Cincy Aroldis Chapman Jonathan Broxton J.J. Hoover
Cleveland Chris Perez Joe Smith Bryan Shaw Vinnie Pestano
Colorado Rafael Betancourt Wilton Lopez Matt Belisle
Detroit Jose Valverde Joaquin Benoit Al Alburquerque
Houston Jose Veras Wesley Wright Hector Ambriz
KC Greg Holland Kelvin Herrera Tim Collins
LAA Ernesto Frieri Scott Downs Jerome Williams Ryan Madson
LAD Brandon League Kenley Jansen Ronald Belisario
Miami Steve Cishek A.J. Ramos Chad Qualls
Milwaukee Jim Henderson John Axford Michael Gonzalez
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 Mike Adams Antonio Bastardo
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 Santiago Casilla Jeremy Affeldt
Seattle Tom Wilhelmsen Carter Capps Charlie Furbush
TB Fernando Rodney Joel Peralta Jake McGee
Texas Joe Nathan Jason Frasor Tanner Scheppers
Toronto Casey Janssen Steve Delabar Darren Oliver 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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How stable would you say Heath Bell is right now? Any chance of Hernandez grabbing that role?