• The struggling Addison Reed was finally yanked from a save opportunity on Saturday after giving up a pair of walks and a single. Robin Ventura apparently had enough and called on Matt Thornton to get out of the bases loaded jam — Thornton complied by inducing a double play and then another ground out to preserve the win for the White Sox. Reed has now given up earned runs in seven of his last nine outings, although his biggest problem his the 0.538 BABIP over that span (7 innings since August 24th). His 30-day xFIP is a slightly more bearable 4.13 (which only barely trails his top right-handed setup man in Brett Myers (4.11)), although Thornton’s xFIP over the same period is 3.35. It’s unlikely we’ve seen a changing of the guard, but this serves notice that the White Sox are not messing around — they don’t have margin for error and the leash on any of their relievers is getting shorter as the end of September draws closer. Reed owners scraping for saves should acknowledge that (and maybe snag Thornton if they have an extra bullpen slot).
• Right after I go and say (kind of) nice things about Ernesto Frieri, he turns around and has arguably his ugliest outing of the season on Saturday night, serving up a pair of home runs to send the Angels to a surprising defeat at the hands of the Royals. On Sunday, when the Angels were faced with another save situation, it wasn’t Frieri but Kevin Jepsen that was called upon to nail down the win. Before owners go into a full-blown panic, Frieri had pitched the last couple of days, so his absence may have been workload-related. That said, Frieri’s peripherals aren’t quite as good as his traditional stats would imply and the team has shown a willingness to use other guys in the ninth inning. I’d consider this situation similar to the White Sox one — Frieri’s the guy, but will be on a short leash during close outings.
• Last weekend I covered how Ozzie Guillen’s attempt to get Heath Bell a few more save chances went awry in spectacular fashion. Well, thankfully (at least for his owners), Steve Cishek is back to being the top game in town in Miami — wrapping up save number 14 on Saturday (and also pitching a scoreless inning during a tie game in Miami’s eventual loss to Cincy on Sunday). Cishek continues to perform well despite some fairly sizable platoon splits (.336 wOBA vs. LHH, .253 vs. RHH) and should keep the job the remainder of the season barring a total collapse. Given his platoon splits and Bell’s contract, however, Cishek doesn’t have as much appeal in a keeper league as other 2012 closer fill-ins like Greg Holland and Casey Janssen.
NOTE: Tonight’s Bullpen Report required writing a bit earlier than usual (again, this whole temporary +5 British Daylight Time thing is a “royal” pain) so if anything goes down in the late games with major bullpen implications, you can be sure Ben has it covered tomorrow.
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: Antonio Bastardo (PHI) vs. NYM
Bastardo (like my Saturday pick, Jake McGee) is another guy who has put up great numbers over the last month putting up a negative 0.32 xFIP in September (positive (the horror!) 0.08 over the last 30 days). Well, that was coming into Sunday before Bastardo had a minor bump in the road (walking two after an error allowed the leadoff runner to reach) — but with the Phillies still lurking in the National League wild card race, they might look to call upon his arm again Monday.
[Green light, yellow light, red light: the colors represent the volatility of the bullpen order.]