L’Shana Tova and wishing everyone a sweet new year, at least as far as your fantasy team’s relievers are concerned…
• After going all of last season without blowing a save, Jose Valverde blew his fifth save of the year last night, raising his ERA to 3.77. That ERA isn’t so terrible but behind it is a horrid 5.10 xFIP. Valverde has never been a control pitcher but his ability to miss bats at least made him respectable, if you are able to dismiss his celebrations of course. However, after posting strikeout rates of 8.59 K/9 or above for his entire career, Valverde’s strike out rate has dropped to 6.39 K/9 this season. Jim Leyland is a loyal guy and nothing has been said about a potential closing change, but in the midst of a playoff race you have to wonder if Leyland will want to go down with a sinking ship. We will be sure to monitor this situation, and teams in need of saves might want to take a look at Joaquin Benoit.
• A day after he was removed from a save opportunity, Addison Reed picked up the one-out save today against the Tigers. Brett Myers started the ninth inning (after pitching the eighth) getting the first out of the inning before Matt Thornton came in to retire the lefty Andy Dirks. Then with the right-handed Austin Jackson up (with two more right-handed hitters behind him) Robin Ventura called on Reed to finish the game. While Reed has certainly struggled of late, no change has been made in the White Sox bullpen but as Colin mentioned yesterday, the White Sox don’t have much room for error, and those looking for saves or have roster flexibility, might want to take a speculative flier on Myers or Thornton.
• Craig Kimbrel recorded his 37th save of the season today with Eric O’Flaherty notching his 26th hold, good for ninth in the league. We are all aware of Kimbrel’s success this year and in the past but it’s O’Flaherty who hasn’t allowed an earned run since July 13. O’Flaherty’s impressive ERA (1.88) is lower than his xFIP (3.31) would suggest, but even if regression hits, O’Flaherty should still help your team’s ERA and will definitely remain a great candidate for holds the rest of the season.
• Aroldis Chapman has been out for the last few games resting a tired shoulder but Chapman says it is feeling a lot better and is on schedule to return to the Reds soon. In his place, Jonathan Broxton has been closing games for Cincinnati but Aroldis should reclaim the ninth inning once he’s healthy. I wouldn’t jump to drop Broxton until Chapman proves his health, closing games for the Reds again, but this is good news for Chapman owners, and baseball fans who like to see triple-digits.
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: Rafael Soriano (NYY) vs. TOR
Andy Pettitte returns to the bump for the Yankees tomorrow, and while he might have some rust to shed, his opponent, Ricky Romero has basically been rust incarnate of late. In his last 14 starts Romero is 0-13 with a 7.91 ERA. With those kind of numbers the Yankees should be in a position to hand a save opportunity to Soriano.
[Green light, yellow light, red light: the colors represent the volatility of the bullpen order.]