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Bullpen Report: June 19, 2019

Tuesday night’s slate did not lack for saves, as Kirby Yates (26), Shane Greene (21), Aroldis Chapman (19), Alex Colome (15) and Hansel Robles (11) were among the closers who added to their save totals. In a break from the normal pattern, there just wasn’t much in the way of late-inning relief events that were notable for fantasy owners.

The one head-turning closer development was David Bell’s use of Michael Lorenzen in a save situation for the second night in a row. While it looks like a new pattern is emerging for the Reds, the circumstances of Lorenzen’s two saves were entirely different. In Monday night’s 3-2 win over the Astros, Raisel Iglesias was ostensibly in line for a five-out save, but after walking Myles Straw and popping up Alex Bregman to start off the ninth inning, the Reds’ closer had thrown only 10 strikes in 21 pitches. With tough lefties Michael Brantley and Yordan Alvarez due up, Bell decided to make a change, going with Lorenzen. While Iglesias had allowed lefties to slug .556 against him, Lorenzen had a more muted .415 SLG allowed versus left-handed hitters. Lorenzen retired both batters for his third save.
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Bullpen Report: June 17, 2019

It has now been 10 days since Wade Davis ended his stay on the IL with an oblique injury, and he has appeared five times for the Rockies since then. Enough time has passed that it’s fair to say that the warning signs that were present for Davis before going on the IL have not gotten any weaker.

In Davis’ three outings before getting shelved, he had given up three runs on five hits and a pair of walks over three innings, and the average velocity on his fastball was 93.3 mph, as compared to 94.1 mph prior to that stretch. Since returning from his injury, Davis has allowed seven runs on nine hits and three walks over 4.1 innings, and his average fastball velocity has dipped a little further to 92.9 mph.
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NL Lineup Analysis (6/14/19)

The Pirates’ outfield situation is not evolving as many envisioned, but could the Padres’ outfield logjam finally be near a resolution? All this and more awaits in this week’s set of lineup analyses.

Arizona

The Diamondbacks did not send Kevin Cron back to the minors after last weekend’s series in Toronto was over, and he has started two of the last five games at first base (including on Friday night at the Nationals). He won’t likely play enough to have fantasy value, but he just might take enough playing time away from Christian Walker to curtail his value. Walker’s role could be further limited when Jake Lamb (quad) returns, which could occur in the next week or two. That would also likely mean the end of regular playing time for Ildemaro Vargas, with Lamb making some starts at third base and Eduardo Escobar moving over to second base.
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Bullpen Report: June 14, 2019

Alex Colome has been perfect in his 14 save opportunities with the White Sox this season, and if not for having thrown 39 pitches against the Nationals on Tuesday, he almost certainly would have had a crack at his 15th save on Thursday against the Yankees. However, with Colome apparently unavailable, Rick Renteria gave us a possible preview of what the bullpen pecking order could look like if (or more likely when) Colome is traded.

The game was tied, 4-4, heading into the top of the seventh inning, and Renteria gave the inning to Evan Marshall. After keeping the Yankees off the board (Marshall is now up to 16.1 innings with a 0.00 ERA), the White Sox grabbed the lead in the bottom of the seventh with a Leury Garcia leadoff home run off Adam Ottavino. Kelvin Herrera took over in the eighth inning and received his sixth hold. Aaron Bummer, who has recently moved into an eighth-inning setup role, came in for the save and allowed nothing more than a Clint Frazier single. The save was the first of Bummer’s career.
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Is Zack Greinke Always Safe to Start?

I had some trouble figuring out whether to start Zack Greinke in my Ottoneu league tonight. By the merits of his fantasy stats, it should be an easy call. Greinke is the 10th-ranked starting pitcher in the format, and while his strikeout rate (24.4 percent) is merely decent, he racks up enough innings to compensate for that. With a .309 team wOBA against righties, the Nationals don’t rank as a particularly fearsome matchup, but with Greinke qualifying as a fantasy ace, the Diamondbacks’ opponent probably doesn’t factor into many owners’ decisions.

Yet in a game where the frequency of swinging strikes is critical to a player’s value — whether it’s a pitcher or hitter — it’s hard to ignore Greinke’s downward-trending SwStr%. It fell from 12.4 percent in 2017 to 10.8 percent in 2018, and while he has rebounded from similar drops before, this year it stands at just 9.3 percent. Digging a little deeper, the increase in contact is happening mostly on his pitches outside of the strike zone. Greinke’s 84.7 percent Z-Contact% is 1.3 percentage points above last season’s mark and o.1 percentage point below the major league median. While that’s not especially encouraging, it’s Greinke’s 73.7 percent O-Contact% that is truly concerning. It’s far worse than the median O-Contact% of 62.2 percent and six points higher than his rate from 2018.
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Bullpen Report: June 12, 2019

Blake Treinen captured his 15th save of the season on Tuesday night against the Rays, but he was fortunate to have had a two-run cushion entering the bottom of the ninth inning. In starting off with a four-pitch walk to Brandon Lowe, Treinen followed in his recent trend of not throwing enough strikes. Over his six innings pitched in the month of June, he has issued seven walks while locating in the strike zone at an anemic 31.9 percent rate and throwing first-pitch strikes just 41.4 percent of the time.

The walk came back to hurt Treinen, as Lowe scored on a two-out Willy Adames single to cut the Athletics’ lead to one run. However, he stranded Adames by getting Kevin Kiermaier to ground out for the final out.
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Bullpen Report: June 10, 2019

The back end of the Athletics’ bullpen figured to be a strength coming into this season, but the struggles of Lou Trivino and Blake Treinen continued on Sunday. Trivino’s season had actually been going well until two weeks ago, but it has gone downhill quickly. Heading into Sunday’s game with the Rangers, he had given up nine runs (eight earned) on 10 hits and five walks over his previous 5.2 innings. Trivino had not experienced any notable change in his velocity or pitch mix, but he was suddenly very hittable, getting only six swinging strikes in 115 pitches.

He threw 19 pitches on Sunday without a single swing-and-miss. After retiring Nomar Mazara to start the bottom of the eighth inning, he coughed up four straight hits (two doubles and two singles) and allowed the Rangers to chisel two runs off an 8-3 lead. A third run was charged to Trivino when Rougned Odor stole home with Ryan Buchter pitching, with the lefty having entered the game with two outs and runners on the corners.
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NL Lineup Analysis (6/7/19)

Some weekend IL moves could disturb the tranquility in the Rockies’ and Pirates’ outfields, while the Cubs have already made a notable shift there. Here’s the weekly NL lineup breakdown.

Arizona

Christian Walker has started seven games in a row, so even with Kevin Cron back up from the minors, there is no apparent first base controversy. Cron could fill the DH slot for this weekend’s series in Toronto, and it would not be surprising if he got sent down afterwards.
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Bullpen Report: June 7, 2019

I know we’ve heard this before, but Chris Woodward is saying once again that he is close to returning Jose Leclerc to the Rangers’ closer role. The last time Woodward raised this possibility, Shawn Kelley was on the verge of coming off the IL, and in a surprise move, he put Kelley in a save situation the day he was activated and five days after he had lumps removed from his vocal cords (which turned out to be benign).

Maybe Kelley staved off that seemingly inevitable move by nailing down the Rangers’ 4-3 win over the Orioles on Thursday night. If Leclerc is going to take his old job back, it won’t happen in Friday night’s series opener against the Athletics, as neither he nor Kelley will be available. While there is still a lull in Leclerc’s closer activity, now is the time to add him. He is still available in at least 40 percent of leagues on ESPN, CBS and Yahoo. Over his last 11.2 innings, he has been showing the form that made him one of the top relievers in the second half of 2018, posting a 1.54 ERA, 0.43 WHIP, 57.5 percent K% and 5.0 percent BB%.
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Jason Vargas is Death To Rolling Things

The Giants are not exactly one of the tougher matchups for a pitcher, and especially not for a lefty, as they rank dead last in wOBA against southpaws. Even so, I did not see Jason Vargas tossing a complete-game shutout against them on Wednesday night.

Given the lack of resistance we have come to expect from the Giants’ lineup, that start alone probably would not have made me take notice of Vargas as a fantasy option going forward. Wednesday’s outing in combination with his previous start — a seven-inning, one-run affair on the road against the Dodgers — does give me reason to pause. Looking even further back, Vargas had been effective over a five-start run that was interrupted by an IL stint for a strained hamstring. During that stretch, he posted a 2.74 ERA and a 1.22 WHIP, and though he did not last more than 5.1 innings in any of those starts, he recorded three game scores above 50 and never fell below a 45 game score.
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