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Bullpen Report: April 18, 2019

• Atlanta, we have a bullpen problem. We received word yesterday that Arodys Vizcaino is having season ending surgery on his shoulder so with him out of the picture for good, the Braves bullpen is reliant on the names we have been talking about all week – A.J. Minter, Chad Sobotka, Jesse Biddle, Dan Winkler, Shane Carle, and Wes Parsons. Al went over their situation yesterday and nothing has really changed besides the fact that Jesse Biddle struggled last night in extra innings walking three batters and taking the L. While Vizcaino’s season ending injury and the struggles across the Braves bullpen makes Minter the obvious saves candidate, as Al mentioned in great detail, he hasn’t been effective. Minter threw a scoreless inning last night but also allowed two hits generating 3 whiffs on 17 pitches. His velocity still isn’t at his previous levels and while nobody is barking up the Braves tree right now, something could change…

Craig Kimbrel is still lurking as a free agent and given the Braves bullpen struggles this would be a perfect fit. The Brewers have been most attached to Kimbrel although the Braves are “monitoring” the situation. Kimbrel to Atlanta makes a ton of sense but expecting the Braves to spend money here given their recent histories doesn’t make as much sense. If the Braves pass on Kimbrel the other options aren’t that attractive, which is good for Minter owners but bad for Braves fans. One possible down-the-road option could be  one or two members of the Braves bevvy of pitching talent moving to the bullpen and succeeding. Touki Touissant is now in the rotation but if someone like him moved to the pen it might not be long until they’re pitching in the 9th inning.

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Bullpen Report: April 14, 2019

UPDATE: Right after publishing, Arodys Vizcaino was placed on the IL with shoulder information. Vizcaino’s shoulder issues were documented throughout the early going of the season but he seemed to be OK. Clearly that’s not necessarily the case with Vizcaino now on the IL. We don’t know how long Vizcaino will be on the shelf for, whether it’s rest or something larger. In his place, A.J. Minter is the clear first option with Chad Sobotka, Jesse Biddle, Wes Parsons and really everyone else in the back of the Braves pen behind them.

• After using Ian Kennedy to preserve the win on Friday the Royals turned to Wily Perlata in the 9th last night for the save, his first of the year. Ian Kennedy threw a perfect 8th inning with two strikeouts setting up Peralta and this remains a no doubt committee. It’s hard to tell who the favored option is on any given day with Brad Boxberger in the mix as along with Jake Diekman as a lefty also throwing high leverage innings. Ian Kennedy was used in the 6th and 7th innings on 4/10  but since then he’s been used in the 9th and 8th innings in back-to-back appearances. Brad Boxberger has the most traditional closer stuff and background but he’s allowed three runs in his last two appearances, and overall hasn’t been particularly effective. We still have him atop the grid given his background but he’s code red with Kennedy and Peralta right behind. Kennedy’s ability to be used for longer outings might preclude him from being a typical late inning option but he’s been the best reliever in their pen so far and at some point the cream will rise to the top, or the closer role in this case.

• When it feels like everyone is using a committee, it can be nice to see one situation possibly be breaking free, which brings us to Minnesota. Blake Parker got his third save in the 9th, with Taylor Rogers setting him up in the 8th. Earlier this season it seemed like Rogers was in the middle of a committee but he hasn’t seen a save opportunity since the start of the year and Parker might be cementing himself as the main guy to own here, at least for now. I can’t fully shed the committee label yet, since Parker’s last appearance was in the 7th and 8th innings. Once the Twins string a few save opportunities in a row we should have a better idea if the committee is still in play. Additionally, it’s worth noting that Parker has a poor 3/3 K/BB in his five innings this year, where one poor appearance can throw him behind Rogers and Trevor May in the pecking order. For now I would bet on Parker receiving the next saves but this situation could change fairly rapidly even as it seems like it’s calcifying.

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Bullpen Report: April 11, 2019

• No save for Jose Leclerc who was ineffective in allowing a hit and a walk while only getting one out in the 9th. Kyle Bird relieved him to get the last two outs and his 1st save of the year. Al mentioned Leclerc’s struggles yesterday and we should consider this a situation worth monitoring early on. Saves are hard to come by and if something is up with Leclerc, look for Chris Martin and Shawn Kelley to get some saves. It’s still very early and the Rangers are committed to Leclerc ($14.75M worth) but it’s certainly a concerning start.

• In ’s prospect notes yesterday, he noted how Jeremy Jeffress gave up four hits in his rehab appearance and was sitting at 87-91 while touching 92. If he’s going to be effective, he will need to show improvement on the velo as he was at 95 mph last year. Josh Hader owners should be monitoring this closely. If Jeffress is back to his normal velo he could be getting lower leverage saves for the Brewers but if his injury lingers, it will still be Hader time, at least until they look for a bullpen upgrade in the summer. Read the rest of this entry »

Bullpen Report: April 7, 2019

Apologies for a brief and belated Bullpen Report but let’s jump right into Saturday’s games…

Taylor Rogers pitched in the 8th inning last night with the top of the Phillies lineup up, and no real platoon split to speak of. Although he wasn’t particularly sharp he threw a scoreless inning handing it off to Parker in the 9th. The Twins put the game out of a saves reach in the top half of the inning so there was no save situation for Parker. While this situation was being used as a fairly strict platoon it looks like Rogers 8th and Parker in the 9th might be calcifying somewhat. I’ll keep the committee tag for now but Parker is affirming himself ahead for now.

• No save situation for the Royals last night but that was due to the pen blowing the lead before the 9th. Wily Peralta pitched in the 7th to clean up Kevin McCarthy’s mess but he wasn’t particularly effective himself and now carries a 15.00 ERA with only two strikeouts and four walks in three innings pitched this year. Brad Boxberger and Jake Diekman might be ahead of him in the committee at this point. Additionally, although Ian Kennedy has not been special this year, just exhibiting competence might be enough to run with this job at some point. I would bet on Kennedy’s end of season save total over the others in the Royals pen but I also don’t envision that number being particularly high or with ratios that help a team.

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Bullpen Report: April 4, 2019

• Although Jose Alvarado might have a 99 mph screwball he’s not quite the full time closer on the Rays. Last night Alvarado came in 8th inning in a tie game, striking out the side ending with lefty Charlie Blackmon. In the 9th, Diego Castillo came on to face David Dahl, Nolan Arenado, and Trevor Story. This wasn’t quite an obvious lefty/righty situation but Castillo was in there to face the tough right handed hitters on the Rockies. In my first Bullpen Report I suggested that Alvarado was inching towards being the main closer but that certainly doesn’t seem to be the case anymore. Both Alvarado and Castillo are worth owning, almost regardless of if they are receiving saves, but this is a committee situation for the time being.

• Whether or not David Robertson would be used as a traditional closer to reign in Gabe Kapler or not, the Phillies expected better results than he’s providing right now. Robertson entered the game in the 9th with the game tied and proceeded to go single, walk, walk before walking in the winning run. In three appearances this year Robertson has five walks with only one strikeout. It’s definitely still early and there are no velocity concerns but Seranthony Dominguez, who wasn’t effective either blowing the lead in the 8th, could see some more save situations than expected if Robertson doesn’t get on track soon.

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Bullpen Report: March 31, 2019

• Due to a right lat strain, the Seattle Mariners placed closer Hunter Strickland on the Injured List. With Strickland out the Mariners closer job is now up for grabs with manager Scott Servais saying “it could be Zac Rosscup one night, it could be Elias, it could be Gearrin or Festa or Rumbelow. Go down the list. We’re looking for somebody to get us three outs.” This certainly sounds like a committee in the making and we have adjusted the grid accordingly. Right now we have Cory Gearrin leading the list but it’s really anyone’s guess on a given night. Yesterday Rosscup started the 9th inning but was unable to finish with Nick Rumbelow coming on to get the final out and his first save.

It might be worth placing a claim on Gearrin for a couple of saves, although I wouldn’t recommend investing much. Of more interest is Anthony Swarzak who should be returning this week from a shoulder injury. Acquired from the Mets in the big Robinson Cano trade this offseason, Swarzak is both the best and most expensive option in the Mariners pen and I would bet on him floating to the top of the committee over all the other names listed.

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Bullpen Report: September 26, 2018

• There aren’t many big closer changes this far into the season but it looks like the Braves are going to go with Arodys Vizcaino as the primary closer moving forward in Atlanta. With Vizcaino returning from injury and the calendar already pushing October, I figured the Braves wouldn’t make a full change like this, but Vizcaino has pitched quite well and the committee is now over. With Vizcaino in the top chair, look for A.J. MinterChad Sobotka to be the primary set up men with Brad Brach, Dan Winkler and others behind them.

• Earlier in the year, Trevor Hildenberger looked like a sneaky future saves option in Minnesota. While he’s reached the promised land of the 9th, he hasn’t been a particularly good option and after last night’s 4 run blow up, Hildenberger now supports a 5.25 ERA, 4.53 FIP, and more promising 3.68 SIERA. Paul Molitor will now move to a committee with the bullpen and we expect Taylor Rogers or Trevor May to receive the next save opportunity. It’s possible Hildenberger gets another opportunity before the season is over, and we don’t know what 2019 will bring, but Rogers (2.73 ERA/2.35 FIP) and May (3.43 ERA/3.41 FIP) have been better and will likely lead the committee in the last week.

Jace Fry is slated to start a bullpen game for the White Sox which doesn’t necessarily take him out of the committee in Chicago as he’s not likely to throw more than an inning or two, but it does take him out of a potential save today. If you have him in your daily lineup for saves, I suggest you replace him with someone else today.

• Even though Mike Scioscia is stepping down as the Angles manager, he still finds time in the last week to make some last minute bullpen changes. Ty Buttrey had blown his last two save opportunities and last night Scioscia called on Hansel Robles for the save with Blake Parker pitching in the 8th.  Buttrey could have been unavailable having pitched in two of the last three games so we won’t make a change to the grid as he’s likely given a longer leash with “closer of the future” potential for the Angels. By keeping Parker in the 8th, the Angels could also be dictating this is the order moving forward, with Buttrey just getting a day off and Robles coming in to not upset the order. However, with all of that said, if Buttrey blows a third opportunity in a row, the Angels may not look to go back to him for the 9th in the season’s last days, even if he enters 2019 as the leading saves candidate.

Bullpen Report: September 11, 2018

• Due to Brad Boxberger’s recent struggles, the Diamondbacks are going to the most hated word in fantasy baseball – a committee, with Boxberger out. While it’s possible that Boxberger can string together a solid run and get back into the mix, we are going to take him off of the grid for now. In his place I would expect a combination of Andrew Chafin, Archie Bradley, Yoshihisa Hirano, Jake Diekman, and Brad Ziegler to see the ninth. It’s not that helpful to list off 5 names in a committee but that’s why it’s such a pain in our butts. Archie Bradley was always the presumptive favorite but he’s been terrible of late and unless the Diamondbacks want to give him a chance to prove himself in the middle of a playoff race, I’d expect them to mix and match with the other guys. For the first stab I’m putting Hirano, Diekman and Chafin on the list. Hirano is a righty so I’m guessing he could see more than the rest of the committee but with multiple lefty options in Diekman and Chafin it’s possible they see more saves, along with Brad Ziegler who just won’t go away!

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Bullpen Report: September 4, 2018

Hoping that everyone had a lovely Labor Day, here’s what went on with the bullpens on Monday…

Bud Norris is currently struggling and although Jordan Hicks hasn’t been lights out, Norris may not be receiving consistent saves. I don’t want to overdo the alarm but Norris had a very poor Labor Day Weekend. On SAturday Norris received the L giving up 3 earned and 4 baserunners and yesterday he blew the save giving up 2 earned runs and allowing 4 baserunners while only getting two outs in the 9th.  On the year, Norris’ 3.86 FIP and 3.02 SIERA look good enough but with the Cardinals in a playoff race, he might not be their current best option. Additionally, with Norris on a one-year contract in St. Louis they aren’t beholden to him for future years. Cardinals manager Mike Shildt didn’t give Norris a resounding vote of confidence,  and I would bet that Jordan Hicks or a make-shift committee will see the next save opportunity in St. Louis. Without word from Shildt, we will keep Norris on top here, but note he is very red, with Hicks and Daniel Hudson currently behind him.

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Bullpen Report: August 28, 2018

• Mildly interesting night in Chicago in the 9th inning for the Cubs. The last third of the game started as usual with Steve Cishek handling the 7th and Carl Edwards pitching in the 8th with the ball being handed to Strop for the final frame.  In the 9th, Strop walked Jose Bautista to start the inning, got Jose Reyes on a force out and then gave up a single to Kevin Plawecki. With two on and one out, Joe Maddon called on Justin Wilson to face the lefty Jay Bruce. Wilson couldn’t get Bruce out and exited the game with bases loaded and still just one out. New-ish Cub Jesse Chavez then came on and struck out Amed Rosario and Austin Jackson for his 3rd save of the year. While Pedro Strop wasn’t given the opportunity to clean up his mess, I believe he’s still very much the Cubs closer. However, we can’t be surprised to see Joe Maddon give anyone the quick hook if he feels someone else gives him the best option. Strop’s done a great job and Morrow doesn’t look likely to return right away so I would still bet on his saves total being the highest from here on out over anyone in Chicago, even if Justin Wilson or Jesse Chavez gets a rogue chance. Note that I didn’t include Brandon Kintzler in that grouping and took him off the grid as he’s been quite abysmal in Chicago. He might play his well into higher leverage set up innings but he’s not sniffing the 9th.

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