Stretch run for leagues, so let’s break down some of the questionable bullpens as you push towards that head-to-head or roto crown.
– The entire Houston bullpen has been leading bullpen headlines the last few days. Friday night, Ken Giles had a potentially fantasy-losing outing, giving up 6 earned runs against the Angels. While it is of little solace to owners, the outing wasn’t as terrible as the numbers suggested, with a couple close pitches and a lot of weak contact (aside from a two-run dinger) going against Giles. That said, he definitely wasn’t available Saturday and managed to get in the news anyways thanks to being smoked on the wrist by a liner during BP. With Giles down, the rest of the bullpen perhaps dashed Houston’s slim playoff changes by giving up 9 runs late in the game.
Read the rest of this entry »
A quick bullpen report as many head-to-head guys head into the last week of the semis.
– It appears the end of times may be upon us for Santiago Casilla. The maligned Giants’ stopper had already given up his stranglehold on the closer gig but kept hurting San Francisco’s playoff chances by taking a blown save/loss last night to the Cardinals. Admittedly, he didn’t get a clean inning, as Sergio Romo put a runner on before him, but that didn’t mollify fans. Casilla hasn’t been really that different of a pitcher in 2016 than his last couple seasons (outside of luck-based factors controlling his ERA). That said, relief leverage (especially in September) is a “what have you done for me lately kind of thing?” and Casilla’s ERA over the last month is ~8.00. With no RP pitching exceptionally well in this bullpen, it’s a bit of a dice roll to who is up next. Sergio Romo has the pedigree and a decent ERA over the last month, but he’s walking too many guys. Hunter Strickland is somewhat the opposite — unproven, decent peripherals, but bad performances lately. Derek Law and Will Smith might get the next shot (depending on handedness) but only Bruce Bochy knows. I’d stay away from here unless desperate.
• It’s always fun when non-blockbuster trades are important for the fantasy landscape. In this case, the Angels ‘de facto’ closer, Fernando Salas, was moved to the Mets this evening. Salas now shifts into a setup role and whatever “SV” value he had vanishes. His 4.47/4.50 ERA/xFIP imply that he won’t be of much use in the ratios department, so feel free to drop him if you were using him to scab saves.
– It was Matt Bush, not Sam Dyson or Jeremy Jeffress that earned the save in Texas tonight. Somewhat interesting play — Dyson and Jeffress had only pitched Tuesday (not Monday) but tossed 24 and 19 pitches, respectively. Bush continues his renaissaince as a relief pitcher, lowering his ERA to 2.56 (xFIP to 3.73). He hasn’t been the most lights out stopper (“only” a 22% K% and an 11% SwStr% with a 97mph average fastball) but he’s minimized the free passes and should be a nice option to pick up some holds on a team that wins more than it loses. He’ll crack the grid, but I don’t sense any imminent shakeups here.
• A.J. Ramos had an ugly game. So ugly I’m not even going to make an alibi joke. The righty walked three, gave up a pair of hits, and lost the game after uncorking a wild pitch. The second blown save send his ERA soaring from 2.53 to 3.12 in one shot. The Marlins’ closer continues to own a sexy 30% K% but his DIPS rates are sitting a touch over 4.00, far from elite marks from a guy expected to take the next step. A huge concern is his 14% BB%, which is the worst for any current closer in baseball (Trevor Rosenthal was 16% before his demotion and DL stint). His F-Strike% is right where it was last year and his Zone% is actually up a few ticks, so maybe it’s nothing to worry about (Ramos was never a control artist, anyways), but the free passes seem destined to keep him from being uber-elite in the ninth and I wouldn’t necessarily say no in a keeper league if moving him to a contender could fetch me help in the longer term.
• Guess who got the save for that Nats today? Jonathan Papelbon? Nope. Shawn Kelley? Nope. If you’ve made it down the line to Blake Treinen, you’d be right. It was actually the 28-year-old’s first “SV” of his career, although it’s a nice reward for a guy whose peripherals have been about as steady as they could be out of the pen the last three years. What does this mean for Natstown as a whole? Admittedly, Papelbon was probably getting the night off after blowing his second consecutive save on Tuesday. That said, Dusty Baker noted that a change might be in the offing, especially with Papelbon’s 4.00+ ERA and xFIP and SIERA and… Shawn Kelley could also be an option here, as he actually has the best rates in this pen (39% K%!) and already has some 9th inning outings in 2016. He might have been passed on because he warmed up on Tuesday. I’ll leave the incumbent red right now and the pecking order as it’s been but all three guys should be owned in leagues where saves are scarce.
• A.J. Hinch is saying all sorts of things about a committee in Houston. What we do know is that Will Harris has two saves since Luke Gregerson got yanked, with this one coming against Rangers in polishing off a 3-1 win for Doug Fister. We’ve written quite a bit about the ‘Stros ninth inning situation the last few days in this space, so I don’t need to reiterate Harris’ shiny 2.39 xFIP or that his SIERA over the last 5 years is 2.88. With Gregerson getting at least a breather and Ken Giles still not getting a chance to redeem his loss from Monday, Harris jumps to the front of the line in this pen. Worth noting that flamethrower Michael Feliz was used in the 7th inning today (no punchouts, surpisingly). While he’s an interesting arm, the team doesn’t seem to be using him in a fashion to get him on the grid yet.
• It’s the first day of June and Brad Boxberger is headed back to where he spent the first couple of months. After only one appearance, Boxy is headed back to the disabled list with an oblique strain. Early estimates are 4-8 weeks, so feel free to stash him if you have a DL slot, but he’s certainly not must-own unless you feel that 1-2 saves will be the difference in September. The only thing that has kept this bullpen from being Alex Colome’s lock-down special was Boxberger’s impending return (and some vague commentary about him not getting Wally Pipp‘d), so I flipped it to green. Colome has a 1.67 SIERA (which neatly matches his 1.23 ERA) and put together a better May than an already excellent April. One minor concern is a slight recent downtick in velocity, but it hasn’t seemed to hurt anything.
• Ben covered the Twins bullpen in fair detail last night, but we got to see them operated with one of those “lead” things today. Kevin Jepsen actually looked mildly competent in locking down save number four, tossing a clean inning working around a hit (striking out one). Of additional relevance is that the team moved Glen Perkins to the 60-day DL earlier in response to his latest setback (although this was somewhat procedural given that he wasn’t coming off the DL soon). As Ben pointed out, Jepsen remains the guy to own here but let’s not pretend his peripherals are good. While Paul Moliter confirmed what we’ve all seen (that guys like Fernando Abad will start seeing high-leverage innings), I’m not ready to sell all my shares of Trevor May yet. Yes, the 5.56 ERA is ugly, but the 15% SwStr% (top 25 in baseball) and 30% K% are elite. The walk rate remains below 10% and the SIERA sits at 2.86. Yeah, part of that .373 BABIP is the 37% Hard%, but the stuff is too good for him to be this bad going forward. He’s backed up in this pen based on his performance to date, but if there’s one guy you can buy here who possesses the biggest upside as a fantasy option in the second half, it’s May. I scooped him up dirt cheap in all my deep leagues.
• The Shawn Tolleson ride is over (at least, for now). One night after giving up a walk-off granny to Khris Davis, the Rangers righty was relieved of his ninth inning duties. He hasn’t been quite as bad as the 9+ ERA would indicate (.351 BABIP with a near-career norm LD%), but the walks are up and the whiffs are (way) down. Neither are a good combination. Unfortunately for Tolleson, this may not be a temporary demotion, either. Sam Dyson takes over the gig and has one of the most lethal sinkers in the game. He also has seen a drop in K% in 2016 but you can get away with that when you are getting groundballs on 70% of those put in play against you. Obviously Dyson is a must-own across the board, although he was likely gone in the majority of leagues where saves are at a premium long ago. If you’re a Tolleson owner — first, sorry — but I’d try and spin him as a “just-taking-a-break-closer” to a less suspecting owner — I don’t think he’s getting the saves back anytime soon.