Bullpen Report: April 17, 2014

Jonathan Papelbon notched his 4th save of the young season on 14 pitches as the Phillies clipped the Braves 1-0. Pap induced a fly ball to center field off the bat of Braves’ first baseman Freddie Freeman, then fanned both Justin Upton and Chris Johnson to finish off Atlanta in the top half of the ninth.

But the fun didn’t start until the game was actually over. Apparently Papelbon was questioned about the continued dip in velocity after the game, which didn’t exactly sit well the veteran right-hander. According to Michael Lombardo, here’s how Papelbon responded:

“Why do you guys care about velo[city] so much, man?” Papelbon said. “Does that matter? Does that really matter? Do you really think that matters? I don’t understand that. If a ball has life on it at the plate and you’re throwing 88 miles per hour versus 98 miles per hour, it doesn’t make one damn bit of difference whether you threw 93 or 94 or 84.

“I just … I don’t get it, man. You all killed Roy [Halladay] about velo[city]. It’s not a big deal. You do your job and your ball’s coming out of your hand, it doesn’t really matter how hard you’re throwing. I mean, their pitcher over there today, how hard was he throwing? Low ’90’s? High ’80’s? Look how he pitched. He ran through our lineup the first eight innings basically, but he had life at the plate. That’s all that really matters, man. End of story.”

Pretty funny, to me at least. Seems like he’s a bit defensive. Maybe he’s hiding something, like an injury? I’m not exactly sure, but Mike Petriello suggests that Papelbon’s “Issues Go Way Beyond Declining Velocity.” (Read that article next, if you haven’t already)

At any rate, the Phillies’ ninth-inning man is now 4-of-5 on the season in save situations. He sports a 4.26 ERA (3.79 xFIP) and upped his strikeout rate to 25.9% after tonight’s effort. He’s converting saves for the time being, but the velocity is a concern. I’d be putting his name on the block to see what offers come in or take a look at this trade chart I’ve created to search for potential trade targets.

-Speaking of a dip in velocity, Joe Nathan picked up his second save of the season today against the Indians in the Motor City. Nathan needed 18 pitches to induce a foul out, strikeout and pop out off the bats of Mike Aviles, Carlos Santana and Michael Brantley respectively to seal the 7-5 victory. Nathan’s velocity appears to be down a tick or more on each of his offerings through six appearances, which is likely the culprit for the dip in whiffs — 8.1% SwStr% entering Thursday versus a career 12.9% mark — and strikeouts (11.5% K% entering Thursday).

Casey Janssen’s road to recovery hit a snag today, as the rehabbing right-hander experienced some “lingering tightness” in his lower back resulting in the Blue Jays shutting him down for the time being. John Gibbons felt this was more of a “discomfort versus a setback” for Janssen, but the Jays suggested the closer take a few days off anyway. With no time table for a return, the Blue Jays will continue to lean on Sergio Santos in closing situations. Well, that was the plan until Santos imploded this evening. The Jays called on Santos to relieve Steve Delabar and stop the bleeding in the bottom of the eighth, but instead, surrendered three earned runs on three walks and three wild pitches without recording an out. Heck, I’m not even mad, that’s amazing. Santos is now 4-of-5 in save chances on the year with an 8.44 ERA. Lets hope the setback for Janssen doesn’t last so long.

Quick Hits:

Koji Uehara returned to the bump tonight and earned his third save on the season. He surrendered one hit and struck out one on 13 pitches.

LaTroy Hawkins (4), Kenley Jansen (5) and Joakim Soria (2) also earned saves today.

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Closer Grid:

Closer First Second DL/Minors
Arizona Addison Reed J.J. Putz Brad Ziegler
Atlanta Craig Kimbrel David Carpenter Jordan Walden
Baltimore Tommy Hunter Darren O’Day Ryan Webb
Boston Koji Uehara Edward Mujica Junichi Tazawa
CHI (NL) Pedro Strop Hector Rondon Jose Veras Kyuji Fujikawa
CHI (AL) Matt Lindstrom Daniel Webb Ronald Belisario Nate Jones
Cincy Johnathan Broxton Sam LeCure J.J. Hoover Aroldis Chapman
Cleveland John Axford Cody Allen Bryan Shaw
Colorado LaTroy Hawkins Rex Brothers Matt Belisle
Detroit Joe Nathan Al Alburquerque Joba Chamberlain
Houston Josh Fields Chad Qualls Matt Albers Jesse Crain
KC Greg Holland Wade Davis Aaron Crow
LAA Ernesto Frieri Joe Smith Kevin Jepsen Dane de la Rosa
LAD Kenley Jansen Chris Perez Brian Wilson
Miami Steve Cishek A.J. Ramos Mike Dunn
Milwaukee Francisco Rodriguez Jim Henderson Will Smith Brandon Kintzler
Minnesota Glen Perkins Jared Burton Casey Fien
NY (NL) Jose Valverde Kyle Farnsworth Gonzalez Germen Bobby Parnell
NY (AL) Shawn Kelley Adam Warren Dellin Betances David Robertson
Oakland Luke Gregerson Sean Doolittle Jim Johnson
Philly Jonathan Papelbon Antonio Bastardo Mike Adams
Pittsburgh Jason Grilli Mark Melancon Tony Watson
St. Louis Trevor Rosenthal Carlos Martinez Kevin Siegrist Jason Motte
SD Huston Street Joaquin Benoit Alex Torres
SF Sergio Romo Santiago Casilla Jeremy Affeldt
Seattle Fernando Rodney Danny Farquhar Tom Wilhelmsen
TB Grant Balfour Heath Bell Joel Peralta
Texas Joakim Soria Alexi Ogando Jason Frasor Neftali Feliz
Toronto Sergio Santos Steve Delabar Brett Cecil Casey Janssen
Wash. Rafael Soriano Tyler Clippard Drew Storen

[Green light, yellow light, red light: the colors represent the volatility of the bullpen order.]

In addition to contributing to the RotoGraphs blog, you can find Alan at his own site, TheFantasyFix.com and follow his nonsense on Twitter @TheFantasyFix.

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I don’t get it, man. You all killed Roy [Halladay] about velo[city]. It’s not a big deal.

The media “killed Roy” about his velocity when he dropped a couple of ticks and his ERA suddenly doubled. It was a huge deal.


And it was evidence of the shoulder injury that ended his career. Papelboner is clueless.