Bullpen Report: August 9, 2017

In the aftermath of the Brandon Kintzler trade, the Twins were going to use a committee to close games, but those committee meetings have not been well-attended. Ever since the Twins dealt Kintzler on July 31, Matt Belisle has been the only closer the Twins have called upon (not including Dillon Gee’s four-inning save on Tuesday), and he is the only one they have needed.

Belisle was brought in for the ninth inning against the Brewers on Wednesday and he struck out the side, but with a four-run lead, he was not credited with a save. However, he closed out the series opener against the Brewers on Monday as well as the finale against the Rangers on Sunday. While Taylor Rogers has looked better in his last few outings, Belisle seems to have a firm grip on the job. He has not allowed an earned run since June 24, and since the beginning of June, he has a 1.61 ERA with one home run allowed.

With strikeout rates below 20 percent for each of the last four seasons, Belisle has earned the reputation of being a contact pitcher. Even during his two months-plus hot streak, his K-rate had been just 19.8 percent over the 27 innings he pitched between June 1 and Aug. 8. During that span, Belisle had thrown 73 percent of his pitches for strikes and posted a 20 percent called strike rate and 11 percent swinging strike rate. Those stats coincide with Belisle throwing his curveball more often, and that pitch just happens to be his best for getting whiffs and strikes this season. While that’s not an especially impressive rate of swings-and-misses for a closer, in combination with the called strike rate, it would seem that Belisle may have some modest strikeout potential. Even if he doesn’t make good on that, as long as he can stay in the neighborhood of the 21.8 percent hard contact rate he had posted over his previous 27 innings, he should continue to provide owners with saves.

Glen Perkins could be back sometime next week, but given that he has yet to pitch on back-to-back days in his rehab assignment, he does not appear to be ready to go straight into closer duty upon activation. The biggest threat to Belisle’s status as closer could be the trade value he is building with his strong recent performance. (Thanks to Brandon Warne for making me aware of this possibility.)

Keynan Middleton earned his first career save for the Angels on Tuesday against the Orioles, but before committing your FAAB dollars or waiver priority to him, it’s best to see how this situation plays out over the next few days. Mike Scioscia told the Los Angeles Times he went to Middleton because he was concerned about the recent workloads of Blake Parker and Bud Norris. It’s worth noting that Scioscia used Middleton in the eighth inning on Wednesday with a three-run lead, and after the Angels tacked on a run, he called upon Parker to pitch the ninth, with neither reliever allowing a run. What is clear is that Cam Bedrosian is not a part of the closer situation for now. I have replaced him with Middleton in the grid, and while I have not made this change yet, it looks as if Parker is being groomed to close.

Cody Allen blew his third save of the season on Wednesday, giving up a one-run lead to the Rockies on a Jonathan Lucroy RBI double. Going back to June 24, Allen has a 5.40 ERA over 18 1/3 innings. He has actually been better at avoiding walks and inducing grounders over this stretch, and Lucroy’s double was only the fourth extra-base hit (one home run and three doubles) he has allowed since July 1. Even though Andrew Miller’s recovery from patellar tendinitis is going well, and he could return shortly after becoming eligible on Saturday, there is no reason to think Allen won’t get the bulk of the Indians’ saves from here on out.

It’s also worth noting that Greg Holland did not appear in the Rockies’ 12-inning win. However, Bud Black avoided using Holland only because he had pitched in three of the previous four days, and not because he had blown back-to-back saves. Instead, it was Tyler Chatwood who served as closer in the bottom of the 12th, notching his second career save in just his 11th career relief appearance.

Mark Melancon threw a scoreless inning on Tuesday in his latest rehab appearance for Advanced Class A San Jose, allowing just one hit. According to NBC Sports Bay Area’s Alex Pavlovic, Melancon could be activated this weekend. While it seems like Sam Dyson’s days as the Giants’ closer have been numbered for awhile, with the team having Thursday off, his Wednesday save against the Cubs just might have been his last.

Closer Grid:

Closer First Second DL/Minors
ARI Fernando Rodney Archie Bradley David Hernandez
ATL Arodys Vizcaino Jim Johnson Jose Ramirez
BAL Zach Britton Mychal Givens Brad Brach
BOS Craig Kimbrel Addison Reed Matt Barnes Carson Smith
CHC Wade Davis Justin Wilson Carl Edwards Jr.
CWS Tyler Clippard Gregory Infante Jake Petricka Nate Jones
CIN Raisel Iglesias Michael Lorenzen Drew Storen
CLE Cody Allen Joe Smith Bryan Shaw Andrew Miller
COL Greg Holland Pat Neshek Adam Ottavino
DET Shane Greene Alex Wilson Bruce Rondon
HOU Ken Giles Chris Devenski Luke Gregerson Will Harris
KC Kelvin Herrera Joakim Soria Brandon Maurer
LAA Bud Norris Blake Parker Keynan Middleton Huston Street
LAD Kenley Jansen Tony Watson Pedro Baez
MIA Brad Ziegler Junichi Tazawa Drew Steckenrider Kyle Barraclough
MIL Corey Knebel Anthony Swarzak Jacob Barnes
MIN Matt Belisle Taylor Rogers Trevor Hildenberger Glen Perkins
NYM A.J. Ramos Paul Sewald Jerry Blevins Jeurys Familia
NYY Aroldis Chapman Dellin Betances David Robertson
OAK Blake Treinen Ryan Dull Santiago Casilla
PHI Hector Neris Luis Garcia Jesen Therrien
PIT Felipe Rivero Juan Nicasio Joaquin Benoit
STL Trevor Rosenthal Brett Cecil Seung Hwan Oh
SD Brad Hand Kirby Yates Phil Maton
SF Sam Dyson Hunter Strickland Albert Suarez Mark Melancon
SEA Edwin Diaz Nick Vincent Tony Zych David Phelps
TB Alex Colome Tommy Hunter Steve Cishek
TEX Alex Claudio Jose Leclerc Matt Bush Keone Kela
TOR Roberto Osuna Ryan Tepera Dominic Leone Danny Barnes
WSH Sean Doolittle Ryan Madson Brandon Kintzler Koda Glover

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





Al Melchior has been writing about Fantasy baseball and sim games since 2000, and his work has appeared at CBSSports.com, BaseballHQ, Ron Shandler's Baseball Forecaster and FanRagSports. He has also participated in Tout Wars' mixed auction league since 2013. You can follow Al on Twitter @almelchiorbb and find more of his work at almelchior.com.

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Corkin02
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Corkin02

Fuck Belisle

pedeysRSox
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pedeysRSox

Please refrain from unnecessary foul language.

KobraCola
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KobraCola

I have nothing against Belisle, but why does it matter if we swear in this comment section?

KobraCola
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KobraCola

You can answer me instead of voting me down, you know.