Over the last 30 days, one of the top two relievers in Roto value (per ESPN’s Player Rater) is not even a regular closer. Tying Felipe Vazquez for top honors is Lou Trivino. Incredibly, he ranks one spot ahead of Blake Treinen — the pitcher he normally sets up for.
Trivino built on his strong string of performances on Thursday, filling in for Treinen (who threw a combined 37 pitches on Monday and Tuesday) in a save situation against the Astros. The rookie responded with a 1-2-3 inning, preserving the Athletics’ 6-4 win for his fourth save of the season and his third in the last 16 days.
The occasional save is not hurting Trivino’s value, but he has built it largely on his 4-0 record, 0.54 ERA and 0.48 WHIP over the past month. Trivino is also a fine strikeout pitcher, with 20 strikeouts over the 16.2-inning span, but it’s been his wins and prevention of runs and baserunners that has set him apart. We certainly can’t expect Trivino to average four wins per month going forward, but there is something to his stinginess with baserunners. Over the course of the season, he has compiled a .213 BABIP, and it’s not as unsustainable as it might seem. Among the 219 pitchers who have induced at least 50 ground balls, Trivino’s grounder pull rate of 70.0 percent is the fourth-highest. He also gets a lot of low-quality ground ball contact. According to xStats.org, he has a 36.5 percent dribbler rate, which is almost 12 percentage points above the major league average.
When opponents put the ball on the ground against Trivino, they are batting just .120. Better still, he has yet to allow an extra-base hit off his cutter or sinker, both of which are good ground ball pitches. As long as he keeps this up, Trivino will have value for owners in Roto leagues, even without many wins or saves.
Though Kelvin Herrera was expected to be the Nationals’ closer in the absence of Sean Doolittle (foot), it was Ryan Madson who picked up the first save since the team’s incumbent closer went on the DL. Herrera was brought in for the eighth inning with the Nationals leading the Mets, 5-3, but he was replaced by Madson for the final frame. While those of us watching may have been perplexed, Herrera knew what was coming. Davey Martinez had informed him before the game that he would be used for the top of the Mets’ batting order, even if they came up prior to the ninth inning. Herrera started off well enough, retiring Brandon Nimmo, but he gave up a solo homer to Asdrubal Cabrera and walked Jose Bautista and Michael Conforto. That was the extent of the damage allowed by Herrera, and then Madson set down the bottom third of the Mets’ lineup in order.
Herrera has been locating in the strike zone more frequently as a National than as a Royal, and yet his walk rate has exploded. After walking two batters over 25.2 innings with Kansas City, Herrera has already issued six walks in just 9.2 innings with Washington. His post-trade O-Swing% of 32.6 percent is still good, but it’s a far cry from his 40.5 percent mark with the Royals.
As for Madson, he has now pitched a pair of scoreless innings after a four-run debacle against the Marlins on July 8. It feels premature to call this situation a committee just yet, so for now, Herrera has the closer’s seat to himself in the grid below.
In Wednesday’s edition of the Bullpen Report, Greg Jewett suggested that we could do a regular segment called “As the Phillies’ Bullpen Turns.” He’s not wrong. After Victor Arano had picked up each of the last three saves for the Phillies, Seranthony Dominguez returned to the closer’s role on Thursday night, preserving a 5-4 lead against the Orioles. Arano, who had made three appearances over the previous three days — including pitching in both games of a doubleheader — sat this one out.
Aroldis Chapman, who is dealing with knee tendinitis, made his first appearance in five days, and it was a successful one. He pitched a perfect ninth inning to secure a 7-4 win over the Indians on Thursday night. The Yankees’ relief corps was sharp in general, as Adam Warren, David Robertson and Dellin Betances combined to hold the Indians scoreless through the sixth, seventh and eighth innings.
Quick hits: The Tigers will activate Shane Greene (shoulder) prior to Friday night’s game at Houston. He is expected to take the closer’s role back from Joe Jimenez, though Jimenez could re-emerge in the role if Greene gets traded…For the second night in a row, Dylan Floro pitched the eighth inning for the Dodgers against the Padres, setting up a Kenley Jansen save. In both outings, Floro was perfect, getting two strikeouts in each game…Matt Strahm pitched 1.1 innings of scoreless relief for the Padres on Thursday night, notching three strikeouts in the process. Over his last 19.1 innings, Strahm has 27 strikeouts and only three walks to go with a 2.33 ERA.
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.