Bullpen Report: July 22, 2015

• While it continues to be a committee in Chicago, it appears Jason Motte is top dog in the Cubbie bullpen at the present. The former Cardinal stopper racked up another save today, notching number six with a pair of punchouts. Motte appears to be almost back to full strength after Tommy John surgery a few years ago, with his fastball velocity only a mph off where it was in 2012 (before he went under the knife). The renewed velocity hasn’t led to a huge strikeout jump, however, with the righty currently owning what would be a career-worst 15% mark. His SwStr% rate is also down, but he is continuing to get good linear weights on the fastball, so it’s unclear whether his stuff is flat or he’s just inducing weak contact (his Hard% is his lowest since 2011). Regardless, the low strikeout rate is helping keep his xFIP at a mediocre 4.61, so while he has value right now because he’s getting the opportunities, the possibility of regression exists. Hector Rondon got the “W” today and still owns a sexy 1.93/2.82 SIERA combination, so I’d cuff Motte with him in all leagues where Rondon has been dropped. Additionally, Rafael Soriano is now in the mix, but with peripherals only marginally better than Motte’s over the last few years, he’s less appetizing to me (besides the whole proven closer(TM) thing, I guess).

• The whole reason Motte was able to polish off a SV was because flamethrowing Aroldis Chapman gave up a run trying to protect a tie game at home. The Cuban lefty continues to have some mildly alarming issues with the free passes this year, offering another pair today, which brings his season BB% to a cringe-worthy 13% (well, Carlos Marmol isn’t cringing). Luckily, Chapman can cover up control warts with heat — surely a surprising revelation to even the most devoted followers of the Bullpen Report. With the Reds possibly going into full-on fire sale mode, Chapman may end up on the block, although it seems there is some front office motivation to keeping him around through at least the offseason. The good news for fantasy owners? Unless Chapman is going to the Dodgers (note: anyone to the Dodgers is always a possibility), he’ll likely maintain a ninth-inning gig.

• Speaking of trade candidates, Jonathan Papelbon tossed a pair of scoreless innings today, eventually picking up a win as the Phillies scratched a run across against Brad Boxberger in the tenth. The righty’s 1.63 ERA continues to outperform his FIP, something that Papelbon has done every year since he arrived in Philadelphia. He seems to have somewhat arrested his velocity decline of the last few years, which is good news for him and his current team, which would love to ship him out of town. A sticking point appears to be Papelbon’s vesting option, which stipulates that he gets another $13 million next year if he finishes 48 games. If a team trades for the former Red Sox farmhand to be their closer, the option almost certainly vests, and they are paying Papelbon mid-tier starter money regardless of how they feel about another year on that arm. Conversely, if a team trades for him to act in a setup role, you can surmise that complaints may be lodged. While it seems likely that he’ll be somewhere else come August 1st, I don’t think it’s a certainty — after all, we’ve heard how Amaro and Co. have wanted to trade their closer before, and, well, he’s still there. Ken Giles is a nice own through the deadline as a speculative add, though. He should help in rates and strikeouts, too.

• Quick hits: John Axford did not pitch well in a non-save situation. He’s actually been pretty good this year (even if his K% is down), but he hasn’t been elite enough that I do not fear a meltdown. Kenley Jansen, Cody Allen, and Drew Storen all added to their save totals. Our midseason RP rankings should be out in the next day or two, but — spoiler alert — I have all three in the top 10. Andrew Miller and Shawn Tolleson also joined the “SV” club. Miller continues to post elite peripherals, but I can’t rid myself of the nagging feeling that the Yankees may try and get Chapman or Craig Kimbrel for the ninth. Tolleson hasn’t been quite as sharp lately, but still owns a sub-3.00 SIERA, so I’d keep riding the wave unless someone else massively overvalues him. The Blue Jays signed deposed Tiger Joba Chamberlain to a minor league deal. He hasn’t been great this year (and has given up a few too many long balls), but it wouldn’t shock me to see him get some high-leverage innings by September. Feel free to speculate in very deep leagues where you may need hold help (and have a minor league slot).

Closer Grid:

Closer First Second DL/Minors
Arizona Brad Ziegler Daniel Hudson David Hernandez Addison Reed
Atlanta Jim Johnson Arodys Vizcaino David Aardsma Jason Grilli
Baltimore Zach Britton Darren O’Day Tommy Hunter
Boston Koji Uehara Junichi Tazawa Alexi Ogando
CHI (NL) Jason Motte Hector Rondon Rafael Soriano
CHI (AL) David Robertson Jacob Petricka Zach Putnam
Cincy Aroldis Chapman J.J. Hoover Ryan Mattheus
Cleveland Cody Allen Bryan Shaw Zach McAllister
Colorado John Axford LaTroy Hawkins Boone Logan
Detroit Joakim Soria Al Albuerquerque Neftali Feliz Joe Nathan
Houston Luke Gregerson Pat Neshek Chad Qualls
KC Greg Holland Wade Davis Kelvin Herrera
LAA Huston Street Joe Smith Fernando Salas
LAD Kenley Jansen Pedro Baez Juan Nicasio Yimi Garcia
Miami A.J. Ramos Carter Capps Steve Cishek
Milwaukee Francisco Rodriguez Jeremy Jeffress Will Smith
Minnesota Glen Perkins Blaine Boyer Casey Fien
NY (NL) Jeurys Familia Bobby Parnell Carlos Torres
NY (AL) Andrew Miller Dellin Betances Justin Wilson
Oakland Tyler Clippard Edward Mujica Drew Pomeranz Sean Doolittle
Philly Jonathan Papelbon Ken Giles Luis Garcia
Pittsburgh Mark Melancon Tony Watson Jared Hughes
St. Louis Trevor Rosenthal Kevin Siegrist Seth Maness Jordan Walden
SD Craig Kimbrel Joaquin Benoit Brendan Maurer
SF Santiago Casilla Sergio Romo Hunter Strickland
Seattle Carson Smith Fernando Rodney Mark Lowe
TB Brad Boxberger Jake McGee Kevin Jepsen
Texas Shawn Tolleson Tanner Scheppers Keone Kela
Toronto Roberto Osuna Steve Delabar Brett Cecil Miguel Castro
Wash. Drew Storen Casey Janssen Aaron Barrett

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

There are few things Colin loves more in life than a pitcher with a single-digit BB%. Find him on Twitter @soxczar.

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“With the Reds possibly going into full-on fire sale mode, Chapman may end up on the block, although it seems their is some front office motivation to keeping him around through at least the offseason.”
I’m sure it’s just a typo, but “their” should be “there”.

Jackie T.
Jackie T.

Thank goodness you caught that.


Jeez, sorry for correcting a minor typo, everyone. My bad…