• I would be lying if I said I expected Fernando Rodney to still be closing in June but here we are with Rodney launching his 18th arrow tonight against the Tigers. For the season Rodney still has a unsightly ERA at 5.11 but his 4.30 SIERA and 3.96/4.49 FIP/xFIP are at least less terrible. At the end of April Rodney had allowed 14 runs in 10 innings pitched, but since then he’s actually thrown 14.2 scoreless innings across 15 appearances. A few bad outings could still cause the Diamondbacks to make a change and they have a few compelling alternatives in Archie Bradley, Andrew Chafin, and J.J. Hoover but Rodney’s leash should be about as strong as a 5+ ERA would allow. I might regret this, but I’m changing this situation to green. God help us all.
• Speaking of closers with disgusting ERAs, Brandon Maurer saved his 12th game tonight. Maurer lowered his ERA all the way to 6.15 but his 2.66/3.34 FIP/xFIP and 3.25 SIERA suggest he’s actually pitching quite well. The Padres made a switch at closer previously with Brad Hand getting a couple of saves a few weeks ago but since then it’s been all Maurer in the ninth. On June 8th Maurer had a bit of a blow up allowing four runs without recording an out in a non-save situation but has remained at closer, showing the Padres won’t just yo-yo their ninth inning duties. Like Rodney, we can assume Maurer’s job is more secure than one would normally think when checking the simple box score stats, but there are other capable options behind him as well. The previously mentioned Brad Hand, who threw a scoreless eighth tonight, is worth rostering in his own right. He has a terrific strike out rate (11.61 K/9) and occasionally goes longer than just the normal one setup inning having put up a hefty 35.2 innings pitched thus far. There are better relievers and others with better rate stats as well but Hand’s innings totals (and thereby total strikeouts) might help more than some sexier options and he’s obviously fairly close to saves if something happens to Maurer. With all of that said, I will keep this situation at yellow as they have already made a change even if temporarily this season away from Maurer.
• Roberto Osuna pitched a perfect frame for his 17th save this evening and he now has a 2.77/1.73/2.42 pitching line with a SIERA under two as well. Among qualified relievers, Osuna’s K% ranks 19th but his BB% is second only to Kenley Jansen who has yet to walk a batter. Put it together and his K%-BB% is the seventh best in baseball. It’s easy to forget that Osuna is still only 22 years old and after only a handful of other insane strikeout artists (Craig Kimbrel, Kenley Jansen, Dellin Betances, etc.) not many closers, if any, are better than Osuna and with his stirkeout rate improving this year he could even join the elite of the elite.
• No save situation for KC tonight but Kelvin Herrera still pitched in the ninth, allowing two hits and a run in the process. Herrera’s ERA seems high at 5.13 but he’s largely been the victim of the home run ball with a 25% HR/FB%, leading to a still respectable 3.35 xFIP and 3.09 SIERA. The AL Central is so bad that Kansas City likely won’t be sellers until later in the summer but if they decide to sell Herrera is assumed to be on the trading block. He might come cheap(er) if his ERA is still high but I expect it to drop closer to his ERA estimators. Whether or not Herrera is closing on his next team is another question, however so I while I like him as a buy low to improve his ERA I wouldn’t invest too much in case he’s relegated to the eighth inning on another team.
[Green light, yellow light, red light: the colors represent the volatility of the bullpen order.]
When he's not focusing on every team's bullpen situation, Ben can be found blogging at Ben's Baseball Bias and on Twitter @BensBias