Bullpen Report: June 18th, 2012

• It wasn’t a clean save tonight for Chris Perez as he gave up two hits and a run against the Reds, but he still notched his league leading 22nd save of the year. Chris Perez has an ERA (2.73) that is lower than his peripherals would indicate (3.81 xFIP) but even if he regresses, Perez has a firm grasp on the role in Cleveland which isn’t something I thought I would be saying in the Bullpen Report in March. The man expected to replace Perez, Vinnie Pestano, is  having a great year himself with a strikeout rate of 11.67 K/9 and a solid 3.31 xFIP but unless Perez is traded or injured, Pestano won’t be seeing regular save opportunities any time soon.

•  After a rough few days last week, it’s nice to see John Axford get back on track pitching a perfect ninth inning while striking out a batter tonight for his 12th save of the year against the Blue Jays. Axford’s ERA still looks out of whack at 5.13 and he’s been struggling with walks this year (5.81 BB/9) but he also has the best K/9 of his career (12.65) with a fine 3.31 xFIP. Axford has had more of an issue with sequencing (59.1% LOB%) this year than a decline in skills. Francisco Rodriguez  is next in line for saves but shouldn’t be considered a threat to take over the role, especially after Axford’s last two outings.  Also, K-Rod’s Swinging Strike %  this year (9.1%) is the lowest it’s ever been in his career (12.8%) — he might have the heralded “experienced closer” tag  but K-Rod simply isn’t near the pitcher he used to be.

Brett Myers didn’t have the best of nights this evening giving up five runs on eight hits in only two-thirds of an inning in a non-save situation against the Royals. Surprisingly, the Astros were still able to win the game with Xavier Cedeno closing the door, getting the final out and the first save of his career. One bad outing won’t remove Myers from the closing gig in Houston (hey, he didn’t even blow the save!) but it might affect any trade value he had, which in a weird, twisted way might actually help him to get more saves this year for the Astros. Myers entered the game today with a shiny 1.99 ERA and left with a 3.86 ERA. Wow.  His ERA was a little misleading as his 94.6% LOB% and .194 BABIP weren’t sustainable and tonight’s outing can be seen as a big old case of regression. If Myers is able to put one (horrendously) bad outing behind him he should remain closing games in Houston, but that’s a tough game to put in the rear view mirror.

For those of you who play daily fantasy games like FanGraphs: The Game, or just like to stream players, here is a matchup you may be able to exploit.

A Pitcher for Tomorrow: Mitchell Boggs (STL) at DET

Justin Verlander is the best starting pitcher in baseball right now but Lance Lynn has been quite dominant himself (3.23 xFIP) and this matchup figures to be a close one that may come down to the bullpens if each starter doesn’t finish the game. Mitchell Boggs has had a solid season thus far and pitched a clean eighth inning last night for the hold before Jason Motte blew the save. Boggs doesn’t figure to get a save chance but is fully rested having an off day today could be in line for another hold tonight or even a vulture win.

Closer Grid:

  Closer First Second Injured
Arizona J.J. Putz David Hernandez Bryan Shaw  
Atlanta Craig Kimbrel Jonny Venters Eric O’Flaherty  
Baltimore Jim Johnson Pedro Strop Matt Lindstrom  
Boston Alfredo Aceves Andrew Miller Mark Melancon Andrew Bailey
Chicago (NL) Carlos Marmol James Russell Shawn Camp
Chicago (AL) Addison Reed Hector Santiago Matt Thornton  
Cincy Aroldis Chapman Sean Marshall Jose Arredondo  
Cleveland Chris Perez Vinnie Pestano Tony Sipp  
Colorado Rafael Betancourt Matt Belisle Matt Reynolds  
Detroit Jose Valverde Joaquin Benoit Octavio Dotel  
Houston Brett Myers Wilton Lopez David Carpenter  
KC Jonathan Broxton Greg Holland Aaron Crow  
LAA Ernesto Frieri Scott Downs Jordan Walden  
LAD Kenley Jansen Josh Lindblom Shawn Tolleson  
Miami Heath Bell Steve Cishek Edward Mujica  
Milwaukee John Axford Francisco Rodriguez Jose Veras  
Minnesota Matt Capps Glen Perkins Alex Burnett  
NY (NL) Frank Francisco Bobby Parnell Jon Rauch  
NY (AL) Rafael Soriano David Robertsonn Boone Logan  
Oakland Ryan Cook Brian Fuentes Grant Balfour  
Philly Jonathan Papelbon Antonio Bastardo Chad Qualls  
Pittsburgh Joel Hanrahan Jason Grilli Juan Cruz  
St. Louis Jason Motte Mitchell Boggs Eduardo Sanchez  
SD Huston Street Dale Thayer Luke Gregerson  
SF Santiago Casilla Sergio Romo Javier Lopez  
Seattle Tom Wilhelmsen Brandon League Charlie Furbush  
Tampa Bay Fernando Rodney Joel Peralta J.P. Howell Kyle Farnsworth
Texas Joe Nathan Mike Adams Koji Uehara  
Toronto Casey Janssen Jason Frasor Darren Oliver Sergio Santos
Wash. Tyler Clippard Sean Burnett Henry Rodriguez Drew Storen

[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

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