Bullpen Report: June 25, 2014

• Sometimes, I feel all I do is write about Mike Scioscia and his managerial whims. See, there’s a reason I don’t cede to admonishment for being “too low” on Ernesto Frieri in our consensus ranks. Late last night, the Angels manager said that Joe Smith is in, Frieri is out. For now. Smith has the much better ERA but only slightly better peripherals. Frieri has been toasted by the homer this season, with over 20% of his fly balls leaving the yard. Interestingly, the hard-throwing righty’s problem has traditionally been the walks but he’s (so far) shaved his BB% in half. For those who may point to Smith’s 2.19 SIERA and wonder, “why isn’t he just the guy?”, his low arm slot keeps him effective against right-handers, but causes him to get ripped by lefties to the tune of a .323 wOBA against. Not matchup-independent material. Of course, we said the same thing about Steve Cishek, and he seems to have figured out how to get everyone out. So what do we know? Smith is the guy to own right now, but that will almost certainly change before the season is out. Keep Frieri rostered in all leagues of sufficient depth, although feel free to bench him if you want to protect your rates.

• Speaking of Cishek, he notched save number 18 in 2014, striking out the side in the process. For all the “success” you could argue I’ve had underranking Frieri the last couple years, I may have that skill offset by my general “eh” regarding Cishek’s numbers. While the sidearming righty has traditionally had serious platoon split problems, making him susceptible to lefty pinch hitters, he has alleviated many of those concerns this season. If anything, Cishek’s .220 wOBA versus LHB shows he’s been death to opposite handers this season, thanks in large part to a changeup that he only throws to left-handed hitters. The pitch may only get whiffs 12% of the time he throws it, but with opposite horizontal run to the similarly-fast slider and a large velocity delta between his bread-and-butter sinker, it is clearly an effective weapon in keeping hitters off balance. With each outing, Cishek climbs the ladder towards to top tier of major league closers.

Kenley Jansen had gotten the call four of the last five days so Don Mattingly needed a fill-in tonight and Brian Wilson was tabbed to “come on down!” The bearded righty danced around a ninth inning hit to rack up his first save of the season, protecting a 5-4 lead against Kansas City. The bad news? Even after today, Wilson’s xFIP is an ugly 4.61. The good news? He’s gotten better each month, with his 3.82 (xFIP) June mark set to further improve after tonight’s outing. A large portion of his gains have been a result of cutting down on the walks which have fallen from 17% to 16% to 9% as the calendar pages have fallen away. A 9% BB% still needs some work, but at least he’s moved out of Carlos Marmol territory. It looks like he’s the guy to own if you need a Jansen handcuff, but only injury will knock Jansen off of his ninth inning pedestal.

• Quick hits: Aroldis Chapman, David Robertson, and Sean Doolittle all looked good picking up saves today. Ho hum. Jason Grilli appeared in his first non-save situation since being removed from the ninth inning in Pittsburgh and didn’t acquit himself well, allowing a pair of runs on four hits. He did punch out two batters (1.000 BABIP is never cool) but Mark Melancon has some job security of the time being. Tim Collins was demoted to Triple-A today. A precipitous fall for the diminutive lefty who has seen his K% and BB% both go the wrong direction for three years in a row.

Closer Grid:

Closer First Second DL/Minors
Arizona Addison Reed Brad Ziegler Oliver Perez
Atlanta Craig Kimbrel Jordan Walden Shae Simmons
Baltimore Zach Britton Tommy Hunter Darren O’Day
Boston Koji Uehara Junichi Tazawa Andrew Miller
CHI (NL) Hector Rondon Neil Ramirez Pedro Strop
CHI (AL) Ronald Belisario Zach Putnam Jacob Petricka Matt Lindstrom
Cincy Aroldis Chapman Jonathan Broxton Sam LeCure Sean Marshall
Cleveland Cody Allen Bryan Shaw John Axford
Colorado LaTroy Hawkins Rex Brothers Adam Ottavino
Detroit Joe Nathan Joba Chamberlain Al Alburquerque Joel Hanrahan
Houston Chad Qualls Kyle Farnsworth Tony Sipp Josh Fields
KC Greg Holland Wade Davis Aaron Crow
LAA Joe Smith Ernesto Frieri Kevin Jepsen
LAD Kenley Jansen Chris Perez Brian Wilson
Miami Steve Cishek A.J. Ramos Mike Dunn
Milwaukee Francisco Rodriguez Will Smith Brandon Kintzler Jim Henderson
Minnesota Glen Perkins Jared Burton Casey Fien
NY (NL) Jenrry Mejia Jeurys Familia Vic Black Bobby Parnell
NY (AL) David Robertson Dellin Betances Shawn Kelley
Oakland Sean Doolittle Luke Gregerson Dan Otero
Philly Jonathan Papelbon Antonio Bastardo Jake Diekman Mike Adams
Pittsburgh Mark Melancon Jason Grilli Tony Watson
St. Louis Trevor Rosenthal Pat Neshek Jason Motte
SD Huston Street Joaquin Benoit Alex Torres
SF Sergio Romo Santiago Casilla Jean Machi
Seattle Fernando Rodney Danny Farquhar Dominic Leone
TB Grant Balfour Jake McGee Joel Peralta
Texas Joakim Soria Jason Frasor Neal Cotts Neftali Feliz
Toronto Casey Janssen Sergio Santos Aaron Loup Brett Cecil
Wash. Rafael Soriano Tyler Clippard Drew Storen

[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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Joba Chamberlain
Joba Chamberlain

Nathan gave up two hits and an ER today. Any thoughts on how this affects the Detroit pen?


Doesn’t it seem like Nathan holds the job until the Tigers trade for either Street or Benoit? That they’d rather leave Joba in the setup position.

Dave K
Dave K

I think they’ll wait and see how Hanrahan pans out before trying to trade for someone.