Bullpen Report: June 29, 2014

Sergio Romo is out as closer and Jeremy Affeldt and Santiago Casilla will be part of the closing committee for now. Romo is still expected to pitch in some sort of setup role but Casilla and Affeldt should be receiving the save opportunities in the meantime. Romo hasn’t been as bad as his 5.17 ERA would suggest but even a 3.93 xFIP and 3.27 SIERA is worse than we expected from him. Romo’s never been a big velocity guy but his fastball and slider have actually been a little better than last year. Also, although Romo’s K% have fallen the last few years  his 14.2% SwStr% shows he can still get some whiffs, even if it hasn’t presented itself with his pedestrian K-rates this year. Barring a hidden injury I’d expect Romo to regain his job this summer but it’s Casilla and Affeldt for now. As a lefty/righty combo, gameflow should determine who sees the save on a given night. Both Affeldt (1.33 ) and Casilla (1.17) are owners of some shiny ERA’s and I would reccomend any team in need of saves to snag them if they’re available on the wire. Jean Machi is also having a nice year and could figure into some saves but he’s given up runs in his last two outings and Bochy mentioned Casilla and Affeldt as Romo’s replacements.

Ronald Belisario is also out as closer and the White Sox aren’t looking at just one guy to replace him either. Zach Putnam recorded the first save of his career on Saturday but Jake Petricka pitched a scoreless ninth today, protecting a four run lead. Moving forward I’d lean towards Putnam but it’s clear Ventura will look to use both of his P’s at the end of games in lieu of Belisario.

Chad Qualls has been fantastic since fully taking the reigns as Astros closer but after pitching a couple games in a row the Astros turned to Tony Sipp who notched his first save of the season. The Astros season started with a committee but everything is falling into line with Qualls and Sipp clearly one and two in the back of their bullpen. Historically, Qualls has been the better pitcher but Sipp’s been very impressive with 2.12 xFIP, allowing only four runs in 22.1 innings while striking out 29 batters against just three walks. Performance wise Qualls is in no danger of losing the job but the Astros aren’t competing for a playoff spot this year and Qualls name could be a trade target as we start to enter the trade deadline phase of the summer. Roster spots could be better served than holding Sipp on Chad Qualls trade speculation, but it’s something to monitor nonetheless.

Jason Grilli and Ernesto Frieri were both disappointing their respective teams so the Pirates and Angels decided to swap their deposed closers. Mark Melancon has a pretty firm hold on the gig and I don’t expect Frieri to be in play for saves. However, Jason Grilli could see some ninth inning action for the Angels. Joe Smith is on top of the food chain in LA/Anaheim for now but his soft tossing sidearming ways could lead to Grilli seeing save opportunities again this season. Grilli will have to put up better results than he did tonight though, receiving the loss after allowing a run in a tied game in the bottom of the ninth.

Jake McGee didn’t record a save today but he did on Friday and Saturday and for now seems to be on top of the pecking order in Tampa Bay.  Grant Balfour has pitched a little better of late but also gave up  an earned run yesterday. Although he’s a lefty, Jake McGee is getting lefties (.227 wOBA against) and righties (.177 wOBA against) out and should continue to see any save chances that come Tampa’s way while Balfour is removed from the gig. Joel Peralta who threw a scoreless ninth in a non-save situation today is also involved but McGee is starting to tighten his grasp.

• Quick Hits: In spite of trade rumors Huston Street recorded his 21st save against the Diamondbacks today. Fernando Rodney launched his 23rd arrow into the sky, securing King Felix’s 10th win of the season. Glen Perkins (20), Mark Melancon (15) and Craig Kimbrel (24) all recorded saves with Ryan Cook getting his first save of the season as Sean Doolittle received the night off.

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) Zach Putnam Jacob Petricka Javy Guerra 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 Tony Sipp Josh Fields
KC Greg Holland Wade Davis Aaron Crow
LAA Joe Smith Jason Grilli 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 Adam Warren
Oakland Sean Doolittle Luke Gregerson Dan Otero
Philly Jonathan Papelbon Antonio Bastardo Ken Giles Mike Adams
Pittsburgh Mark Melancon Tony Watson Ernesto Frieri
St. Louis Trevor Rosenthal Pat Neshek Jason Motte
SD Huston Street Joaquin Benoit Alex Torres
SF Santiago Casilla Jeremy Affeldt Sergio Romo
Seattle Fernando Rodney Danny Farquhar Dominic Leone
TB Jake McGee Grant Balfour 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.]

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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Mike W
8 years ago

I have been offered McGee for Zach Britton, while I love what Britton has given me so far, I worry regression is on the horizon and Britton and his mediocre K rate is kind of a one category contributer. That said he has a much better grasp of the job than McGee has. My other closers are Doolittle and Allen, should I reach for the upside of McGee or keep the safer Britton?

8 years ago
Reply to  Mike W

I just don’t feel like Britton is all that safe, after the epic 4-run meltdown against a division rival. Jake just looked beter this weekend against the Orioles, a tough lineup.

It’s better to have veterans as closers since you won’t have the negative effect on their salary next year, BUT if they want to turn McGee into a closer at some point, maybe this is the time. With only a half season to go, he won’t have a scary number of saves, esp. with this team, so the arbitrator may decide not quite worth $10 million.

As for Britton, the Orioles have nothing but young arbitration eligible guys down there, so he doesn’t have a Balfour looking over his shoulder, but Hunter & O’Day are equally serious threats, esp. O’Day who is locked up for two years.

8 years ago
Reply to  Mike W

I’m sure you know this, but the difference between the Orioles and the Rays in terms of record will also probably affect how many save chances each RP gets. Another factor to consider, at least.

Detroit Michael
8 years ago
Reply to  Mike W

I would definitely take McGee over Putnam. McGee has a multi-year track record of pitching well and is less likely to lose the closer’s role.

jim S.
8 years ago

As a TB fan, I can tell you that IN THE PAST McGee has had emotional issues dealing with high-leverage situations. He certainly has closer’s stuff, but perhaps not the emotional credentials.

Detroit Michael
8 years ago

My mistake. I was thinking of Zach Putnam, not Zach Britton.

I agree with Benjamin P.’s comment below.