Bullpen Report: June 29, 2015

Koji Uehara entered ninth in a 3-1 game tonight, and closed the door against the Blue Jays for his 17th save. Uehara has had a few hiccups this season but he’s still putting in a fine year with a 3.00/2.50/3.45 ERA/FIP/xFIP line in 27 innings pitched. In spite of his advanced age and a 86.9 mph fastball, Uehara still gets well tons of swinging strikes (18.7%) to get over a strikeout per inning (10.00 K/9). He’s not quite the top tier of closer any more but expect him to continue to put up good numbers and saves for the Red Sox. It’s expected that the Sox could be sellers at the deadline, but there are no imminent deals lined up and trading the contracts of Pablo Sandoval and/or Hanley Ramirez could prove problematic. Uehara would be a nice addition to any bullpen and it wouldn’t shock me to see him moved even though he’s still owed $9 million next season. This trade might not be as likely as Jonathan Papelbon (who also has an expensive contract in 2016) changing teams but keep an eye on the rumors.

• Speaking of trade rumors, Francisco Rodriguez recorded his 16th save for the Brewers tonight. The scoreless inning lowered K-Rod’s ERA to 1.55. Similarly to Uehara, K-Rod lacks top velocity (89.5 mph) but still manages to generate whiffs (14.4%) and strikeouts (34 in 29 innings). K-Rod’s name is likely to continue to be in trade rumors up until the deadline but his contract is somewhat problematic as he’s owed $9.5 million in 2016 which is what has prohibited the Phillies from moving Papelbon. Papelbon and K-Rod are very much on the trading block but it takes two to tango. Teams may try to fix some bullpen issues internally and as we get closer to the deadline concern over dollars could prove to be less of a barrier. Until then, K-Rod will remain a solid closing option as teams gamble on Jeremy Jeffress and Will Smith as potential replacements.

• Aroldis Chapman entered the game in a non-save situation and pulled a Chapman – a perfect inning with three strikeouts (these might have been called Kimbrels at some point).  Chapman has seen a spike in his BB% this year, but owners certainly aren’t complaining as his 1.89 ERA with 59 strikeouts in 33.1 innings is exactly what you signed up for in March. There has been less indication that the Reds would trade Chapman compared to the closers on bad teams mentioned above, but in theory the right deal could come around. Holding onto Chapman may not be the smart move for a team in the Reds situation, but that’s the expectation at this point. Trade or no trade, Chapman would move into the 9th inning, so his value would likely only improve if changed clubs.

Closer Grid:

Closer First Second DL/Minors
Arizona Brad Ziegler Daniel Hudson Enrique Burgos Addison Reed
Atlanta Jason Grilli Jim Johnson David Aardsma
Baltimore Zach Britton Darren O’Day Tommy Hunter
Boston Koji Uehara Junichi Tazawa Alexi Ogando
CHI (NL) Hector Rondon Jason Motte Pedro Strop Rafael Soriano
CHI (AL) David Robertson Jacob Petricka Zach Duke
Cincy Aroldis Chapman J.J. Hoover Ryan Mattheus Tony Cingrani
Cleveland Cody Allen Bryan Shaw Zach McAllister
Colorado John Axford Boone Logan LaTroy Hawkins Adam Ottavino
Detroit Joakim Soria Joba Chamberlain Al Albuerquerque Joe Nathan
Houston Luke Gregerson Pat Neshek Josh Fields Chad Qualls
KC Greg Holland Wade Davis Kelvin Herrera
LAA Huston Street Joe Smith Fernando Salas
LAD Kenley Jansen Yimi Garcia Pedro Baez
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 Jenrry Mejia
NY (AL) Dellin Betances Justin Wilson Chasen Shreve Andrew Miller
Oakland Tyler Clippard Evan Scribner Eric O’Flaherty Sean Doolittle
Philly Jonathan Papelbon Ken Giles Luis Garcia
Pittsburgh Mark Melancon Tony Watson Arquimedes Caminero
St. Louis Trevor Rosenthal Kevin Siegrist Seth Maness Jordan Walden
SD Craig Kimbrel Brandon Maurer Joaquin Benoit
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 Neftali Feliz
Toronto Roberto Osuna Steve Delabar Brett Cecil Miguel Castro
Wash. Drew Storen Casey Janssen Matt Thornton Aaron Barrett

[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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Pomeranz picked up a save the other day. Should he be moved ahead of O’Flaherty on the depth chart?

Jackie T.
Jackie T.

And if so, who is the best SP-eligible reliever speculation for the rest of the season? Pomeranz or Maurer?

Mike W.
Mike W.

Pomeranz probably. Maurer is the much better pitcher, but I dont see anyway the Padres trade Kimbrel so he is pretty much blocked at any shot of getting Saves. Clippard is much more likely to be moved and Pomeranz along with Scribner and Mujica would all likely be in the running to replace Clippard as the A’s Closer.

Jackie T.
Jackie T.

Why can’t/wouldn’t the Padres trade Kimbrel if they fall further out of the race? They have an excellent bullpen without him, with some young arms, and his contract is one that looks about right for what he is. It’s a possibility that was mentioned on the main page here a few months ago. I’m not sure it’s likely, but it’s not something I’d rule out either.

Mike W.
Mike W.

I just dont see the Padres blowing this thing up yet. I understand your point about Kimbrel and if a team offered them a great package in return, they might consider it. But also consider if they do trade Kimbrel, Preller is gonna look pretty stupid for giving up Maybin and Wisler for what essentially turned out to be Melvin freaking Upton.

You add that to the terrible Kemp deal and Preller would look like a total buffoon. If anything, I think the Padres are going to double down and try to acquire some infield help, before they try trading the good Upton or Kimbrel. My guess is management and ownership stick with it, but I could be wrong.

The other thing to remember about Maurer is he could also be behind Benoit if Kimbrel was moved. Benoit may be the favorite to take over because a Closer pitches less and Benoit is notorious for not being able to pitch more than a day or two in a row. Maurer doesnt have the same fragility concerns and Murphy may consider him more valuable being able to consistently pitch the 7th or 8th in close games over simply pitching the 9th in games when the Padres are leading.