Bullpen Report: June 4, 2017

Plenty of compelling bullpen activity around the major leagues on a busy Sunday afternoon…

Koda Glover was brought into an existing eighth inning with a 6-4 lead, two outs, and a runner on second. He retired Jed Lowrie to end the inning, then the Nationals proceeded to score five runs in a long top of the ninth. Despite the 11-4 lead and lengthy half inning, Glover came back out for the bottom of the ninth, and he allowed four straight singles and a walk before being replaced by Shawn Kelley with the bases loaded, no outs, and two runs already in. After retiring Rajai Davis on a shallow fly ball, Kelley served up a grand slam to Matt Joyce that made it 11-10 Nationals. Kelley retired the next two batters he faced to secure the victory. When it was all said and done, Glover was charged with five earned runs in 0.1 innings, and Kelley was charged with one earned run in one inning.

Despite today’s craziness, Glover has brought much-needed calm to the Nationals bullpen as of late. He has four saves since May 24, and before today, he had recorded saves in four straight appearances. This was the first time Glover has allowed a run in 10 appearances since he landed on the disabled list with a left hip impingement in late April. Even with today’s meltdown, Glover has a 1.74 FIP and 3.21 xFIP on the season. A 3.21 xFIP is hardly something to scoff at, and it seems as if the Nationals have finally found their ninth-inning man (although it remains probable they’ll target bullpen help before the trading deadline). The home run Kelley gave up was the seventh he’s allowed in 15 innings this season, and overall, he has a 5.40 ERA and 5.37 xFIP. As such, he has been surpassed on the grid by Matt Albers, who boasts a strong 1.29 ERA and 3.14 xFIP in 21 innings this year.

In a 4-4 game, David Robertson allowed a walk-off, three-run home run to Justin Upton in the bottom of the ninth. Robertson now has a 3.54 ERA/2.75 FIP/3.35 xFIP in 20.1 innings this season. On his heels, Tommy Kahnle has 40 strikeouts in 22.2 innings, to go along with just five walks and two home runs allowed, good for a 1.19 ERA/1.32 FIP/1.17 xFIP. Needless to say, Kahnle has been lights out this year, and Sunday’s performance by Robertson could possibly motivate the White Sox to at least start thinking about a change in the pecking order. Most likely, they’ll ride it out with the capable Robertson, and look to flip him at the trading deadline, instead of tanking his value by removing him from the ninth inning. Robertson’s job is most likely safe for the time being, but Kahnle has emerged this year as a must-own option in holds leagues, and he’s probably worth stashing in all formats. Among MLB relievers this year, Kahnle’s 48.8% strikeout rate is second only to Craig Kimbrel, and his K-BB% is third-best, behind Kimbrel and Kenley Jansen.

Tony Watson pitched a scoreless ninth in an 11-1 Pirates victory. Watson has a career-low 16.1% strikeout rate this year, and as such, he has just a 5.06 FIP and 4.77 xFIP. He remains the Pirates closer for now, but he’s worth watching in the coming days and weeks, as his peripherals suggest he could be due for more trouble.

We’ve mentioned Joe Smith’s name several times on the Bullpen Report this season, but his dominance is worth reiterating: In 27.2 innings this year, the side-arming righty has 42 strikeouts, and has allowed just seven walks and two home runs, good for a 2.93 ERA/1.81 FIP/1.94 xFIP. His 38.2% strikeout rate this year is almost double his career rate of 20.9%, and he’s become an elite, must-own reliever in holds leagues. Smith struck out two in a perfect eighth inning on Sunday, picking up a win in the process. He has 10 holds on the year. Behind Smith in the Jays ‘pen, Roberto Osuna has a sparkling 2.78 ERA/1.89 FIP/2.36 xFIP, thanks in large part to a career-best 33.7% K-rate. He struck out the side against the Yankees on Sunday to secure his 13th save of the season.

Giants set-up man Derek Law allowed two home runs against the Phillies in 1.2 innings of work. After posting promising numbers in the minor leagues and as a rookie last season, Law has seemingly taken a step back this year. His strikeout rate is down a tick, his walk rate is up, and he’s already allowed four home runs in 25 innings after he allowed just three in 55 innings last season. Law is probably not worth owning in any format, unless Mark Melancon gets injured again (he went on the 10-day DL earlier this season with a right forearm injury). After having so much difficulty in 2016, the Giants bullpen remains a major liability in 2017.

Other closer activity: Greg Holland struck out one in a perfect ninth to collect his MLB-best 21st save in 21 chances. A.J. Ramos and Hector Neris each struck out two and secured saves. Justin Wilson worked around a walk and a single to pitch a scoreless ninth in a tie game at home. Bud Norris struck out two in a scoreless ninth inning with his team down a run. Brandon Kintzler picked up his 15th save of the year in a scoreless ninth. Cody Allen struck out two in a scoreless ninth with his team leading 8-0.

Closer Grid:

Closer First Second DL/Minors
ARI Fernando Rodney Archie Bradley JJ Hoover
ATL Jim Johnson Arodys Vizcaino Jose Ramirez
BAL Brad Brach Darren O’Day Mychal Givens Zach Britton
BOS Craig Kimbrel Matt Barnes Heath Hembree Carson Smith
CHC Wade Davis Koji Uehara Carl Edwards Jr.
CWS David Robertson Tommy Kahnle Anthony Swarzak Nate Jones
CIN Raisel Iglesias Michael Lorenzen Drew Storen
CLE Cody Allen Andrew Miller Bryan Shaw
COL Greg Holland Jake McGee Mike Dunn Adam Ottavino
DET Justin Wilson Alex Wilson Shane Greene
HOU Ken Giles Will Harris Luke Gregerson
KC Kelvin Herrera Joakim Soria Mike Minor
LAA Bud Norris David Hernandez Blake Parker Cam Bedrosian
LAD Kenley Jansen Pedro Baez Josh Fields
MIA A.J. Ramos David Phelps Kyle Barraclough
MIL Corey Knebel Jacob Barnes Neftali Feliz
MIN Brandon Kintzler Matt Belisle Taylor Rogers Glen Perkins
NYM Addison Reed Jerry Blevins Paul Sewald Jeurys Familia
NYY Dellin Betances Tyler Clippard Adam Warren Aroldis Chapman
OAK Santiago Casilla Ryan Madson Liam Hendriks Sean Doolittle
PHI Hector Neris Pat Neshek Edubray Ramos Joaquin Benoit
PIT Tony Watson Felipe Rivero Juan Nicasio
STL Seung Hwan Oh Trevor Rosenthal Matt Bowman
SD Brandon Maurer Brad Hand Ryan Buchter Carter Capps
SF Mark Melancon Derek Law Hunter Strickland
SEA Edwin Diaz James Pazos Nick Vincent
TB Alex Colome Danny Farquhar Tommy Hunter Brad Boxberger
TEX Matt Bush Keone Kela Jose Leclerc
TOR Roberto Osuna Joe Smith Jason Grilli
WSH Koda Glover Matt Albers Shawn Kelley

[Green light, yellow light, red light: the colors represent the volatility of the bullpen order.]

Ben Kaspick is the host Locked On Giants, a daily San Francisco Giants podcast on the Locked On Podcast Network. He is also a former contributor for the baseball statistics and analysis websites RotoGraphs and Beyond the Box Score. Follow him on Twitter @BenKaspick.

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6 years ago

Perkins in line for saves when he comes back?