Due to a four game slate, the normally voluminous Bullpen Report will seem paltry. But, there’s still some situations to monitor along with performances of note. It seems like Kenley Jansen turned a corner last month and carried it over to last night. Jansen locked down his 18th save allowing a ground rule double to Eduardo Escobar with two outs then inducing David Peralta to pop out to third baseman Justin Turner ending the game. Through 25.2 innings, Jansen owns a 3.16 ERA, 3.43 xFIP and 0.90 WHIP. More impressive, his improved results over the last 30 days during which Jansen’s recorded a 19.6 swinging strike percentage while reducing contact to 66.3 percent and 12 strikeouts against one walk.
In the only other high leverage event of note, Ryan Pressly notched his third save with a clean ninth inning in Seattle. This marks his first save since April 28th against Cleveland and represents Pressly’s 24th scoreless game of his 26 appearances this year. Pressly leads the majors in strikeout to walk ratio among qualified relievers with a robust 32:2 K:BB. He’s also second in ERA (0.64) and WHIP (0.64). It can be tough to roster Pressly in 12 team leagues due to the lack of save upside, but, he’s now recorded as many saves as the Royals bullpen over the last 30 days and proves to be a ratio eraser. Since joining Houston, Pressly’s pitched in 51 games with two wins, no losses, five saves, a 0.70 ERA, 0.62 ERA and 64:5 K:BB rate.
Framber Valdez vultured a win, oddly enough, his first since the same game as Pressly’s last save against Cleveland in April. Valdez worked four innings as the bridge to high leverage allowing two hits and two walks with three strikeouts. In deeper leagues, long relievers such as Valdez and Josh James on contending teams can prove to be valuable. Especially since James has three wins over his last six outings with 17 strikeouts in 11.1 innings. He did yield five earned runs (3.98 ERA) in them. Chris Devenski secured his second hold working around a hit with a strikeout in the eighth inning. He’s been scoreless over his last five outings.
Due to the limited slate, catching up on some injury news can be beneficial. Although not activated on Monday, Pedro Strop should be ready to pitch on Tuesday according to the latest reports. Strop’s been out since May sixth with a Grade 2 strain of his hamstring and could return as the closer if reading between the tea leaves with Joe Maddon. Although nothing’s assured in this regard. Seattle’s Hunter Strickland threw off a mound on Sunday and will again on Wednesday. Depending on how he performs, Strickland could ramp up his rehab to a simulated game or head out to a minor league assignment in order to prepare to return by mid-month.
With the draft underway, it’s time for the Craig Kimbrel speculation to begin. Fantasy owners anxiously await where he could end up. Due to the circumstances, Kimbrel owns control on where he lands among the contenders. Minnesota, Chicago (Cubs) and Atlanta make sense from a needs standpoint but do not count out Milwaukee. It could be a three week process from when Kimbrel signs to being ready to pitch in the majors, so plan accordingly. Kimbrel did record 42 saves last year but use his 3.13 xFIP, especially in the pitching environment in 2019 as a guide for expectations. His walk rate last year ebbed back to 12.6 percent as did his strikeout percentage to 38.9 percent. Kimbrel’s fastball velocity, destination and how many innings he can accrue will go a long way to determining his fantasy impact.
Quick Hits: Congratulations to the relievers of the month in each league, Aroldis Chapman and Josh Hader. Chapman racked up 11 saves in May with a 0.79 ERA in 11.1 innings and 18 strikeouts against three walks. Hader appeared in 10 games with six saves, a 0.71 ERA, 0.63 WHIP and 0.98 batting average against in 12.2 innings…Keep tabs on the potential fluid bullpen in St. Louis. Manager Mike Shildt did provide trust in Jordan Hicks going forward, but Carlos Martinez emerged as the closer late last season and John Gant arguably represents the bullpen’s MVP so far this season…Owners of Alex Colome should prepare a backup plan. Reports of the Yankees scouting the veteran reliever along with the teams who do not sign Kimbrel will be in play. Of course, this will muddle the White Sox high leverage, but, staying ahead of the game enables owners to weather the storm.
Avid fantasy baseball player and writer. You can find my work here chasing the next save or as the lead fantasy analyst on Fantasy Alarm. Any questions, hit me up on the Twitter machine, @gjewett9