Bullpen Report: June 6, 2017

Corey Knebel was called on in the ninth and pitched a perfect frame for his sixth save of the year. Before and after taking the closer’s gig from Neftali Feliz, Knebel has been outright fantastic. A 14.2% BB% isn’t ideal but when you combine it with a K% of 45.1% it’s plenty OK. Knebel’s SIERA stands at 2.36 and his ERA/FIP/xFIP after tonight’s outing is 1.24/2.12/2.24. Among qualified relievers his strikeout rate ranks 5th and in spite of the elevate walks his K-BB% still ranks 12th. Knebel was intriguing last year but it’s hard to say anyone saw this coming. I expected the Brewers to be sellers at the deadline and with their recent history of trading relievers I figured Knebel could have been shipped out like Tyler Thornberg last year. Instead the Brewers are in first place and Knebel figures to stay, continue to get saves and rack up strikeouts.

Hector Neris started the ninth inning getting Nick Markakis to pop up but after allowing back-to-back singles the Phillies went with Pat Neshek to get the last two outs, for his first save of the year. Neris has never had a totally firm grasp on the role as they went back and forth with Joaquin Benoit earlier, so it’s certainly not a great sign that they didn’t give him a chance to finish the game. Neshek has also been the best pitcher in the pen this year with a 0.82/2.28/3.82 pitching line. His .218 BABIP and 96.2% LOB% indicate he’s been quite lucky and he’s likely more good than great but he may find himself pitching in more ninth innings waiting for regression rathre than the eighth. I’m not making a change in the order here but I am making this situation RED. I would put a claim on Neshek if he’s available, nothing is imminent but consider Neris on notice.

Bud Norris started off strong with two outs in the save opp tonight but things got testy as he allowed the bases loaded before striking out Alex Avila to secure his 11th save. It’s not particularity strong timing for Norris to throw an iffy inning as Cam Bedrosian expects to be activated on Thursday. Bedrosian has a very messy injury history of late so I don’t think any immediate return to the ninth inning or pitching back-to-back games is imminent but it is an additional person lurking over Norris’ shoulder.

Tony Watson blew his fourth save on the year and I’m changing Pittsburgh to Red. Watson simply isn’t fooling anyone and his ERA/FIP/xFIP line now stands at 3.91/5.42/4.78. Meanwhile Felipe Rivero struck out two batters in 1.1 innings, getting his 13th hold on the year and now has a 0.60/2.59/2.82 line. It’s hard to knock Watson being a lefty when I’m pointing to Rivero who is also a south paw but he’s been simply fantastic this year. Watson is probably better than he’s pitching but should be mostly used a lefty setup option and might be extended being used as a classic closer. There has been no word on a change but I would run to pick up Rivero.

Ken Giles‘ job isn’t necessarily in danger but I’m moving Houston to yellow. Giles allowed all his inherited runners to score in the eighth after James Hoyt struggled and then proceeded to lose the game in the ninth after a Mike Moustakas walk-off homer. Every closer is allowed a leash but given the depth of options in Houston’s pen, Giles may not be given as many chances as another team would. Will Harris is the obvious next choice in the pecking order and behind him I’ve put Michael Feliz. Luke Gregerson, James Hoyt and Chris Devenski linger in some order as well.

Quick Hits: David Robertson (9) threw a perfect ninth. Tommy Kahnle pitched the eighth for the White Sox and gave up a rare earned run but it’s hard for owners to complain with his 41/6 K/BB in 23.2 innings pitched. Craig Kimbrel was called on for a four out save and converted, getting an insane five (yes five) strikeouts on the way. I’ve been fawning over other relievers tonight but after this outing  Kimbrel has 53 strikeouts against just 5 walks in 26.2 innings. Kimbrel almost gets two strikeouts for every inning he pitches this year and has essentially broken ERA estimators with a 1.01/0.24/0/0.80 line. After taking a year off, Kimbrel is back to being the elite of the elite, enjoy the ride. Matt Bush struggled in a non-save situation tonight but it’s worth noting that his underlying numbers are looking less than stellar. A 2.61 ERA is great but 4.46 FIP and 4.04 xFIP is less so.

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 Michael Feliz
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.]

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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Why is Glover yellow? He’s been outstanding since Baker decided to stop messing around.


Nats still shopping, so…


Also, Sunday?