• The Cubs signed Craig Kimbrel to a three-year $43M deal and as soon as he’s ready, he will be the Cubs closer moving forward. Since Kimbrel obviously missed out on Spring Training and the start of the season he will take some time to build up his arm strength and get into seasonal shape. The guess is a few weeks but whether that is two or four, I can’t say, but as soon as he’s ready he’s locked into the 9th. Kimbrel isn’t particularly fond of the committee either, so I imagine his role will strictly be the closer, and not necessarily entering in a high leverage spot in the 7th. For that, the Cubs will continue to turn to Pedro Strop, Steve Cishek, and co. Pedro Strop is back off the IL and picked up a save immediately upon return but last night the save chance went to Cishek. Strop isn’t going to be overused right off of the IL but he should be considered the main source of saves before Kimbrel arrives.
• Alex Colome has been quite effective this year for the White Sox but received his first loss of the year last night after Trea Turner his a homer off of him in the 9th in a tie game. Colome is still 12/12 on saves with a 2.28 ERA and a career high swinging strike rate of 15.3% although it hasn’t generated as many strikeouts as one would expect. The White Sox have a decent record, only three games below .500 but with a poor run differential it’s not particularly likely that they compete throughout the summer. As we know, that could mean movement on the bullpen front via trades. Colome isn’t an ace shutdown reliever, but depending on where he goes (if he were to be traded), he could continue to see some save chances.
• Shawn Kelley blew his third save of the year when Richie Martin hit a homer off of him in the 9th. Although Kelley has avoided some truly horrific outings with a pretty shiny 2.46 ERA he’s also only batting .500 going 3/6 on saves. Jose Leclerc was assumed to take over closing duties at some point, and it might be that time. I won’t make a change until the Rangers do and even then, it’s hard to fully trust Leclerc but he has been quite good of late, including last night where he threw two perfect innings with a pair of strikeouts. In 15.1 innings since May, Leclerc has a 1.76/1.53/1.94 ERA/FIP/xFIP with 28 strikeouts against 6 walks and a 13.3% SwStr%. In April, Leclerc struggled with both his control and ability to get whiffs with only a 8.2% SwStr%. Leclerc will never be a control god but so long as he’s getting whiffs at an elite rate he can be an effective reliever and it might not be long until he’s doing that back in the 9th.
• Blake Parker entered last night’s game in the 7th inning and struggled giving up a pair of homers and three earned, netting his 2nd loss of the year. Parker’s peripheral stats were always significantly worse than his early season ERA and now he’s running out an elevated 3.74 ERA with a fairly gross 5.84/4.88/4.52 FIP/xFIP/SIERA. The Twins are one of the best teams and baseball and the likelihood that they keep trotting out Parker for saves or higher leverage innings for the remainder of the year might be dwindling. I’m keeping Parker in the committee but have made him code red and put Taylor Rogers ahead. Rogers might see a more higher leverage inning with May or Harper seeing the 9th but he’s the best reliever on the roster at the moment. Since the Twins have aspirations to succeed in the playoffs, I also imagine they will be in on many trade rumors for bullpen help, which would continue to shake up the the grid. Stay tuned, it should be an interesting summer on the hot stove, at least as it pertains to bullpens.
• Quick Hits: Ty Buttrey blew the save last night with Hansel Robles benefiting and getting the win when the Angels scored in the 9th off of Lou Trivino. In spite of last night’s performance, Buttrey remains the best reliever of the bunch but Robles is still in the lead for saves. Hector Neris recorded a five-out save and continues to be the most reliable option for the Phillies. Julio Urias threw two scoreless innings in relief for the Dodgers. He won’t be close to saves or high leverage innings but he should continue to be a source for strikeouts and ratio help until he’s back in the Dodgers rotation later this year.
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