Bullpen Report: May 15, 2016

Tony Cingrani recorded his third save today coming into the game with the bases loaded and one out and a five run cushion. He retired the next two batters to lock down the save after blowing one on Wednesday. No official announcement has been made regarding his status as closer, but for now if you really need a closer, you can roll with Cingrani. How long he holds the role is another story as he has struck out 15 over 17 innings, but has also walked 10. His HR/FB rate is also way below his average, so if that normalizes, that can be a recipe for disaster accompanied with those walks. Personally, I’m staying away from this situation despite Cingrani seemingly having the 9th inning job because I am not sure how many save opportunities the Reds are going to have to make it worth risking my ERA and WHIP. Go after him at your own risk.

Speaking of announcing closer jobs, the A’s finally made it official by naming Ryan Madson their closer. Wonder if that’s like making a relationship official on Facebook? Anyway, this isn’t really a surprise. It should make Madson owners feel a little more comfortable knowing he will get most of the opportunities to close games barring something unforeseen. He earned his tenth save of the season today, and still has not blown a save. The ERA is great (1.08), but has a higher FIP (3.08). Additionally, his strikeout rate is down from his past years as a reliever and his walk rate is up. He’s also giving up a lot more line drives and less groundballs than his career averages. I’m not sure why that is and whether or not those numbers I mentioned fall back into his normal rates. If they do, he should be fine. If not, then the Oakland closer situation will get very interesting real fast. John Axford seems to be next in line if Madson were to falter, and I’m not too sure what to make of him either. Axford is giving up a lot more contact than usual, which is resulting in less walks and strikeouts making him more susceptible to big hits. Wouldn’t be surprised to see Sean Doolittle move into the 8th inning role again at some point.

Brad Boxberger pitched in High A today ,making his first rehab appearance. He pitched a scoreless inning giving up a double, a walk, while striking out one. He still needs a few more outings before being added to the major league roster, but he will be a welcome addition to a Rays bullpen that lost today in the ninth. After thinking Alex Colome was the clear guy to get save opportunities, Colome pitched in the 8th today against Oakland’s 4-5-6 hitters. I changed their chart to yellow because if they are working guys based on leverage, good luck predicting saves. Xavier Cedeno and Steve Geltz were charged with an earned run after Cedeno gave up a double and then Geltz gave up a two-run homer to Danny Valencia, as Geltz earned his first blown save of the year. If we start seeing Colome only pitching the 9th, we’ll move it back to green.

Shawn Tolleson was unavailable today after blowing the save on Saturday night. He wasn’t necessarily unavailable because of the blown save, but the Rangers are evaluating the situation. According to the article linked above, his Tolleson’s change-up has been less effective, and Pitchf/x data agrees. His value on the change-up last year was 0, but has gone down to -1.2 this season. His fastball has also not been as effective dropping from 1.7 to -2.9, so it may not just be the change-up. When looking at velocity, his fastball is right where it was last year, but the change-up has actually gone up by 1.9 MPH, which is typically not a good thing for the change-up. In today’s game, without Tolleson, the Rangers bullpen looked strong in the 8th and 9th inning (actually the bullpen looked good outside of Tom Wilhelmsen who gave up three runs). Jake Diekman, Matt Bush, and Sam Dyson combined to pitch 3 innings giving up no hits or walks, striking out one. According to MLB.com Gameday, Bush topped out at 98 mph, which is 3 mph harder than his last appearance.

Quick Hits: Jake McGee had a perfect weekend saving three games against the Mets in Colorado, almost tempting me to change the chart to green. The low K’s still worry me a bit. I also took a bit of a risk and moved the Rockies’ hard-throwing righty Carlos Estevez to next in line over Boone Logan who is more of lefty specialist. He pitched the 8th on Friday and Saturday, striking out four in 2 innings, while Chad Qualls saw no action. Walks may be a concern, but the Rockies are definitely setting him up to be a future high leverage reliever. I was also tempted to move Houston’s Will Harris up on the list because he did pitch the 8th on Friday and Saturday, which would be consistent with my Estevez move. I’m still not sure if he is over Giles and Neshek mainly because they put Harris in against the lower half of Boston’s line-up. Harris has a ridiculous 0.51 ERA (1.61 FIP), so a move up the list is not totally out of the question. What the heck happened to Kevin Quackenbush? Always a solid reliever, and someone I thought could take over San Diego’s closer job at some point, gave up a run for the second straight game raising his ERA to 5.50 (FIP: 5.58). This after going 9 appearances allowing only two hits and zero runs. His velocity is stable, but his fastball value went from 6.5 last season to 0.7 this season. K’s are way down and walks are up.Ryan Buchter and Fernando Rodney continue to impress for the Padres combining for two scoreless innings and four K’s.
Closer Grid:

Closer First Second DL/Minors
Arizona Brad Ziegler Daniel Hudson Tyler Clippard
Atlanta Arodys Vizcaino Jason Grilli Hunter Cervenka
Baltimore Zach Britton Darren O’Day Mychal Givens
Boston Craig Kimbrel Koji Uehara Junichi Tazawa
CHI (NL) Hector Rondon Pedro Strop Justin Grimm
CHI (AL) David Robertson Nate Jones Zach Duke
Cincy Tony Cingrani Ross Ohlendorf Caleb Cotham Jumbo Diaz
Cleveland Cody Allen Bryan Shaw Zach McAllister
Colorado Jake McGee Carlos Estevez Boone Logan Miguel Castro
Detroit Francisco Rodriguez Mark Lowe Justin Wilson Bruce Rondon
Houston Luke Gregerson Ken Giles Pat Neshek
KC Wade Davis Kelvin Herrera Joakim Soria
LAA Joe Smith Fernando Salas Jose Alvarez Huston Street
LAD Kenley Jansen Pedro Baez Chris Hatcher Yimi Garcia
Miami A.J. Ramos David Phelps Kyle Barraclough Carter Capps
Milwaukee Jeremy Jeffress Tyler Thornburg Michael Blazek Will Smith
Minnesota Kevin Jepsen Trevor May Fernando Abad Glen Perkins
NY (NL) Jeurys Familia Addison Reed Hansel Robles
NY (AL) Aroldis Chapman Andrew Miller Dellin Betances
Oakland Ryan Madson John Axford Sean Doolittle
Philly Jeanmar Gomez Hector Neris David Hernandez
Pittsburgh Mark Melancon Tony Watson Neftali Feliz
St. Louis Trevor Rosenthal Kevin Siegrist Seung Hwan Oh
SD Fernando Rodney Brandon Maurer Ryan Buchter
SF Santiago Casilla Hunter Strickland Javier Lopez Sergio Romo
Seattle Steve Cishek Joel Peralta Nick Vincent Joaquin Benoit
TB Alex Colome Erasmo Ramirez Xavier Cedeno Brad Boxberger
Texas Shawn Tolleson Sam Dyson Jake Diekman Keone Kela
Toronto Roberto Osuna Drew Storen Brett Cecil
Wash. Jonathan Papelbon Blake Treinen Shawn Kelley

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

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Spa City
Spa City

Danny Duffy seemed extremely effective in short relief for KC. He pitched 3 (extremely effective) innings as a starter yesterday. Does anybody know if there is a plan to keep him in the rotation, or was that a “spot” start?

Duffy has been striking out more than 10 batters per nine IP, while walking very few and averaging 97 mph.

He seemed like a good bet to be the next breakout reliever after fizzling as a starter (a la Wade Davis, Dellin Betances).


Tough to tell on Duffy. Rotowire says, “Due to an off day on the schedule Thursday, Duffy will likely revert to a typical relief role for at least the next week.” ESPN lists Duffy as the starter on 5/25 and 5/30, but I assume that’s speculation since the official Royals site doesn’t do Probable Pitchers that far out. Ultimately I think Jim below is right, that with the DL-ing of Medlen and Young, Duffy will probably get another start somewhere. The only thing that might prevent that is if the Royals have a SP in AAA ready to go or if they don’t want Duffy games to become bullpen games every time (since it seems like he can only go a few innings right now).