Bullpen Report: May 18, 2014

Trevor Rosenthal had a no good, very bad day. After notching saves the last three days, the Cardinals closer wasn’t able to make it four, giving up a pair of hits and a pair of walks (one intentional) before Carlos Martinez relieved him as threw a wild pitch to let the Braves snag the lead. Rosenthal had a few hiccups earlier in the week but had appeared to be back on the wagon heading into Sunday’s tilt. Unfortunately, all the pitches caught up to him and he undid some of the nice rates he had picked up over the past few outings.

While one outing is unconcerning for Rosenthal owners, his xFIP now sits at a less-than-sexy 4.10. His 13.2% BB% is more than double what it was last year and is supported by a tremendous 10% decline in his first-pitch strike percentage (63% to 53%). Not helping matters is the fact that his fastball velocity is down a touch (although appears to be perhaps trending in the right direction), which may be part of the reason his swinging strike rate is off of his 2013 mark. Regardless, there is no need to panic — former closer Jason Motte will be back this week but will almost certainly be brought along slowly as he returns from Tommy John. Perhaps a scheduled off-day Monday (and hopefully another day or two after that) will give Rosenthal the rest he needs.

• I saw some people jumping off the Hector Rondon bandwagon after a blown save a few Sundays ago (and the fact the Cubs didn’t have any save situations the last week). Shame on you! Actually, given the fact that Rondon didn’t pitch with the Cubs not seeing any close games late further confirmed his status as Chicago’s stopper headed into this weekend. Those who kept him active were handsomely rewarded this weekend with back-to-back saves and a few more punchouts added to the ledger. Rondon’s SIERA was down to 2.36 (and will likely drop a bit more after today). He continues to get good results with his fastball/slider combo and gained some additional job security this weekend. Grab him if an impatient owner cut him loose.

LaTroy Hawkins blew save numero uno this afternoon. The trendy pre-season pick to be the first closer to lose his job, the 41-year-old has somehow dodged all mines in the field thus far in 2014. Shockingly, Hawkins only has 6 strikeouts while facing 68 batters on the season. That’s an 8.8% K% for the division-impaired. While he’s only given out 3 free passes, the combination all leave his ERA predictors north of 4.50. This is especially problematic at Coors Field where guys susceptible to BABIP luck (i.e., guys who have sub-10% K%) have to deal with the most spacious ballpark in baseball. I’m buying Adam Ottavino and his 2.30 SIERA all over the place. Just because Hawkins’ job is safe for now, doesn’t mean it will be for long.

Jenrry Mejia got his first career save on Saturday, tossing a scoreless inning against the Nationals. A popular starting pitcher sleeper headed into the season, the 24-year-old righty struggled out of the game and was moved to the bullpen after mediocre strikeout and walk rates led to iffy results. He immediately transitioned from sleeper starter to sleeper reliever as his big-league slider has the potential to be a shutdown pitch in the land of misfit relievers (more commonly referred to as the Mets bullpen). His velocity has certainly played up in relief, so there’s a very real chance he’s the guy who comes out of the committee on top. Pick up in all deeper leagues and/or if you are in need of saves.

• Quick hits: Jim Johnson walked three in two-thirds of an inning in a non-save situation. He had a chance to reclaim the ninth inning gig a week or so ago, but he started struggling again. Sean Doolittle and Luke Gregerson will continue to be options in the ninth. Both Joe Smith and Ernesto Frieri tossed scoreless innings with a pair of strikeouts in a 6-2 Angels win. Smith pitched the eighth while Frieri was on in the ninth. Frieri should be the better bet for the rest of the season, but Smith could strongarm a few more saves here and there. Orioles signed Heath Bell to a minor league deal. Don’t worry unless you are in an 80-team league.

Closer Grid:

Closer First Second DL/Minors
Arizona Addison Reed Brad Ziegler Oliver Perez J.J. Putz
Atlanta Craig Kimbrel David Carpenter Luis Avilan Jordan Walden
Baltimore Tommy Hunter Zach Britton Darren O’Day
Boston Koji Uehara Junichi Tazawa Andrew Miller
CHI (NL) Hector Rondon Justin Grimm James Russell Pedro Strop
CHI (AL) Matt Lindstrom Ronald Belisario Daniel Webb Nate Jones
Cincy Aroldis Chapman Jonathan Broxton Sam LeCure
Cleveland Cody Allen Bryan Shaw Scott Atchison
Colorado LaTroy Hawkins Adam Ottavino Rex Brothers
Detroit Joe Nathan Joba Chamberlain Al Alburquerque Joel Hanrahan
Houston Chad Qualls Kyle Farnsworth Josh Zeid Jesse Crain
KC Greg Holland Wade Davis Aaron Crow
LAA Ernesto Frieri Joe Smith Michael Kohn Dane de la Rosa
LAD Kenley Jansen Chris Perez Chris Withrow
Miami Steve Cishek A.J. Ramos Mike Dunn
Milwaukee Francisco Rodriguez Will Smith Brandon Kintzler Jim Henderson
Minnesota Glen Perkins Jared Burton Casey Fien
NY (NL) Jenrry Mejia Jose Valverde Jeurys Familia Bobby Parnell
NY (AL) David Robertson Shawn Kelley Adam Warren
Oakland Sean Doolittle Luke Gregerson Jim Johnson
Philly Jonathan Papelbon Mike Adams Antonio Bastardo
Pittsburgh Mark Melancon Tony Watson Justin Wilson Jason Grilli
St. Louis Trevor Rosenthal Carlos Martinez Kevin Siegrist Jason Motte
SD Huston Street Joaquin Benoit Alex Torres
SF Sergio Romo Santiago Casilla Jeremy Affeldt
Seattle Fernando Rodney Danny Farquhar Tom Wilhelmsen
TB Grant Balfour Joel Peralta Jake McGee
Texas Joakim Soria Alexi Ogando Jason Frasor Neftali Feliz
Toronto Casey Janssen Brett Cecil Steve Delabar Sergio Santos
Wash. Rafael Soriano Tyler Clippard Drew Storen

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

There are few things Colin loves more in life than a pitcher with a single-digit BB%. Find him on Twitter @soxczar.

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8 years ago

Your closer grid looks pretty different from other ones I’ve seen. Which concerns me a bit in that I use it to decide which backups to stockpile. How sure are you that Ottavino is the next in line? (also as to Belisario, Perez, Peralta?)

8 years ago
Reply to  Richie

I’m guessing no more or less sure than any of the other grids you see. It’s all conjecture. I will say all last year FG was among the only ones I saw that had Hunter listed ahead of O’Day on the Orioles, and look who got the nod at the beginning of this season when they dealt Johnson.

I will say Perralta seems odd to me given his numbers.
Ottavino is outpitching Brothers and Perez is outpitching Brian Wilson and guessing team more likely to go with “proven closer” over Withrow.

8 years ago
Reply to  DoubleJ

Thanks, DoubleJ. So basically they all conjecture based on the box scores? Rather than research the local papers, which would be one friggin’ ton of work.