Bullpen Report: May 28, 2015

• It’s not earth-shattering news that fantasy owners have been somewhat concerned about Cody Allen thus far. The 26-year-old’s 6.16 ERA isn’t helping anyone’s bottom line. While the ERA might hurt, the righty’s 3.41 SIERA thus far in 2015 isn’t awful, however, it’s still a full run higher than his breakout 2014. While his strikeout rate remains north of 30%, he is walking batters at a Carlos Marmol-esque 14% this year. Fanning the flames of bullpen unrest, Allen has been used in non-save situations his last few outings, most recently pitching the eighth with the team down 4-3 a couple nights ago against the Rangers. While it might seem that something is afoot, the team has not publicly acknowledged any change and there is little-to-no-scuttlebutt from beat writers. It is probably worth noting that the Indians haven’t had a save opportunity since last Saturday. It went to Allen and he successfully converted it.

One thing working in the favor of “Cody Allen’s job security” is that, while he’s scuffled, most of the Cleveland bullpen has followed suit. The closer still owns the third best SIERA amongst qualified Indians relievers, with only Zach McAllister (2.40) and Ryan Webb (3.07) ahead of him. Historical ninth-inning alternatives Bryan Shaw and Scott Atchison have also scuffled this year, with Shaw seeing a 5% drop in K%-BB% over last year and Atchison’s homer marks and already low whiff numbers have both headed in the wrong direction. Additionally, Allen’s last few weeks have been much better than his early season, with slashed walk rates and a drop in xFIP from 5.20 in April to 3.53 thus far in May. There should probably still be concern around the fact that his SwStr% is still 5% less than it was last year (two months in, now) but his velocity has been slowly ticking up all season, so maybe things will look up if he can maintain his command gains and the weather heats up.

• One guy mentioned in the previous paragraph is starter-turned-reliever Zach McAllister who appears to be another data point on the “stuff plays up in the bullpen” train. The former Yankees prospect has ridden that increased upper-90’s velocity to a 2.63 xFIP as a reliever, with an even shinier 1.71 mark over the past 30 days. However, his sexy peripherals haven’t seemed to have made a significant impact on his usage pattern, with the righty actually seeing a decrease in inLI from April to May. The good news? With Shaw and Atchison both scuffling, McAllister appears to be working later in games, with five of his last seven appearances coming in the 8th inning or later. While the holds numbers aren’t there right now, there’s reason to believe they will be, so I’d scoop him up in SV+HD leagues where available and I’ve moved him onto the grid as a potential option if Cody Allen’s April struggles return.

David Robertson was unavailable today after tossing a couple innings yesterday, so the White Sox originally called on Zach Duke to try and squeeze out a four-out save. After looking unhittable for the first three of those outs (three punchouts) Duke ran into a touch of trouble, giving up a hit and then a 2-run tater to one Chris Davis. Jake Petricka was then brought on to polish off the final out, whiffing Travis Snider and notching the SV. We have Petricka slightly ahead of Duke on the closer chart, but both guys have almost identical DIPS-style predictors, so it seems like they are in a pick ’em situation behind Robertson. Interestingly, Zach Putnam has the second best K% among bullpen arms and has a sparkly 2.84 xFIP, so if he can shake off some of the homers he’s allowed, he could move into the late innings fairly soon as well. As for Robertson, no need to panic. The righty owns a tight 1.64 xFIP and this week is just a bump in the road.

Closer Grid:

Closer First Second DL/Minors
Arizona Brad Ziegler Daniel Hudson Addison Reed Enrique Burgos
Atlanta Jason Grilli Jim Johnson Luis Avilan
Baltimore Zach Britton Darren O’Day Tommy Hunter
Boston Koji Uehara Alexi Ogando Junichi Tazawa
CHI (NL) Hector Rondon Pedro Strop Jason Motte
CHI (AL) David Robertson Jacob Petricka Zach Duke
Cincy Aroldis Chapman Jumbo Diaz Tony Cingrani Sean Marshall
Cleveland Cody Allen Bryan Shaw Zach McAllister
Colorado John Axford Rafael Betancourt Boone Logan Adam Ottavino
Detroit Joakim Soria Joba Chamberlain Angel Nesbitt Joe Nathan
Houston Luke Gregerson Chad Qualls Pat Neshek
KC Greg Holland Wade Davis Kelvin Herrera
LAA Huston Street Joe Smith Vinnie Pestano
LAD Kenley Jansen Yimi Garcia Chris Hatcher Pedro Baez
Miami A.J. Ramos Bryan Morris Carter Capps Steve Cishek
Milwaukee Francisco Rodriguez Jonathan Broxton Will Smith
Minnesota Glen Perkins Blaine Boyer Brian Duensing Casey Fien
NY (NL) Jeurys Familia Carlos Torres Sean Gilmartin Jenrry Mejia
NY (AL) Andrew Miller Dellin Betances Justin Wilson Chris Martin
Oakland Sean Doolittle Tyler Clippard Evan Scribner
Philly Jonathan Papelbon Ken Giles Luis Garcia
Pittsburgh Mark Melancon Tony Watson Arquimedes Caminero
St. Louis Trevor Rosenthal Seth Maness Matt Belisle Jordan Walden
SD Craig Kimbrel Joaquin Benoit Dale Thayer
SF Santiago Casilla Sergio Romo Jeremy Affeldt
Seattle Fernando Rodney Carson Smith Tom Wilhelmsen Danny Farquhar
TB Brad Boxberger Jake McGee Kevin Jepsen
Texas Shawn Tolleson Keone Kela Ross Ohlendorf Neftali Feliz
Toronto Brett Cecil Roberto Osuna Steve Delabar Miguel Castro
Wash. Drew Storen Aaron Barrett Casey Janssen Casey Janssen

[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.

newest oldest most voted

Love this series. Really. But…if it arrives before half the games are over, what use will it be tomorrow? (7:54 PST)

James Ligmann
James Ligmann

Love this series. Really. But…if it arrives before half the games are over, what use will it be tomorrow? (7:54 PST)