Bullpen Report: May 29, 2014

-Over the past week here at the Bullpen Report, we’ve suggested that Jason Grilli would regain the closer role in Pittsburgh sometime in the near future. Well, that sometime in the near future turned into today, when Pirates skipper Clint Hurdle officially named Grilli the team’s ninth-inning man prior to their contest at Chavez Ravine against the Dodgers. Grilli needed just two appearances to be eased back into his former role. In two innings since returning from the disabled list, Grilli faced eight batters, surrendered one hit, one walk and struck out four. Mark Melancon will fall back into the set-up role for the Bucs, and although it appears he won’t be saving many games going forward, I’d hold onto him until we see Grilli back in the swing of things. If by chance you have room to keep Melancon rostered, do it. He’ll potentially contribute to four of the five traditional categories and is one of the better insurance policies in the business. Late edit: Grilli did in fact get the save chance tonight in Los Angeles. He surrendered a hit, but came away with his sixth save of the year on 15 pitches.

-For the second consecutive day, Joe Nathan surrendered two earned runs in an inning of work. In fact, Nathan has allowed two earned runs in three of his last five trips to the bump. Unlike yesterday, however, Nathan still managed to pick up a save in tonight’s outing. Nathan surrendered three hits and a walk and fanned one en route to his 13th save in 16 chances. Looking further, we know that Nathan’s velocity has been on steady decline since 2007, but there doesn’t seem to be a ton of difference between what we’ve seen this year from his numbers last season to blame for some his recent struggles. We can also see that Nathan is failing to induce the swings-and-misses like he has in the past, likely resulting in the dip in strikeouts. He currently owns a 13.6% K-BB%, the lowest it has been since 2003. It’s the long ball, isn’t it? Nathan has already allowed four homers in just over 20 frames of work, thanks to a 16.7% HR/FB% (7.4% is his career average). He gave up just two homers in over 64 innings of work last season. That number “should” settle down as the season wears on, but worth keeping an eye on, nonetheless.

Greg Holland sandwiched an infield single by Anthony Gose with strikeouts of Dioner Navarro and Jose Reyes to lock down his 15th save of the year. The right-hander is now 15-of-16 in save situations with a 1.74 ERA (1.64 FIP) and a 36.5% K%. Entering tonight, the velocity on Holland’s primary offerings — the fourseam fastball and slider — are up a tick, while the velocity on his splitter, which he uses infrequently, appears to remain steady. It’s also fun to note that, entering tonight, Holland has offered his slide piece to opposing batters 57 times in the month of May and they have failed to record a single hit off of it. Nasty stuff. Holland continues to be a top five-ish closing option.

Quick Hitters: Chad Qualls notched his fourth save of the season tonight for the Astros. Qualls needed just eight pitches to seal the deal in a clean ninth-inning of work, fanning one (J.J. Hardy) along the way. Despite surrendering an earned run in his third consecutive outing, Sergio Romo picked up his 17th save of the year. Joakim Soria dished two-thirds of an inning, giving up a hit and striking out one, en route to his tenth save. Craig Kimbrel took the loss tonight in Boston. He issued two walks and gave up a hit while getting through just one-third of an inning. Jenrry Mejia struck out Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard in order for his fifth save. Impressive.

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 Zach Britton Darren O’Day Ryan Webb Tommy Hunter
Boston Koji Uehara Junichi Tazawa Andrew Miller
CHI (NL) Hector Rondon Neil Ramirez James Russell Pedro Strop
CHI (AL) Ronald Belisario Zach Putnam Jacob Petricka Matt Lindstrom
Cincy Aroldis Chapman Jonathan Broxton Sam LeCure
Cleveland Bryan Shaw Cody Allen 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 Brian Wilson
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 Jeurys Familia Daisuke Matsuzaka Bobby Parnell
NY (AL) David Robertson Dellin Betances Adam Warren Shawn Kelley
Oakland Sean Doolittle Luke Gregerson Jim Johnson
Philly Jonathan Papelbon Mike Adams Antonio Bastardo
Pittsburgh Jason Grilli Mark Melancon Tony Watson
St. Louis Trevor Rosenthal Carlos Martinez Jason Motte
SD Huston Street Joaquin Benoit Alex Torres
SF Sergio Romo Jeremy Affeldt Jean Machi Santiago Casilla
Seattle Fernando Rodney Danny Farquhar Tom Wilhelmsen
TB Grant Balfour Jake McGee Joel Peralta
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.]

In addition to contributing to the RotoGraphs blog, you can find Alan at his own site, TheFantasyFix.com and follow his nonsense on Twitter @TheFantasyFix.

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how much longer until Vic Black gets a chair?


Not sure about a chair, but I heard he may be shopping for an ottoman.


He’s already ahead of Dice-K


Too bad it took Vic so long to get his crap together. Mets might suddenly have a solid bullpen with Mejia’s impressive 9th following Vic’s 1.1 inning 3K performance… or the Phillies just suck… a lot!