• For someone with such incredible heat I’m continually amazed that Jordan Hicks doesn’t get more whiffs but Hicks nonetheless pitched a scoreless ninth for his 11th save of the year. While Hicks hasn’t been particularly great this year, he’s been able to weather the storm and hold onto the job. he entered the year in a possible committee with Andrew Miller but his ineffectiveness has allowed Hicks to have complete control. We have him yellow since he’s hit a few rough patches in May but it’s likely that he remains the sole closer in St. Louis. A small tweak could unlock more whiffs on his 101+ heat which could make him an elite option but fantasy owners will have to be happy with an ERA in the mid-high threes and 30 or so saves.
• Kenley Jansen was called on for the final four outs after Hyun-Jin Ryu got all of the previous ones. Although this is the bullpen report, I just want to point out how fun it’s been following Ryu this year who lowered his ERA to 1.48 last night. Anywho back to the bullpens, Jansen was perfect in his four outs and struck out a pair for his 16th save. Like every competitive team except maybe the Yankees, the Dodgers are likely to look for relief help at the deadline but no acquisition would affect Jansen who’s job remains as secure as ever. His 3.33 ERA is a bit pedestrian for his standards and even his 2.52 SIERA is worse than we’ve come to expect but even the This Is 30 version of Jansen is a top closing option who should get 35 saves and 75-90 strikeouts.
• Adam Morgan hit the IL for the Phillies, and although he’s vanished from the grid he was always lurking as an option for a one or two out save opportunity if lefties were coming. Hector Neris has low key taken the job by storm with a 2.56 SIERA and a swinging strike rate of 18.1% which ranks 6th among qualified relievers. If/when David Robertson comes back from injury, it’s still likely that Neris holds onto the job.
• I was singing Ian Kennedy’s praises earlier this year and I probably got a little too ahead of myself as we have watched his ERA balloon to 4.18. With that said, he’s still the best option in the pen for the Royals and he threw a perfect 9th for his 3rd save of the year. The Royals don’t figure to have an abundance of save opportunities but after a lot of committeeing, they might be settling on Kennedy as their main guy. If he can avoid a disaster he could provide decent source of saves for a team in need but there is still some buyer beware with projected ERAs ranging from 4.11 to 5.14.
• Jeremy Jeffress pitched two scoreless last night striking out a pair and lowered his ERA to 2.55. Once Jeffress came off of the IL we expected him to possibly sniff the 9th once he was up and running. However, in his first appearances Jeffress’ velo was 90-93 which was a cause for concern. Since then he’s inched up although it’s still not the 95+ mph heat we have become accustomed to. With that said, if he keeps putting up zeros he could see a save situation or two, allowing Hader to pitch more setup but as the trade deadline heats up I would expect the Brewers to bring in another option who is more reliable than Jeffress who could steal a few save opportunities.
• Speaking of the trade deadline, Will Smith continued his great year and saved his 13th game last night for the Giants. I keep checking and there still aren’t any strong rumors yet but I will still predict that he’s moved in July to a contender. While there could be more dominant arms available, they will likely demand a costly return and Smith can be utilized both as a “proven” closer and as a situational lefty depending on a team’s depth and need. As the deadline heats up now that the draft is almost here, we will make sure to make those rumors a big part of the Bullpen Report since many jobs could be change on a dime.
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