Bullpen Report: May 6, 2015

• Recently reinstated closer Brett Cecil threw tonight, but unfortunately for fantasy owners, he didn’t pick up a save in a four-run game. However, the outing provided an interesting data point with respect to Cecil’s velocity. Two nights ago, Cecil sat between 93-94 mph — a far cry from the mid-80’s mark he was posting early in the season, and even a tick above last year’s average. Tonight, that number sagged a touch, with the Toronto lefty working closer to 91-92 mph with the heater. The degree of velocity variance he has had amongst his outings this year continues to be somewhat worrisome, but at the macro-scale, he appears to be headed in the right direction. With Miguel Castro suffering from some control issues and ending back in Triple-A, expect Cecil to have a touch more leash to smooth out the rest of the kinks. He may still be a low-risk buy-low in some leagues if some owners think this bullpen is unstable. Roberto Osuna (2.77 SIERA) continues to be used in multi-inning situations, but represents the most upside should Cecil crash and burn. Steve Delabar has snuck back into this bullpen after dominating early at Triple-A and should work his way into high-leverage situations as well.

• Cubs closer Hector Rondon danced around a hit (and an intentional walk) this evening to polish off a one-run victory versus the Cardinals. The righty was a revelation last year and his fantasy owners are excited to see he’s picked up right where he left off. Rondon’s velocity is actually up just a touch in 2015 (95.8 mph compared to 95.7 mph last year) and his SIERA in the early going is an impressive 2.28. While his 10% SwStr% is solid, but not elite, his strikeout and walk rates are in line with 2014’s breakout marks. Rondon’s big question is not so much stuff, but injury. If his arm can stay in one piece, he should return positive value for those that gambled on him after the top 15 closers came off the board.

• A couple closers are on the comeback trail. Jake McGee pitched in his third minor league game on Tuesday, putting him one step closer to joining the Rays bullpen. While chatter has centered around him being possibly called up as early as the next few days, conventional wisdom implies he’ll probably build up strength a little while longer. He’s unlikely to immediately assume the end-game gig when he returns — partly due to the time off, partly due to Brad Boxberger being good, and partly due to the Rays perpetually having a messy ninth inning. Feel free to add him if he’s been dropped, however. A’s closer Sean Doolittle is a few steps behind McGee in the return process, but he’ll throw to live hitters on Friday. If all goes well over the next week or so, one would assume the lefty would head out on a rehab assignment — lining him up for a return sometime during the last third of the month. He’s more likely to regain the closer role upon return, although we’ll have to keep an eye out on velocity in the minors. Of note, fellow Rotographer Brett Talley had an interesting piece today about these two situations and whether or not the more established guys should get their jobs back. Check it out.

• Middle relievers who could make a difference? After a rocky first couple outings, Kevin Gausman has really settled down over the last few weeks, posting a 7/0 K/BB ratio over his last 4 innings. More importantly, the righty is flirting with triple-digits on the fastball out of the bullpen. While he really should be in the starting rotation, he has SP eligibility in most fantasy leagues and is a great option to try and stabilize rates when you have a slot that generally would be used on a starter on an off day. A.J. Ramos has the 7th best SwStr% rate among RP over the last few weeks (behind guys like Aroldis Chapman, Koji Uehara, and Dellin Betances). With Steve Cishek’s velocity still down (although better last outing), Ramos is not only a nice source of ERA/WHIP/K, but also a good long-term speculative play. Speaking of Betances, his velocity scare seems like a thing of the past. He may be pushed out of regular saves for now with Andrew Miller in the mix, but he appears to have returned to his status as “elite relief option.”

Closer Grid:

Closer First Second DL/Minors
Arizona Addison Reed Brad Ziegler Evan Marshall
Atlanta Jason Grilli Jim Johnson Cody Martin
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 Scott Atchison
Colorado John Axford Rafael Betancourt Boone Logan Adam Ottavino
Detroit Joakim Soria Al Alburquerque Joba Chamberlain Joe Nathan
Houston Luke Gregerson Chad Qualls Pat Neshek
KC Greg Holland Wade Davis Kelvin Herrera
LAA Huston Street Joe Smith Vinnie Pestano
LAD Yimi Garcia Chris Hatcher Pedro Baez Kenley Jansen
Miami Steve Cishek A.J. Ramos Mike Dunn
Milwaukee Francisco Rodriguez Jonathan Broxton Will Smith
Minnesota Glen Perkins Brian Duensing Blaine Boyer Casey Fien
NY (NL) Jeurys Familia Carlos Torres Buddy Carlyle Jenrry Mejia
NY (AL) Andrew Miller Dellin Betances Chris Martin
Oakland Tyler Clippard Evan Scribner Dan Otero Sean Doolittle
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 Danny Farquhar Carson Smith
TB Brad Boxberger Kevin Jepsen Ernesto Frieri Jake McGee
Texas Neftali Feliz Keone Kela Shawn Tolleson Tanner Scheppers
Toronto Brett Cecil Roberto Osuna Steve Delabar Miguel Castro
Wash. Drew Storen Aaron Barrett Blake Treinen 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.

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Any thoughts on Axford after his poor outing? He’s been ok prior to that, but how short is his leash?

Mike W.
Mike W.

I think Betancourt takes his job by the end of the month. Axford throws hard, but other than that I’m not sure anything is all that different in terms of his pitching style or performance than it was in Cleveland or Milwaukee where he previously lost the Closer’s role.

Betancourt may be old and didn’t have a great outing today, but he has shown the ability to get guys out in Coors Field before and has plenty of “closing experience” which, sadly matters to a lot of managers.


I picked him up and promptly dealt him to save-needy owners. I’d only hang onto him if you really need saves. Other than that, avoid him for the rest of the season.

Atreyu Jones
Atreyu Jones

I have rostered old Latroy Hawkins in a hail mary attempt to snag future Rockies saves.