Bullpen Report: May 7, 2017

It was another fun weekend for bullpen activity across the major leagues. There was some all-too-familiar drama for a few teams, an injury to a key closer, and a couple of spectacular performances by an underrated set-up man. Let’s get right into the report:

  • Francisco Rodriguez melted down in consecutive games against the A’s this weekend. On Saturday, with a one-run lead and two outs and nobody on in the 9th inning, he issued a walk, a game-tying double, and a walk-off single. On Sunday, also with a one-run lead, K-Rod walked the leadoff man, allowed a game-tying double, then, after a lineout, Ryon Healy hit a walk-off home run. The Tigers closer is now just 7 for 11 in save opportunities, and he’s allowed 19 hits, 11 earned runs, and four home runs in 11 2/3 innings this year. He has a 8.49 ERA/6.55 FIP/4.79 xFIP, and he’s only gotten ground balls on 29.3% of balls in play against him compared to his career mark of 43.3%. Rodriguez’s job should be in jeopardy after the back-to-back blown saves and the overall poor performance this year. Set-up man Justin Wilson has been excellent this season, pitching mostly in the 8th. He has seven holds on the year, and a brilliant 1.32 ERA/1.65 FIP/2.03 xFIP to go along with a 45.7% K%. The situation is “red” in Detroit, with manager Brad Ausmus saying after Sunday’s game that the team is going to discuss its closer situation during tomorrow’s off day, which is usually a strong indication that a change is forthcoming.

  • The Nationals’ Matt Grace and Matt Albers combined to allow three runs in the 8th inning to the Phillies that tied the game. Enny Romero cleaned up a two on and no out situation in the 9th, and escaped the inning unscathed. Blake Treinen loaded the bases with no outs in the 10th and allowed the winning run to score on a sacrifice fly after a strikeout. As Al Melchior noted on Friday, the bullpen is in total disarray for the Nationals, with Shawn Kelley and Koda Glover on the disabled list and Treinen not pitching well. Romero and Albers appear to be first in line for saves at the moment, but neither is necessarily worth owning in fantasy leagues, since neither has great peripherals and Glover is expected to be back within a week, and he should get save opportunities upon his return. Even then, the Nationals bullpen will likely remain a work in progress until they trade for an established closer.
  • Corey Knebel picked up his 10th hold of the season in a scoreless 8th inning on Sunday, racking up three strikeouts in the process. It was the second game in a row Knebel has struck out three batters in an inning of work. He now has 25 strikeouts in 16 1/3 innings, along with just seven walks and no home runs allowed. He has a very strong 1.10 ERA/1.44 FIP/2.25 xFIP, and looks like a closer in the making. Despite blowing only one save in nine chances, Neftali Feliz has been shaky in the closer’s role this year (4.91 ERA/6.24 FIP/5.06 xFIP). The rebuilding Brewers will likely move at least someone from their bullpen by the trading deadline, but there’s no telling exactly who that will be. If Feliz is moved, Knebel could certainly see save opportunities in Milwaukee, and thrive in that role. He’s definitely worth owning in holds leagues, and he’s worth considering for those speculating for saves.
  • With Zach Britton headed back to the disabled list with a left forearm strain, Brad Brach is once again slated for saves in Baltimore. Brach entered in the 9th with a 4-0 lead and two on and one out, and he induced a double-play grounder to wrap up the game. Brach is now 6 for 7 in save opportunities this year, and he has a sparkling 2.04 ERA (although he has just a 3.91 xFIP). His career strikeout rate (26.2%) is good, and he’s right there again this year at 27.0%. He should be a fine replacement for Britton, and he’s certainly worth owning with Britton’s health being an ongoing concern at this time.
  • Sam Dyson entered a tie game in the 8th inning and allowed a go-ahead solo home run to Kyle Seager. It was the fourth home run Dyson has allowed in 10 2/3 innings this year, and it ballooned his overall numbers on the season to a 12.66 ERA/9.79 FIP/6.77 xFIP. Today was Dyson’s 29th birthday, but even that didn’t help him turn his disastrous season around. He likely won’t see many more high leverage situations until he figures things out.
  • Kelvin Herrera allowed two home runs in what had was a tie game in the 9th inning on Saturday. After notching a career-high 30.4% K% in 2016, Herrera has just a 19.5% K% in 2017. Herrera is still throwing hard, so it’s not entirely clear why he hasn’t been able to strike batters out this year like he did last season. In the meantime, his job remains safe, but he’s someone to continue to watch as the season unfolds.

Closer Grid:

Closer First Second DL/Minors
Arizona Fernando Rodney JJ Hoover Jorge de la Rosa
Atlanta Jim Johnson Arodys Vizcaino Jose Ramirez Mauricio Cabrera
Baltimore Brad Brach Darren O’Day Mychal Givens Zach Britton
Boston Craig Kimbrel Matt Barnes Heath Hembree Carson Smith
CHI (NL) Wade Davis Hector Rondon Koji Uehara
CHI (AL) David Robertson Tommy Kahnle Anthony Swarzak Nate Jones
Cincy Raisel Iglesias Michael Lorenzen Drew Storen
Cleveland Cody Allen Andrew Miller Bryan Shaw
Colorado Greg Holland Adam Ottavino Jake McGee Mike Dunn
Detroit Francisco Rodriguez Justin Wilson Shane Greene
Houston Ken Giles Luke Gregerson Will Harris
KC Kelvin Herrera Joakim Soria Peter Moylan
LAA Bud Norris Blake Parker David Hernandez Cam Bedrosian
LAD Kenley Jansen Pedro Baez Luis Avilan
Miami A.J. Ramos Brad Ziegler Kyle Barraclough
Milwaukee Neftali Feliz Corey Knebel Jacob Barnes
Minnesota Brandon Kintzler Matt Belisle Taylor Rogers Glen Perkins
NY (NL) Jeurys Familia Addison Reed Jerry Blevins
NY (AL) Aroldis Chapman Dellin Betances Tyler Clippard
Oakland Santiago Casilla Ryan Madson Ryan Dull Sean Doolittle
Philly Hector Neris Joaquin Benoit Jeanmar Gomez
Pittsburgh Tony Watson Felipe Rivero Daniel Hudson
St. Louis Seung Hwan Oh Trevor Rosenthal Kevin Siegrist
SD Brandon Maurer Ryan Buchter Brad Hand Carter Capps
SF Mark Melancon Derek Law Hunter Strickland
Seattle Edwin Diaz Nick Vincent Tony Zych Steve Cishek
TB Alex Colome Danny Farquhar Austin Pruitt Brad Boxberger
Texas Matt Bush Jeremy Jeffress Jose Leclerc
Toronto Roberto Osuna Joe Biagini Joe Smith
Wash. Matt Albers Enny Romero Blake Treinen Shawn Kelley

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

Ben Kaspick is the host Locked On Giants, a daily podcast focused on the San Francisco Giants. He began writing for FanGraphs' RotoGraphs in 2016, and also contributes for SB Nation's Beyond the Box Score. Follow him on Twitter @BenKaspick.

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King Donko of Punchstania
King Donko of Punchstania

Is there an update on the White Sox pecking order? Nate Jones is injured.