A quick bullpen report as many head-to-head guys head into the last week of the semis.
– It appears the end of times may be upon us for Santiago Casilla. The maligned Giants’ stopper had already given up his stranglehold on the closer gig but kept hurting San Francisco’s playoff chances by taking a blown save/loss last night to the Cardinals. Admittedly, he didn’t get a clean inning, as Sergio Romo put a runner on before him, but that didn’t mollify fans. Casilla hasn’t been really that different of a pitcher in 2016 than his last couple seasons (outside of luck-based factors controlling his ERA). That said, relief leverage (especially in September) is a “what have you done for me lately kind of thing?” and Casilla’s ERA over the last month is ~8.00. With no RP pitching exceptionally well in this bullpen, it’s a bit of a dice roll to who is up next. Sergio Romo has the pedigree and a decent ERA over the last month, but he’s walking too many guys. Hunter Strickland is somewhat the opposite — unproven, decent peripherals, but bad performances lately. Derek Law and Will Smith might get the next shot (depending on handedness) but only Bruce Bochy knows. I’d stay away from here unless desperate.
– Third blown save for Brandon Kintzler on Saturday. The righty doesn’t fit the prototypical mold of a ninth-inning guy, only fanning 15% of the batters he’s faced. His success has come from limiting free passes (3%) and maintaining decent ball-in-play numbers. There has been some comment chatter the last couple weeks why we haven’t moved him green — I’d probably call him “chartreuse” at this point. He’s probably locked in for the remainder of the season, but he’s also a low strikeout guy giving up hard-hit balls 30% of the time. It isn’t unreasonable to think he could go through a stretch of 2-3 games where he torpedoes your ERA/WHIP and finds himself taking a breather from the 9th for a team not in contention. I’m still running him out there, myself, but just keep in mind he’s not as safe as some of the lower-end green options who have the punchout stuff.
– Craig Kimbrel got 4 outs against the Yankees in his 2nd consecutive day of work. This is only the second time in his career he’s pitched more than one inning on zero days of rest. He’s looked good the last two nights (6 batters, 6 K’s) but don’t be shocked if the Red Sox let someone like Koji Uehara or (gulp) Joe Kelly (didn’t pitch yesterday) see a high-leverage spot late in the game, particularly if it’s closer to a 4-run lead than a 1-run one.
– Quick hits: Seung Hwan Oh returned to pick up the win in the game that Casilla lost. Activate him across the board. Wade Davis looked good pitching for the first time in nearly a week — make sure you haven’t forgotten him on the DL/bench. Ken Giles bounced back from a blown save in his last appearance to polish off the Mariners. It’s too bad for the ‘Stros he had that hiccup the other night, but he’s otherwise a solid bet to finish the season strong.
[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.