Bullpen Report: Sunday, July 5, 2015

Andrew Miller threw a bullpen on Saturday, and is slated to make a rehab appearance at AAA Scranton on Monday. If the rehab goes well, he could be activated after just the one appearance. This means good things for Andrew Miller owners, and not good things for Dellin Betances owners. Or does it? Joe Girardi didn’t make any proclamations regarding who his closer was early in the season, and Betances has done nothing to lose the job he’s held since Miller hit the DL. Girardi hasn’t come out and said that Miller will be thrust back into the role, so don’t be so quick to assume that’s where he’ll be when he is activated. Betances did blow the save on Saturday, giving up a two-run homer to Steven Souza Jr., but that’s not enough for an elite reliever to lose the closer gig. Pay close attention to the Yankees early in the week, and don’t hesitate to put both Betances and Miller in your lineups if they lock tonight.

Colin broke this down in depth on Wednesday, and Paul and Eno dove into it deeply on Thursday around the 28:55 mark. We’ll see how Bruce Bochy deploys his trio of Santiago Casilla, Sergio Romo and Hunter Strickland Sunday night and beyond. Strickland saw action Friday night with the Giants trailing by a run, and Saturday was a runaway, so this is a rather untenable situation right now. I think this is the type of situation that is Romo’s to lose right now, even though he hasn’t seen a save situation since Bochy decided to give Casilla a few days of rest after his debacle Wednesday night. Keep your eye on this situation, but don’t be shy on Romo if you’re looking for saves. Casilla still holds the closer role on the grid until Bochy plops Romo in there, but the grid has taken on a yellowish hue.

The Tigers DFA’d both Joba Chamberlain and Tom Gorzelanny. What does this mean for the Tigers pen? Well Bruce Rondon seems to have the inside track on the setup role, and then a combination of Blaine Hardy and Al Alburquerque will fit in behind him, but it appears that beyond Soria, there are no set roles in the Tigers pen. With Neftali Feliz out there, do the Tigers take a run at him? Maybe they go after Jonathan Papelbon or another reliever, but surely they don’t hit August with this pen. Jeff Ferrell may be a guy who slots in there, after running up a strong 29.5% K%-BB% in AA and saving 12 games. Giving up three runs in two innings of relief over the weekend isn’t a harbinger of greatness, however. He garnered two swings and misses on his 38 pitches, and lost a tick on his velocity from Saturday to Sunday. Drew VerHagen was the Tiger returned to Toledo though, and Ferrell will continue on.

Evan Scribner gave up two homers in a non-save situation on Friday. He’s getting pushed on the grid by Edward Mujica(who is just off the grid) and Drew Pomeranz, who replaces Eric O’Flaherty. I still like Scribner over Mujica, but I’m not the manager of the A’s. Scribner’s 24.8% K%-BB% dwarfs Mujica’s 15.2%, but Mujica has the edge in SwSt%, 14.3% to 13.3%. Scribner’s biggest issue is the home run ball. He’s given up nine in his 42 innings. His HR/FB% is just a hair above Mujica’s, 20.9% to 20.0%. I don’t think Mujica is a huge upgrade over Scribner. So what am I saying? Good question. If I had a hundred shares in the A’s closer situation, I’d give 45 to Scribner, 25 to Mujica, 20 to Pomeranz(Mujica gets a touch more due to his being right-handed) and then 10 to a wild card, maybe someone they get in return for Clippard that they want to try out, or someone in the system, like Ryan Dull, clipping along at AA with a 22.7% K%-BB%. Did I say Drew Pomeranz? Yes. He got the nod on Saturday to pitch the eighth and responded with his seventh hold. Tyler Clippard pitched a scoreless ninth for his 15th save.

The Braves DFA’d Nick Masset and Dana Eveland after their 4-0 loss to the Phillies on Sunday. They’ve called up David Carpenter and Arodys Vizcaino. If the Braves slip into oblivion, and with them being in the midst of ten games against the Phillies, Brewers and Rockies there is no reason to think they can’t stay in the race, but if they falter and become sellers, I wouldn’t be shocked at all to see Vizcaino slot into that ninth inning role for the Braves. That’s if they find suitors for Jason Grilli and Jim Johnson. Don’t buy Vizcaino just yet, but be ready to pull the trigger if the Braves deal Grilli. I’d grab Johnson first, obviously, but he could be on the way out too. Vizcaino is just coming back from his 80-day suspension, so he’s fresh, right? We saw what Ervin Santana did in his return, so it’s realistic to expect similar dominance from Vizcaino probably.

Of Note: Roberto Osuna grabbed his third save for the Jays, pitching a strong 1.3 innings against the Tigers. Mark Melancon struck out one in a perfect ninth for his 27th save. Wade Davis lowered his ERA to 0.25 after another scoreless inning on Sunday. Greg Holland got the win after holding the Twins scoreless in the ninth, and the Royals were able to push one across in their half. With Trevor Rosenthal pitching three days in a row, four of five, and five of seven coming in to play on Sunday, he was given the day off. Kevin Siegrist filled in capably, securing his fourth save. Jason Motte racked up his fourth save on the year, as the Cubs took two of three from the visiting Marlins. As Carrie Muskat pointed out(and if you aren’t following Carrie for Cubs news, especially bullpen knowledge, you really should be), Motte has surrendered one earned run in his past 20 appearances. In the past week, Motte earned two saves and a win, Pedro Strop nabbed two holds, and Hector Rondon grabbed a hold. I don’t think we’re quite green yet, but Joe Maddon has turned the Cubs grid from red to yellow. Ketchup to mustard. Is it too late for hot dogs, or am I just hungry? Koji Uehara struck out a pair of Astros in his perfect ninth on Sunday as he collected his 19th save.

Notes from Saturday: After pitching in four of the previous six days coming into action on Saturday, Kenley Jansen got the night off, allowing J.P. Howell to get a one-out save, his first of the year. The Reds are discussing stretching out Tony Cingrani in the minors, but if they need him before that, he’ll be a reliever in Cincy. David Robertson(18), Trevor Rosenthal(24), Mark Melancon(26) and Glen Perkins(27) all saved games on Saturday.

Notes from Friday: Trevor Rosenthal struck out the side, but in between strikeouts, he gave up a triple and a single, allowing the Padres to take the lead. Craig Kimbrel nailed it down for his 21st save. Kenley Jansen gave up a run to the Mets in the top of the ninth, allowing them to take the lead, and giving Jeurys Familia the opportunity to shut the door. He took full advantage for his 22nd save. Steve Geltz and Kevin Jepsen had nights to forget against the Yankees, as they were on the hook for all seven of the runs the Yankees scored in the 12 inning affair. Two of the runs charged to Geltz were unearned. Neftali Feliz pitched two scoreless innings for the Rangers and was promptly DFA’d. David Robertson struck out the side in a perfect ninth for his 17th save. A.J. Ramos(13), Drew Storen(24), Cody Allen(16), Joakim Soria(18) and Jim Johnson(5) all grabbed saves on Friday.

Closer Grid:

Closer First Second DL/Minors
Arizona Brad Ziegler Daniel Hudson Enrique Burgos Addison Reed
Atlanta Jason Grilli Jim Johnson Arodys Vizcaino
Baltimore Zach Britton Darren O’Day Tommy Hunter
Boston Koji Uehara Junichi Tazawa Alexi Ogando
CHI (NL) Jason Motte Hector Rondon Pedro Strop Rafael Soriano
CHI (AL) David Robertson Jacob Petricka Zach Putnam
Cincy Aroldis Chapman J.J. Hoover Ryan Mattheus Tony Cingrani
Cleveland Cody Allen Bryan Shaw Zach McAllister
Colorado John Axford Boone Logan LaTroy Hawkins John Axford
Detroit Joakim Soria Bruce Rondon Al Albuerquerque Joe Nathan
Houston Luke Gregerson Pat Neshek Josh Fields Chad Qualls
KC Greg Holland Wade Davis Kelvin Herrera
LAA Huston Street Joe Smith Fernando Salas
LAD Kenley Jansen Yimi Garcia Pedro Baez
Miami A.J. Ramos Carter Capps Steve Cishek
Milwaukee Francisco Rodriguez Jeremy Jeffress Will Smith
Minnesota Glen Perkins Blaine Boyer Casey Fien
NY (NL) Jeurys Familia Bobby Parnell Carlos Torres Jenrry Mejia
NY (AL) Dellin Betances Justin Wilson Chasen Shreve Andrew Miller
Oakland Tyler Clippard Evan Scribner Drew Pomeranz Sean Doolittle
Philly Jonathan Papelbon Ken Giles Luis Garcia
Pittsburgh Mark Melancon Tony Watson Arquimedes Caminero
St. Louis Trevor Rosenthal Kevin Siegrist Seth Maness Jordan Walden
SD Craig Kimbrel Brandon Maurer Joaquin Benoit
SF Santiago Casilla Sergio Romo Hunter Strickland
Seattle Carson Smith Fernando Rodney Mark Lowe
TB Brad Boxberger Jake McGee Kevin Jepsen
Texas Shawn Tolleson Tanner Scheppers Keone Kela Neftali Feliz
Toronto Roberto Osuna Steve Delabar Brett Cecil Miguel Castro
Wash. Drew Storen Casey Janssen Matt Thornton Aaron Barrett

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

Darren contributes to RotoGraphs when he isn’t watching the Braves or shoveling snow. Follow him on Twitter @shinesie.

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Just my $0.02 on the Giants closer situation: I totally believe Bochy at face value when he says he was just giving Casilla a few days. He will routinely try to rest guys and give them a break if they’re struggling, and usually they’re reinstated in the same role. Romo’s advanced stats look MUCH better than Casilla’s, but, as far as I can tell, Bochy doesn’t really pay attention/buy into all of that stuff. Casilla’s ERA is better, so Casilla will most likely continue to close. The one thing that definitely gives me pause is the decrease in velocity in Casilla’s outings lately (I wasn’t aware of that until listening to the podcast). Boch and co. definitely saw that and I’m sure that is super worrying to them. If his velocity stays down, then I would say there’s a much higher chance of Romo taking over. But for now, I do think that Casilla will be reinstated again as closer because he’s largely done well this season in the role. Now, another blown save or two, and there is a much, much higher chance they insert Romo in the role. And I’m not saying don’t pick up Romo because I could be 100% wrong and Bochy could have used the fatigue excuse as a reason to get another closer in there. I’m just guessing Casilla will get at least one more shot at keeping his job. As for Strickland, he is certainly the closer of the future, but I’m not sure that they will trust him with the job at any point during this season yet. I feel like the Giants think he’s still too green, and I assume the 2014 postseason scared them off making him closer yet.

Joe Youngblood
Joe Youngblood

Does Lincecum have a future on this grid?


Haha, this season? I really doubt it. They’re not paying him $18 million to close (or set-up or be a 7th-inning guy). Normally, I would say the only way they move him to the bullpen is if he REALLY struggles like he did in mid-August last season, and then it’s as the back-up longman out of the pen, not in an important situation where the Giants are leading by 3 runs or less. However, the Giants’ current glut at SP makes it much more likely they’ll move him to the pen after he’s reinstated (and even then, they’ll probably give him and Hudson the maximum amount of time on the DL with rehab starts and everything so they can stretch out the time where they don’t have to make a decision like that). I guess it’s not totally out of the question, but I would assume he’d assume a similar role to the one he did last season in the bullpen, especially after his last couple starts before he got hit on the arm.

3 in 5
3 in 5

Take a closer look at Romo’s splits and they’ll tell you Bochy doesn’t feel comfortable having Romo face LHB with the game on the line.


I’ve seen Romo’s splits. Are you talking about this season or in his career? This season, his splits against lefties look horrendous, but that could easily be a function of SSS: he’s only pitched 6 inning against left-handed hitters. In his career, the difference isn’t as stark: .281 wOBA allowed against lefties, .238 against righties. Yes, he’s definitely better against righties, but I don’t think Bochy would allow that to stop him from making Romo the closer again if Casilla continues to struggle mightily. Romo has “closing experience”, which we know doesn’t mean anything, but managers buy into stuff like that. Who do you think will close then?