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June 6, 2013
A Test of Wil'
Welcome to another installment of The Bullpen Report. As a reminder, closers are rated in five tiers from best to worst. The tiers are a combination of my opinion of a pitcher’s ability, the likelihood that he will pick up saves, and his security in the job. For example, A pitcher in the third tier might have better skills than a pitcher in the second tier, but if the third tier pitcher is new to the job or has blown a couple of saves in the last week this factors into the ranking as well.
Since the big news right now is Biogenesis, it’s worth noting that there are no active major-league relievers listed in the reports released so far. This isn’t a definitive or final iteration of the list by any means: There are other names in the documents that haven’t been released or that are listed under code names, according to the sources in the story as reported by ESPN. However, in terms of known risk, there isn’t anything to see here.
Tier 1: Money in the Bank
After a brief hiccup a couple of weeks ago, Chapman is back with the elite crowd where he probably belonged all along. Ups and downs aside, those 46 strikeouts give Chapman a significant amount of value in both Roto and H2H formats.
Tier 2: Solid and Reliable
Based on recent performance, arguments could be made for moving Nathan, Soriano, or even Perkins into the top tier. However, the top tier is meant for the crème de la crème. This isn’t a knock on any of these pitchers. They’re very good options in any format where saves are used. If you asked me who I prefer though, I’d take any of the pitchers in the first tier.
After moving down last week, Janssen moves back up a notch this week. I go back and forth on him almost entirely due to what I hear about his health. When I hear that Janssen is experiencing soreness or discomfort, I move him down. When I don’t hear these types of reports, I move him back up. Janssen’s performance has been strong most of the year; only health and the potential for a DL stint keep him out of the top tier.
Tier 3: Yeah…You’re…Good
A number of pitchers move down this week, but the big downgrade is for Wilhelmsen, who moves down two ticks out of the elite tier. Last week, I talked about how Wilhelmsen’s blown save was mostly bad luck and a product of balls not bouncing his way, but since then he has struggled repeatedly. There isn’t any momentum for him to lose his job in Seattle, but Carter Capps is the guy I would grab as a handcuff in mixed leagues if you are so inclined. Yoervis Medina is another candidate for saves should Wilhelmsen stumble his way out of the role.
Valverde should rank lower based on how he has pitched, but Jim Leyland has a tremendous amount of faith, and the other options in Detroit aren’t all that appealing.
Jim Johnson seems to have righted the ship in Baltimore after a rough run. He has the potential to move up again next week if the good times continue.
Tier 4: Uninspiring Choices
Johnson moves up and Huston Street moves into the injury heap. The rest of the group remains unchanged. Arguments could be made for moving any of these pitchers up, but my reservations remain. Hector Ambriz has been getting save opportunities in Houston, but that has only been because Veras has needed a couple of breathers. League has picked it up again of late, so Kenley Jansen owners will have to continue to exercise patience.
Tier 5: On the Bubble
The results have been better for Rodney of late, but his peripherals haven’t improved significantly. It will take some more solid performances for him to move up. He still seems like a moderate-to-high risk option. In H2H or shallow mixed leagues, he is not an option right now.
The Marlins keep going to Cishek, and he continues to disappoint. Chad Qualls is becoming a clearer next-in-line option based on the Fish’s usage patterns. I liked A.J. Ramos as a skills guy, but the Marlins left him in yesterday to get annihilated against the Phillies. This doesn’t speak to someone who is next in line, even if they did need to “save” the rest of the bullpen.
When Chris Perez went on the DL on May 27, the Indians said that Vinnie Pestano would get the first crack at closing. The club hasn’t had any save opportunities since then. Pestano did come into a game with a 5-1 lead in a non-save situation, so I trust that Terry Francona will go to Pestano first. It appears that Perez will miss more than the minimum amount of time, but it also appears that this injury isn’t a serious one that has the potential to end his season.
Luke Gregerson takes the reins in San Diego for Street. Dale Thayer has closed in past years for the oft-injured Street, but Gregerson is more than capable of handling ninth-inning duties. His peripherals are strong and Gregerson could run with the job. Given Street’s injury history, Gregerson could be more than just a two-to-three-week fill-in.
Rex Brothers replaces Betancourt in Colorado for the time being. His ERA/WHIP have been terrific, and while the peripherals aren’t quite that stellar, Brothers is a fine fill-in to own in all but the shallowest formats. As I said last week, I would not be surprised to see Brothers usurp the job at some point in 2013, though I don’t think it will happen due to injury.
Henderson is included here because he’s already on a rehab assignment. If everything goes according to plan, he should be back Saturday. He should get the job back from Francisco Rodriguez, though there are no guarantees.
On the $ Values
Dollar values in the charts below represent my 2012 dollar valuations for 5x5 “only” Rotisserie-style formats using 2013 player statistics. These values use a Standings Gain Points (or SGP) model that is similar to the SGP model used in Baseball Prospectus’ Player Forecast Manager.
Closer Earnings to Date (through games of Tuesday, June 4, 2013)
Top Reliever Earnings, Non-Closers (through games of Tuesday, May 28, 2013)