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April 29, 2014

Closer Report

Week Five

by Mauricio Rubio

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Compared to the earlier weeks, this one was kind of boring in reliever-land. Let’s check in on what’s gone down.

A Tale Of Two Cities

Chicago Cubs
Hector Rondon pumped absolute gas in a 4-0 win against the Brewers. The Cubs bullpen has been a situation since time immemorial it seems. This year has been no different, as Jose Veras went on the DL with an oblique injury and Pedro Strop has seemingly lost his tenuous hold on the closer job to Rondon. Justin Grimm and Strop remain in the mix should Rondon continue the closer carousel on the North Side, and there’s always Kyuji Fujikawa, who’s still sitting in the DL, but I think Rondon might actually hold on to the job.

Chicago White Sox
Through it all, Matt Lindstrom manages to hold on. The White Sox bullpen has been a disaster this year. As a unit, White Sox relievers have a 14.7 percent strikeout rate, which is the worst in the league. They also have a 14.5 percent walk rate which is also worst in the league. There have been high profile disasters and slow burnouts. Lindstrom holds the job for now and it’s difficult to imagine a scenario in which he loses it. The starting rotation is a mess right now and that will also tax an already thin bullpen. I’ve been asked about stashing Nate Jones, I think he’s going to be gone awhile but even so, if you have a free DL spot, I can’t see the harm in using it on Jones.

Bullpen By Committee Update

Oakland A’s
Susan Slusser had this to say about Jim Johnson’s chances at returning to the closer role. There was also some stuff in there about neither Luke Gregerson nor Sean Doolittle looking comfortable in the ninth inning, which is interesting and perhaps a thought for a future post. For now let’s concentrate on what Jim Johnson has done to warrant consideration again. After a bad performance against Minnesota on April 9, Johnson has gone 7 2/3 scoreless inning and has collected eight strikeouts in that span. More importantly, he’s only issued two walks. For Johnson, the control is a good sign. He’s not going to be a top-tier closer, so the Ks and rate stats won’t be overly impressive, but I still think he’s a player who can get the job done in the ninth.

Houston Astros
Raul Valdes, Josh Fields, and Chad Qualls are all interchangeable at this point in the Astros ‘pen. I still believe in Fields overall, but he hasn’t separated himself from the bunch all that much. He was unavailable on Sunday due to tightness in his quad. It didn’t sound serious but we’ll keep an eye on that.

General Updates

  • Sergio Santos continues to dance with the devil in terms of walk rate. Casey Janssen threw a bullpen session with no issues recently. There’s no return date set for him quite yet but his shadow still looms in Toronto’s bullpen.
  • Joe Smith supplants Ernesto Frieri in LAA but I’m still holding onto Frieri in my leagues.
  • Daisuke Matsuzaka got a save for the Mets and Kyle Farnsworth has pitched 11 1/3 non-awful innings so far this year.
  • Francisco Rodriguez is still putting up video game numbers. If you had the over on K-Rod saves, congrats.

Cody Allen Watch
John Axford looks like he’s going to stick around for a while, effectively blocking Cody Allen, who had an unfortunate outing on Sunday.

Mauricio Rubio is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Mauricio's other articles. You can contact Mauricio by clicking here

5 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

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Are the Cubs ever going to GET a save chance? That's the $64,000 question.

Apr 29, 2014 07:32 AM
rating: 0

Hey, the great Kevin Gregg saved 33 games for the Cubs last year over 2/3rds of a season. And the Cubs are better this year, no?

Apr 29, 2014 10:12 AM
rating: 0

Their team has 8 wins (.333 winning percentage) and they have generated 2 saves. At that pace they will win 54 games and generate 13 or 14 saves as a team.

It has to get better than that right?

Apr 29, 2014 12:21 PM
rating: 0

No, it doesn't.
We're talking about the Cubs.

Apr 30, 2014 09:17 AM
rating: 1

Ernesto Frieri has ruined my life.

Apr 29, 2014 10:20 AM
rating: 0
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Premium Article Monday Morning Ten Pac... (04/28)
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