CSS Button No Image Css3Menu.com

Baseball Prospectus home
  
  
Click here to log in Click here for forgotten password Click here to subscribe

<< Previous Article
Premium Article Daily Roundup: Around ... (08/08)
<< Previous Column
Fantasy Article Bullpen Report: Deadli... (08/01)
Next Column >>
Fantasy Article Bullpen Report: Mo Mov... (08/15)
Next Article >>
Fantasy Article Free Agent Watch: Week... (08/08)

August 8, 2013

Bullpen Report

Meeting the Criteria

by Mike Gianella

the archives are now free.

All Baseball Prospectus Premium and Fantasy articles more than a year old are now free as a thank you to the entire Internet for making our work possible.

Not a subscriber? Get exclusive content like this delivered hot to your inbox every weekday. Click here for more information on Baseball Prospectus subscriptions or use the buttons to the right to subscribe and get instant access to the best baseball content on the web.

Subscribe for $4.95 per month
Recurring subscription - cancel anytime.


a 33% savings over the monthly price!

Purchase a $39.95 gift subscription
a 33% savings over the monthly price!

Already a subscriber? Click here and use the blue login bar to log in.

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.

Tier 1 – Money in the Bank

I am always reluctant to move non-established closers into the top tier, but Benoit and Henderson have both earned it with their performances. Benoit is in almost no danger of being replaced by Jose Veras or anyone else in the bullpen, and it looks less and less likely that the Tigers would consider a waiver trade. It took a long time, but Henderson picked up right where he left off as closer pre-injury.

Tier 2 – Solid and Reliable

I go back and forth with Balfour nearly every week. His strikeout rates do not inspire confidence, but he gets the saves and the A’s have not considered demoting him once, at least not in 2013.

Rodney tends to live in the third tier when he’s struggling, but resides here when he is going well. For those that doubted Rodney would survive the season as Rays closer, there is a good chance that they are going to be wrong.

Looking at Ziegler’s awful whiff rate hurts my head, but he is getting the job done, making it far less likely that the Diamondbacks will make a change for the sake of making a change. J.J. Putz’s velocity has been up in his last few appearances, but he’s not an elite closer like Rivera or Kimbrel; the Diamondbacks don’t have an imperative to push Putz back into the role if Ziegler is performing.

Tier 3 – Yeah…You’re…Good

Romo is getting the saves, but hasn’t looked dominant in his last few outings. The declining grounder-to-flyball rate isn’t as big of a deal in San Francisco as it might be elsewhere, but I don’t like the somewhat diminished velocity on either Romo’s slider or his fastball. He’s safe, but it’s possible he might lose some opportunities down the stretch if the Giants want to give him a break.

Johnson moves down mostly because he has not had a significant number of opportunities of late. This lack of work combined with a non-elite K rate moves him down a notch.

Farquhar has looked absolutely dominant in the last week or so; this ranking is the obligatory “low” ranking for a new closer. There is a good possibility that Tom Wilhelmsen won’t make it back up to the majors this year and that Farquhar holds onto the job.

Tier 4 Uninspiring Choices

Dane de la Rosa continues to lurk, but Frieri stays here as long as there is no public momentum in Anaheim to replace him.

Tier 5 – On the Bubble

Perez was “fine” before his meltdown against the Tigers on Monday, but his overall numbers aren’t very good so any implosion is cause for concern. Cody Allen and Bryan Shaw are the guys I’d stash in a deeper league if you own Perez (see below for more on these pitchers).

Fields has terrific raw stuff, but sometimes looks like a work in progress. In an unsettled bullpen, though, there’s a good chance that Fields gets an extended shot at the job. I touted Jose Cisnero last week but he looked shaky in a save opportunity and the narrow window he had has already closed, as Cisnero was optioned to the minors yesterday. Fields should probably be higher based on his raw stuff, but there’s too much uncertainty to push him any higher.

Hawkins picked up the save on Tuesday and even though Terry Collins said the dreaded “c” word might be the guy for now. It is unclear how long Bobby Parnell will be out, but if you’re in a shallow league, it is best to follow the saves. Deeper league players can certainly take a chance on David Aardsma as well. Aardsma has struggled of late but could wend his way back into the role if this is a longer term issue.

MIDDLE RELIEVERS
With Wilhelmsen down in the minors, the backups to Farquhar are Yoervis Medina and Carter Capps. Medina is a converted starter who throws a hard fastball to go with a tough slider. His control/command is a bit of an issue, but as Farquhar’s back up he should be fine. Capps was recently recalled from the minors. He is further down in the pecking order, but is a name to keep in mind long term in the Seattle bullpen.

As mentioned above, the Mets bullpen is murky. Aardsma gets mentioned the most frequently, but he has put up really poor numbers this year and wouldn’t be a good bet to hold onto the job. Scott Rice has also been mentioned as an option, but his K% is okay, not great. This is a problem with the Mets pen in general. There isn’t a shut down reliever here; even Parnell wasn’t a whiff machine. Carlos Torres is probably the most deserving in terms of his numbers, but this isn’t a meritocracy.

While Chris Perez has been subpar, Cody Allen has shined. His fastball/curve combo has served him well this year, and the fear of a lot of long balls hasn’t quite materialized. Vinnie Pestano is down in Triple-A now, so I think Allen is next in line. Bryan Shaw has picked up some extra whiffs this year and is the stealth candidate in this pen. He’s worth an AL-only pick-up.

SKILLS TO LOOK FOR
Last week, one of my readers asked me what I look for in a reliever as far as signs that he might lose his job… or signs that a reliever might be the guy waiting in the wings to usurp the job should the closer stumble. I have touched upon these points before in various bullpen pieces, but here are a few things I look at with relievers when deciding whether to add or drop a pitcher to/from my team.

Dominance

A pitcher who strikes out a fair amount of batters and/or generates a good deal of swinging strikes is dominant and mitigates risk of even the lucky banjo hits that might fall in. Craig Kimbrel is an obvious example of a dominant closer, but any pitcher who strikes out over 11 batters per nine innings fits the bill.

Control/Command

Does the pitcher throw strikes? The aforementioned banjo hits drive a manager nuts, but a reliever that walks the park isn’t going to last that long in the ninth. Carlos Marmol was dominant enough that he survived with a horrible walk rate for a long time, but most pitchers don’t.

Pounding the Ground

Nothing is more deflating to a team than losing a game in the ninth on a home run. Pitchers that can keep the ball in the park might blow a save now and again, but they won’t lose in this nightmare fashion. While I’d still take a dominant pitcher with a high whiff rate over a pedestrian pitcher with a poor whiff rate, keeping the ball in the park helps any pitcher.

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.

Earnings Through Games of Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Closer Earnings to Date

Overall Rank

Pitcher

$

1

Craig Kimbrel

$19

2

Joe Nathan

$18

3

Kenley Jansen

$17

4

Greg Holland

$17

5

Edward Mujica

$17

6

Mariano Rivera

$16

7

Glen Perkins

$15

10

Koji Uehara

$15

11

Jim Johnson

$14

12

Grant Balfour

$14

13

Aroldis Chapman

$14

14

Sergio Romo

$13

15

Casey Janssen

$13

16

Addison Reed

$13

17

Mark Melancon

$13

18

Steve Cishek

$12

19

Joaquin Benoit

$12

20

Rafael Soriano

$12

21

Jim Henderson

$12

23

Fernando Rodney

$11

26

Jonathan Papelbon

$11

32

Rex Brothers

$9

35

Brad Ziegler

$9

36

Kevin Gregg

$9

42

Chris Perez

$8

46

Huston Street

$8

48

Ernesto Frieri

$8

98

LaTroy Hawkins

$4

164

Danny Farquhar

$2

266

Josh Fields

$0


Top Reliever Earnings, Non-Closers

Overall Rank

Pitcher

$

8

Jason Grilli

$15

9

Bobby Parnell

$15

22

Drew Smyly

$12

24

Jose Veras

$11

25

Tyler Clippard

$11

27

Alex Torres

$11

28

Justin Wilson

$10

29

David Robertson

$10

30

Aaron Loup

$9

31

Luke Hochevar

$9

33

Luis Avilan

$9

34

Brett Cecil

$9

37

Neal Cotts

$8

38

Tanner Scheppers

$8

39

Darren O’Day

$8

40

Tommy Hunter

$8

41

Paco Rodriguez

$8

43

Ryan Cook

$8

44

Luke Gregerson

$8

45

Casey Fien

$8

47

Brandon Kintzler

$8

49

Cody Allen

$9

50

Trevor Rosenthal

$8

51

Heath Bell

$7

52

Jordan Walden

$7

53

Alfredo Simon

$7

54

Tom Wilhelmsen

$7

55

David Carpenter

$7

56

Sean Doolittle

$7

57

Caleb Thielbar

$7

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

9 comments have been left for this article.

<< Previous Article
Premium Article Daily Roundup: Around ... (08/08)
<< Previous Column
Fantasy Article Bullpen Report: Deadli... (08/01)
Next Column >>
Fantasy Article Bullpen Report: Mo Mov... (08/15)
Next Article >>
Fantasy Article Free Agent Watch: Week... (08/08)

RECENTLY AT BASEBALL PROSPECTUS
Premium Article Skewed Left: How to Change Things When Chang...
Fantasy Article TTO Scoresheet Podcast: Episode 35
The BP Wayback Machine: The Many Moments of ...
Fantasy Article Fantasy Freestyle: Small Moves That Might Ma...
Premium Article What You Need to Know: September 18, 2014
Premium Article Pitching Backward: Big Situation James
Painting the Black: The Plightin' Showalters

MORE FROM AUGUST 8, 2013
Premium Article Minor League Update: First Round Selections:...
Premium Article Painting the Black: Rating Rizzo
Premium Article What You Need to Know: Harvey's First Shutou...
Premium Article Skewed Left: Fisking a Preseason Pirates Art...
Premium Article The Prospectus Hit List: Thursday, August 8
Fantasy Article Free Agent Watch: Week 19
Premium Article Daily Roundup: Around the League: August 8, ...

MORE BY MIKE GIANELLA
2013-08-15 - Fantasy Article Bullpen Report: Mo Moves Down
2013-08-12 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Freestyle: Inflation Nation
2013-08-08 - Fantasy Article Free Agent Watch: Week 19
2013-08-08 - Fantasy Article Bullpen Report: Meeting the Criteria
2013-08-05 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Freestyle: Ditch or Play Down the St...
2013-08-02 - Premium Article The Call-Up: Chad Bettis
2013-08-02 - BP Fantasy Podcast: Episode 53 is Live!
More...

MORE BULLPEN REPORT
2013-08-29 - Fantasy Article Bullpen Report: Oh, Brothers
2013-08-22 - Fantasy Article Bullpen Report: Farquhar Rises to the Top
2013-08-15 - Fantasy Article Bullpen Report: Mo Moves Down
2013-08-08 - Fantasy Article Bullpen Report: Meeting the Criteria
2013-08-01 - Fantasy Article Bullpen Report: Deadline Fallout
2013-07-25 - Fantasy Article Bullpen Report: On the Grilli
2013-07-18 - Fantasy Article Bullpen Report: Trade Winds Blowing
More...