Dan welcomes relievers from the murky San Diego and San Francisco ninth-inning situations to VP this week.
If there’s a pattern to the Padres’ closer situation, I can’t discern it. Bud Black’s Dale Thayer fetish seems to have subsided, and the Tom Layne era lasted all of one successfully converted save chance. Most recently, the Friars have (finally) circled back to ace setup man Luke Gregerson(Yahoo! 12%, ESPN 5%, CBS 10%), who was handed two save opps over the weekend and nailed down both. I don’t know why Gregerson is suddenly a viable closing candidate—nor why he was deemed something other than that in the first place. I also don’t know if Black will settle on Gregerson, but the right-hander’s high upside makes him a good short-term target for saves speculators. Huston Street could be back from his DL stint within a week or so, but I’d like to see it before I walk away from the closer of the moment in San Diego, because Gregerson is good.
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Dale Thayer, Scott Downs, and the yucky Brewers closing situation are examined in this week's VP.
Arrivals Dale Thayer(Yahoo! 14%, ESPN 18%, CBS 15%) will someday be the answer to a fantasy trivia question that no one, anywhere, will ask: Who was Huston Street’s backup during his brilliant but injury-riddled 2012 season? (The guy with the silly name and great/awful mustache; that’s who.) Thayer once again leapfrogged the superior Luke Gregerson for the Friars’ closing job in Street’s absence, perhaps lending credence to the suspicion that San Diego doesn’t think Cool Hand Luke can handle the gig, whether it be physically or mentally. In any event, Street is out with a strained calf, which sounds benign enough, but considering the Padres just locked him into a long-term deal and the team is going nowhere this year, they won’t be in any hurry to have him back on the mound. It’s too soon to dump Street if you own him, but Thayer might warrant higher priority on wires where there are more than one saves option to be had.
Alexi Ogando and Al Alburquerque are the relievers du jour in this edition of Value Picks.
It’s not altogether surprising that Rangers closer Joe Nathan needed a blow this weekend. After all, he’s nearly 38 years old and two years removed from Tommy John surgery. Plus, he relies on an arm-taxing swing-and-miss repertoire consisting of a hard fastball, a slider, and a curve.
Only one closer was traded at yesterday's deadline, but there are still plenty of situation's in flux in this week's VP.
Of the 18 earned runs Orioles closer Jim Johnson has allowed this season, 13 of them have come in the past 16 days. Sprinkled into this hellacious stretch was a five-run clunker on July 16 and a six-run disaster on Friday. It has not been pretty for this Jim-John (yes, Jim-John) owner. So what’s to blame for the slump? Whenever there’s a stark downturn like this, injury is a concern, but I’ve read nothing to this effect. Correction is possible, too; Johnson misses far too few bats to think he was going to sustain a sub-2.00 ERA all season. But the fact that he absorbed all of this correction (and then some) in such a small window is worrisome nonetheless.
The Astros' in-flux closing situation takes center stage in this week's VP.
With the trade deadline approaching, the Astros prudently got a jump on the market for relievers by flipping both closer Brett Myers and setup man Brandon Lyon in separate deals over the past week. It seemed reasonable that the steady but unspectacular Wilton Lopez(Yahoo! 3%, ESPN 0%, CBS 5%) would take over from there, but he’s been skipped over in favor of Francisco Cordero’s carcass, which was acquired in the Lyon swap. My guess is that the Astros deferred to Cordero not only because he has the vaunted experience but also because Lopez has been nursing a sprained ulnar collateral ligament this season. The logic seems to be why chain a guy to a role when he might need occasional days of rest? That being said, Cordero’s career is basically on life support, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see Lopez get some save chances by attrition.
This week's VP finally finds some resolution in the Minnesota and Milwaukee bullpens and examines the aftermath.
When we look back on closers at the end of the season, there’s no denying that the high rate of early-season turnover will dominate the discussion. But a less discussed angle is that of the struggling closers whose respective teams stubbornly refused to shake things up. One such example is John Axford of the Brewers, who has gotten a ton of leash in 2012 but mostly failed to reward his team’s faith. Now, after seeing Axford post a 5.35 ERA and blow six of 22 save chances, Brewers manager Ron Roenicke has finally turned elsewhere.
The Marlins, Astros, and Padres bullpen situations are examined with each potentially on the cusp of chaos.
It’s been awhile since we last spoke, as this column was shelved last week in observance of Independence Day. But its return coincides with the beginning of the nominal second half, which should soon bring at least one or two bullpen shakeups as the trade deadline looms.
With Frank Francisco hitting the DL, Dan examines replacement Bobby Parnell in this week's VP
Mets closer Frank Francisco apparently hates the Yankees. So when he picked up a save against the Bombers on Friday, the right-hander celebrated by ... straining his oblique. With Francisco out at least 15 days—likely more, considering the tricky nature of oblique injuries—right-hander Bobby Parnell(Yahoo! 26%, ESPN 28%, CBS 30%) steps in. Parnell bombed in a second-half closing audition last season, and his results (4.16 career ERA) have never seemed to reflect his nasty raw stuff. But the hard-throwing right-hander boasted a 3.19 ERA and 3.16 FIP entering Tuesday night’s action, so there’s reason to believe he can fill in dutifully for Francisco—and perhaps even fare better. The Mets signed Francisco last offseason to close, and I think he’ll be treated accordingly upon his return, but it wouldn’t shock me if Parnell were able to wrestle away the job with a lights-out stretch. First things first, though: let’s see how long Francisco is out and how well Parnell pitches out of the gate. Francisco owners should stash him on the bench/DL in the meantime.
Glen Perkins and Greg Holland make their VP bid this week.
I had such high hopes for Pirates swing man Brad Lincoln (Yahoo! 6%, ESPN 2%, CBS 9%), but his past three outings have been starts, and the results have been ugly: 11 2/3 innings, 13 earned runs, 10 strikeouts, 23 hits (!), and four walks. It’s time for the Bucs to mercy-kill this experiment and return Lincoln to his rightful place as their long reliever. He’ll serve the team—and fantasy owners—far better in that role.
Ryan Cook and Matt Belisle are highlighted as potential fantasy helpers in this week's VP
With relatively few bullpen shakeups, closer speculation remains somewhat slow for another week, though things will be heating up with the trade market soon taking shape. For now, let’s unearth those little-known gems.