Ernesto Frieri and Jason Grilli get changes of scenery, Sergio Romo cedes the Giants gig, plus more closer notes from around the league.
Two Closer Candidates Change Leagues Ernesto Frieri and Jason Grilli switched teams, as the LA Angels and Pittsburgh Pirates swapped relievers whose seasons had been subpar. We know the story with both of these guys at this point: Frieri has severe issues with the long ball when he’s missing with his fastball, and Grilli has been inconsistent with his command, as he’s been the unfortunate combination of walk-happy and hittable. In terms of proximity to saves, Grilli is the better bet, as there aren’t many good options in Anaheim, and Frieri will have Mark Melancon in front of him. I might be out on both at this point.
The White Sox Mess
Ahhh, White Sox bullpen. I’ve forgotten your scent. The Ronald Belisario show has come to its final and unfortunate end, as the big-faced righty gave up two runs (one earned) and recorded one out against the Blue Jays en route to recording that all-important hold. There was a time where Belisario’s ERA was under 4.00, but a chart of his game-by-game ERA would look like a deep V, as his ERA and peripherals have boomeranged from respectable to just bad. This is the part where I give you a few names to consider at the back end of this bullpen but, well, there aren’t any names I feel good about here.
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Surveying the ninth-inning situations around the league.
The ERA doesn’t show it, but Jason Grilli was scuffling after he came back from an oblique injury. The strikeouts were down and the walks were up from his brilliant 2013 campaign. Grilli is hovering around the 21 percent mark in terms of strikeout rate, and the walk rate has come up to 12 percent. Couple that with a newfound propensity to give up home runs in a small sample and the writing was on the wall with Grilli. Mark Melancon will serve as the closer in the short term, and I think there is a really good chance he’s the long-term closer as well. Melancon has solid peripheral numbers and served as the closer during Grilli’s rehab.
Chicago Cubs Neil Ramirez is still making things compelling in the Cubs’ bullpen, which is a rare problem for the North Siders to have, especially after the tumultuous year Cubs relievers had in 2013. Ramirez is carrying a 1.00 ERA and a 0.77 WHIP in 18 innings. Those are outstanding numbers, and they definitely warrant consideration for the job. However, Hector Rondon has still been pitching extremely well, having only given up runs in four of his 27 appearances. I still think Rondon is the closer until he proves otherwise.
Updating the fantasy stock of Chicago's best young hitting talents.
Kris Bryant was promoted to Triple-A Iowa, where he will likely play third base and hit in close proximity to the Cubs’ other talented and highly touted prospect Javier Baez.
Before the season started, the spring had created clever illusions about Baez, as Cubs fans and fantasy owners alike salivated at the possibility that each preseason laser beam to the outfield seats would draw him closer to major-league playing time in 2014. A deep slump to start the year popped those illusions, as those same fans and fantasy owners were left holding their heads in their hands and looking for a consolation that could only come after the high-risk proposition in Baez started solving the puzzle that is pitch sequencing.
Keeping tabs on the ninth-inning situations around the league.
Chicago Cubs Neil Ramirez has been the hot commodity in the Cubs bullpen lately. Ramirez has racked up 26 strikeouts 17 innings, all with a 1.06 ERA and a 0.76 WHIP. Ramirez was used as the closer on Sunday and notched his third save of the season. His success creates an interesting situation in the Cubs bullpen, as they suddenly find themselves with two capable end-game options in Ramirez and Hector Rondon, who was held out of a few games with elbow tightness. If you’re desperate for saves and you are looking for a speculative play, Ramirez is the hot name to pick up, but I still think Rondon will be the closer until he falters.
Tampa Bay Rays Grant Balfour’s meltdowns have led to a closer-by-committee situation in Tampa. Balfour’s most recent appearance was a 2 1/3-inning save against the Cardinals on June 11. Jake McGee got the save on Sunday against the Astros. Maddon was sure to mention that the Rays were still in committee mode after Balfour’s multi-inning save, so Joel Peralta, Juan Oviedo, McGee, and Balfour are all still in play closer-wise. If you have Balfour and can stash him, I would advise doing so. Maddon is known for his creativity, so picking out a strong candidate from this group will be tough, but I think Balfour will eventually work his way back into the closer role.
Is your fantasy team lagging behind in a particular 5x5 category? Mauricio's here to help.
In fantasy baseball and in life, even the best-laid plans can go down the tubes in quick and spectacular fashion.
Sometimes you gamble on Jose Veras and Prince Fielder to help carry you into first in saves and home runs, respectively. Maybe you thought Jose Fernandez was invincible and he alone would anchor your pitching staff as a true ace, both in fantasy and in the real world. Or maybe you had this surprise planned out for someone that you really liked, but then they found, out and now the whole thing is ruined, and now you don’t know what to do because oh my god why couldn’t Jesse just keep his mouth shut?
A look at why you shouldn't give up on retread closers, plus updates on the ninth-inning situations around the league.
When bullpens struggle, it shows in big and spectacular ways. There are a few ways major-league teams in contention go about shuffling fungible assets, the most common fix being the acquisition of retreads—journeyman relievers whose careers crested long ago and are now in decline.
The reasoning is simple: If you look hard enough, you can still see the heights of a player’s career arc—the high-water mark of competence and perhaps even borderline brilliance still visible on the worn façade of a given pitcher’s life in baseball.
The Angels' beleaguered bullpen gets some reinforcement in the form of a righty with eye-popping peripherals.
The Situation: In recent years, Angels manager Mike Scioscia hasn’t had many reliable bullpen options to work with, and that’s continued to be the case in 2014. Anaheim’s bullpen entered play on Wednesday with a 4.32 ERA, the fifth-highest mark in the majors. In search of setup assistance, the Angels have called up 22-year-old right-hander Cam Bedrosian from Double-A Arkansas, where he’d posted some eye-popping numbers. He saw his first action on Tuesday, setting down the Astros in order with one K.