Mike explains why elite middle relievers haven't climbed his tiers, before revealing the latest edition of those tiers and the updated dollar values.
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.
Last week, one of my readers wanted to know why I didn’t have a middle reliever in the top tier. Although middle relievers are integral in some leagues, I have not been ranking them due to the fact that their value is vastly different depending upon each league’s rules. In leagues that use holds as a separate category, non-closers carry a great deal of value. In standard mixed leagues with no start limits, you might not feel the need to carry a middle reliever on your staff at all. My goal is to take a cursory look at a handful of valuable middle relief arms in a non-holds, deeper-league, standard Roto format.
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Two closers jump into the top tier, as Mike catches you up on the latest news and shuffling from the league's bullpens.
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.
In this week's edition, Mike obliges multiple reader requests by adding tiers to the reliever rankings, to go with the regular news and notes.
For this installment of the Bullpen Report, I am adding rankings, by popular demand. 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.
Dan takes his first offseason look at keeper-worthy closers for the 2013 season.
Greg Holland | Royals Shallow (30 Keepers): No Medium (60 Keepers): No Deep (90 Keepers): Fringe AL-only (60 Keepers): Fringe Super Deep (200 Keepers): Yes
Greg Holland has arguably been the Royals’ best reliever the past two seasons, and although he finally got a chance to close in the second-half of 2012, a couple major dominos had to fall for that to come to fruition. First, Joakim Soria was lost for the season to Tommy John surgery during spring training. Then, Soria’s replacement, Jonathan Broxton, was dealt to the Reds in a July trade. Finally, Holland became the man, and he handled the promotion with aplomb, presumably setting himself up nicely for first dibs on the ninth inning in 2013.
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.
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.
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.
Losing Joakim Soria isn't a death blow to the Royals' ninth-inning hopes.
When is losing your closer—not long ago considered one of the best closers in the league—not a big deal? What if you have a possible replacement on your roster whose rookie season was historically good?
Bob Dutton, the Royals beat writer for The Kansas City Star, reported on Friday that Joakim Soria had decided to undergo Tommy John surgery and would miss the entire 2012 season. Soria previously needed a UCL replacement procedure in 2003 while in the low minors with the Dodgers, three years before the Royals plucked him out of the Padres’ farm system in the Rule 5 draft.
Just because you're out in your fantasy league doesn't mean you shouldn't go shopping for potential ninth-inning guys.
For the past four years, I’ve written an article at the end of each season discussing one of my favorite keeper league strategies: stashing potential closers. Today, I’m going to do the same, explaining the strategy and then trying to figure out which middle relievers are poised to step into the ninth-inning role.
The Strategy All keeper leagues are different, but if you are in one where your leaguemates make a habit of keeping top closers, this strategy will be especially good for you. In these leagues, when auction day or draft day rolls around, the number of closers will be limited. Those who haven't kept a top closer will be bidding against each other for the leftovers, the second-tier closers. By default, their prices will rise, quite possibly above their raw value. This can trickle down the list of closers until Kevin Gregg is being auctioned for some crazy amount, like $18.