Adam Ottavino to the Disabled List
So much for a stable ninth inning in Colorado. Ottavino had the skills to hold on to the closer job for the Rockies all year, but was placed on the 15-day disabled list yesterday with right triceps inflammation. It’s unclear at this time how long Ottavino will be out, but injuries to throwing arms are never a good sign. Looking ahead, John Axford appears to be the favorite to get the save opportunities for the time being. When Ottavino asked to be held out of a game last Thursday, Axford was called upon in the ninth inning. Walks remain an issue for the latter, but he’s been racking up the strikeouts this year, and the results have been very good in his first four outings. With that being said, he may be on a relatively short leash. They pulled LaTroy Hawkins rather quickly early on this year, and put Rafael Betancourt in the closer role for about 10 minutes before opting for Ottavino. Axford is the man to add right now, but don’t be surprised to see Betancourt if Axford has a string of a couple of bad outings in the next week or two.
Mark Melancon Struggling Badly
One of the biggest questions over the last week has been the future of Melancon. He’s been horrible this year with a 5.79 ERA and under five strikeouts per nine innings. The biggest issue here has been his velocity, with his cutter down three mph from the end of last season. Despite that, Clint Hurdle has stuck with Melancon in the ninth, and was rewarded with three saves in as many days. His manager is confident his velocity will come back, and he’s held his opponents scoreless in eight of his ten appearances, so I wouldn’t bet on him losing the job any time soon. I would use this slow start as an opportunity to buy low on Melancon who still looks like a decent bet to end the year with 30-plus saves.
Trouble in Miami
Steve Cishek would like to start 2015 over again. The Marlins closer continued his brutal season last night when Daniel Murphy hit a three-run home run in the ninth to give the Mets the win. It was Cishek’s second blown save in three chances. His track record is too good for him to lose his job now, but his leash is surely getting shorter. A DL stint is also a possibility to get him back on track, especially considering his velocity is down around 2-3 mph across the board. Unlike Melancon, Cishek has yet to put together a solid string of outings to regain everyone’s confidence. If A.J. Ramos is available in your league, now may be a good time to grab him if you have room. Not only is he a possible closer in waiting, but he’s also going to help you in Ks and ratios in the meantime. He has 18 strikeouts to just four walks in his first 12 1/3 innings along with a 0.73 ERA.
Peralta Has Dead Arm, Dodgers Bullpen Giving Me Dead Heart
The Dodgers bullpen continues to be a dumpster fire for fantasy owners, and Kenley Jansen can’t come back soon enough. Peralta had been getting the bulk of the save chances, but now he finds himself on the shelf with a dead arm. It appears unlikely Don Mattingly will name a permanent closer for now, but Yimi Garcia is the man to own. The 24-year-old has been outstanding this year striking out a shade under 15 batters per nine with a phenomenal 0.69 (nice) FIP. Besides him, Pedro Baez, Paco Rodriguez, and Chris Hatcher could all get save chances. Luckily for my sanity, Kenley Jansen is close to starting his rehab assignment, and this whole situation will become clear soon enough.
The back end of Arizona’s bullpen has not been fun to have any shares of this year. Addison Reed has three walks in five innings and has only two save opportunities for the season. Many people, myself included, were high on Evan Marshall coming into the year as a potential handcuff for the underwhelming Reed, but he’s rewarded that confidence with a 7.71 ERA and a 5.21 FIP thus far.
The Blue Jays bullpen continued to dole out headaches last week as well. Miguel Castro remains in the closer role, but he allowed runs in three of his four appearances since we last spoke, including in Toronto’s loss last night. Unfortunately neither Brett Cecil nor Roberto Osuna have looked dominant in the meantime. Here is your weekly reminder that Rafael Soriano is still available.
Cody Allen has had a rough go of it to start the year, allowing runs in three of his first seven appearances en route to a 13.50 ERA. The good news here is that there are no warning signs in his velocity. The bad news is he’s been struggling mightily with command. With that being said, his track record is too strong to write him off this quickly given his strong velocity and relative youth.
Greg Holland is eligible to return from the disabled list on May 3rd, and he resumed his throwing program over the weekend and reportedly felt fine. Wade Davis has been predictably great in his stead, but with Kelvin Herrera presumably starting a suspension soon the Royals could use another dominant arm in that bullpen. I’d expect Holland to return shortly after he’s eligible to.
Joe Nathan was unlikely to regain the closer role when he returned from his rehab assignment, but now that definitely won’t be happening. The veteran tore his UCL and is done for the season. While he says he’s not retiring, it’s hard to see him coming back from this. There’s a good chance this ends the career of one of the better relievers of his era.