What’s Going On in Oakland?

There’s been a lot of dumpster-fire bullpens this season, but Oakland’s recent run may be the most dumpster-fiery. After Tyler Cippard, their relief corps has been a disaster all year, and trading him obviously didn’t help matters. Immediately following the trade, Edward Mujica was tabbed as the likely new closer in Oakland. That went about as well as you could’ve guessed it’d go, and now there’s a giant question mark on the depth chart.

It’s possible that Mujica is still taking this role, although the way he was used last weekend doesn’t support that theory. Drew Pomeranz is another option, but he is dealing with mild forearm discomfort. It shouldn’t keep him out of games, but the injury combined with the fact that they may want to start him again is enough to keep me off his bandwagon.

As I’ve been doing for months now, I once again turn my attention to Fernando Rodriguez. He’s not going to turn into an elite reliever or anything, but he’s clearly the best option in that bullpen. While I wouldn’t caution you against adding him for immediate saves, be aware that he may not be recording saves for more than a couple weeks even if he does get the job. Sean Doolittle, who has been out for almost the entire season, is working his way back on rehab. Given the dearth of other options in that bullpen, don’t be surprised if he takes over the closer role again soon after he returns. In fact, now is the time to pluck him off the waiver wire to prepare for your playoff run.

Changes in Detroit

As one of my quick hits last week, I mentioned that Alex Wilson had gotten off to a solid start after taking over as closer when Joakim Soria was traded to Pittsburgh. He did give up a run this week, and now it looks as if the Tigers will roll with Bruce Rondon in the ninth inning even more. On the surface, it seems a bit unfair for Wilson, who’s the owner of a 1.83 ERA and has shown very good control skills. However, his peripherals and general lack of strikeouts tell a different story. Rondon, meanwhile, has been the polar opposite, pitching to a rough 5.79 ERA. However, the latter has much better punchout skills, and likely has a better chance of being their long-term closer than Wilson. I don’t think this situation is locked in at all—Rondon blew a save last weekend—but for now, Rondon needs to be owned in all leagues, and Wilson can probably be dropped in most leagues.

Rough Week for Kahnle

Like Detroit and Oakland, Colorado has had a terrible bullpen to work with all year. John Axford was able to hold down the ninth inning for a good chunk of the season, but eventually that evened itself out and opened up a spot for Tommy Kahnle. He had been putting together a solid season, striking out enough batters to overshadow his control issues. His ERA ventured much closer to his peripherals over the last week after consecutive three-run outings. This was the risk of adding Kahnle, and the risk of looking for saves this late in the season. Most new closers aren’t Ken Giles. Instead, you’re looking at decent pitchers who can get you saves, but you run the risk of hurting your other categories.

This rough stretch shouldn't mean the end of Kahnle’s run as closer, but it turns this into a situation to keep an eye on. If his next outing goes similarly, it may be time to take a look at Axford or Justin Miller.

Quick Hits

Our theme of looking at atrocious bullpens continues in Boston, where Koji Uehara’s injury has opened up a wormhole in the back end of that group. Junichi Tazawa, of course, blew a save in his first chance, and that may have been enough to convince them to keep him in the set-up role. I would expect a legitimate committee here, with Tazawa, Jean Machi and Alexi Ogando all getting chances. Avoid Red Sox relievers.

Huston Street had a rough week, giving up runs in two of his last three outings. Of course, he’s not in danger of losing his job, but it’s noteworthy given how well he’s pitched this year.

Another week, more of the same in Seattle. Carson Smith had a decent week, but one that created some worries about his future in the closer role. Then, you look at Fernando Rodney’s numbers and stop being so worried. Smith is too good to keep worrying about like this, but this is just the Mariners in 2015.

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How's that Papelbon thing working in Washington? Hard to get save opportunities when you lose every game for a week.