After acquiring Francisco Cordero in a 10 player trade with the Blue Jays, the Astros shipped out Brett Myers and his $10 million vesting option in 2013 to the White Sox, leaving the Astros’ closer role up in the air. On the one hand, Houston had Wilton Lopez and his 59.8% groundball and 6.00 K/BB rates. On the other hand, Cordero has had 329 saves in his career. On a third hand, which began as bacne in the late 90s and progressed into a full-fledged arm in the first half of the 00s, Cordero had a 5.77 ERA and 1.81 WHIP with the Blue Jays. He’s also 37 years old, his fastball has lost 3 MPH since 2006, and his 9.0% swinging strike rate is the second worst mark of his career. The Astros chose the mutated limb and anointed it its closer, and 8 baserunners, 6 runs, and 2 blown saves in consecutive days have left fans wondering why the team has both a third arm and Francisco Cordero on its roster. With nothing to play for this season, I’ve got to think they’ll slot Lopez into the role sooner rather than later, and since CoCo has pitched the last two days, Lopez will at least get an opportunity to close out the game tonight versus the Pirates. Provided, of course, that the Astros have a lead by the 9th inning.
As for Myers, he’s setting up Addison Reed for the White Sox, and unless Reed suffers a complete collapse, Reed will end the season as closer. One point in Reed’s column is Myers’ 2013 option, worth $10 million, which will vest if he closes 45 games and doesn’t end the year on the DL. Another point in Reed’s favor is his strong peripherals: in the last 30 days, Reed’s throwing first pitch strikes at a 65.8% rate, has hitters chasing pitches out of the strike zone at a 34.7% rate, and has hitters swinging and missing at 11.9% of his offerings. If there’s someone currently getting saves or is close to saves on your wire, I’d move on from Myers.
Milwaukee Brewers: Woof. 7 walks, 7 runs, 6 hits, 2 losses, 1 miracle save. We all knew Francisco Rodriguez was declining, and I even passed on picking him up in an 18 team league, but did anyone expect him to perform that terribly? Meanwhile, in 5.1 IP since being removed from the 9th, John Axford has 5 strikeouts to 1 walk and hasn’t allowed a run in 5 appearances. If someone in your league dropped him, scoop him up. His xFIP was 2.98 in April, 2.15 in May, 4.93 in June, and is 2.58 in July. The Brewers’ plan was to get him back in the 9th as soon as possible, and Dor-K’s struggles will force Milwaukee’s hand to make the switch back to Axford, likely before next week’s column.
San Diego Padres: The Padres and Huston Street are working on a contract extension, so it appears as though he won’t be moved by Tuesday’s trade deadline. There’s always the possibility of the extension talks falling apart and Street being traded, so if you’re in a deep league or desperate for saves with nothing promising on the wire, you can hang on to Luke Gregerson. However, if Axford, Lopez, or Vinnie Pestano are available, grab them, in that order.
Washington Nationals: Recovering nicely from a 3 game meltdown, where he allowed 7 runs and blew 2 saves, Tyler Clippard has struck out 4 while allowing 1 baserunner in his 3 opportunities since. Drew Storen‘s velocity is down nearly 3 MPH from last season, and he’s being used as a LOOGY at the moment. Until Storen’s velocity returns, his usage expands, and he starts throwing his slider more frequently, Clippard isn’t in danger of losing the closer role.
Cleveland Indians: He was drafted in many leagues with the expectation that he’d take over for a faltering Chris Perez, and Vinnie Pestano has proven why many placed their trust in him: 1.50 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 11.14 K/9, 3.43 BB/9, 2.49 FIP. Unfortunately for Pestano and his owners, Perez decided to throw more strikes (career high 58.9% of pitches in the strike zone) and use his slider more frequently (career high 31.4%, up 10 points from last season), which has led to a killer 42/7 K/BB ratio in 37.1 IP. His slider is inducing groundballs at a 59.4% clip, and it’s generating swings and misses at a 16.5% rate. Perez has been rumored to have drawn the interest of the Giants, so if Pestano is available in your league I’d pick him up.
Colorado Rockies: The Rockies apparently need to be bowled over to move Rafael Betancourt, Matt Belisle, or Matt Reynolds, which means that we can enjoy Betancourt’s 4 saves a month and solid ratios for the rest of the year. Rex Brothers has slowed down from the steamrolling pace he set in June, his 5.79 July ERA and 1.93 WHIP not the production of legends. However, his first strike% in the last 14 days is 60.0%, and he’s generating swings and misses at a 19.4% clip, so I’d expect his strikeout and walk rates to move closer to what they were in June.
San Francisco Giants: While Chris Perez is allegedly being pursued by the Giants, Santiago Casilla has nailed down his last 2 save opportunities. Casilla has been battling a blister for most of the month, which would explain his 5.14 per 9 walk rate and giving up line drives at a 29.4% clip in July. With those negative markers come awesome 20.0% swinging strike and 16.71 K/9 rates. In a stroke of luck, he’s also vultured 2 wins from blown saves this month, so while his 5.14 ERA has been bad, he hasn’t been worthless. Unless Perez is wearing a Giants uniform by next week, Casilla will continue closing games. He won’t keep up those whiff rates, but his command will improve enough to offset the reduction in strikeouts.
Aroldis Chapman has struck out 65% of batters faced in July, a per 9 innings rate of 20.65. For
fun research, I zeroed the CPU’s ability and maximized mine in MLB: The Show, and I couldn’t come close to replicating that feat. So Chapman is doing stuff that you can’t even do when you cheat in a video game… Sean Doolittle has been money in July, allowing only 4 baserunners and 0 runs in 9 IP while striking out 11. He also picked up the first save of his career on Saturday against the Yankees. If Ryan Cook hits a rough patch, Doolittle may be called upon to close games for the A’s. As it is, grab Doolittle if you need ratio, K, or holds help… Wade Davis owns a 13.97 K/9 in July, and it’s supported by an excellent swinging strike rate of 17.2%. His seasonal K/9 is 10.03, so it’s not entirely a fluke. He’s taken well to the bullpen, and if you’re in a deep league and need ratio/K help, give him a shot.