Washington Nationals: Another turn on the closerousel for the Nationals, as Henry Rodriguez is no longer taking the ball in the 9th. BiBi showed the world on Wednesday that Davey Johnson was wrong for demoting him by allowing a homerun and walking a batter without recording a K. Tyler Clippard locked the door Tuesday with a clean outing and a K, picking up the save. He’s in the pole position for the job and has the skills (13.2% career swinging strike rate, 2.97 career ERA) to keep it until Drew Storen or Brad Lidge return. Sean Burnett has had slight issues with right-handed bats in his career – a near even walk-to-strikeout rate and a FIP/xFIP a full run higher than against LHB – and may grab the odd save based on matchups or if Clippard is used on consecutive days. Craig Stammen has flourished in his transition to the bullpen, but hasn’t been used in many late-inning situations as of yet and is likely third in the pecking order.
Cincinnati Reds: Sean Marshall continues his 2+ years of dominance by putting up career bests in K (31.4%), BB (4.4%), and GB (59.1%)… oh, and his .476 BABIP led to several blown leads and Aroldis Chapman inheriting Marshall’s post in the Red regime. Viva La Revolution! Chapman has struck out 43 of 91 batters faced and owns a 0.42 FIP this season. Those are not typos. He struggled throwing strikes last season and still put up a 3.60 ERA with a 1.30 WHIP. He may well end this season with an ERA under 1.50 and a sub-1.00 WHIP. Word is that Chapman doesn’t like pitching in back-to-back games; Marshall will get a save opportunity in such a situation.
Chicago White Sox: Robin Ventura has officially named Addison Reed the closer for the Pale Hose. Reed’s lowest K% in the minors was 34.2% – he’s the best pitcher in the White Sox bullpen and will package his saves in a bundle of strikeouts. Expect his walk rate to drop a little as an added bonus. Jesse Crain looks to be the add if Reed falters.
New York Yankees: Joe Girardi indicated Wednesday that Rafael Soriano will be the closer even when David Robertson returns from the DL. Soriano is missing fewer bats and throwing fewer strikes than last season, so if you own Robertson, enjoy the Ks and wait until Soriano lights himself on fire.
Los Angeles California Angels of Anaheim Orange County: Ernesto Frieri has struck out 37 of his 82 batters faced this season, and 19 of 32 since joining the Angels. Scott Downs has sat down 7 of 50 batters on strikes. I did the math, it says Frieri should be owned. He obviously won’t continue to strike out 3 of every 5 batters he faces, but he’s a better pitcher than Downs and as soon as Downs has a rough inning I think Frieri officially gets the nod.
Chicago Cubs: Rafael Dolis farted liquid from the mound again Wednesday, allowing 3 runs on 3 hits and 2 walks before getting pulled. Kazaam! He throws his fastball 90% of the time and sports a K/BB ratio of 10/13. I’m amazed he’s even in the big leagues. James Russell is next in line for saves for now, and he possesses a 15/10 K/BB mark in 21 innings. That counts as sparkling on the Cubs. I honestly think Carlos Marmol falls back into the job when he comes back from the DL, and would be the only Cub I’d own at gunpoint. The entire Cubs bullpen is an unmitigated disaster.
Arizona Diamondbacks: J.J. Putz was hosed on what should have been a called second strike and a thrown out runner at second base, but alas, he surrendered two walks and a double, blowing his third save of the season Tuesday night. His velocity was 90/91 MPH for the night, and he’s had trouble with first pitch strikes this season (51.5%, down from 65.9% last season). He’s throwing total strikes at near career rates, and batters are chasing more of his pitches out of the zone than ever before; Putz’s problem is that hitters are teeing off on pitches in the zone, making contact at a 92.2% clip (86.5% last season). Assuming his velocity drop was a one night issue, I think he’ll regain his command and be fine. His struggles seem like statistical noise at this juncture.
San Francisco Giants: Brandon Crawford cost Madison Bumgarner (and me) a win by booting a groundball, and Santiago Casilla (and my opponent) picked up the win in extra innings. No breaking news here, just wanted to reveal how petty I am. Sergio Romo is a better pitcher, but arm issues prevent him from handling an every day workload, thus Casilla is the man for the Giants.