Here’s what I don’t like about SAGNOF. Writing about crappy relief pitchers is a large part of what the SAGNOF Special is about, because Saves Ain’t Got No Face sometimes means there are a lot of terrible relievers in a position to get saves. The past week or so has been rough as we’ve seen Tommy Kahnle and Edward Mujica get pounded. For that matter, the performance of the entire Rockies bullpen is making us long for the good ol’ days of LaTroy Hawkins. The situation in Boston (Junichi Tazawa vs Jean Machi) has little clarity and there was not a single save for Boston, Oakland or Colorado in the past week. It’s been brutal out there for those scrambling for saves and it’s made me yearn for that time when I could recommend A.J. Ramos and Shawn Tolleson and legitimately feel good about it. Because of the nature of SAGNOF in 12 team or deeper leagues, this late in the season, I’ve no choice but to recommend these at best mediocre relievers because there is literally no where else to turn for saves right now. (Fortunately in 10 team leagues it’s more obvious that these types don’t need to be rostered). There just isn’t enough time in the season right now for the Joe Smith’s of the reliever world to have any real chance to see saves this year due to injury or failure of the current closer.
The skills versus opportunity conundrum has been one of the most difficult parts of writing the SAGNOF Special. If I choose not to recommend a player like Mujica and he gets lucky enough to last as the closer for over a month with a 3.00ish ERA then I look bad. But if I recommend him and he only lasts a week as the closer.. then I still look bad. And for that quality of player it really is just a matter of time before the inevitable loss of role happens.
The sad truth is, if you are scrambling for saves this late in the season it may already be too late to do very much. But in case you want to make the most of it..
Bruce Rondon looks like the player the Tigers have decided to go with for saves. Two weeks ago I would have been very surprised with this news because at that time all the talk was Alex Wilson and Blaine Hardy. These days it’s also become surprising when a team with a 9th inning question mark decides to go with their best reliever as closer. Rondon’s 2015 stat line is ugly but it can easily improve and finally here’s a player I can make a hearty recommendation for.
Other than that, it’s pretty ugly out there. Drew Pomeranz would make a good closer for Oakland but I’m not certain if he’ll get the chance and even if he does I’m not sure if it will last more than 2 weeks because Sean Doolittle is nearing a return.
The Colorado situation is a fantasy nightmare right now because of the recent performance of their best relievers. Tommy Kahnle should probably be out of a job right now, but I’m not certain he will be. Here’s the WHIP for the Rockies relievers that have been used with leads this year: Tommy Kahnle, 1.55, John Axford 1.63, Rafael Betancourt 1.40 and Justin Miller 0.98. One of these WHIPs is not like the other. It’s also fair to note that Miller’s sample size is even smaller than the rest of them, only 16.1 innings, but that’s a decisive advantage. One player has been pretty good, the rest have allowed an almost unfathomable amount of base runners.
Junichi Tazawa appears to be the closer for the Red Sox. He got an opportunity last Tuesday and blew it but recent usage still suggests he’s the closer. All of this despite strong suggestions having come last Monday that Jean Machi would close.
Saves Ain’t Got No Face recommendations: Bruce Rondon, Sean Doolittle, Drew Pomeranz, Junichi Tazawa. Rondon should be owned everywhere, even probably 10 team leagues. Doolittle might be out there in some shallower leagues, snatch him up soon. Drew Pomeranz is the only other reliever I’d own in Oakland, I think he has a shot to get a few saves while they wait for Doolittle but it’s also possible they’ll use him in high leverage situations other than the 9th inning. On a slightly SAGNOF-ian note, the Nationals season might have just gone down the drain, not long after they acquired Jonathan Papelbon. I’m just putting that out there.
Here’s your weekly Steals Ain’t Got No Face reminder that the best way to inch yourself up in the stolen base standings is to stream (not steam, as I said last week) base stealers using our SAGNOF base stealing vs starting pitchers tool. It’s also available from the Tools pull down menu. I’d also just like to throw a few names out there, not really recommendations, but guys to keep an eye on: Byron Buxton, Jose Peraza and Josh Harrison. What they have in common is that they aren’t playing right now but they might be by September. I’ll find some more names to add to the list next week as well as giving an idea on which September call ups are likely to be the most useful (likely whichever ones start the most).