Buck’s Bullpen Briefs 7-13-15

By on July 13, 2015


Our weekly look at the latest Fantasy Baseball news from around major league bullpens

Major League Baseball has reached the All-Star break, and we saw plenty of Fantasy-relevant news breaking in the final week of the “first half” of the 2015 season. Things are bound to pick up as the July 31 trade deadline approaches, so Fantasy owners would be wise to keep an ear to the ground, and be ready to act when rumor becomes reality.

Who’s Out?

Dellin Betances converted five saves while serving in Andrew Miller’s stead, but he also suffered two losses and a blown save – while watching his ERA inflate from 0.27 back on June 14 to 1.65 on July 7. Betances’ elite strikeout pitch and dominant stuff should ensure that he remains a viable Fantasy asset, but he’s not likely to see many save opportunities as long as Miller is healthy.

Yimi Garcia was the head of the Dodgers’ closer-by-committee for a while earlier this season, but he encountered a rather rough stretch recently and was sent to the minors on July 8.  Garcia has excellent raw stuff, and it would not be surprising to see him back in the majors shortly after the break.

Atlanta Braves closer Jason Grilli suffered a left Achilles rupture July 11, and it looks like he will be out for the rest of the season. Grilli’s injury comes during what had been a remarkable bounce-back season for the 38-year-old: a 2.94 ERA, 1.13 WHIP and 24 saves. Grilli may find himself in a high-leverage role next season, but he can be dropped in yearly Fantasy leagues.

Andrew Miller (photo USA TODAY Sports / Adam Hunger)

Andrew Miller (photo USA TODAY Sports / Adam Hunger)

Who’s In?

Yankees’ closer Andrew Miller returned from the disabled list on July 8 and he recorded his 18th save that night despite allowing a two-run homer. Miller owned a fine 1.03 ERA when he went on the shelf with a forearm injury, and Fantasy owners hope that he can regain that elite level of production sooner rather than later. Keep an eye on Miller for signs of lingering issues with his forearm, but make sure he’s back in your lineup if you own him.

With Grilli done for the year, Jim Johnson figures to step into the closer’s role in Atlanta. Johnson has pitched very well so far this season, forging an ERA of 2.09 with five saves and 20 holds, and he should immediately be added in all leagues where he is available. Johnson could be traded at the deadline, so keep a close eye on how this bullpen hierarchy shakes out.


Relievers on the Rocks

Huston Street reportedly tweaked his groin (it hurts just to write that) on the final pitch of his save against Colorado July 8, and he may be out until after the All-Star break. It doesn’t look like Street is DL-bound at this point, but this is absolutely a situation to watch during the break. Joe Smith figures to close for the Angels in Street’s stead, and he’s worth a pickup if you have the roster space and are in need of saves.


Relievers on the Rise

Mark Melancon endured a horrible start to his 2015 season: his velocity was down, and he scuffled to a 5.23 ERA and 1.45 WHIP in 11 games in April. The Pirates’ closer has been pretty much lights-out ever since, though, posting a 0.71 ERA in May and pitching 14.2 innings in June without allowing an earned run. Oh, and that whole “diminished velocity” thing? Brooks Baseball tells us that Melancon’s heater is back up over 93 mph – or very close to what we saw in 2014.

Like Melancon, Cody Allen was awful out of the gate this season – posting an horrific 11.57 ERA and 2.86 WHIP in April, raising concerns as to whether he could hold on to the Indians’ ninth-inning gig. Fast-forward to July 9, though, and Allen has worked his ERA and WHIP down to 3.13 and 1.21 respectively, and he has not allowed an earned run in his last 19 appearances. Allen was one of baseball’s best closers in 2014, so there’s little reason to believe that he won’t enjoy a solid second half.


Keep an eye on…

The Seattle bullpen has given Fantasy writers no small amount of column fodder recently, and last week was no exception. Fernando Rodney logged his 16th save on July 5, and then Carson Smith retired one batter for his sixth save July 9 – with Rodney pitching the eighth. Manager Lloyd McClendon has said that he hopes Rodney reclaims the ninth-inning gig, but for now, it looks like McClendon’s choice to close games is based on matchups. Blech. If you’re chasing saves, make sure both Rodney and Smith are owned in your league.

Former Rangers’ closer Neftali Feliz elected to pursue free agency rather than accept a minor league assignment, and he inked a deal with Detroit not long after he became available. Feliz will presumably serve as a set-up man for Joakim Soria, but he has shown that he can handle the ninth inning when healthy and on his game.



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