Buck’s Bullpen Briefs 9-7-15

By on September 7, 2015
EDDIE MICHELS PHOTO

EDDIE MICHELS PHOTO

It was another interesting week around major league bullpens; the playoff races are heating up, and plenty of teams bolstered their bullpens with players called up from the minor leagues. As the season enters its final month, fantasy baseball owners are also looking to fine-tune their rosters for an epic run to the wire; saves often provide the impetus for a big move in the season’s waning days.

There’s plenty of concern in Minnesota, as the team’s closer is trying to work through some injury issues. Fortunately, the Twins made a move for a talented understudy prior to the trade deadline; can he be a Fantasy difference-maker as well?

The Detroit Tigers are well out of the playoff hunt, and the team is still struggling to find a closer to replace Joakim Soria, who was dealt to Pittsburgh at the trade deadline. A similar situation exists in Boston, where the team is still searching for stability in its beleaguered bullpen.

The Arizona Diamondbacks have had a better season than many expected, and their veteran closer has enjoyed his finest season as a major leaguer. He’s hit a bit of a bump lately, though, causing some to wonder if perhaps the clock has struck midnight on his Cinderella season.

All of these stories and more in this week’s edition of Bullpen Briefs. Note: Stats are current as of close of play on September 6, 2015.

 

Bullpen Briefs

Who’s Out?

Neck and back injuries have limited Minnesota closer Glen Perkins to only three appearances since August 17, and when he suffered a setback recently the Twins announced that he would not accompany them on their current road trip, which concludes with a game on September 13. Back spasms are Perkins’ current issue, and it’s conceivable the team could elect to shut him down if they are not in playoff contention at the conclusion of the road trip.

Who’s In?

Kevin Jepsen has been outstanding since arriving in Minnesota via a trade with Tampa Bay, allowing just three earned runs and nine hits in 16.2 innings of work. He has also saved six games for the Twins, providing invaluable insurance for the ailing Glen Perkins. Jepsen looks like he’ll be the Minnesota closer until at least the end of the current road trip (September 14) and he could very well hold the job the rest of the way if the Twins decide to shut Perkins down. Jepsen should be owned in most mixed Fantasy leagues at this point.

Relievers on the Rocks

Bruce Rondon (photo Marilyn Indahl / USA TODAY Sports)

Bruce Rondon
(photo Marilyn Indahl / USA TODAY Sports)

Detroit’s Bruce Rondon brandishes a triple-digit fastball, but too often, that wicked heater ends up somewhere other than in the strike zone. Rondon has walked nine batters in 17.1 innings in the second half, while scuffling to a 5.19 ERA and 1.44 WHIP. Rondon might have already ceded the closer’s gig if not for the struggles of understudy Alex Wilson, who has surrendered four earned runs over his past 2.2 innings of works. The Tigers’ bullpen is a mess, and Rondon’s time in the closer’s chair could be short-lived if he cannot turn things around.

Speaking of messy bullpens, Boston closer Jean Machi allowed three earned runs before he was pulled with a two-run lead September 4. Machi has posted a woeful 7.71 ERA and 1.64 WHIP in 16 second-half outings, and he is doing little to bring stability to a bullpen still reeling from the loss of closer Koji Uehara back in early August. Set-up man Junichi hasn’t fared much better than Machi, so perhaps Alexi Ogando will receive the next chance to close if Machi can’t right his ship. It may be best for fantasy players to avoid this situation until things sort themselves out.

Relievers on the Rise

Brett Cecil (EDDIE MICHELS PHOTO)

Brett Cecil (EDDIE MICHELS PHOTO)

Brett Cecil opened the year as Toronto’s closer, and lately the veteran lefty has flashed the kind of form that earned him that lofty seat. Cecil has not allowed a run since June 21, and he has allowed just eight hits and two walks in 14.2 second-half innings. Cecil would probably be back in the ninth-inning mix if not for the lights-out performance of closer Roberto Osuna, but as things stand, Cecil looks to have pitched his way back into a high-leverage role.

Keep an eye on…

Arizona’s Brad Ziegler has been one of the most pleasant surprises of the 2015 season, but the submariner has surrendered seven earned runs and 10 hits over his past two appearances, while watching his season’s ERA jump from 1.46 to 2.48. While the two consecutive blow-ups may be nothing more than a bump (okay, a large bump) in the road, the fact remains that Ziegler is a 35-year-old soft-tosser whose previous career best was 13 saves, and that he’s dealing with an ankle injury at the moment. If Ziegler can’t turn things around, Daniel Hudson would probably receive the first call to close games, but for now, this is simply a “keep an eye on it” situation.

Texas set-up man Keone Kela has not allowed an earned run since July 30, and he has surrendered only four hits and one walk during those 11 appearances. Kela has fanned 60 batters in 54 innings this season, and the 22-year-old owns a fine 1.65 ERA and 0.67 WHIP in 18 second-half appearances. Keep an eye on his health status, though, as he is currently nursing a sore elbow. An MRI reportedly showed no structural damage, but this situation bears watching.

That’s it for this week; good luck in your leagues and we’ll talk again soon.

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