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Bullpen Report: Second-half reliever watch

Senior Fantasy Writer
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Over the last three months, the Bullpen Report has looked at every possible angle on relievers -- ranking current closers, predicting new closers, getting intimately acquainted with holds and inventing SPARPs. Through it all, some analysis slips through the cracks. For instance, I'm a big fan of Rex Brothers eventually taking over as the closer for the Rockies, but there's no way to really shoehorn it in when going over who I think is the eighth-best closer in baseball.

Enter the All-Star break

With little to write about for next week's shortened slate of games, I decided to throw some potpourri out there for this All-Star break column. I give you ... random thoughts on five relievers I'm targeting in leagues for the second half.

Huston Street, Padres

I get a good amount of questions about why I have Street ranked so high, usually something along the lines of, "Hey [deleted], why the [deleted] do you have Huston [deleted] Street as your 11th closer? [deleted] you. --Aizer."

Most Added Relievers (as of 7/13)
Player % change
1. Hector Santiago, RP, White Sox 7
2. Chad Gaudin, RP, Giants 7
3. Steve Cishek, RP, Marlins 4
4. Steve Delabar, RP, Blue Jays 4
5. Greg Holland, RP, Royals 3
6. Francisco Rodriguez, RP, Brewers 3
7. Carlos Martinez, RP, Cardinals 3
8. Brad Ziegler, RP, Diamondbacks 3
9. Fernando Rodney, RP, Rays 2
10. Ernesto Frieri, RP, Angels 2

I'll admit, I have some worry that Street could just go south and make the lofty ranking look stupid. He's currently sitting on a 4.30 ERA and 1.23 WHIP, with just 16 strikeouts in 29 1/3 innings. He's given up three home runs in his last six appearances, and he now has an ERA above 3.00 in five of his last six seasons.

But I see hope for Street. He has 15 saves this season, despite throwing just 29 1/3 innings. Street had to endure three seasons pitching in Colorado. His career K/9 is 9.00, so that ugly rate this year is due for a correction. And the Padres have Jedd Gyorko and Yonder Alonso close to returning, meaning the offense will once again be running on all cylinders -- a situation that had them 16th in the majors in runs scored in May and 11th overall in June. More runs should lead to more wins, which will give Street more chances at saves.

There's no guarantee that Street won't get hurt again, which is a legitimate gripe for those shying away from him. But if there wasn't a concern with Street, he wouldn't be available at a discount price. And that's what makes this game fun. It's a gamble, but it's a gamble that will come at a very low cost to an owner looking to add saves. Street is intriguing because he could go either way, but I'm willing to take the chance that he improves in the second half and finishes the season closer to 40 saves than 25.

Kenley Jansen, Dodgers

I'm not sure Kenley Jansen can be had cheap right now. And this may be one of the circumstances in which I don't care. Once he took the job from Brandon League, I moved Jansen all the way up to No. 5 in my rankings. He continues to sport a low ERA (2.38), minuscule WHIP (0.97) and very high strikeout rate (12.5 K/9).

Additionally, the Dodgers should be a much better team in the second half than the disaster that they were in the first, leading to more save opportunities for Jansen. After a bumpy stretch in mid-May, when Jansen gave up five runs in a five-game span (including two consecutive appearances with four total runs allowed), Jansen has been a stud, collecting seven saves in 21 games, with a 1.17 ERA and 0.87 WHIP, while striking out 32 batters in 23 innings. Since recording his last hold, on June 10, Jansen has rattled off seven saves, allowing just three runs in 12 appearances.

In short, Jansen has nudged his way into the "is he one of the best in baseball?" conversation. And outside of minor concerns over his health, along with the lack of a really solid track record, my feeling is that he has to be included in that discussion. Because of that, I wouldn't hesitate to offer something of substance (Billy Butler? Asdrubal Cabrera?) in a deal for the 25-year-old over the All-Star break.

Mariano Rivera, Yankees

Here's a fun fact -- in typical stoic Mariano Rivera fashion, the retiring Yankees closer is on pace to have the best season of his career. His 1.89 ERA is the ninth-lowest of his career (over 19 seasons), but his 29 saves have him on pace to topple his career-best 53. Sure, his WHIP is the highest it's ever been and he may be a handful of strikeouts off his normal pace, but Rivera is going on a farewell tour in the second half of the season and will likely be super-focused on making the most out of his last 30 or so appearances.

Granted, this "super-focused" theory is mainly guesswork and logic, but if you knew you were retiring in three months from a very public job, where peopel get emotionally attached to everything you do while wearing your last name on their backs, wouldn't you want to expend all your energy on doing the absolute best you could for that span, then just sail off into the sunset and relax after?

Like Jansen (health issues, lack of real track record), Rivera has some flaws (he's old, he was hurt last year), but with some key Yankee bats coming back, Rivera is going to have the exciting combination of more save opportunities and a sense of urgency in his final season. If a Fantasy team is looking for a closer upgrade, Rivera is worth a trade offer, with some very real upside in the second half.

Trevor Rosenthal, Cardinals

This has nothing to do with Edward Mujica. In fact, if Mujica finishes the season with 52 saves and never yields an opportunity to another reliever, Rosenthal will still have value as a low-ratio, high-strikeout reliever. Consider this: Rosenthal, who has 20 holds, has pitched 43 innings this season and already has 64 strikeouts. Those Ks are more than Jhoulys Chacin, Jerermy Guthrie, or Dylan Axelrod.

Owned in 25 percent of leagues, Rosenthal isn't exactly an unknown to Fantasy players. He has a ton of value in holds formats, serves as Mujica insurance for save speculators, and can help fill the scoresheet with his strikeouts. Because he doesn't get a lot of wins in middle relief (to be fair, those are nearly impossible to predict), Rosenthal has limited value in Points formats -- outside of deeper leagues, where teams regularly roster speculative closers. But in Roto leagues, owners looking to slowly chip away at ERA and WHIP may want to consider rostering Rosenthal.

Rex Brothers, Rockies

Where Rosenthal's value has merit outside of Mujica, Brothers' is almost wholly tied to Rafael Betancourt. When Betancourt hit the DL last month, we saw Brothers step in while the team didn't miss a beat at the end of the bullpen. The popular qualifier with Brothers is that the Rockies need to drop in the standings in order for the team to trade Betancourt (38 years old and in the last year of his contract), but I'm not so sure that's the case. Colorado -- currently 7 1/2 games out of the second wild card spot -- could send Betancourt off in a deal while still in the playoff hunt. The Rockies will get something for a pitcher they would likely just lose in the offseason (the sides have a mutual option) while not really seeing a drop-off at the closer position.

Like Rosenthal, Brothers is owned in 25 percent of leagues, but I'd rather have Brothers on my roster. Look at it this way: Mujica would have to get injured in order for Rosenthal to work his way into the saves mix. But Betancourt can either get injured or get traded. And getting traded is an increasingly likely scenario for him. So while Rosenthal may be the better bet to just plug in and play no matter what happens with his situation, Brothers is the pitcher you want if you're looking to get any kind of saves on your roster in the second half

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us on Twitter @CBSFantasyBB or Nando Di Fino at @NandoCBS . You can also send our staff an e-mail at fantasybaseball@cbsinteractive.com .

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Player News
Ryan Vogelsong twirls a gem vs. Brewers
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(1:35 am ET) Giants pitcher Ryan Vogelsong twirled a gem and received more than enough run support Friday night against the Brewers, scattering two runs on four hits over seven innings to improve to 8-9 on the season. He struck out seven and walked one in a 13-2 victory.

Over his last four starts covering 23 1/3 innings, Vogelsong has allowed nine earned runs. He owns a 3.73 ERA and a 1.24 WHIP over 27 starts (157 innings). His next start will come Wednesday against Colorado at Coors Field.

Wily Peralta gets roughed up in loss to Giants
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(1:35 am ET) Brewers pitcher Wily Peralta had a tough start Friday against the Giants.

Peralta gave up six runs on nine hits over three innings. He struck out one and walked two during the outing. Peralta got himself in trouble immediately. After recording one out in the first inning, Peralta allowed four straight singles. By the end of the inning, three runs had come across for the Giants. The issues continued in the second. San Francisco started the inning with a single and a double. Both runs would come around to score. Peralta would go on to give up his final run on a single the following inning.

With the loss, Peralta fell to 15-9. He’ll take on the Cubs in his next start.

Andrew Cashner stays sharp in no-decision
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(1:25 am ET) Padres pitcher Andrew Cashner turned in a strong start Friday against the Dodgers.

Cashner allowed one run on six hits over six innings. He struck out eight and did not issue any walks during the outing. Cashner was fantastic over the first two innings, striking out four without giving up a hit. That streak ended in the third, as Cashner gave up two singles to open the inning. Hanley Ramirez wound up hitter a run-scoring double, driving in the only run against Cashner. Cashner was able to get through his final three innings of work without giving up another run.

Cashner wasn't a factor into the decision. He’ll take on the Diamondbacks in his next start.

Dan Haren settles for no-decision vs. Padres
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(1:23 am ET) Dodgers pitcher Dan Haren tossed a quality start Friday against the Padres.

Haren gave up two runs, one earned, on five hits over six innings. He struck out three and walked one during the outing. Haren’s first run came as the result of an error. In the second inning, Haren walked the leadoff man. The second batter of the inning would reach on a throwing error by Dee Gordon, advancing the leadoff man to third. A sac fly would plate that run and give Haren the early deficit. The Dodgers would tie the game up the following inning, but Haren couldn’t hold on. With two outs in the fourth, Haren gave up three straight singles. The final hit wound up driving in a run.

Haren wasn't a factor into the decision. He’ll take on the Nationals in his next start.

Cory Rasmus will get the starting nod Saturday
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(1:15 am ET) Angels pitcher Cory Rasmus will get the starting nod Saturday against the A's, according to the Orange County Register. Rasmus has posted a 2.68 ERA over 37 innings this season out of the bullpen. He has not pitched three innings or thrown more than 51 pitches in an outing this season.

Felix Hernandez gives up four home runs Friday
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(1:08 am ET) Mariners pitcher Felix Hernandez had a rough start Friday against the Nationals.

Hernandez allowed five runs on 10 hits over seven innings. He struck out one and walked one during the outing. Home runs were a major issue for Hernandez. For the first time in his career, Hernandez gave up four home runs in one game. Anthony Rendon got things started in the first inning, hitting a solo shot off Hernandez. Jason Werth would take Hernandez deep for a two-run shot in the third. In the fourth, two other Nationals got into the act. Both Ian Desmond and Wilson Ramos clubbed solo shots, putting five runs on the board against Hernandez. Despite the rough start, he gave the Mariners seven innings.

With the loss, Hernandez fell to 13-5. He’ll take on the Athletics in his next start. 


Jordan Zimmermann wins his 10th game Friday
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(1:07 am ET) Nationals pitcher Jordan Zimmermann turned in a strong start Friday against the Mariners.

Zimmermann allowed two runs on seven hits over six innings. He struck out eight and issued one walk during the appearance. Zimmermann was tagged for both runs early. After picking up a strikeout for the first out of the game, Zimmermann allowed a triple against Dustin Ackley. After a walk to Robinson Cano, Zimmermann gave up two run-scoring singles. He was able to get things together after a visit to the mound. Zimmermann would make it through the next six innings without surrendering another run.

With the win, Zimmermann improved to 10-5. He’ll take on the Dodgers in his next start. 


Jered Weaver stays dominant in win over Athletics
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(1:03 am ET) Angels pitcher Jered Weaver dominated the Athletics on Friday, scattering only three hits over sevens shutout frames to improve to 15-7 on the year. He struck out three and walked three in a 4-0 victory.

Over his last two starts covering 13 2/3 innings, Weaver has allowed three earned runs. He owns a 3.57 ERA and a 1.22 WHIP over 29 starts (181 1/3 innings). His next start will come Thursday at Minnesota.

Jon Lester hit with tough-luck loss Friday
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(1:02 am ET) Athletics pitcher Jon Lester put together another solid start on Friday but was hit with a tough-luck loss against the Angels in Anaheim. The left-hander permitted three runs -- two earned -- on seven hits and one walk while striking out five over six innings of a 4-0 defeat.

Over his last two starts covering 13 innings, Lester has allowed only three earned runs. He owns a 2.55 ERA and a 1.11 WHIP over 27 starts (183 2/3 innings). His next start will come Wednesday at home against Seattle.

Addison Reed picks up a save Friday
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(12:41 am ET) Diamondbacks closer Addison Reed picked up his 31st save Friday against the Rockies.

Reed entered with a three-run lead, and shut the door. He faced three batters during the outing. Reed notched two strikeouts and picked up one groundout during the appearance. 


 
 
 
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