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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
Giants' Hunter Pence hitting off tee, won't return by May 1
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(8:09 pm ET) Giants outfielder Hunter Pence began hitting off a tee with a regulation bat on Tuesday, but he still has a long way to go before he'll be able to return. 

"He's got to go through hitting off a tee, soft toss, all the boxes he's got to check off," manager Bruce Bochy said, per the San Francisco Chronicle.

Pence was initially expected to be back by May 1, but it appears that he'll miss that date. "I'd say it's fair to say," Bochy said. 


Catcher Kevin Plawecki ready to start for Mets
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(8:05 pm ET) Catcher Kevin Plawecki joined the Mets sooner than expected, but the 2012 first-round draft pick is ready to contribute.

Travis d'Arnaud went on the disabled list with a fractured finger, and the call went out to Plawecki.

"Given Travis' injury, it's not an ideal situation, not the way I really expected to come up," Plawecki said, per NJ.com. "But I'm here, I'm happy to be here, and I'm happy to be part of this team."

Manager Terry Collins told Plawecki not to put too much pressure on himself for his debut.

"I talked to him earlier, and I told him the one thing is there's a lot on his plate today, and the main thing is just to be himself," Collins said. "Just go out there and have some fun. We'll help him get through certain situations .. because there's an awful lot to learn in your first day."


Brock Holt gets another chance to prove himself as SS for Red Sox
by Ted Leshinski | Staff Writer
(7:54 pm ET) Red Sox utility man Brock Holt makes his second start of the season at shortstop on Tuesday, a position he primarilty played throughout the minors until he was shifted around in the big leagues, according to the Providence Journal.

"The Pirates (his original MLB team) didn't think I could play short. When I came over here, and I didn't really get an opportunity to play short until last year," Holt said. "I always thought I could play short. But when you don't get the chance or the opportunity, it creeps into your mind, like, 'Maybe I can't.'"

Holt will get his second chance in a week Tuesday to showcase his skills for the Red Sox at shortstop.

"You get limited looks at a guy because there are other people playing there," Brian Butterfield, Boston's infield instructor, said. "But once you get a chance to see more and more of it, you start to say, 'Wow, he can do everything.' He can go in the hole and stick his foot in the ground and throw a strike."

Angels left fielder Collin Cowgill back in the lineup Tuesday
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(7:18 pm ET) Angels left fieder Collin Cowgill is back in the starting lineup Tuesday against Athletics, with Matt Joyce heading to the bench, the team announced.

Cowgill has replaced Joyce in the lineup against left-handed pitchers and is hitting .192 with one home run in 26 at-bats. The Angels are currently the favorites (-120) against Oakland.


OF Chris Heisey says he'll be recalled by Dodgers on Wednesday
by Ted Leshinski | Staff Writer
(7:16 pm ET) Outfielder Chris Heisey said he expects to be called up by the Dodgers on Wednesday, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Heisey was optioned to Triple-A Oklahoma City on April 5 where in 10 games he hit .257 with four home runs and seven RBI.

The Dodgers have had recent injury and health issues with outfielders Yasiel Puig and Carl Crawford.

Rangers' Mitch Moreland out of the lineup Tuesday
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(7:07 pm ET) Rangers first baseman/designated hitter Mitch Moreland is out of the starting lineup Tuesday against the Diamondbacks, the team announced.

Moreland, who is dealing with a knee injury, is expected to be on the bench until Friday, with the team playing in National League stadiums until this weekend. Moreland is hitting .276 with one home run in 29 at-bats this season.


INF Frandsen signed by Diamondbacks, sent to Reno
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(7:04 pm ET) The Diamondbacks have signed veteran infielder Kevin Frandsen and assigned him to Triple-A, per azcentralsports.com.

The 32-year-old Frandsen was released by Washington just before the regular season. If he is promoted by Arizona, it will be the sixth team he has played for since 2009.


Diamondbacks' Patrick Corbin throws BP, another planned for Saturday
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(7:02 pm ET) Diamondbacks pitcher Patrick Corbin continued his progress in returning from Tommy John surgery. He threw a batting practice session on Tuesday, per Fox Sports Arizona.

Corbin has another 40-pitch session planned for Saturday. Assuming there are no setbacks, he'll follow up with a three-inning appearance in an extended spring training game. 


Roenicke expects Jonathan Lucroy to return in 4-6 weeks for Brewers
by Ted Leshinski | Staff Writer
(6:56 pm ET) Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said that the 4-6 week timetable for catcher Jonathan Lucroy (toe) to return is reasonable, reports MLB.com.

Lucroy was added to the disabled list Tuesday with a toe injury from fouling off a pitch during Monday's game.

Lucroy was hitting .156 with no homers and two RBI.

Mets pitcher Bobby Parnell struggles in rehab outing Tuesday
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(6:53 pm ET) Mets pitcher Bobby Parnell was barely able to get through his rehab appearance Tuesday with Class-A Port St. Lucie. He allowed one run on two hits with two walks in 2/3 of an inning against Jupiter. 

In three rehab appearances, Parnell has a 10.13 ERA for Port St. Lucie. Parnell is currently on the 15-day DL while recovering from Tommy John surgery. Manager Terry Collins plans to continue to use Jeurys Familia as the team's closer when Parnell returns.


 
 
 
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