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Bullpen Report: Post-deadline newsmakers

Senior Fantasy Writer
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This week's Bullpen Report is all about the Miscellany. Closers racking up strikeouts, the dilemma of a lots of saves versus high ERA, and a backup who still may see some opportunities as the waiver trade deadline nears. Oh, and a case for Chris Perez!

Let's get started with ...

1. Kenley Jansen is awesome

Not sure how many crazy ways there are to measure a closer, but Jansen has been a stud since taking over the role from Brandon League. And he's at that point where a team in need of saves wouldn't look like an idiot for offering some high-profile players for him. For instance, in a Roto league where I can (hypothetically) make up about six points by getting 13 more saves, I'd think about offering Manny Machado for Jansen. Or Ben Zobrist. Or maybe even Matt Holliday. Point is, I view Jansen as a top five closer at this point, who can help a team in saves, strikeouts, ERA, and WHIP.

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What makes Jansen scary is that for as good a season as he had last year, nearly all of this season's peripherals are even better. While his strikeout rate is slightly down, his walk rate has been halved, his ground ball rate is up, and his fastball velocity has increased. It may not be long before the rest of the Fantasy world realizes that Jansen may have already entered elite level. Before they do, it may be worth it to float a few offers for him.

2. Greg Holland is just slightly less awesome

With the Royals winning now, Holland's seeing more save chances -- he leads MLB with six saves over the last 14 days -- while sporting a 1.76 ERA on the season and striking out 65 batters over 41 innings. After a rough start to the season, Holland is rewarding the owners who stayed loyal to him with a dominant 2013, and he seems to be doing it under the radar, as he doesn't have the same buzz as the Joe Nathans and Sergio Romos, whose class he is currently in.

Like Jansen, Holland has slashed his walk rates, but he has also managed to improve his strikeout rate. Holland's WHIP has dropped, his BAA is down to .188, and his velocity is pretty much where it was last season (96 mph). Even though the numbers say they're close, I still see Jansen as just slightly more dominant as Holland. Still, with the numbers there, if someone sees Holland as markedly worse than Jansen, you may have a nice chance to acquire Holland at a decent price before the Fantasy trade deadline.

3. Kevin Gregg is impossible to figure out

Gregg was pretty much a lock to get traded before the July 31 deadline -- he's a free agent at the end of this year, he has a solid track record as a closer (20 saves in six of the last seven years), and the Cubs have a ready replacement in Pedro Strop. But the deadline came and went without Gregg being dealt, and while he can still be traded before Aug. 31, his non-trade complicated an already enigmatic situation.

-- July was Gregg's worst month, by far, with a 5.79 ERA and 2.14 WHIP.
-- However, strictly from a saves standpoint, Gregg had his best month of the year, with nine saves.
-- If a Fantasy owner thinks Gregg isn't going to get traded, they have to balance the high ERA against the large number of saves. Gregg's nine saves were the second-most in the majors for July.
-- It remains a worry, though, that an owner trading for Gregg may have nothing to show for it, especially if he's sent to a team that will use him in middle relief.

So it's very layered, with trades, ERA, and saves all mixed inside a big bowl and left for us to guess what it tastes like. My guess is a little sour. Any team claiming Gregg on waivers (assuming the Cubs send him through) is probably willing to either send something back to the Cubs, or will get tripped up when the Cubs just let him go (the fun "he's yours" clause of the entire process). Just from the information we have, it seems like the Cubs will find a way to get something back for Gregg, leaving him useful in only holds leagues for the rest of the season.

4. Chia-Jen Lo is a fun darkhorse gamble

The 27-year-old Astros reliever is in a bullpen without a closer. While the assumption was that Jose Cisnero would get the saves following Jose Veras' trade, manager Bo Porter said the team would go with a committee approach. And that committee will likely include Lo, who has a 2.11 ERA and 1.08 WHIP in 128 minor league innings, along with a 10.8 K/9. The only real negative attached to Lo is his injury history -- he's been in the Astros' system since he was 23, and only has 128 IP over those five seasons, thanks mostly to arm trouble and a Tommy John surgery.

Still, Lo has the talent to close games for the Astros, and the team is probably anxious to see what he can do in save situations. They could trade off "committee" saves early on, but I could see Lo getting two in a row, then three, then just holding the job the rest of the way, maybe ending up with 7-10 saves by the end of the season.

5. Chris Perez is better than you think

Perez is quietly having a career year as the closer for the Indians, sporting a 2.41 ERA (his low is 1.71 in 2010) and 1.16 WHIP (he's actually finished three seasons with a better number). Since his return from the DL on June 28, Perez has been a stud -- allowing just one run in 17 innings, giving him a 0.53 ERA over 16 games. Of his 15 saves this season, Perez had eight in July, along with two of his four wins.

In addition to his recent successes, the Indians have won eight of their last 10 games. Getting hot just at the right time, the Indians should continue their winning ways (although not to this recent extent) and keep providing Perez with save opportunities. This makes him a top 12 closer.

And this is a case where I'm letting the bigger picture cloud the peripherals. Perez has seen a decrease in strikeouts this season, and a jump in walks (although his walk rate is still better than his career average). He also has a higher-than average strand rate, meaning he may be due to allow a few more runs in as the season winds down. However, with Cleveland winning and Vinnie Pestano in the minors, Perez can afford to have a couple shaky outings and still keep his job. And get saves. Gregg finished July with a ballooned ERA and still got nine saves. And that was with the Cubs

Perez is a very good closer, and I would consider him a "buy" candidate for the rest of the season

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us on Twitter @CBSFantasyBB or Nando Di Fino at @NandoCBS .

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Player News
Cardinals' Rosenthal considering abandoning the windup
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(1:01 am ET) Cardinals reliever Trevor Rosenthal is considering ditching the windup this season, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Rosenthal had trouble against the first batter he faced last season, and believes he may be able to get around that by pitching from the stretch. The idea has been discussed, but it's unclear if Rosenthal will follow through with it. 

He did stress that getting ahead of batters is his main goal this season. "Working ahead (in the count). Making quality pitches early in the count. These are the big goals for this year," he said. 

The 24-year-old posted a 3.20 ERA over 70 1/3 innings last season.


Blue Jays' Martin: Pirates 'were going to do everything they could'
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(12:37 am ET) Blue Jays catcher Russell Martin says the Pirates did everything they could to try and re-sign him, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Martin signed a five-year, $82 million deal with Toronto, but said the Pirates really pushed to keep him around. "They were going to do everything they could," Martin said. "They were pretty vocal about that. But then it comes to a point where, as an organization, if you're thinking business-wise, you can't stack all your chips and then leave yourself vulnerable for later."

Martin also admitted that the opportunity to be a role model in Canada was a big reason he signed in Toronto. "The opportunity to play in Canada, for my family to be able to watch me play, to be a role model for younger Canadians and be that guy, it's a better fit for me overall for that reason," he explained.

In the end, the money and a fifth year led Martin to the Blue Jays. "[The Pirates] were pretty vocal, and I think that they definitely wanted me back. It was just a feeling that Toronto wanted me a little bit more," he said.

The 32-year-old hit .290/.402/.430 over 379 at-bats last season.


Rockies' Wilin Rosario receives positive reviews at first base
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(3/3/2015) Rockies catcher Wilin Rosario received positive reviews after playing first base on Tuesday, according to MLB.com.

Rosario showed off his athleticism, saving two possible errors during the appearance. The club is trying to work Rosario in at the position after signing Nick Hundley in the offseason. Rosario has been taking extra fielding practice at first during camp. Rosario is expected to see equal time at first and behind the plate this spring.

The 26-year-old hit .267/.305/.435 over 382 at-bats last year.


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(3/3/2015) Diamondbacks third baseman Yasmany Tomas went 1-for-2 in his spring training debut against Arizona State. The Cuban born player thought he did just okay for his first game.

"Everybody knows it was my first day," Tomas said. "It was a good day. I put in the hard work to see it happen, and it felt like overall a good day."

Tomas played in five innings on the day. Manager Chip Hale said he thinks Tomas is right where he expected him to be offensively.

"With the bat, I thought this was how he would look," Hale said. "He looked very comfortable. He looked very relaxed."


Diamondbacks' Goldschmidt not concerned about hand this year
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(3/3/2015) Diamondbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt is not concerned about his hand this year, according to MLB.com.

Goldschmidt saw his first game action since last season on Tuesday, singling in his first at-bat since August 1. Goldschmidt missed the final two months of 2014 due to a broken hand, but said the injury has not been an issue during camp. 

"It was the last thing on my mind," Goldschmidt said. "It's not the first time I've gotten hit. It's not the first time I've gotten injured. Hopefully it doesn't happen again, but chances are something is going to happen in the future."

Goldschmidt has been wearing a small pad in his batting glove in order to prevent the injury should he get hit in the same spot. He's used the pad during batting practices, and said he doesn't even feel it. 

The 27-year-old hit .300/.396/.542 over 406 at-bats last season. 


Athletics' Craig Gentry hoping for a fast start in 2015
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(3/3/2015) Athletics outfielder Craig Gentry is hoping for a fast start in 2015, according to the Bay Area News Group.

Gentry missed time early last year with a back injury, but feels refreshed this season. "Last year was definitely frustrating, because you want to be here with your new team, and I wasn’t healthy," Gentry said. "Now I feel great and I’m really excited about this season."

Gentry stressed that he's working on stealing bases this spring, as he plans to be aggressive once the regular season begins. "I want to be aggressive and practice is what does it. I need to work on getting jumps, trying to read the pitcher and all of that."

Gentry, 31, hit .254/.319/.289 over 232 at-bats last season. 


Phillies' Chad Billingsley expected to be out until late April
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(3/3/2015) Phillies pitcher Chad Billingsley is not expected to be ready until late April, according to MLB.com.

Billingsley is coming off two elbow surgeries, and is behind to start camp. Billingsley was expected to compete for a spot in the team's rotation if healthy. The 30-year-old owns a career 3.65 ERA over 1,175 1/3 innings.  


Diamondbacks' Ender Inciarte fighting for a spot
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(3/3/2015) Diamondbacks outfielder Ender Inciarte is hoping to prove he deserves a spot, according to azcentral.com.

Inciarte flashed potential during the second half of the season in 2014, but is on the fringes of the 25-man roster this spring. For right now, he's open to any role the team will give him.

"There's a lot of competition here, but you only control what you can control," Inciarte said. "I know I can play defense. I know I can run. And I know I can hit. I've just got to do my job. I want to have a chance to play, but I'm ready to take any opportunity they give me or any role."

Manager Chip Hale praised Inciarte's versatility, saying Inciarte is "the type of player you like to have because he can do so many different things."

Inciarte knows the odds are against him, but knows whatever decision the team makes will be for the best. "I know whatever happens is going to be the best thing for me," he said. "I know if I go to Triple-A, I'm going to do my best and find my way back."

The 24-year-old hit .278/.318/.359 over 418 at-bats last year. 


Phillies' Chase Utley able to workout on Tuesday
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(3/3/2015) Phillies second baseman Chase Utley was able to work out on Tuesday, according to MLB.com.

Utley did not participate in workouts on Monday due to a sore ankle. He's expected to miss a few spring games due to the injury, but the fact that he was able to put in work on Tuesday should be seen as an encouraging sign.

The 36-year-old hit .270/.339/.407 over 589 at-bats last season. 


Giants' Tim Lincecum encouraged after first appearance
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(3/3/2015) Giants pitcher Tim Lincecum is encouraged after making his first spring appearance, according to MLB.com.

Lincecum can on in relief on Tuesday, giving up one run in one inning of work. He struck out two batters, and generally felt good about the outing. "I felt pretty good out there," Lincecum said. "My fastball had some life and my changeup was good at times."

Manager Bruce Bochy seemed to agree, saying he believed Lincecum had good command of his fastball. 

Lincecum is expected to open the season in the team's rotation. He posted a 4.74 ERA over 155 2/3 innings last year. 


 
 
 
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