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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
Pitching prospect Miguel Castro heads from Blue Jays to Rockies
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(2:05 am ET) The Rockies have acquired promising reliever Miguel Castro in the deal that sent Troy Tulowitzki to the Blue Jays, per CBSSports Baseball Insider Jon Heyman.

The 20-year-old Castro has been performing well at Triple-A Buffalo. He has 28 strikeouts in 24 2/3 innings and is averaging more than a strikeout per inning throughout his minor league career.


Mariners closer Carson Smith takes second straight loss
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(1:56 am ET) Mariners closer Carson Smith struggled for a second straight game Monday in a loss to Arizona.

Smith opened the 10th inning in a tie game with two walks and a hit-by-pitch sandwiched around a strikeout. He was removed, but a sacrifice fly scored the go-ahead run and tagged him with the loss.

He has allowed three runs and taken two defeats in his last two appearances.


Diamondbacks SP Robbie Ray goes seven strong against Seattle
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(1:51 am ET) Diamondbacks starter Robbie Ray rebounded nicely Monday from his worst start of the season. But his bullpen cost him a victory.

Ray, who couldn't make it out of the fifth inning last Tuesday, pitched through seven in Seattle. He gave up just two runs on six hits with two walks and eight strikeouts, which tied a season-high.

He pitched shutout ball through five, but a Logan Morrison RBI single in the sixth and Robinson Cano homer in the seventh narrowed his lead to 3-2.

Ray has five quality starts in his last six outings.


Mariners SP Mike Montgomery rebounds with strong effort
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(1:45 am ET) After three mediocre-to-awful starts that threatened to ruin what had been a fine rookie season, Mariners left-hander Mike Montgomery stopped the bleeding Monday night.

Montgomery wasn't lights-out, but he did allow just two earned runs on five hits in 6 2/3 innings in a no-decision against Arizona. He walked four and struck out five.

Home runs by Paul Goldschmidt and Welington Castillo in the first two innings appeared to have Montgomery reeling again. But he righted himself and later retired eight in a row.

Montgomery owns a 3.20 ERA, but hasn't won a game since July 5.


Counsell upset with Brewers OF Carlos Gomez for steal attempt
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(1:32 am ET) Craig Counsell has reacted angrily to a caught stealing by Brewers center fielder Carlos Gomez in the ninth inning of their Monday night loss in San Francisco.

Gomez singled to open the inning with his team two runs behind. He attempted a steal with the tying run at the plate and was thrown out. He was 1-for-4 in the game.

"You cannot get thrown out there," Counsell told MLB.com.

Scooter Gennett later hit a double that would have either scored Gomez or put two runners in scoring position. But the Brewers did not score.


Blue Jays snag RP LaTroy Hawkins in deal with Rockies
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(1:12 am ET) Former Rockies closer LaTroy Hawkins has been included in the deal that sent Troy Tulowitzki to the Blue Jays, per CBSSports.com Baseball Insider Jon Heyman.

Hawkins saved just two games this season before losing his job. But he has allowed just one earned run in 14 appearances since June 14.


Report: Rockies snag SS Jose Reyes in return for Tulowitzki
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(1:04 am ET) The Rockies will receive veteran shortstop Jose Reyes and minor leaguers in return for Troy Tulowitzki, according to Fox Sports MLB Insider Ken Rosenthal.

The 32-year-old Reyes owns a slash line on the year of .285/.333/.385.


Giants RP Sergio Romo earns second save of season Monday
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(1:00 am ET) Giants pitcher Sergio Romo recorded the final three outs of the ninth inning to earn his second save of the season during Monday's 4-2 win over the Brewers.

Romo allowed one hit and struck out two during the appearance. He is now 2 for 2 in save chances this season with a 4.26 ERA.


Brewers SP Kyle Lohse allows four runs in Monday's loss
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(12:57 am ET) Brewers pitcher Kyle Lohse had a decent outing Monday, but it was not enough as the Brewers lost 4-2 to the Giants.

Lohse (5-12) allowed four runs on five hits over 6 2/3 innings of work. He also struck out four and walked three. His biggest mistake was giving up a two-run home run to Brandon Crawford in the fourth inning.

Lohse is now winless in his last four starts. He has not earned a quality start in his last six outings.


Report: Nationals 1B Zimmerman, LF Werth to play Tuesday
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(12:56 am ET) The Nationals are expected to activate first baseman Ryan Zimmerman and left fielder Jayson Werth for their Tuesdsay night matchup against Marlins stud starter Jose Fernandez, according to MLB.com.

The team has not confirmed those moves,however.

Zimmerman has been sidelined for more than a month with plantar fasciitis in his left foot. Werth has been out for more than two months with a fractured left wrist. Both have joined the team in Miami.


 
 
 
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