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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
Jay Bruce absent from Saturday lineup
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(2:16 pm ET) Hitless in six of his last nine games, Reds outfielder Jay Bruce has been given the night off Saturday against Atlanta.

Bruce has, oddly, managed multiple hits in the other three games with two home runs and seven RBI. He boasts a still-disappointing stat line on the year of .219/.295/.380 with 14 homers in 397 at-bats.


Rafael Montero demoted to Las Vegas
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(1:33 pm ET) The Mets have disaptched rookie right hander Rafael Montero to Triple-A Las Vegas to make room on the roster for Jacob deGrom.

Montero struggled to find consistency in the rotation. He managed three quality starts, but was pounded for 13 runs in 13 innings in his other three starts combined.


Yankees consider six-man rotation when Masahiro Tanaka returns
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(1:29 pm ET) The Yankees could utilize a six-man rotation upon the return of right-hander Masahiro Tanaka, per ESPN. Pitching coach Larry Rothschild indicated that arrangement could continue through 2015 as the team looks to protect Tanaka and his ailing elbow.

"We are going to look at every avenue possible," Rothschild said. "It doesn't mean we are going to do it."

Rothschild added that the Yankees could use a six-man rotation not just to protect Tanaka, but his other starters in the wake of the epidemic of arm problems in the major leagues.


Tigers promote two southpaws from Toledo
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(1:22 pm ET) The Tigers have promoted left-handers Kyle Lobstein and Patrick McCoy from Triple-A Toledo in time for the Saturday doubleheader opener in Minnesota.

The latter gave up four runs on eight hits in seven innings during an earlier stint with the big league club this year. Lobstein has yet to make his major league debut.


Ian Krol demoted to Triple-A
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(1:16 pm ET) The Tigers beleaguered bullpen took another twist with the demotion of Ian Krol to Triple-A Toledo.

Krol has yielded four runs on seven hits in his last five innings and owns a 4.97 ERA on the season.


Robbie Ray sent back to Toledo
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(1:13 pm ET) Tigers starter Robbie Ray was demoted to Triple-A Toledo after he took a pounding Friday night in Minnesota.

Ray has surrendered 20 earned runs in his last 14 1/3 innings pitched covering four outings.


Jacob Turner in, Edwin Jackson out of Cubs rotation
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(1:06 pm ET) What was suspected is now official: Jacob Turner is set to start Wednesday for the Cubs. He is replacing struggling Edwin Jackson in the rotation.

Turner has pitched two games out of the bullpen since the trade that brought him from Miami. He has been battered this season to the tune of a 4-7 record and 5.77 ERA. Jackson has been a mess for months. He is 6-14 with a 6.09 ERA.


Justin Ruggiano sidelined with ankle ailment
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(12:56 pm ET) Cubs outfielder Justin Ruggiano has been scratched from the Saturday lineup against the Orioles with left ankle soreness.

Ruggiano has hit safely in the last six games in which he has started.


Odrisamer Despaigne: Hitters have adjusted against me
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(12:53 pm ET) Padres rookie starter Odrisamer Despaigne has admitted that hitters have made an adjustment against him, resulting in some tough outings.

Among them was Friday night, when he surrendered three runs on five hits in five innings in Arizona for his second straight loss. Despaigne has yielded 20 earned runs on 39 hits in his last 31 innings pitched covering six starts to raise his ERA from a sparkling 1.31 to 3.44.

"The first five starts, hitters had no idea about me," Despaigne told the San Diego Union-Tribune. "I was the new guy. The last six of them, it's been different. Guys are making more adjustments, seeing me the second time, getting a better idea of how I like to work."

Despaigne found success in his early starts releasing the ball from several different arm angles.


Travis Snider raking while Gregory Polanco learning
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(12:42 pm ET) Travis Snider has continued to take away at-bats from far-more-ballyhooed Pirates rookie Gregory Polanco.

Despite an 0-for-5 night on Friday, Snider has earned the playing time. He owned an 11-game hitting streak previously in which he had six multi-hit games, scored seven runs and rose his batting average from .242 to .277. Polanco, on the other hand, has just one hit in his last 27 at-bats.

"Snider's been torrid," Clift Hurdle told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Friday. "Thirty-five games left, another day, another opportunity for Polanco to get some work done. The good side of it is when we've  had some time to settle him down a little bit, when he has been back plugged in he's been very fresh and usually shows a lot of improvement."

Hurdle added that he wants Polanco to revert to the swing that proved successful upon his promotion from the minors. He began the season on an 11-game hitting streak that vaulted his average to .365 and allowed him to score 11 runs.

"I think we're trying to show him the fact once his front foot hits, that his hands are set in a position," Hurdle said. "There's been, I think, a little more movement than necessary with his hands. ... Sometimes you don't know whether it's fatigue, whether it's anxiety, whether it's the ptiches, but they're pitching him up a lot more. That's no secret. He's doing a lot more up-chasing than he had done when he first got here."


 
 
 
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