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Bullpen Report: Who are these guys?

Senior Fantasy Writer
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Keeping up with the ever-changing world of closers requires a lot of attention during the season. But when August hits, it becomes an exercise in micro-management. Teams out of the playoff race try out previously unheard-of youngsters. Fantasy teams out of the playoff race beg off, start three guys on the DL every week and give you a false sense of security. As much as we may not want to admit it, football also creeps into our lives and our minds are split between scouring updates for who will close for the Rockies and scouring updates for any kind of clue on who will start at running back for the Broncos.

So you can be forgiven if you go to your Free Agent page, sort by saves and a list of unrecognizable names pop up. My job, as your friendly neighborhood bullpen reporter, is to explain who they are, how long they'll be here and if they're worth picking up. It's a little column I like to call ...

Who Are These Guys?

Danny Farquhar, Mariners
Saves in last 14 days: 5
What has to happen for him to keep his job: Not much. Even though Farquhar's numbers this year don't look great on the surface (a 5.17 ERA and 1.33 WHIP), he has a 13.6 K/9 and a 2.16 xFIP. His strand rate is way below the league average and his BABIP is well above it. In short, Farquhar has masked a ton of great underlying numbers with a bad ERA. Watch it dip over the next month and a half as he racks up saves for the Mariners.
What has to happen for him to lose it: It will be unlikely, but Farquhar's peripherals will have to rise and meet his ERA. With Tom Wilhelmsen in the minors, being quasi-converted to a starter, there's not much competition for Farquahar at the back-end of the bullpen, especially considering the Mariners are out of contention and will benefit from seeing how Farquhar handles the closer role as the season draws to a close.
Chances Farquhar is closing at the end of the season: 95 percent.

LaTroy Hawkins, Mets
Saves in last 14 days: 3
What has to happen for him to keep his job: Hawkins needs Bobby Parnell to remain on the disabled list with his neck/herniated disc issue, first and foremost. He then has to prove that he's past his recent groin injury. And then Hawkins has to simply pitch well enough to hold onto the job -- meaning not blowing a ton of games. He doesn't really have to blow anyone away to keep closing games.
What has to happen for him to lose it: The opposite of everything listed above. And he may be facing a surprise run for the closer title from youngster Gonzalez Germen, who successfully converted the save Thursday night.
Chances Hawkins is closing at the end of the season: 71 percent.

Rex Brothers, Rockies
Saves in last 14 days: 4
What has to happen for him to keep his job: With Rafael Betancourt coming back, Brothers is probably going to lose save opportunities to the incumbent. However, the Rockies have suggested that Brothers -- the clear closer of the future (Betancourt is in the last year of his contract) -- may still get chances. There's also a chance the team trades Betancourt to a contender before the waiver trade deadline passes on August 31.
What has to happen for him to lose it: If Rockies manager Walt Weiss decides Betancourt should get his job back after returning from injury.
Chances Brothers is closing at the end of the season: 63 percent.

Josh Fields, Astros
Saves in last 14 days: 2
What has to happen for him to keep his job: Chia-Jen Lo probably has to blow his next outing in spectacular fashion. While it looks like Fields may be working his way back into the closer mix, he got his second save after Lo had pitched in back-to-back games and was essentially unavailable.
What has to happen for him to lose it: Either Lo goes on a run, saving games every chance he gets, or Fields has a couple more rough outings.
Chances Fields is closing at the end of the season: 15 percent.

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Dane De La Rosa, Angels
Saves in last 14 days: 1
What has to happen for him to keep his job: All De La Rosa really has to do right now is not be Ernesto Frieri. While Frieri has been on an epic slide -- he's given up 12 runs in his last 6 2/3 innings -- De La Rosa appears to be the most obvious choice to fill in, a supposition helped along by the fact that he was given the opportunity to save the game last week against the Indians.
What has to happen for him to lose it: Frieri has to figure out what's wrong. While he's been decent this year (3.62 EA, 1.23 WHIP), De La Rosa doesn't scream "closer." Frieri is still the high-strikeout intimidator in the bullpen. If he can fix whatever is wrong with him -- and he may be getting close, as Frieri hasn't allowed a run over his last two appearances while striking out three in two innings -- the Angels may go back to Frieri for the last month, just to make sure their closer is back to form.
Chances De La Rosa is closing at the end of the season: 35 percent.

Chia-Jen Lo, Astros
Saves in last 14 days: 1
What has to happen for him to keep his job: Lo just has to keep doing what he's doing. The 27-year-old rookie hasn't allowed a run in 6 1/3 innings, striking out five and posting a 1.11 WHIP. Over five minor league seasons (in which he often battled injury), Lo had a 2.11 ERA and 1.08 WHIP, with a 10.0 K/9 over 128 innings. He could be a stellar keeper target for saves.
What has to happen for him to lose it: The team may want to mix and match closers to see what it has in its 2014 bullpen.
Chances he's closing at the end of the season: 75 percent.

Gonzalez Germen, Mets
Saves in last 14 days: 1
What has to happen for him to keep his job: LaTroy Hawkins has to either continue to be sidelined, or return and simply ... not be good.
What has to happen for him to lose it: Considering Germen doesn't technically "have" it -- he's simply the guy who got the last save for the Mets -- there's not much he can do to change his fate. However, Germen makes for a wonderfully speculative play in NL-only formats, and not just by process of elimination. Converted to reliever this season, Germen had an ugly 5.52 ERA in 35 games for Las Vegas. But he did show some decent control (1.32 WHIP is a little low for that ERA) and has been solid with the Mets -- in 13 games, he has a 2.60 ERA and 18 strikeouts in 17 1/3 innings. Hawkins is 40 years old and is on pace to throw more innings than he has in any season since 2003. And David Aardsma blew his only two save chances this season and hasn't pitched since Aug. 11. Germen has momentum, has an opportunity and could just quietly slide into the closer role so the Mets can see what they have through September.
Chances he's closing at the end of the season: 25 percent.

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
Infield shifts have become an issue for players like Reds' Bruce
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(11:46 am ET) Reds outfielder Jay Bruce is not going to use infield shifts as an excuse for his low batting average, but he admits it does play a factor, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer.

"That's definitely taken some hits away from me," Bruce said. "I don't use it as an excuse. But the bottom line is it takes hits away. You smoke a ball up the middle and you think it's a hit. But the shortstop is playing right behind second base.

"It's definitely cut down on average. You look at a player like Mark Teixiera. He was a .300, .280 hitter. You put the shift on him. He's a guy who drives the ball, pull hitter. He uses the other side of the field some. But guys like that are hitting in the .250s."

Bruce added that beating the shift is difficult. 

"Everyone's like, 'Hit a ground ball to shortstop or hit one down the line.' Like you can do whatever you want." he said. "A lot of times, pitchers pitch to the shift. And shifts are getting more sophisticated. In New York, (shortstop Derek) Jeter was playing third, in on the grass. So you can't bunt. Ideally, you want to get a hit. It's hard to do."

Reds hitting coach Don Long said eventually hitters will be taught in the minors to beat the shift.

"Not everybody's going to be the perfect hitter and be able to do everything," he said. "But I think you're going to find guys who want to have the ability to hit to both sides of the field."


Royals invite C J.C. Boscan to spring training
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(11:38 am ET) The Royals signed catcher J.C. Boscan to a minor-league contract with an invitation to spring training, according to multiple reports. Boscan, 35, spent 2014 with the Dodgers' organization, batting .259 with a homer and seven RBI in 52 games for Double-A Chattanooga.

Adrian Gonzalez confident in 'deeper lineup' for Dodgers
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(10:26 am ET) Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez had an MLB-best 116 RBI in 2014, mostly batting in front of the likes of Matt Kemp and Hanley Ramirez. While both players are no longer part of the Dodgers' batting order, Gonzalez is not worried about lineup protection, per the Los Angeles Times.

"I think we're deeper, so I don't think we're going to be so dependent on the middle of the order," Gonzalez said Monday. "People say that we lost power, but I think we just put the power in different areas of the lineup."

Some of the key acquisitions this offseason for the Dodgers have been shortstop Jimmy Rollins, catcher Yasmani Grandal and second baseman Howie Kendrick. Gonzalez is confident in the new additions to the lineup.

"They're going to battle every at-bat," Gonzalez said. "They're going to be prepared. I'm not saying that we didn't before, but I think the guys that we got are guys that are going to be tougher to game plan for. From that end, it will be a deeper lineup."


Orioles' Matt Wieters has goal of being ready by opening day
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(10:15 am ET) Orioles catcher Matt Wieters, who is throwing from 150 feet in his recovery from Tommy John surgery, said he is preparing to be ready by opening day.

"The rehab's going well and going how it's supposed to from all the talk I've gotten with Dr. (James) Andrews and my physical therapist down here and Richie (Bancells)," Wieters said, per MASNsports.com. "Everything's kind of moved along and we're preparing for me to be ready for opening day. We still have a good couple of months before we're there, so it's still going to be a lot of work to put into it, but that's what I'm preparing for. We're trying to get all the steps checked off before we get there.

"We'll see when I'm actually going to be able to get behind the plate and catch in games during spring training, but it's just a matter of making sure the arm has been tested enough to where when we do get into games with adrenaline and a little bit of pressure that we're ready to go."

Wieters added making sure his shoulder is also in good shape is part of the rehab process coming off elbow surgery.

"(Monday) we went out to 150 just to test it out a little bit," he said, "and everything has kind of checked out and we've had nothing really major to set back the progression."


Indians want Michael Bourn to get back to his base-stealing ways
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(1/26/2015) The Indians want outfielder Michael Bourn to get back to his base-stealing ways, according to the Plain Dealer

Prior to joining the team, Bourn had compiled five straight seasons with at least 40 steals. Since joining the team, he's stolen 33 bases in two seasons. Injuries have played a role in his decline. Bourn admitted he had some trouble adjusting to the American League in his first season with Cleveland. He tore his hamstring on the final day of the season, and had offseason surgery, but the issue still plagued him in 2014. 

Manager Terry Francona agreed, saying "When he gets on base, he has to disrupt the game." Francona added, "he wants to do it really bad, he just wasn't in position to do it the last couple of years. Hopefully, those injuries are limited and he can use his legs because he's a huge part of what we do."

Bourn, 32, hit .257/.314/.360 over 444 at-bats last year.


Rockies, Adam Ottavino avoid arbitration
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(1/26/2015) The Rockies have avoided arbitration with pitcher Adam Ottavino, according to MLB.com.

Ottavino agreed to a one-year deal with the club. Ottavino will make $1.3 million next season, according to CBSSports.com Baseball Insider Jon Heyman.

The 29-year-old posted a 3.60 ERA over 65 innings last year.


Astros looking at pitcher Kevin Correia
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(1/26/2015) The Astros are looking to add pitcher Kevin Correia, according to CBSSports.com Baseball Insider Jon Heyman.

Houston is said to be seeking a backend starter, and Correia fits the bill. The 34-year-old posted a 5.44 ERA over 154 innings with the Twins and Dodgers last year. 


Angels hopeful Garrett Richards will be ready for opening day
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(1/26/2015) The Angels are hopeful that pitcher Garrett Richards will be ready by opening day, according to the Orange County Register

If Richards isn't ready for the start of the season, the team expects him to be back shortly after that. Richards had knee surgery in August, but he's been able to make progress. General manager Jerry DiPoto said he was "optimistic" about Richards' status. Richards has been able to increase his running on a treadmill, and hasn't experienced any issues with his throwing program, according to DiPoto. Richards is currently throwing from 125 to 150 feet about five times per week.

Richards posted a 2.61 ERA over 168 2/3 innings last year.


Orioles' Matt Wieters throwing from 150 feet
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(1/26/2015) Orioles catcher Matt Wieters has begun throwing from 150 feet, according to MASN.

Wieters underwent Tommy John surgery last season, and is working his way back from the surgery. He was cleared to start throwing from 150 feet on Monday. Wieters had previously been throwing from 120 feet. He said he's preparing as if he'll be ready for opening day.

Wieters hit .308/.339/.500 over 104 at-bats last year.


Orioles bring in Parmelee, De La Rosa on minor-league deals
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(1/26/2015) The Orioles have signed outfielder Chris Parmelee and pitcher Dane De La Rosa on minor-league deals, according to MLB.com.

The 26-year-old Parmelee spent his first four seasons in Minnesota before becoming a free-agent during the offseason. Parmelee hit .256/.307/.384 over 250 at-bats last year.

De La Rosa, 31, pitched just 2 1/3 innings with the Angels last season. He had knee surgery in September.


 
 
 
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