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Bullpen Report: Finding a little relief

Senior Fantasy Writer
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I've moved enough in the past decade to know that it stinks. The packing, lifting, unpacking -- there's no real fun element to it. But there is one thing I look forward to every time: opening up the box of "Miscellany." For me, it's usually things like playing cards, some old CDs, stickers featuring DC superheroes, maybe some type of Star Wars thing I won on ebay, and a bunch of other random fun stuff that I don't really need to own, but enjoy.

So in the spirit of the Miscellany box, I give you this week's Bullpen Report. Just a bunch of stuff thrown into a box that doean't fall into any specific category.

Rex Brothers is a must-add

With Rafael Betancourt likely done for the season, Rex Brothers will re-assume closing duties in Colorado. The 25-year-old lefty has a 1.51 ERA and 1.16 WHIP on the season, with 11 saves and a 9.4 K/9. Brothers won't have the kind of "run him up the rankings!" ascent that Kenley Jansen got when he was named closer, but the upside is very real -- Brothers can keep his ERA and WHIP low while racking up saves and getting about a strikeout per inning.

Tommy Hunter is closing in on relevance

We've seen this before -- an incumbent closer trips up a little bit, rights himself in the 7th and 8th innings, then returns and is dominant for the rest of the season. The best example I can think of is Brandon League in 2011. Currently, we're looking at something similar from Jim Johnson, just much later in the season (League would always run into trouble in May, for some reason).

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Enter Tommy Hunter, a converted starter who is enjoying a 2.63 ERA and 0.92 WHIP in his first full season as a reliever. The "throw-in" in the Chris Davis trade with the Rangers, Hunter got the save for the Orioles on Wednesday, ahead of deadline acquisition Francisco Rodriguez.

If Johnson stays out of the saves mix for any amount of time, Hunter -- who saw his average fastball velocity rise from 91.6 mph last season to 95.8 this year -- will likely be the next in line. He comes with some risk (most notably, Johnson reclaiming his job), but is worth a gamble in AL-only formats and Roto leagues where a team is badly in need of saves.

Joel Peralta has taken the lead in holds

With Mark Melancon now closing games for the Pirates, his lead in the holds category was bound to disappear; Melancon is now tied for third in the majors with 26 holds. Your new leader is Tampa Bay reliever Joel Peralta, with 31. David Robertson is in second with 30.

Peralta and Robertson's hold totals actually have some significance -- the single-season leader in holds is Luke Gregerson, with 40. Peralta and Robertson both play for teams that are winning, meaning that, with a very good month, they could challenge the record. It's not likely -- for as good as the Yankees have been lately, Robertson has just six holds so far this month, and only two pitchers have double-digit holds in any month this season (Jesse Crain and Peralta, both in May) -- but it might be a fun category to keep an eye on as the season winds down.

Your hold leaders for August are...

Tyler Clippard, Nationals, 7 holds
Yoervis Medina, Mariners, 7
Joe Smith, Indians, 7
Ronald Belisario, Dodgers, 6
Matt Belisle, Rockies, 6
J.J. Hoover, Reds, 6
David Robertson, Yankees, 6
Jared Burton, Twins, 5
David Carpenter, Braves, 5
Tim Collins, Royals, 5
Charlie Furbush, Mariners, 5

Strikeout Kings

While the list of August leaders in K/9 boasts many familiar names, there are a few that may catch the attention of Roto owners looking to lower WHIP and ERA while keeping Ks up. Or even for the owner in a Categories league where K/9 is a category.

August leaders, K/9 (min. 5 IP)

Francisco Rodriguez, Orioles, 16.43 K/9
Kenley Jansen, Dodgers, 15.43
Danny Farquhar, Mariners, 14.46
Aroldis Chapman, Reds 14.40
Rich Hill, Indians 14.40
Charlie Leesman, White Sox, 14.40
Grant Balfour, Athletics 13.50
Mike Gonzalez, Brewers, 13.50
David Carpenter, Braves, 13.50
Craig Kimbrel, Braves, 13.09

Top of the SPARP heap

For those of you new to Bullpen Report, SPARP is an acronym for "Starting Pitcher As a Relief Pitcher" -- one of those Kris Medlen types who can be plugged into the RP slot in standard H2H formats to take advantage of the points windfall from starters. Over the last 21 days, there have been some interesting SPARP performers in the Fantasy game. The top SPARPs in that span:

Alex Wood, Braves, 79.5 Points in the last 21 days
Andrew Albers, Twins, 73.5
Kris Medlen, Braves, 69.5
Bruce Chen, Royals, 65.6
Tyson Ross, Padres, 63.5
Joe Kelly, Cardinals, 62.5
Hisashi Iwakuma, Mariners, 60.5
Andre Rienzo, White Sox, 52.5
Tony Cingrani, Reds, 52
Andrew Cashner, Padres, 46.5

I know it's the easy way out, but Iwakuma is probably the most attractive of this group, followed by Wood, who still has plenty of innings left on his arm this season. Medlen is 3 1/3 innings away from equaling his total from last year (which was also a career-high) and hasn't started a game since Aug. 13. He also averaged seven hits per game over his last eight starts. Cingrani has only thrown 129 innings so far this season, which is still below last year's total of 146.

Rienzo is probably the most intriguing of the group. While he doesn't have these blow-you-away minor league numbers, he had been good the last four seasons, and carried a 9.7 K/9 over 543 2/3 minor league innings. Before his call-up, he went on a nice run of games, lowering his WHIP and ERA. And through his first five major league starts, Rienzo has a 3.56 ERA and 1.32 WHIP. It shouldn't cause anyone to run out and add him, but Rienzo could be a shrewd add in a deeper league for his two-start week.

One last thing ...

With Steve Delabar on the DL, I went ahead and grabbed Brett Cecil in a couple AL-only leagues where I could use saves. Cecil, like Tommy Hunter, has found a new life in relief, and after a rocky July has come back around to his early-season self in August, with a 2.57 ERA and 10 strikeouts in seven innings.

Couple this with Casey Janssen's 7.94 ERA in August (and 5.40 ERA dating back to the start of July), and you have a very speculative play on late-season saves, should Janssen need to be rested and Delabar stays on the DL.

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
White Sox farmhand Dan Black likely heading to South Korea
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(2:06 pm ET) First baseman/designated hitter Dan Black, who has been tearing it up at Triple-A Charlotte, will likely not be doing the same for the parent White Sox anytime soon. He is believed to be taking his talents to South Korea, per CBSSports.com Baseball Insider Jon Heyman.

Black boasts a fine slash line of .324/.457/.568 with 24 RBI in 34 games with Charlotte. But the 27 year old has yet to play in a big-league game.


Cubs' Maddon: It's possible Kyle Schwarber is a September callup
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(1:54 pm ET) All Cubs prospect Kyle Schwarber has done since turning pro last season is hit the cover off the baseball in the minors. 

The No. 4 overall pick in the 2014 MLB Draft posted a .344/.428/.634/1.061 slash line and 18 home runs in 72 games last year, and he has continued to rake at Double-A Tennessee in 2015. He has a .307/.436/.584/1.020 slash line and 10 home runs in 42 games.

Schwarber's smooth transition to pro baseball has Cubs manager Joe Maddon thinking the catcher/outfielder could be ready to help the major-league club this season.

“He’s a very, very mature at-bat, and he’s doing better behind the plate, too, from what I understand," Maddon said Sunday. “You ask him, he’ll tell you he can. And that’s a big part of it, too. He’s really confident.

“He’s definitely, definitely got the hitting chip. Every time I look up at the scoreboard at home, it’s like: Schwarber went 3 for 5 with a home run and three RBI. Even if it’s 1 for 5, it’s like a game-winning RBI.”

With the way Schwarber is progressing, he will likely move on to Triple-A this season. However, a September callup might not be out of the question.

"It’s possible," Maddon said. "Anything’s possible."


Report: Red Sox promote RP Robbie Ross from Triple-A
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(1:51 pm ET) The Red Sox have promoted left-hander Robbie Ross from Triple-A Pawtucket in a move corresponding to the placement of outfielder Daniel Nava on the disabled list, per WEEI.

Ross has spent most of the year with Boston, but has pitched just once for the Sox since a miserable appearance on May 8 that sent his ERA soaring from 3.86 to 6.17.


Report: Red Sox shelve struggling OF Daniel Nava
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(1:47 pm ET) Red Sox struggling outfielder Daniel Nava is heading to the disabled list with an undisclosed ailment, per WEEI, which is further reporting that veteran southpaw Robbie Ross will be promoted from Triple-A Pawtucket to take his place.

Nava has received sporadic playing time recently and has been scuffling at the plate nearly all season. He has just four hits in his last 31 at-bats.


Report: Angels to promote OF Alfredo Marte from Triple-A
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(1:20 pm ET) The Angels are expected to call up outfielder Alfredo Marte from Triple-A Salt Lake on Thursday. Marte was picked up off waivers from the Diamondbacks in October.

The 26-year-old had 18 hits in 106 at-bats for Arizona in 2014. This season in Triple-A, Marte was hitting a strong .343 with 11 doubles, four home runs and 32 RBI. 

He will likely be a part-time outfield/pinch-hit option for manager Mike Scioscia. He is expected to take the roster spot of Collin Cowgill, who is likely to go on the disabled list according to the Orange County Register


Pirates SP prospect Nick Kingham has Tommy John surgery
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(12:32 pm ET) Pirates starting pitcher prospect Nick Kingham underwent Tommy John surgery on Wednesday, the team announced Thursday. He will be sidelined 12-18 months.

Kingham was considered the Pirates' sixth-best prospect by MLB.com. He was 1-2 with a 4.31 ERA in six starts for Triple-A Indianapolis this season. He is 28-29 with a 3.35 ERA in 103 career outings (99 starts).


Date set for Orioles P Brian Matusz suspension hearing
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(12:28 pm ET) Orioles reliever Brian Matusz will have the hearing on his pending suspension on June 3. Matusz was ejected from a game on Saturday due to a foreign substance being found on his arm. As consequence, he was given an eight-game suspension, which he has since appealed. 


Report: Yankees promote top SP prospect Luis Severino to Triple-A
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(12:23 pm ET) Yankees top pitching prospect Luis Severino has been promoted from Double-A Trenton to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, according to Baseball America.

The 21-year-old right-hander is 2-2 with a 3.32 ERA and 1.11 WHIP in eight starts. He had 48 strikeouts in 38 innings.

Severino is 16-11 with a 2.39 ERA and 1.05 WHIP in 56 career outings (54 starts). He is striking out 9.5 batters per nine innings.


Orioles SP Wei-Yin Chen sore, but Saturday start still set
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(12:15 pm ET) Orioles left-hander Wei-Yin Chen is dealing with some soreness, but has not been scratched from his Saturday start against visiting Tampa Bay, per MASNsports.com.

Chen has struggled in his last two outings in raising his ERA from 2.53 to 3.13. He has worked his way out of jams, but has allowed seven runs on 19 hits in his last 12 innings. His saving grace has been control - he has not walked a batter during that stretch.


Cardinals option RP Miguel Socolovich to Triple-A on Thursday
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(12:08 pm ET) The Cardinals optioned pitcher Miguel Socolovich to Triple-A Memphis, the team announced on Thursday. The right-hander was originally called up at the beginning of May, and pitched well for the Cardinals. 

Socolovich made seven appearances, earning a victory in the firs two. Overall, he pitched 7 2/3 innings, allowing just one earned run and five hits. He recorded eight strikeouts and just one walk. He'll likely get another shot in the big leagues before too long. 

The team has not announced a corresponding move to replace him on the 25-man roster.


 
 
 
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