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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
Report: Jorge Polanco likely victim of pitcher promotion
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(5:55 pm ET) Shortstop Jorge Polanco made the huge jump Thursday from Class A to the Twins, but it appears he will be heading back down to the minors Saturday to make room for promoted pitcher Logan Darnell, according to MLB.com.

Polanco was playing for Minnesota in June - just days before his 21st birthday - and smacked two hits in five at-bats.


Christian Bergman to start rehab stint Tuesday
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(5:53 pm ET) Rockies pitcher Christian Bergman is expected to begin a minor-league rehab assignment Tuesday for Double-A Tulsa, the team announced. Bergman is working his way back from a hand injury, and is not eligible to return until August 20

Kyle Gibson feels 'encouraged' after long-toss session
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(5:48 pm ET) Twins pitcher Kyle Gibson felt "encouraged" by a long-toss session of 120 feet on Friday, according to the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

Gibson was scratched from Saturday's start because of a back issue, He tossed 10-15 pitches in the bullpen, and could return to the rotation as early as Tuesday against the Royals in Kansas City.

Rangers release Justin Marks
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(5:46 pm ET) The Rangers have released pitcher Justin Marks.

The move frees up a spot on the 40-man roster for Jerome Williams. Williams is expected to start for the club Friday. Marks posted a 5.03 ERA over three minor-league clubs. 


Manager: Phil Hughes should make next start
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(5:44 pm ET) Ron Gardenhire has expressed optimism that Twins right-hander Phil Hughes will make his next start despite taking a shot to the shin Thursday off the bat of Adam Dunn. That would be Tuesday or Wednesday in Kansas City as the Minnesota rotation has been a bit jumbled.

Hughes could certainly use a shot in the arm instead of one to the shin. He has yielded 12 earned runs on 25 hits in his last 15 innings pitched to send his ERA soaring to 4.10, its highest point since May 4.


Collin McHugh ready to rejoin Astros and might start Sunday
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(5:29 pm ET) Bo Porter has confirmed that Astros starter Collin McHugh is ready to return to the rotation after rehabbing from a finger injury, per the Houston Chronicle. Since his last minor league outing was Tuesday, he is in line to start Sunday against Miami, though that is not official.

McHugh was performing poorly after a fine stretch before going down. He gave up 10 earned runs in 17 innings pitched in his last three starts - all losses. In fact, he has not posted a victory since June 3.


Kendrys Morales hitting fourth in first game back with M's
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(5:26 pm ET) Mariners designated hitter Kendrys Morales is hitting fourth Friday.

Morales was reacquired by Seattle, and was expected to hit in the middle of the order. Kyle Seager moved down to the fifth spot to accomodate Morales. In 154 at-bats, Morales is hitting .234/.259/.325. 


Jesus Montero boomerangs back to Tacoma
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(5:20 pm ET) It took all of one day for Mariners catcher Jesus Montero to be sent down after a promotion. He was officially demoted Friday to Triple-A Tacoma to make room on the roster for newcomer Kendrys Morales.

Montero did not take advantage of his brief time with Seattle, going 0 for 3 Thursday.


Daisuke Matsuzaka flies back to New York for MRI on elbow
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(5:17 pm ET) Though the Mets are currently on the tail end of their road trip, the team has sent pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka back to New York to have an MRI on his elbow.

Matsuzaka gave up a pair of home runs in two innings of relief on Thursday. He owns a 3.87 ERA and a 1.33 WHIP, along with one save over 74 1/3 innings of work this season. It remains to be seen how long he'll be sidelined for moving forward.

Jonny Venters nearing a bullpen session
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(5:15 pm ET) Braves pitcher Jonny Venters is nearing a bullpen session, according to MLB.com.

Venters was able to throw from 100 feet Friday. Manager Fredi Gonzalez said Venters could start throwing bullpen sessions on the team's next road trip. Venters has missed the entire season while rehabbing from Tommy John surgery.


 
 
 
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