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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
Derek Holland still not ready to face hitters
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(10:20 pm ET) Rangers pitcher Derek Holland has been throwing bullpen sessions in Arizona, but is not yet ready to face hitters, MLB.com reports Friday. Holland is working his way back from January knee surgery and remains without a timetable.

"The arm is ahead of the knee. We've got to get the legs in shape," general manager Jon Daniels said.

Gordon Beckham nearing end of minor-league rehab
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(10:13 pm ET) White Sox second baseman Gordon Beckham started his sixth consecutive rehab game at Double-A Birmingham, MLB.com reports. Beckham is no longer feeling any soreness in his oblique and could be nearing the end of his rehab.

"He's been doing good," manager Robin Ventura said of Beckham. "He's getting closer. You want to make sure you get a good five, six in a row where you don't feel anything, so you know, even when they do it, there are no signs. It just happens. Knowing that he's had it before, you want to just nip it."

Wednesday return in L.A. looking likely for Cole Hamels
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(9:59 pm ET) The Phillies know pitcher Cole Hamels will join the rotation at some point during their series against the Dodgers next week, and they are starting to close in on a specific date for his expected return. Manager Ryne Sandberg told MLB.com he expects Hamels to start Wednesday in Los Angeles, in order to give the team the chance to split Hamels up with fellow lefty Cliff Lee, who pitches Monday.

Hamels has been working his way back from inflammation in his left shoulder, but has looked sharp in recent rehab starts. He will join the team in Colorado during their upcoming series, and will likely be activated from the disabled list Wednesday. 


Jacob Turner tosses 45 pitches off a mound
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(9:55 pm ET) Marlins pitcher Jacob Turner was able to throw off a mound Friday, as he continues to recover from a sprained right shoulder. He tossed 45 pitches Friday at Marlins park, and will throw another bullpen session Sunday, before possibly going off to extended spring training.

"If everything goes well, he will go up to Jupiter," manager Mike Redmond told MLB.com. "He will go to Jupiter while we're on the road and pitch."

Turner could begin a minor-league rehab assignment within the next week, though no official timeline has been determined as of yet.


Andy Dirks limited to aquatic rehab until end of month
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(9:54 pm ET) Tigers outfielder Andy Dirks has been limited to aquatic rehab at the team's spring facility in Florida, MLB.com reports. Dirks is expected visit a back specialist at the end of the month, seeking clearance for more rehab work.

Dylan Bundy completes 40-pitch side session
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(9:45 pm ET) Orioles pitcher Dylan Bundy completed a 40-pitch side Friday, MLB.com reports. The right-hander just fastballs and changeups in his latest session.

Bundy plans to start throwing his breaking ball soon, as he's working his way back from Tommy John surgery.


Daisuke Matsuzaka give Mets a backup plan
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(8:59 pm ET) The Mets recalled pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka from Triple-A Las Vegas in recent days, and they have a plan for how they might use him in the coming days. Manager Terry Collins told MLB.com Matsuzaka will be around Saturday and Sunday in case either Bartolo Colon (back) or Jenrry Mejia (finger) suffers a setback that keeps them from pitching.

"If Bartolo's back stiffens up on him, [Matsuzaka] has got to be ready," Collins said. "He'll come tomorrow as if he's going to pitch. If Bart's O.K., he'll need to do the same thing with Jenrry. If his finger flares up today or if he can't throw today or tomorrow, we've got to have a backup plan, and right now Daisuke is our best option."

Matsuzaka appeared in two games for Las Vegas, allowing three runs in 12 innings of work. He last appeared in the majors in seven games with the Mets last season, posting a 4.32 ERA in 38 2/3 innings of work. 


Jordy Mercer leaves with ankle discomfort
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(8:43 pm ET) Pirates shortstop Jordy Mercer was forced out of Friday's game against the Brewers, after taking a shot to the ankle while playing in the field.

He initially stayed in the game after a Brewers baserunner slid into his right ankle, but left shortly after, as Clint Barmes replaced him in the fourth inning. The team announced he was removed from the game with discomfort in the ankle, though nothing more is known at this point. 


Blake Treinen will resume starting in minors
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(8:33 pm ET) Pitcher Blake Treinen spent his time with the Nationals pitching out of the bullpen, logging 6 2/3 innings over three appearances before being sent down Friday. The team wants Treinen to work as a starter at Triple-A Syracuse, in case he is needed for the rotation down the road.

"He is going to build his innings down there, certainly work on his secondary pitches. He has a pretty electric fastball," manager Matt Williams told MLB.com Friday. "He pitched really well for us."

Treinen will join the rotation Tuesday for Syracuse, a role he is used to. He made 20 of his 21 appearances for Double-A Harrisburg as a starter in 2013, posting a 3.64 ERA over 118 2/3 innings of work. 


Wilson Ramos increasing work in rehab
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(8:27 pm ET) Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos was able to grab a bat and take five dry swings Friday, the first time he has done so since suffering a broken hamate bone in his left hand. He said the hand feels strong, but he needs to build up strength in his wrist now.

"I was swinging easy, swinging the bat," Ramos told MLB.com. "Right now I'm working hard with my hand. My hand feels good. It's a just a matter of getting my wrist strong. That's what I'm working right now."

Ramos had the stitches taken out of his hand earlier in the week, and has been able to begin minor exercises to strengthen it. He is expected back sometime in May. 


 
 
 
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