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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
Astros 3B Luis Valbuena goes 2 for 4 on Monday vs. Royals
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(1:35 pm ET) Astros third baseman Luis Valbuena had two more hits on Monday, going 2 for 4 with two runs scored in the 6-1 win over the Royals.

Despite his .199 season batting average, Valbuena has been rolling at the plate recently, batting .320 with two home runs over his last seven games. He has reached base safely via a hit, walk or hit-by-pitch in each of his last nine games.


Nationals pitching prospect A.J. Cole leaves start with groin issue
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(1:21 pm ET) Nationals pitching prospect A.J. Cole was removed from his start Monday for Triple-A Syracuse with groin tightness, per the Washington Post. He pitched just two innings.

Any absence would be coming at an inopportune time for the 23-year-old Cole, who had rebounded from a terrible stretch to throw eight shutout innings in his last two outings.


Giants SP Jake Peavy (back) expected to start on Friday
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(1:10 pm ET) Giants right-hander Jake Peavy, who has been rehabbing from a back injury since the middle of April, is slated to return from the disabled list and start on Friday in Washington, D.C. 

Peavy made two starts for the Giants this year before landing on the DL with a back injury. The veteran right-hander is anxious to help out his fellow teammates upon his return.

"I was signed back to do what I did here last year," Peavy said, per the San Francisco Chronicle. "I fully expect to do that. It’s been tough for me, sustaining an injury that has kept me down now for a quite a while now, a few months.

"It’s tough to stay in good spirits when you’re not healthy watching your team play well at times and go through some low stretches. That’s when you really want to be out there."

Peavy posted an ugly 9.39 ERA in his two starts, so he and the Giants are definitely hoping he is able to return to form.


Giants SP Matt Cain expected to make season-debut on Thursday
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(1:01 pm ET) Giants right-hander Matt Cain last pitched in the big-leagues on July 9, 2014. Now, after months of rehabbing, Cain is on track to make his long-awaited return to the mound for the Giants on Thursday in Miami.

"It’s been a long time, a lot of working out, rehabbing, watching and not being able to participate," Cain said, per the San Francisco Chronicle. "It will be good, like you can contribute some."

Cain had surgery last year to remove bone chips from his pitching elbow and his ankle. He also suffered a strained flexor tendon at the end of spring training this year. He is slated to make his season-debut on Thursday against the Marlins.


Rangers' Joey Gallo wears golden sombrero on Monday
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(12:50 pm ET) Rangers rookie Joey Gallo had a real feast-or-famine type game on Monday in the 8-1 win over the Orioles. Gallo went 1 for 5, but the one hit was a three-run triple, his first career three-bagger.

On the flip side, Gallo struck out in each of his other four plate appearances on Monday, giving him a whopping 43 punchouts over his first 25 big-league games. 

Gallo has certainly shown the power potential, as evidenced by his nine extra base hits so far. But his .218 batting average and .306 on-base percentage certainly leaves a lot to be desired from the 22-year-old.


Rockies SS Troy Tulowitzki batting .392 during 13-game hit streak
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(12:44 pm ET) Troy Tulowitzki's hit streak is now up to 13 games, after the Rockies shortstop went 3 for 3 in Monday's loss to the A's. All three hits were singles, and he did not score or drive in a run in the 7-1 loss.

Still, the All-Star shortstop has 20 hits, eight RBI and nine run scored in 51 at-bats during the streak. 


Giants recall INF Ehire Adrianza from Triple-A on Tuesday
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(12:35 pm ET) The Giants have recalled infielder Ehire Adrianza from Triple-A Sacramento on Tuesday. Adrianza has been hitting well with the River Cats, batting .316 with three home runs and 15 RBI in 44 games.

Adrianza spent 53 games with the Giants in 2014, batting .237 with six doubles in 97 at-bats.

He replaces Casey McGehee on the active roster. McGehee was designated for assignment on Tuesday.


Giants 3B Casey McGehee designated for assignment on Tuesday
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(12:27 pm ET) The Giants have announced on Tuesday that third baseman Casey McGehee has been designated for assignment. McGehee has had a rough go of it in his first season with San Francisco. 

This season, the veteran third baseman was batting .213 with two home runs in 49 games. The Giants have already given the starting third base job to the hot-swinging Matt Duffy, making McGehee expendable.

In a corresponding move, infielder Ehire Adrianza was recalled from Triple-A Sacramento.


Diamondbacks' Chris Owings doubles, scores twice on Monday
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(12:20 pm ET) Diamondbacks second baseman Chris Owings had a nice night at the plate on Monday, as he went 2 for 4 with a double and two runs scored in the 10-6 win over the Dodgers. 

The 23-year-old infielder has been struggling lately at the plate, and is batting .204 with three RBI over his last 15 games.


Twins 3B Trevor Plouffe totals eight doubles in last 16 games
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(12:15 pm ET) Twins third baseman Trevor Plouffe doubled and had an RBI single during an 11-7 loss to the Reds on Monday. He also had two runs.

Plouffe is up to 18 doubles, including eight in his last 16 games. He is batting .263 (15 for 57) with one home run, eight RBI, 10 runs, five walks, five strikeouts and one stolen base in his last 15 games.


 
 
 
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