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It was a relatively quiet week around major league bullpens; although there were no true closer changes, we did see a couple of hierarchies solidified…and a couple of others become less stable. Those situations – and what might be coming down the road – are the subject of this week’s edition of Bullpen Briefs.

Injuries have struck the bullpen in Detroit, and it’s uncertain whether the early leader in the race for the closer’s chair will be healthy enough to claim his prize on a long-term basis. Meanwhile, a former closer-in-waiting is bringing some serious heat in his quest to become the main man in Motor City.

Speaking of former closers-in-waiting, we again build farewell to a former top set-up man who was released yet again…will he be back in 2015? There’s another familiar name working his way through a rehab assignment; will he be just what the doctor ordered for the ailing bullpen in Oakland?

Two bullpen hierarchies were rearranged when the injury bug bit some key members; though the teams’ closers weren’t affected, their supporting cast is becoming rather thin. What was once a closer-by-committee in Atlanta looks to be becoming a one-man show, as a former top prospect is carving out a ninth-inning niche for himself. Things are not going quite so well in Oakland or Boston, though, as both of those teams are still searching for someone to anchor their beleaguered bullpens.

Following bullpens around the league is truly a daily pursuit, so be sure to check out – and bookmark — our Bullpen Depth Charts, which are updated as news breaks … pretty much daily.

Note: Stats are current as of close of play on August 14, 2015.

Bullpen Briefs

 

Who’s Out?

It looked like Alex Wilson was going to run away with the closer’s job in Detroit, but a bout with arm soreness has derailed that train for the time being. Wilson has only pitched in one game since August 6, and he allowed one run and two hits in that outing. The Tigers are hoping that some extra rest will cure Wilson’s arm woes, and if they are correct, he could be back in the ninth-inning mix before long.

The Colorado Rockies placed set-up man Boone Logan on the disabled list August 14 with elbow inflammation; it’s not yet know how long he will be sidelined. It’s been a tough year for the Colorado bullpen.

Former highly-touted (some would say overly so) reliever / closer in waiting Joba Chamberlain was released by the Blue Jays August 14 after allowing 10 runs (eight earned) in five innings of work at Triple-A Buffalo. Chamberlain started the year as the primary set-up man in Detroit, so it’s possible that he could latch on with another team before long.

Juan Nicasio has enjoyed a decent season in the Dodgers’ bullpen, but he landed on the disabled list August 14 with an abdominal strain.

 

Who’s In?

While Tigers’ manager Brad Ausmus has been rather noncommittal about his top choice for closer, it’s clear that Bruce Rondon is likely to play a big role in the ninth inning going forward. Rondon’s triple-digit fastball once had him pegged as the team’s future closer, but he missed the entire 2014 season and part of the ’15 campaign while recovering from Tommy John surgery. Rondon has allowed a run in only one of his last 11 outings, and he owns a 3.38 ERA and 1.22 WHIP in the second half. Rondon’s command remains a concern, though, and he will have a difficult time holding down the closer’s role long-term if he can’t find the plate. For now, though, both Wilson and Rondon are must-owns in most Fantasy leagues.

 

Reliever on the Rocks

First, let’s put this thing in context: Wade Davis has been one of baseball’s best relievers over the past two seasons, and he has surrendered only five earned runs in 46.2 innings this season. What’s concerning is that three of those tallies have come in his last three appearances, and his rough outing August 14 came on the heels of a week-long layoff due to a back injury. This may have simply been a case of having to shake off some rust, but Davis bears watching as he works through the tough stretch.

Relievers on the Rise

Justin Grimm has been a very pleasant surprise for the Cubs this season, posting a 1.39 ERA and 1.02 WHIP through his first 41 appearances. He has logged three saves since June 30, and he looks to be well on his way to becoming the Cubs’ go-to option when closer Hector Rondon is unavailable. Grimm has fanned 47 batters in 32.1 innings this year; he is an intriguing roster stash in deeper mixed leagues.

Arodys Vizcaino has allowed only one earned run in 15.2 innings this year, and he has seemingly locked down the ninth-inning job in Atlanta for the time being. Vizcaino has the stuff to close games, and if he can continue on his current course, he could be the Braves’ long-term answer in the ninth.

Keep an eye on…

Former Oakland closer Sean Doolittle continues to work his way back to the majors, allowing only a solo homer and fanning four in three innings of minor-league rehab work. The A’s bullpen has been a bit of a mess since Tyler Clippard was traded; Doolittle could very well find himself back in the ninth inning by the end of the season.

With Koji Uehara out for the season, the Red Sox have more questions than answers in their bullpen. Set-up man Junichi Tazawa blew his first save opportunity as the ninth-inning man August 11, and it’s unsure whether he, Jean Machi or possibly Alexi Ogando or Ryan Cook will receive the next save chance. Monitor this situation closely; right now, Machi looks to have a slight edge, but this is very much a bullpen in flux.

Following bullpens around the league is truly a daily pursuit, so be sure to check out – and bookmark — our Bullpen Depth Charts, which are updated as news breaks … pretty much daily.

 

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Buck Davidson

Buck Davidson has been writing about baseball since the Internet was more a flight of fancy than a way of life. His Fantasy analysis has appeared on such websites as RotoExperts, RotoRob, Yahoo, CBS, MSN, FOXSports and KFFL.com, and he has hosted numerous Fantasy Sports podcasts over the years. For the past seven seasons, Buck has been a contributing writer for The Fantasy Baseball Guide magazine. Despite all of his years of experience, though, Buck seeks out the unique sports insight of his 95-year-old Granny Lil when the Fantasy chips are truly down.
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