RELIEVERS: At the edge of the trade deadline

The trade deadline is upon us. Lots to discuss—let's get to it, starting with three pens where the closer has been traded and new closers are getting save chances. Baltimore traded Zach Britton (LHP, NYY) to New York leaving Brad Brach (RHP, BAL) back in the closer role. Here are the last 30 days in this pen:

BAL L30            Sv Hd  IP  xERA BPV  CLN/APP   LI
================== == == ==== ==== === ========= ====
B.Brach             1  2  8.7 5.12  71    6/10   0.53
M.Givens            0  4 10.3 3.94 102    7/11   0.99
P.Fry (L)           0  2 12.7 2.59 163    9/12   1.41
T.Scott (L)         0  0 10.0 3.23 140    7/12   1.40

Brach is almost certainly going to close. But July did not go well with that 5.12 xERA and 71 BPV and the 0.53 leverage index does not inspire much confidence. It could be that Mychal Givens (RHP, BAL) finally gets past Brach on the depth chart. The two lefties had a strong month, too. The Orioles are not afraid to throw lefties into the closer role and Paul Fry (LHP, BAL) and Tanner Scott (LHP, BAL) both had solid months.

Here are the projections for the balance of the season:

BAL proj.          Sv Hd  IP  xERA BPV
================== == == ==== ==== ===
B.Brach            11  8  21  4.17  80
M.Givens            4 11  26  3.76 101
T.Scott (L)         1  4  21  4.26  54

Givens is the clear skills choice. He just needs Brach to continue to stumble, which is quite possible. This is a situation to monitor. But understand that there are not going to be a ton of Orioles victories to save anyway, and there is no telling if or when any change might occur. That alone should temper expectations.

Next, let's check in on Kansas City and see how Wily Peralta (RHP, KC) is doing as the Royals closer. Here are the past 30 days:

KC L30             Sv Hd  IP   xERA  BPV  CLN/APP   LI
================== == == ====  ====  === ========= ====
W.Peralta           4  0  8.7  4.18   44    7/9    0.78
B.Flynn (L)         0  0 17.0  4.11   49    5/7    0.37
T.Hill (L)          0  2  5.7  5.38   42    6/10   0.97
Maurer              1  0  5.7 11.90 -221    3/8    0.39

Peralta is bad, but so is everyone else. Brandon Maurer (RHP, KC) got a save, but he also had a July with a 11.90 xERA, a -221 BPV and only 5.7 innings pitched. So don't get Maurer and expect that to work for you. The lefties were bad too. Tim Hill (LHP, KC) has been ok this season, but he fell off a cliff in July.

Here are the projections for the balance of the season:

KC proj.           Sv Hd  IP  xERA BPV
================== == == ==== ==== ===
W.Peralta          11  3  21  6.13 -43
B.Flynn (L)         1  6  23  5.17  52
T.Hill (L)          1  7  21  4.50  84
Maurer              1  4  21  4.60  72

The projections have Peralta closing to the end of the year, despite a 6.13 xERA and -43 BPV. That's very unlikely. Either he will stink and get removed, or he will be better than that. On the other hand, who would replace him? The best option per the projections might be Maurer—the guy who just had a month of 11.90 xERA and -221 BPV. The Royals pen is radioactive and if there is any solution to yield a positive outcome, he is not on this chart. Avoid.

The Mets are mixing and matching so far after trading Jeurys Familia (RHP, OAK) to Oakland. Here are their past 30 days:

NYM L30            Sv Hd  IP  xERA BPV  CLN/APP   LI
================== == == ==== ==== === ========= ====
Gsellman            2  3 11.0 4.84  48    5/11   1.26
Swarzak             1  1  7.0 5.88  -2    4/9    0.95
T.Peterson          0  2  9.7 4.70 133    4/10   1.28
S.Lugo              0  2 14.3 5.21   0    4/7    0.94
J.Blevins (L)       0  1  5.7 5.11  21    4/6    0.64

As with other pens in this article, the Mets pen has been lousy. Anthony Swarzak (RHP, NYM) may have some experience, but his July yielded a 5.88 xERA and -2 BPV. He was great last year, though, so perhaps that is where the Mets will start. Robert Gsellman (RHP, NYM) has been serving in a multiple-inning set-up with mixed results. He was solid before a recent slide. Gsellman has a 4.84 xERA and 48 BPV in July—not closer-worthy. Tim Peterson (RHP, NYM) is a bit better with a 133 BPV (but 4.70 xERA). Peterson pitched in leverage in July as well.

Here are the projections for the balance of the season:

NYM proj.          Sv Hd  IP  xERA BPV
================== == == ==== ==== ===
Gsellman            8  4  26  4.39  60
Swarzak             1  6  26  3.69 122
T.Peterson          1  1  21  3.94  93
S.Lugo              4  7  36  3.89 101
J.Blevins (L)       1  6  23  3.95  96

Swarzak is projected to be the best skills option. Gsellman is projected to get the most saves. Seth Lugo (RHP, NYM) has held every different role imaginable for the Mets this year and he could work his way into the mix, although the team may prefer him—and Gsellman for that matter—to remain in the multi-inning role. Watch Peterson; he could sneak in there if Swarzak is bad. Same caveat as with the Orioles and Royals: there are not many saves to go around. Having them split among potentially four relievers means no one wins.

Joakim Soria (RHP, MIL) is now on Milwaukee so let's see who the White Sox have used and when over the past 30 days:

CHW L30            Sv Hd  IP  xERA BPV  CLN/APP   LI
================== == == ==== ==== === ========= ====
J.Fry (L)           0  2  9.0 3.08 127    7/11   0.67
L.Avilan (L)        0  3  6.7 2.31 230    9/12   1.01
J.Minaya            0  4  8.0 5.57 -44    8/14   0.96
J.Gomez             0  3  3.0 5.75  59    3/5    2.14

The left-handed relievers certainly outperformed the right-handed relievers in July. Former closer Juan Minaya (RHP, CHW) had a rough outing recently and Jeanmar Gomez (RHP, CHW) has also been ineffective. Preliminary viewpoint is that Jace Fry (LHP, CHW) may get the closer job over Luis Avilan (LHP, CHW).

Here are the projections for the balance of the season:

CHW proj.          Sv Hd  IP  xERA BPV
================== == == ==== ==== ===
J.Fry (L)           7  4  21  4.42  53
L.Avilan (L)        2  5  21  3.96 100
J.Minaya            2  4  16  4.39  60
J.Gomez             1  2  16  4.48  67

The projections give the saves to Fry. But the best arm here might be Avilan. None of these relievers make for a solid closer. Perhaps if Nate Jones (RHP, CHW) could get it together, he could jump the queue. But a lot has to happen for Jones to get in there. With the other relievers in this mix, don't count Jones out quite yet, but the clock is ticking and save chances are far, few and in-between.

Now let's shift gears with a few days left. What if Detroit trades Shane Greene (RHP, DET)? What if Minnesota trades Fernando Rodney (RHP, MIN)? Or if Texas trades Keone Kela (RHP, TEX)? Or Miami trades Kyle Barraclough (RHP, MIA)? Here are the past 30 days for the pens of these four teams:

Detroit

DET L30            Sv Hd  IP  xERA BPV  CLN/APP   LI
================== == == ==== ==== === ========= ====
S.Greene            1  0  6.3 4.54 124    4/7    0.69
J.Jimenez           1  0  7.7 2.94 178    6/8    1.11
B.Hardy (L)         1  0 13.7 4.08 125    4/5    1.21

If Greene gets traded, the Tigers will almost certainly use Joe Jimenez (RHP, DET) as the closer. Jimenez has consolidated his gains this season and is a far superior option to his penmates. He might even be better than Greene right now. Projections give Jimenez a 3.78 xERA and 119 BPV.

Minnesota

MIN L30            Sv Hd  IP  xERA BPV  CLN/APP   LI
================== == == ==== ==== === ========= ====
F.Rodney            5  0 11.3 4.76  60    7/12   1.11
T.Rogers (L)        0  2 10.0 3.31 101    6/10   1.04
Hildenberger        0  5 11.0 4.87  43    7/12   1.30
A.Reed              0  2  4.7 4.32 203    3/6    0.98

Speculative pundits were right. The Twins traded Ryan Pressly (RHP, HOU) and it remains to be seen if they will trade closer Fernando Rodney (RHP, MIN). Over the past 30 days, one can see why. If Rodney were traded, the closer role would still probably fall to Addison Reed (RHP, MIN) at this point. Projections give Reed a 3.95 xERA and 109 BPV, which were behind not only Pressly, but also behind Trevor Hildenberger (RHP, MIN) who has suffered through a miserable July. All of these Twins set-up relievers are projected to have better skills than Rodney for the balance of the year.

Texas

TEX L30            Sv Hd  IP  xERA BPV  CLN/APP   LI
================== == == ==== ==== === ========= ====
Kela                4  0  7.7 2.78 184    5/7    1.62
J.Diekman (L)       0  5  9.7 5.65 -11    9/12   1.29
Leclerc             0  5  9.7 2.80 180    6/10   1.68

Keone Kela (RHP, TEX) is the best reliever for Texas but the Pirates have been trying to work out a trade for him. If Kela left, the Rangers might either go with lefty Jake Diekman (LHP, TEX) or righty Jose Leclerc (RHP, TEX). Leclerc has been superior in July by a sizeable margin. But projections give Diekman a 3.73 xERA and 90 BPV for the balance of the year, while Leclerc has just a 4.37 xERA and 54 BPV. Hot hand, or balance of the year projections--take your pick. Both get plenty of leverage. Leclerc might get the first shot if something happens as managers like to play the hot hand.

Miami

MIA L30            Sv Hd  IP  xERA BPV  CLN/APP   LI
================== == == ==== ==== === ========= ====
Barraclough         3  0  9.7 5.17  53    7/11   1.24
Steckenrider        0  5 10.7 4.54  75    9/12   0.91
Ziegler             1  4 14.0 2.71  78   13/15   1.00
A.Conley (L)        1  4 12.0 4.54  62   10/13   1.18

If Miami trades anyone, it might end up being Adam Conley (LHP, MIA). Closer Kyle Barraclough (RHP, MIA) did not have the best July with a 5.17 xERA and 53 BPV. Projections continue to tag Drew Steckenrider (RHP, MIA) as the superior skills option with a 3.47 xERA and 123 BPV the rest of the season.

Next week this column looks at the BPV leaders heading into August.


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  For more information about the terms used in this article, see our Glossary Primer.