RELIEVERS: Reds, Rockies, Angels and Twins

Here is the bottom of the closer list ranked by xERA to date:

closers             IP    ERA WHIP  Dom  Cmd HR/9 xERA   G/F   BPV pBPV
================   ====  ==== ==== ==== ==== ==== ==== ======= === ====
Ziegler (ARI)      11.3  3.18 1.94  7.1  1.5  0.0 4.01  65/16   43   76
C.Allen (CLE)      11.3  6.35 1.32  9.5  2.4  2.4 4.13  35/48   77  129
Papelbon (WAS)     12.0  4.50 1.42  6.8  9.0  0.8 4.17  32/44  111  116
F.Rodriguez (DET)   9.7  4.66 1.34  6.5  1.8  1.9 4.45  34/34   29  112
Street (LAA)        7.7  1.17 0.78  4.7  2.0  1.2 4.46  41/55   40   86 (DL)
Jepsen (MIN)       11.7  3.86 1.29  5.4  1.8  1.5 4.77  43/43   35   81
McGee (COL) (L)     9.7  5.59 1.66  3.7  1.0  0.9 5.79  38/44  -18  129
Hoover (CIN)       10.7 14.34 2.34  5.9  1.2  5.1 6.68  30/44  -22   43

These eight closers are the ones with a 4.00 xERA or greater. They either have a reduced Dom, a subpar Cmd ratio, gopheritis, or a combination of all three. It makes them the most likely to lose their closer role if there is a strong option waiting in the wings. Today, the column examines Cincinnati, Colorado, Minnesota and the Angels in more depth. Next week, it will look at the others.

Next, let's review a couple of these pens that are the most interesting for speculators at the moment, starting with Cincinnati. This pen has set a major league record for consecutive games in which the bullpen has allowed runs. A look just at the Cmd ratios is enough to tell you how that happens:

CIN                 IP    ERA WHIP  Dom  Cmd HR/9 xERA   G/F   BPV pBPV
================   ====  ==== ==== ==== ==== ==== ==== ======= === ====
Ohlendorf          13.0  6.23 0.92  9.7  4.7  1.4 3.66  24/56  120   77
J.C.Ramirez         8.3  6.48 1.32  7.6  1.8  1.1 4.40  39/39   36   36
D.Hayes             8.3  7.56 1.68  6.5  1.5  3.2 4.59  56/33   34    3
Cingrani (L)       12.7  3.55 1.42  9.2  1.4  0.0 4.67  38/44   10   47
J.Diaz              6.7  5.40 1.65  5.4  1.3  4.0 4.67  50/30   16  102 (minors)
Cotham             14.7  4.30 1.77  7.4  1.5  0.6 5.06  40/38   18   91
B.Wood             13.3  3.38 1.72  5.4  0.9  0.0 5.07  57/18  -32   44
Hoover             10.7 14.34 2.34  5.9  1.2  5.1 6.68  30/44  -22   43

This pen is an absolute dumpster fire. A dumpster full of radioactive tires kind of fire. Every single skill set has a BPV under 40(!) except for Ross Ohlendorf (RHP, CIN). Ohlendorf has a 120 BPV and a 3.66 xERA. But unfortunately, he also has a 6.23 actual ERA and 1.4 HR/9 supported by a 56% flyball rate. If Ohlendorf could prevent home runs, he'd be the guy. No one else is rosterable in the least.

Speculators have tried Tony Cingrani (LHP, CIN) and his 9.2 Dom with no home runs allowed. But the 1.4 Cmd ratio makes every outing dicey and leaves him with a 4.67 xERA and 10 BPV. He has not been improving. Jumbo Diaz (RHP, CIN) was so terrible (4.0 HR/9!) that he was banished to Louisville. Diaz has pitched better there and could be back soon. He would return to a 5.40 actual ERA and 1.65 WHIP, so he would have work to do to get back into meaningful innings.

Caleb Cotham has been picked up in some leagues based likely on his 91 projected BPV. But he has suffered the same problems as everyone else, walks and hits to give him a 1.77 WHIP. In April, the Reds had one save this season—by J.J. Hoover (RHP, CIN). Speculators who pick the right guy won't even get saves. The best advice so far is to stay far far away until it gets some new arms.

In Colorado, Jake McGee (LHP, COL) is not having the start that people expected:

COL                 IP    ERA WHIP  Dom  Cmd HR/9 xERA   G/F   BPV pBPV
================   ====  ==== ==== ==== ==== ==== ==== ======= === ====
M.Castro            6.0  1.50 0.67 12.0  4.0  1.5 1.77  75/17  188   25 (DL)
B.Logan (L)         9.7  2.79 0.93 11.2  3.0  0.0 3.10  43/35  122   87
Qualls              9.0  4.00 1.00  3.0  3.0  2.0 3.91  65/18   70  116
G.Germen            6.7  2.70 0.90  8.1  2.0  1.4 3.98  47/47   61   22
J.Miller           11.7  5.40 1.97 10.8  2.8  2.3 4.15  32/34  100   66
C.Estevez           6.3  5.68 1.26  8.5  2.0  1.4 4.29  44/44   60  103
Oberg               7.3  1.23 1.23  3.7  1.5  1.2 5.19  38/54   16   19
McGee (L)           9.7  5.59 1.66  3.7  1.0  0.9 5.79  38/44  -18  129

McGee has always been able to strike out gobs of hitters. This year, his Dom is just 3.7. Something may be physically wrong, but whatever the reason, he cannot close for long with a 3.7 Dom, 1.0 Cmd ratio and 5.79 xERA supporting a 5.59 actual ERA and 1.66 WHIP. Miguel Castro (RHP, COL) started strong, but got hurt. Chad Qualls (RHP, COL) has a 3.91 xERA and 65% groundball rate, but the 3.0 Dom and 2.0 HR/9 is a bad combination.

Justin Miller (RHP, COL) has a 10.8 Dom and 2.8 Cmd ratio. But he also has a 5.40 actual ERA and 2.3 HR/9. In fact, the Rockies do not appear to have anywhere to turn. If a hot hand appears, speculators may give him a whirl, but the odds are much more in favor of harming ERA and WHIP than gathering saves at the moment. It is as likely as any of the others that McGee will end up being that hot hand, based on the 129 projected BPV. For now, this is not a great place to speculate.

The Angels lost Huston Street (RHP, LAA) and installed Joe Smith (RHP, LAA):

LAA                 IP    ERA WHIP  Dom  Cmd HR/9 xERA   G/F   BPV pBPV
================   ====  ==== ==== ==== ==== ==== ==== ======= === ====
Bedrosian           6.0  1.50 1.00 15.0  3.3  0.0 2.52  45/45  172   82
Salas              15.0  2.40 0.87  7.2  4.0  1.2 3.62  38/48   97  131
J.Smith            15.0  3.60 1.07  4.8  8.0  1.2 3.74  46/33   94  100
Morin              11.3  2.38 0.79  6.4  8.0  0.8 3.84  29/47  100  113
G.Mahle (L)         8.3  2.16 1.44  6.5  1.2  0.0 4.07  68/27   17   88
J.Alvarez (L)      14.3  3.77 1.33  6.3  3.3  0.6 4.09  35/40   75   82
Street              7.7  1.17 0.78  4.7  2.0  1.2 4.46  41/55   40   86 (DL)

The Angels may not realize the improvement, given Street's 1.17 actual ERA and 0.78 WHIP. But the 4.7 Dom, 2.0 Cmd ratio and 1.2 HR/9 were begging for disaster sooner than later and that is probably a direct result of Street's need to go on the DL. Street has seen his elite skills erode in recent years but he is still plenty good, when healthy. Smith is getting by currently with a 4.8 Dom—that's not good enough. He can likely handle things in the short term, but the Dom and HR/9 will have to improve.

Fernando Salas (RHP, LAA) is pitching better than Smith. His problem is the same HR/9 issues he has always had. Cam Bedrosian (RHP, LAA) may finally be arriving with his huge potential. The 15.0 Dom looks strong so far—but it is just six innings of work. This pen appears to be evolving. If Bedrosian can maintain his dominance, he could take over eventually. But the Angels are not going to be quick to make a move as long as Smith converts the saves.

And last, let's check in on Minnesota and interim closer Kevin Jepsen (RHP, MIN):

MIN                 IP    ERA WHIP  Dom  Cmd HR/9 xERA   G/F   BPV pBPV
================   ====  ==== ==== ==== ==== ==== ==== ======= === ====
Abad (L)           12.0  0.00 0.75 10.5  4.7  0.0 2.19  54/19  160   99
T.May              16.0  2.25 1.19 13.5  3.0  0.6 3.06  35/35  134   96
Pressly            17.0  4.24 1.59 10.1  2.1  1.6 4.13  42/38   72   56
Tonkin             14.3  1.26 1.19 10.0  2.3  1.3 4.24  18/59   58  120
Fien               13.7  7.90 1.76  7.9  4.0  3.3 4.64  24/49   91   90
Jepsen             11.7  3.86 1.29  5.4  1.8  1.5 4.77  43/43   35   81
Perkins (L)         2.0  9.00 3.00 13.5  3.0  0.0 5.02  38/50  138  121 (DL)

Glen Perkins (LHP, MIN) only made it two innings before Jepsen took over. The Twins are struggling so far in 2016 and Jepsen is struggling too. His actual ERA of 3.86 and 1.29 WHIP is not too bad. But the BPIs behind it are terrible (5.4 Dom, 1.8 Cmd ratio, 1.5 HR/9, 4.77 xERA). If Jepsen cannot turn the ship around pronto, the results will suffer.

But the Twins have a ready solution. It is not Michael Tonkin (RHP, MIN)—at least not right now. Despite his 1.26 actual ERA at the moment, his BPIs are a strong 10.0 Dom, but so-so 2.3 Cmd ratio and 1.3 HR/9 for a 4.24 xERA with a 59% FB rate. That is not going to cut it. Tonkin does have a 120 projected BPV, so watch for him to improve. The current reliever pitching well is Trevor May (RHP, MIN) with a 2.25 actual ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 13.5 Dom, 3.0 Cmd ratio, 0.6 HR/9, 3.06 xERA and 134 BPV. That looks like a closer skill set.

Next week, this column continues this series and looks at Arizona, Cleveland, Detroit and checks back in on Philadelphia rather than Washington.


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