Alex Wilson gets first save for post-Soria Tigers

July 30, 2015

Detroit Tigers — The first save chance of the post-Joakim Soria era in Detroit went to Alex Wilson, and the Chris Pratt lookalike delivered with five outs against the heart of the Oriole lineup. Only a week ago, Brad Ausmus was holding Wilson back from high-leverage work to save him for potential extra innings, but with his former closer heading to Pittsburgh, the manager tossed Wilson right into the fire. After the game, Wilson said “it wouldn’t be a bad thing” if he got the closer job, but we don’t think this situation is cut-and-dried just yet, and Brad Ausmus confirmed that with vague words about earning roles (although also praise for Wilson). If nothing else, Wilson might get tomorrow off, giving Bruce Rondon a shot at an audition. Still a committee, but Wilson has earned his spot at the top.

Updated hierarchy: *Wilson | Rondon | Alburquerque.
* = closer-by-committee

Bruce Rondon best bet to lead a shaky stable of Tiger relievers after Soria trade

July 30, 2015

Detroit Tigers – Joakim Soria has reportedly been dealt to the Pirates, leaving a shaky Tigers bullpen in flux. If the Tigers believe in advanced stats, they’ll give the job to Bruce Rondon, who has a nearly unfathomable 8.25 ERA and 1.75 WHIP, but has been horribly unlucky, allowing an absurd .455 BABIP. His upside is obvious: he throws smoke and has 18 Ks in 12 innings so far, which is partly why his FIP is 2.66, which is about on par with Zack Greinke. If they’re scared off by his traditional stats, though, Al Alburquerque or Alex Wilson could get a look. Wilson is Rondon’s polar opposite — a low-strikeout control wizard whose ERA (1.84) is lower than his FIP (2.92) suggests it should be — while Alburquerque is somewhere in between, averaging a strikeout an inning with middle-of-the-road ratios elsewhere. Check back to see if the Tigers announce that they’ve given the job to someone specific. So far, GM Dave Dombrowski has said that he thinks Rondon could do the job, but that it will be Brad Ausmus’s decision.

Updated hierarchy: *Rondon | Alburquerque | Wilson.
* = closer-by-committee

Pittsburgh Pirates – As good as Joakim Soria has been, he won’t displace Mark Melancon, who leads baseball with 32 saves and sports a sparkling 1.32 ERA. (And this, after battling through concerns about his velocity for the whole month of April.) Soria will join Tony Watson as set-up men in what has become one of the strongest bullpens in baseball.

Updated hierarchy: Melancon | Soria | Watson.

Arodys Vizcaino, Hector Rondon ascend to closer roles

July 30, 2015

Atlanta Braves — Although it hasn’t been finalized, there are multiple independent reports that Jim Johnson has been traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers. The void he leaves should be filled by Arodys Vizcaino. The 24-year-old has the power arm managers value in a closer, and has been named as a potential replacement for Jim Johnson ever since the Grilli injury. Behind him, veterans David Aardsma and Jason Frasor are likely to get more late-inning looks as well. We’ll keep an eye on how the first few save opportunities go for the Braves, but Vizcaino is the guy to own for now.

Updated hierarchy: Vizcaino | Frasor | Aardsma.

Chicago Cubs – A day after Joe Maddon said that he needed to “do something” with the bullpen, Hector Rondon resumed the closer’s role after he struck out two to earn his 13th save of the season in a 3-2 Cubs win. Maddon also praised Pedro Strop on Tuesday night, and with former closer Jason Motte pitching in a five-run loss on Tuesday, we’ll move Strop ahead of Motte for now.

Updated hierarchy: Rondon | Strop | Motte.

Los Angeles Dodgers — LA has apparently acquired Jim Johnson from Atlanta, along with lefty Luis Avilan, giving the Dodgers an incredibly deep bullpen. We don’t think Johnson will challenge Kenley Jansen for save opportunities, but we do slot him ahead of Pedro Baez, J.P. Howell, Juan Nicasio, recently recalled Yimi Garcia, and Avilan, all of whom have been effective in high-leverage work.

Updated hierarchy: Jansen | Johnson | Baez.

Tampa Bay Rays — The Rays are all but out of the race this year, and have been floating Brad Boxberger’s name as a potential trade piece. Last night he was used for only the third time in a game the Rays were trailing, which may have been a last-chance audition before the trade deadline. While he’s in Tampa, he’s still the closer, but if he gets moved, Jake McGee would be worthy of an immediate add (if he’s not already taken).

Hierarchy remains: Boxberger | McGee | Jepsen.

Arizona Diamondbacks – Amidst the rumors of the Diamondbacks trading for Aroldis Chapman, they called up former closer Addison Reed. Reed pitched two scoreless innings, and with his $4.9 million salary, he may be auditioning for a new job.

Hierarchy remains: Ziegler | Hudson | Hernandez.

Texas Rangers – Jake Diekman was included as a part of deal that brought Cole Hamels to Texas. Diekman may have had some sleeper value while still with the Phillies because they could sell off anybody at this point, but that is pretty much gone in Texas, where he’d have to jump several better arms to get into the late-inning mix.

Hierarchy remains: Tolleson | Kela | Scheppers.

1. J.J. Hoover, Cincinnati Reds – Aroldis Chapman has pitched in two straight, and more importantly might be traded or held out pending a trade as rumors swirl.
2. Aaron Sanchez, Toronto Blue Jays – Sanchez and Roberto Osuna will be sharing the 8th and 9th innings.