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Seung-Hwan Oh improving, David Phelps looming, and all the bullpen news

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It’s week 10 already! Welcome back to Coffee’s for Closers, your weekly guide to MLB bullpens!

MLB: Los Angeles Dodgers at St. Louis Cardinals Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Ok, so it’s going to be a short prelude today. I promise. No, really, it’s going to be short. I can see why you wouldn’t believe me, since I tend to ramble. Wait, where was I?

Oh yeah, so David Phelps has quietly been pitching well and has surpassed Kyle Barraclaugh as the primary guy behind AJ Ramos in Miami. This is important for two reasons: one, in holds leagues, Phelps can be very useful now that he is back in the 8th inning role and two, because AJ Ramos is a shaky closer that could lose his job with just a few bad outings. Ramos carries a 14.8% walk rate and 1.42 WHIP. With all those baserunners, his great 30% K% might not be enough to keep his ERA down (and it hasn’t, since he has a 4.42 ERA).

Phelps, on the other hand, has recovered from a slow start to the season and has put together this line: 2.89/3.15/3.24 ERA/FIP/xFIP. His K%-BB% is a solid 19.5% and his SIERA is a robust 3.16. So, yeah, Phelps is a decent stash and solid holds option on a below average Marlins team.

And I will quickly add that Archie Bradley is the Rodney handcuff you want now. I was wrong about JJ Hoover and Jorge de la Rosa. Bradley is the guy that would probably step in first once Rodney inevitably crashes.

As promised, that’s the short prelude. On to the updated closer rankings:

The Closers

  • Craig Kimbrel
  • Kenley Jansen
  • Dellin Betances
  • Wade Davis
  • Greg Holland
  • Ken Giles

Cadillac Eldorados

  • Cody Allen
  • David Robertson
  • Addison Reed
  • Roberto Osuna
  • Mark Melancon

The Good Leads

  • Brad Brach
  • Alex Colome
  • Jim Johnson
  • Corey Knebel
  • Justin Wilson
  • Edwin Diaz (I think the job is fully his again after his brief demotion. In his last six innings, he’s had a decent 8% walk rate, which is way down from his season total of 13% and he’s been getting ground balls at a good rate)

The Weak Leads

  • Kelvin Herrera
  • Seung-Hwan Oh (since 5/17, he’s got a 0.73 FIP, 2.85 xFIP, and a 40% K%. Another week of this and he will move up a tier. His job security is definitely getting better)
  • Raisel Iglesias
  • Matt Bush (he’s only allowed 3 ER all year, so he’s actually pretty safe, but his skills have just been ok so far)
  • Koda Glover (moved up this week because he is still looking good and is starting to lock down the job)
  • A.J. Ramos (moved down a couple spots since the walk rate worries me)
  • Brandon Kintzler (moved down a couple spots to indicate how worried I am about his overall skill set)

The Timeshares (these are just the lowest tier, they aren’t all in true committees)

  • Tony Watson (moving down just to represent how close he is to losing his job)
  • Brandon Maurer (I’m giving the official job back to Maurer after several saves in a row, sorry Brad Hand owners, it was fun while it lasted.)
  • Fernando Rodney (believe it or not, it’s been over a month since he last allowed an earned run. The skills are still shaky with a 4.73 xFIP in the past month, but he’s gained a little job security)
  • Hector Neris (Benoit is on the DL, so it is all Neris now)
  • Santiago Casilla/Ryan Madson (Madson is still the better pitcher, but Casilla is still getting the saves)
  • Huston Street/Bud Norris/Cam Bedrosian (this is still a big mess and to be avoided for now. Bedrosian should be back next week, Street had some issues in rehab, and Norris’ knee is still problematic. Bedrosian is still my pick for the long term.)

Here’s the big leverage versus skills graph, updated with the most recent stats.

My apologies to those on mobile, it doesn’t display well on small screens. You should be able to download it though and look at the whole thing. Also, if you are reading this 5+ days after it was posted, the graph will automatically update to the most recent data, so my commentary won’t make sense below.

As you can see, I tried to color code this graph to show four different groups: those that are in danger of losing their closer’s (or setup) job, those that are very safe and locked in, those that we just don’t care about at all, and the rest (“other”).

Anyone with a z-score over 2.0 is an above average or great reliever and anyone with a gmLI over 1.0 is being used in situations that are higher leverage than average. If a pitcher is used a lot in high leverage situations (high gmLI) but has a low z-score, it means he might not be a good enough pitcher to keep the job. Those guys are all in the upper left region. Guys with high gmLI and high z-scores are safe bets to keep their jobs all season, unless they get hurt. They have their manager’s full trust and are pitching very well. Kimbrel, Holland, and Devenski are the leaders of this pack in the upper right.

The guys in between the groups in gray are ok. They aren’t bad and they aren’t great. They have z-scores over 0 and some are used in high leverage situations, but not all.

If you hover over a data point, it should give you the name of the player and their numbers.

As I do every week, I’m just going to list the current closers that are “In Danger” to give you a heads up that you might want to handcuff them and prepare for them being removed from the job.

Here’s the list: Fernando Rodney, Seung-Hwan Oh, Brandon Kintzler, and A.J. Ramos.

Just outside the red danger zone: Matt Bush, Joaquin Benoit, Alex Colome, Cody Allen, and Santiago Casilla.

None of the guys I listed are necessarily in immediate danger. But, some are walking on thin ice. This is especially true for guys with an elite option behind them like Seung-Hwan Oh, Santiago Casilla, and Fernando Rodney. It might be time to make sure you can get or have their setup guys. I would not be shocked to see any of these guys lose their jobs over the next few weeks if they keep pitching like this.

I’m not worried about Cody Allen, Matt Bush, Alex Colome, or Seung-Hwan Oh. They have all looked great lately and the should move out of the danger zone as the season moves on. I mentioned David Phelps at the top and I’m obviously not concerned about him. He had a rough start and that is bringing his overall numbers down. Rodney, Kintzler, Ramos, and Casilla owners should be worried, however. Tschus!