Let’s continue our tour around the league to update the bullpen situations. Over the past few weeks we’ve already looked at:
- NL East (updated on May 28)
- AL East (updated on June 4)
- NL West (update on June 18)
- AL West (updated on June 11)
Today, let’s turn our attention to the AL Central (all statistics are through Saturday, June 23):
Chicago White Sox
Closer – Addison Reed
Next In Line – Matt Thornton
Third Option – Hector Santiago
Overall Reed has been good, though he hasn’t been quite what fantasy owners had envisioned. With a 3.96 ERA and 27 K over 25.0 IP you would think everyone would be happy. However, when you look at his consistent double-digit K/9 in the minor leagues, everyone was likely hoping to see him on the level of an Arolodis Chapman (before his recent collapse) or Kenley Jansen. It hasn’t been the case, though that obviously doesn’t mean that he should be ignored. He still has that upside.
Thornton and Santiago both have the potential to step in if Reed should hit a rough patch, though I would bet on Thornton being the second in line. Santiago has already had the job and failed and, with back-to-back outings allowing 2 ER in early June, it’s going to take a lot more for him to be put under consideration.
Closer – Chris Perez
Next In Line – Vinnie Pestano
Third Option – Tony Sipp
I will be honest, prior to the season I was concerned that Perez wouldn’t make it through the season as the Indians’ closer. Nearly three months in I couldn’t have been more wrong.
The strikeout ability has returned, with 28 K over 28.1 IP. I don’t think anyone was unjustified being concerned after ’11 (5.88 K/9) and its possible increased usage of his slider has helped him rediscover his mojo. It will be interesting to see if he can maintain the pinpoint control he’s shown thus far (2.22 BB/9 vs. 3.97 for his career). If he can there is absolutely nothing to worry about. Even if he regresses, if he maintains his strikeout rate he should continue to excel.
He has earned himself plenty of rope and, while Pestano has impressed in a setup role (1.86 ERA, 1.00 WHIP), it will take a lot for him to overtake Perez at this point.
Closer – Jose Valverde
Next In Line – Joaquin Benoit
Third Option – Phil Coke/Octavio Dotel
We are currently waiting to see when Valverde will return to the mound. There was speculation that he could return yesterday, so it would appear that he’s close. However, even a healthy Valverde has given the Tigers a reason to consider a change. His strikeout rate has almost completely disappeared (6.11 K/9) and his spotty control has gotten even worse (5.46 BB/9). The Tigers are trying to fight their way back into the race so continued struggles could lead to a change regardless of health.
Benoit continues to get the job done thanks to 44 K over 32.2 IP. He will certainly get the opportunity if/when a change is needed.
Kansas City Royals
Closer – Jonathan Broxton
Next In Line – Greg Holland
Third Option – Aaron Crow
When Joakim Soria went down there were questions about who would step up and take over the job. An injury to Holland (who has since returned) help sort the situation out, but the answer was probably inevitable anyways.
Granted, the strikeout rate hasn’t been what we’ve come to know from Broxton (6.91 K/9), but it’s hard to argue with the results (1.57 ERA, 1.29 WHIP). Yes, there is the risk of a regression thanks to an 85.1% strand rate and I wouldn’t consider him a lock to hold the job all year long. All it will take is a small bump in the road and Holland would likely get a look. If you are looking for an outside the box, long-term source of saves Holland is a good choice.
Closer – Matt Capps
Next In Line – Glen Perkins
Third Option – Jared Burton
Matt Capps is hurting and, at this point, a trip to the DL appears like a realistic possibility (updated: Capps has officially been placed on the DL). Perkins has stepped in well over the past week and is the obvious choice to see the bulk of the save opportunities. He’s showing explosive strikeout stuff (11.74 K/9) and you could argue that he’s actually been unlucky (.338 BABIP) and has better control than he’s shown (3.82 BB/9). In other words, this could be his chance to claim his job for the remainder of the year.
Burton could also see some chances as well (as he did yesterday), though I’d be concerned that his control could start to waiver (hard to imagine him maintaining a 0.93 BB/9) and he’s seen some luck on his side (.240). Time will tell, but Perkins would be my choice for now.