Panic in the bullpen: Contenders will be scrambling to find relief help

The price for Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman keeps rising. Baseball’s best available relievers — despite reports to the contrary at this point, know that the Yankees would be crazy not to move them if the right offer comes along — have gone from a luxury trade addition to a near-necessity for a handful of teams that are World Series contenders, or at least consider themselves contenders.  MORE: 50 best players in baseball | All-Star rosters setThe Cardinals, for example, are scrambling. Closer Trevor Rosenthal — make that former closer Trevor Rosenthal — is trying to find some sort of consistency and hard-throwing lefty Kevin Siegrist is on the DL with mono. Rosenthal, who has allowed 37 hits and 22 walks in 29 innings (not a misprint), is probably the bigger worry at the moment.  “For whatever reason, he’s going through a trial right now,” Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said after Rosenthal failed to record an out on July 3 in a non-save situation. “He’s being tested. He’s going to have to really dig deep to figure out what kind of minor adjustments he needs to make.”Obviously, the best-case scenario for the Cardinals is that Rosenthal makes the adjustments and goes back to being the All-Star-caliber closer who saved 93 games from 2014 to 2015. If he doesn’t, though, the front office is going to have to decide if a trade is the best option. And it might have to make that decision fast, because other teams will be looking for answers soon, too, and that includes bidding up Miller and Chapman. Here are the bullpen ERAs since the start of June for teams with records of .500-ish or above …Red Sox: 5.25Blue Jays: 4.80Rangers: 4.78Yankees: 4.66Cubs: 4.25Orioles: 4.18Mariners: 4.14Tigers: 4.01Marlins: 4.00Giants: 3.94White Sox: 3.78Nationals: 3.70Mets: 3.65Royals: 3.46Cardinals: 3.40Indians: 3.24Astros: 2.64Dodgers: 2.21As you can see, there are a lot of bullpens that need improvement.And even for some of the teams with decent numbers, the need is real. The Royals just put Wade Davis on the 15-day disabled list with a right forearm strain, though the hope is he’ll be back in two weeks. Granted, their need isn’t Miller/Chapman, but Davis’ injury underscores the need for depth.The Giants have only lost 12 games since the start of June, and the bullpen as a group has 10 blown saves. The latest was Tuesday night, when starter Madison Bumgarner threw six shutout innings and left with a 2-0 lead, but the bullpen gave up seven runs in an eventual 7-3 loss. Some of those losses featured multiple blown saves, and a couple of the blown saves came in games they wound up winning, so it’s not like the bullpen cost the team 10 different wins. Still, the 10 blown saves are the worst in the bigs in that stretch, which is quite a bit less than optimal.  MORE: Players under 25 that could be next legendsThe Cubs have been connected with late-inning help since pretty much forever. It hasn’t always been about the ninth inning; closer Hector Rondon has a 1.59 ERA, but he has blown three of his past five save opportunities. Trevor Cahill (2.37) and Travis Wood (3.03) have solid ERAs, but their FIPs (4.20 and 4.66, respectively) paint a slightly different picture. Justin Grimm has a 5.79 ERA, Clayton Richard (on the DL) has a 7.30 mark and Adam Warren (in Triple-A) has a 4.56 ERA.As for the Rangers, Shawn Tolleson lost the closer’s job earlier this season (he was 11 for 15 in save opportunities) and though Sam Dyson has been effective (17 for 19), the Rangers don’t have a slam-the-door reliever in the ‘pen (Matt Bush has the lowest reliever ERA on staff, at 2.59) like Miller or Chapman. After the way the Rangers exited the playoffs last October, you know GM Jon Daniels and manager Jeff Banister would love an option like those two. The Nationals, like the Cubs, have a World Series-or-bust feel this year. Are they ready to roll with Jonathan Papelbon (who just came off the DL, by the way) as their primary guy in the ninth inning? His ERA is 3.16, the highest it has been since 2010, and his 7.4 K/9 ratio is the lowest of his career. The bullpen’s month-by-month numbers are trending in the wrong direction. You see that recent bullpen ERA for the Red Sox, and it’s not pretty. Closer Craig Kimbrel’s ERA is higher than normal (3.66), but he still has been really good in save situations (1.45) and has struggled in non-save situations (6.75). Former closer Koji Uehara is still striking out a ton of batters (12.8 per nine), but his ERA is 4.83 and his FIP is 4.15. For the Blue Jays, closer Roberto Osuna has been solid (2.39 ERA, 16 for 18 in save opps), but getting him the ball in the ninth with the lead intact has been a series of Hardy Boys chapter-ending cliffhanger adventures. They really need Drew Storen to find his pre-Papelb

on groove. Trade acquisition Jason Grilli has been good (2.31 ERA) in a Toronto uniform.


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