Kenley Jansen should avoid the IL

July 18, 2019

Los Angeles Dodgers — Kenley Jansen felt better yesterday after taking a comebacker off his ankle, but he was still unavailable for Wednesday’s game. Jansen’s absence should only be temporary however, as he is not expected to need an IL stint and likely would be able to close today if needed. Dave Roberts confirmed before last night’s game that Julio Urias or Joe Kelly would serve as closer if the situation arose. An almost three-hour rain delay threw a wrench into those plans, however, as Julio Urias had to serve as the long man and throw 61 pitches over 2.2 innings of work. Urias handed a one-out, bases-loaded jam to Pedro Baez in the sixth, and while Baez allowed the tying run to score on a groundout, Baez pitched well over 1.2 IP. The Dodgers eventually took a five-run lead, so Kelly pitched a stress-free eighth inning to help lock down the win. Based on Roberts’ pregame comments, we’ll replace Baez with Kelly in our hierarchy for now. Kelly has pitched much better of late, allowing only two runs over his last 15 innings. We’ll see if Roberts completely abandons Baez or if this sudden trust in Kelly sticks.

Updated hierarchy: Jansen | Kelly | Urias.

Philadelphia Phillies —  MLB suspended Hector Neris for three games after he intentionally threw a pitch near David Freese’s head on Tuesday. Neris will appeal the suspension. If the struggling Neris does miss any time, it’s likely Adam Morgan will get the first save chance for the depleted Phillies’ bullpen. JD Hammer was the first man out of the ‘pen following last night’s  lengthy rain delay; he finished the third inning and stayed on for the fourth. A dark horse to see some more high-leverage opportunities is lefty Ranger Suarez, who got two big outs for the Phillies on Sunday.

Updated hierarchy: Neris | Morgan | Hammer.

Cincinnati Reds — The Reds placed Raisel Iglesias on the three-day paternity list Wednesday. Michael Lorenzen and David Hernandez will be the top options to handle the ninth inning over the next two days. The Reds also got some good news on Wednesday regarding Amir Garrett, who felt good after throwing a live BP session. Garrett could be activated today or be sent on a rehab assignment. Either way, he should be good to go this weekend.

Hierarchy remains: *Iglesias | Lorenzen | Hernandez.
* = closer-by-committee

Boston Red Sox – It wasn’t pretty, but Brandon Workman got the final five outs of the Red Sox’ win over Toronto on Wednesday for his fifth save of the season. Workman escaped a jam in the eighth inning and did the same in the ninth despite allowing one run. Workman is the team’s best reliever right now and should continue to get the ninth inning until Nathan Eovaldi is activated, which could be as soon as this weekend if things go well Thursday in Pawtucket. Meanwhile, Heath Hembree won’t be going to the IL, but it’ll be hard to actually trust him until he gets his velocity back to where it belongs.

Updated hierarchy: *Workman | Barnes | Hembree.
* = closer-by-committee

Cleveland Indians – Nick Wittgren allowed a homer but got the final two outs of the eighth inning to keep Cleveland in the lead. When Cleveland added four runs in its half of the frame, Wittgren returned to the mound to close out the game and collect his second save of the season. Adam Cimber recorded his 10th hold of the season by notching two outs in the seventh inning and has pitched far more frequently in high-leverage situations than Tyler Clippard.

Updated hierarchy: Hand | Wittgren | Cimber.

San Francisco Giants — We correctly predicted that the Giants’ trio of Will Smith, Sam Dyson and Tony Watson would get Wednesday off, but Reyes Moronta pitched the seventh with a three-run lead. The Giants added three more runs in the eighth, but after Andrew Suarez gave them all back in the ninth, Mark Melancon came to the rescue and recorded the final out of the game for his first save of the season. Melancon is the most likely candidate to close in San Francisco should Smith, Dyson and Watson all get traded.

Hierarchy remains: Smith | Dyson | Watson.

Toronto Blue Jays — Ken Giles pitched the eighth inning on Wednesday with his team trailing by a run. Giles had decent velocity but allowed one run on two hits and a walk; he also had one strikeout. The Jays will hope that the recently ailing Giles puts together two or three strong outings in a row to drive up his trade value ahead of the July 31 deadline.

Hierarchy remains: Giles | Hudson | Phelps.

1. Matt Barnes — Brandon Workman threw 45 pitches last night. Barnes has gone in three of four, but he’s the most trustworthy option for Alex Cora.
2. Michael Lorenzen/David Hernandez — Raisel Iglesias is on paternity leave, so the next two save chances will go to either Lorenzen or Hernandez.
3. Joe Kelly — Kenley Jansen should be available today, but the Dodgers still may play it safe.
4. John Gant — Carlos Martinez has pitched in two straight and four of five.
5. Zack Britton/Diego Castillo — The Yankees and Rays are playing a single-admission doubleheader tomorrow, so if either closer pitches in the first contest they may not get the ball in game two.

1. Jeremy Jeffress — Josh Hader threw 23 pitches yesterday and another long outing could see him get Friday off.
2. Craig Stammen — Same for Kirby Yates, who tossed 26 pitches yesterday.
3. Daniel Hudson — And for Ken Giles, who threw 22 pitches last night.

Updated MLB Closer Depth Chart

Closer1st in line2nd in lineUpdatedCloser1st in line2nd in lineUpdated

* = closer-by-committee

Kenley Jansen hurts his ankle and blows a save

July 17, 2019

Los Angeles Dodgers — Kenley Jansen took a comebacker off his right ankle, then gave up four straight hits to blow a two-run lead. After the game, he was noticeably limping and blamed the injury for the loss. Pedro Baez has been struggling, but if Jansen hits the IL tomorrow, it’s probably still Baez with the edge over Julio Urias and Joe Kelly. The Dodgers seem ever more likely to make a move for a reliever.

Hierarchy remains: Jansen | Baez | Urias.

Toronto Blue Jays — Ken Giles threw 20 pitches off a mound with no problem on Tuesday and is expected to be available on Wednesday, good news for Toronto’s trade hopes. Daniel Hudson has been confirmed as the backup closer, with David Phelps and Tim Mayza beginning to eclipse the waning Joe Biagini in the middle innings.

Updated hierarchy: Giles | Hudson | Phelps.

Colorado Rockies — With four straight scoreless outings, things had been quiet on the Wade Davis beat. Maybe too quiet. Last night, the Rockies rallied from three down against Will Smith to tie the score — then brought in Davis, who gave it all back and then some. Maybe Davis should pitch exclusively on the road, where his ERA (0.79) is 12 times better than at Coors Field (9.53).

Hierarchy remains: Davis | Oberg | Shaw.

San Francisco Giants — Sam Dyson has moved ahead of Tony Watson as the top handcuff to Will Smith. If Smith is the first Giants reliever traded, we favor Dyson over Watson and Mark Melancon — but Dyson and Watson are quite likely to follow (or precede) Smith out the door.

Updated hierarchy: Smith | Dyson | Watson.

Miami Marlins — Austin Brice is headed to the injured list with a forearm strain, but Tayron Guerrero is back to take his place.

Updated hierarchy: Romo | Anderson | Guerrero.

1. Michael Lorenzen/David Hernandez — The Reds went to Raisel Iglesias on a third straight day and regretted it. They won’t make it four.
2. JD Hammer — Hector Neris has gone in three of four, including an ugly blown save (and ejection) on Tuesday.
3. Jeurys Familia — Edwin Diaz needed 33 pitches on Tuesday and Seth Lugo has gone in three of four. It could be Familia time.
4. John Gant — Carlos Martinez has pitched in three of four.
5. Julio Urias — Kenley Jansen is limping, Pedro Baez has gone in two of three, and Urias is staying in the bullpen for now. A two-inning vulture save is possible.
6. Reyes Moronta — All of the top five options in the Giants bullpen have been heavily used, but Moronta is the only one who got Tuesday off.

1. Zack Britton — A Wednesday appearance by Aroldis Chapman would be three out of four.
2. Nick Wittgren — Same for Brad Hand.
3. Ty Buttrey/Cam Bedrosian — And Hansel Robles. Buttrey has gone in three of four already.

Love The Drake!

July 16, 2019

Tampa Bay Rays – After Travis hit his third d’Inger, a go-ahead 3-run shot off Aroldis Chapman in the top of the 9th, the Rays were tasked with protecting a one-run lead without the services of Diego Castillo or Emilio Pagan, both of whom had already pitched. Instead, it was Andrew Kittredge to get the first two outs of the 9th, and then Oliver Drake, who played for five teams last year, was summoned for the last out. Drake converted for his first save of the season.

Hierarchy remains: *Pagan | Castillo | Poche.
* = closer-by-committee

Boston Red Sox – Bullpen roulette continued for the Red Sox on Monday night, and this time, it was Brandon Workman who got the ninth inning. Workman now has four saves on the year to go along with a tidy 1.70 ERA, and could be used in this role more often going forward.

Hierarchy remains: *Barnes | Workman | Hembree.
* = closer-by-committee

Detroit Tigers – Despite a pretty bad stint in AAA, Trevor Rosenthal was still apparently good enough to warrant a callup to the big leagues. He selected #19 for his jersey number, which perhaps was in honor of his ERA; after last night’s scoreless outing, he lowered it to 19.64 on the year.

Hierarchy remains: Greene | Jimenez | Farmer.


1. Cam Bedrosian – Hansel Robles has gone back to back (40 pitches) and Ty Buttrey has gone three straight. That might mean a save chance for Bedrosian tonight or tomorrow, depending on whether Robles can go.
2. David Hernandez – Raisel Iglesias has pitched 2.2 innings over the last two days, and Michael Lorenzen threw 34 pitches yesterday.

1. Zack Britton – If Aroldis Chapman goes today, it’ll be three straight.
2. Adam Cimber – If Brad Hand goes today, it’ll be three straight.
3. Jake Diekman – If Ian Kennedy goes today, it’ll be back to back and three of four.

Pedro Baez getting knocked around as of late

July 15, 2019

Atlanta Braves – Luke Jackson had thrown 49 pitches over two games on Friday and Saturday, so on Sunday, AJ Minter was given the 9th. Minter converted for his fifth save of the season.

Hierarchy remains: Jackson | Swarzak | Minter.

Los Angeles Dodgers – The much-maligned Joe Kelly picked up his first save of the season on Sunday, pitching the bottom of the 13th inning in a 3-run game. Virtually every other Dodgers reliever had already pitched, including Pedro Baez, who has had a rough go of it lately, having allowed 6 ERs in his last three appearances. He’s still probably the handcuff to Kenley Jansen, but we’ll watch to see how the Dodgers respond to his troubles in the coming days.

Hierarchy remains: Jansen | Baez | Urias.


1. Scott Oberg – The Rockies have a doubleheader and Wade Davis has gone in two of the last three.

1. John Gant – If Carlos Martinez goes tonight, it’ll be three straight.

Ken Giles day-to-day with elbow inflammation

July 14, 2019

Toronto Blue Jays — Ken Giles was unavailable yesterday after experiencing nerve inflammation in his elbow from a massage.  Giles is considered day-to-day and no MRI is expected.  With Giles out, it was Daniel Hudson who recorded the save.  Joe Biagini recorded the win but he came on in the 5th inning and only recorded one out.  We will move Hudson to first in line and continue to monitor this situation.  Giles is likely to be traded at the deadline so one of these guys could be a source of saves for the last couple months of the season.

Updated hierarchy: Giles | Hudson | Biagini.

Philadelphia Phillies — On June 11th, Hector Neris had a 1.88 ERA and was 14 for 14 in save chances.  Since then, he has blown 3 of his 6 save chances and his ERA has risen more than a run and a half to 3.52.  Neris is not in danger of losing the job at this point but David Robertson hopes to return by the end of July and will challenge Neris for the job.  Veteran Tommy Hunter pitched a scoreless 7th inning yesterday for his first hold of the season.  Hunter has five scoreless appearances since joining the Phillies and could sneak on to the hierarchy with a couple more strong outings.

Hierarchy remains: Neris | Hammer | Morgan.

St. Louis Cardinals – Carlos Martinez pitched 1.1 perfect innings with three strikeouts for his fourth save of the season.  Martinez seems to be solidifying himself as the closer for the rest of the season.   

Hierarchy remains: Martinez | Gant | Miller.

Boston Red Sox – Nate Eovaldi will throw on Monday and then head out on a rehab assignment.  The Red Sox expect Eovaldi’s rehab to only last one or two outings and he could be back within a week.  The Red Sox completed a trade for Andrew Cashner to solidify the back end of their rotation and allow Eovaldi to shift to the bullpen upon his return.

Hierarchy remains: *Barnes | Hembree | Workman.
* = closer-by-committee

1. Anthony Swarzak – Luke Jackson has pitched in two straight, throwing a total of 49 pitches.
2. Ryan Pressly/Hector Rondon – Robert Osuna has pitched in two straight, throwing a total of 51 pitches. Pressly has also pitched in two straight but has thrown a lot fewer pitches so he could still be available today.
3. Blake Parker – Taylor Rogers has pitched in two straight, including a two-inning outing on Friday.
4. Daniel Hudson – Ken Giles is day-to-day
5. Fernando Rodney – Sean Doolittle has pitched in back-to-back games.

1. Scott Oberg – The Rockies play a doubleheader on Monday.
2. Tony Watson – The Giants are the other team involved in that doubleheader.
3. Jake Diekman – If Ian Kennedy pitches on Sunday, it will be three in a row.