Monkey Bytes: July 14

Saturday featured a 16-game slate with a doubleheader and two extra-inning contests. It also yielded nine wins by relievers (56.3 percent) and seven saves, including the first of Dedniel Núñez‘s career. It also featured the second trade of the season involving a reliever:

Kansas City Royals – After a shutout loss in Boston, the team announced a trade to shore up its bullpen, adding Hunter Harvey for third base prospect Cayden Wallace and its Competitive Balance A pick in this year’s draft. While many may presume this will provide Harvey with save chances, he and James McArthur have very similar statistics since the second half of last year through this season:

  • James McArthur last 56.2 IP: 5-3 record, 21 saves in 25 chances, three holds, 50:8 K:BB (18.7 K-BB percentage), 3.02 ERA, 2.96 SIERA, 1.08 WHIP, 12.4 swinging strike percentage, 75.4 percent contact rate allowed
  • Hunter Harvey’s last 66.1 IP: 3-4 record, 2 saves in four chances, 34 holds, 73:13 K:BB (22.3 K-BB percentage), 3.53 ERA, 2.86 SIERA, 1.09 WHIP, 12.6 swinging strike percentage, 76 percent contact rate allowed

Until the team or the manager provides contrary information, fantasy managers should plan on McArthur remaining the Royals’ closer. Still, if there’s an update regarding a change, this will change our hierarchy accordingly. “The General” was recalled on September 1 last year, and in the games since, he’s recorded the fifth most saves in the American League (21), trailing Emmanuel Clase (36), Clay Holmes (29), Pete Fairbanks (23), and Craig Kimbrel (23).

For now:

Updated Hierarchy: James McArthur | Hunter Harvey | John Schreiber

During an eventual loss in Detroit, the Dodgers bullpen allowed five runs in the bottom of the ninth, including a game-tying home run allowed by Evan Phillips, resulting in his second blown save, which will be one of our topics in today’s takeaways.

Three Takeaways

  • Phillips struggles vs. LHH continue in Motown: Called into the ninth inning with a runner on and no outs, Evan Phillips could not close out the three-run lead. He let an inherited runner score on Matt Vierling’s RBI double, then allowed a game-tying home run by left-handed hitting Colt Keith. With his first half likely in the books, Phillips has a 1.68 WHIP while facing left-handed batters this season. They own a .298 batting average against him with a .961 on-base plus slugging percentage (OPS) and a .409 weighted on-base average (wOBA). He’s struggling with his cutter and if this persists, it may result in the team adding a veteran reliever capable of closing before the trade deadline:

Link: https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/xOAUj/1/

  • Is Durán’s velo back? Not only did Jhoan Durán lock down his 15th save in San Francisco, but he retired the side and recorded a strikeout with his best velocity of the season:
  • An updated timeline for Devin Williams: Although his first rehab outing did not go as planned, Wisconsin’s game was suspended during the second inning; Sophia Minnaert did provide how the team may plan on getting him ready for his season debut in the majors:

Closer CliffsNotes

American League

Cleveland GuardiansCapping his team’s late rally, Emmanuel Clase secured his American League-leading 29th save with a scoreless ninth, working around a one-out single. He threw 10 pitches (80 Strike%) without a whiff. Since May 20, he’s converted 16 consecutive saves while posting a 15:3 K:BB over 21 innings.

  • Hunter Gaddis navigated around two hits for a scoreless eighth and his 19th hold.
  • Nick Sandlin collected his sixth win, allowing a hit and striking out one in a scoreless seventh ahead of his team’s two-run rally for the lead in the top of the eighth. 

Hierarchy remains: Emmanuel Clase | Hunter Gaddis | Scott Barlow

Detroit Tigers – After navigating around a walk and a hit batter with an inning-ending double-play groundout, Will Vest collected his second win courtesy of a walk-off rally in the bottom of the tenth. He threw 12 pitches (66.7 Strike%) without a whiff during his scoreless appearance.

  • Shelby Miller retired the side in the ninth.
  • Andrew Chafin allowed a hit, an earned run, and walked one in the eighth. 

Hierarchy remains: *Jason Foley | *Tyler Holton | *Shelby Miller

*= closer-by-committee

Los Angeles Angels – Locking down his 17th save, Carlos Estévez retired the side against Seattle and recorded a strikeout on seven pitches (85.7 Strike%) with two whiffs (28.6 SwStr%). He’s been scoreless over his last 15 outings since May 28, converting all ten save chances with 14 strikeouts against one walk.

  • Luis García notched his tenth hold, striking out one in a clean eighth.
  • Ben Joyce secured his third hold, working around a lead-off double with three strikeouts. He threw 18 pitches (13 strikes – 72.2 Strike%) and produced four whiffs (22.2 SwStr%). Since introducing his “splinker” on June 14, he’s posted 11 scoreless appearances with 15 strikeouts versus five walks across 14.1 innings.

Hierarchy remains: Carlos Estévez | Luis García | Ben Joyce

Minnesota Twins – Shutting the door on his 15th save, Jhoan Durán fired a clean bottom of the ninth and recorded a strikeout in San Francisco. He threw 16 pitches (11 strikes – 68.8 Strike%) and induced one whiff. He’s converted his last four saves during an eight-game scoreless streak with eight strikeouts versus two walks.

  • Griffin Jax notched his 15th hold, allowing a two-out triple and striking out one in a scoreless eighth.
  • Jorge Alcala secured his 11th hold while retiring the side in the seventh.
  • Cole Sands collected his fourth win, logging 1.2 clean frames and striking out one.

Hierarchy remains: Jhoan Durán | Griffin Jax | Jorge Alcala

Texas Rangers – Handed a one-run lead in the bottom of the tenth, Kirby Yates recorded his 15th save, issuing a walk (intentional – Yordan Alvarez) and striking out one. He threw five pitches, all strikes, and induced one whiff. He’s converted a save in four straight appearances and been scoreless in his last eight with 13 strikeouts against two walks.

  • David Robertson collected his third win, logging two scoreless frames. He allowed a hit and recorded three strikeouts on 30 pitches (66.7 Strike%) with three whiffs. He’s riding a nine-game scoreless streak spanning 8.1 innings.

Hierarchy remains: Kirby Yates | David Robertson | José Leclerc

National League

Chicago Cubs – Turning in a much-needed bounce-back outing in Game 1, Hunter Bigge retired the side and recorded two strikeouts in the bottom of the seventh. He threw 13 pitches (10 strikes – 76.9 Strike%) and produced three whiffs (23.1 SwStr%).

  • In Game 2, Porter Hodge suffered his first loss and first blown save, allowing two earned runs on two hits and a walk while striking out two over his 1.2 innings.
  • Mark Leiter Jr. retired all four batters and recorded three strikeouts for his 11th hold.
  • Tyson Miller fired a clean fifth, striking out one and securing his fifth hold. 

Hierarchy remains: Héctor Neris | Mark Leiter Jr. | Porter Hodge

Cincinnati RedsEarning a one-out win, Sam Moll was summoned with two runners on and two outs in the top of the fifth. He recorded a strikeout against Jazz Chisolm Jr. on five pitches.

  • Fernando Cruz was credited with his 21st hold despite allowing two hits and an earned run while striking out one in the sixth.

Hierarchy remains: Alexis Díaz | Fernando Cruz | Sam Moll

Los Angeles Dodgers – With the score tied in the bottom of the tenth, Yohan Ramírez suffered his fourth loss, recording an out and giving up Gio Urshela’s walk-off, two-run home run.

  • Evan Phillips suffered his second blown save, letting an inherited runner score on a two-out Carson Kelly RBI single, followed by a game-tying two-run home run by Colt Keith. Phillips has allowed a home run in three of his last five appearances, all against left-handed hitters (Joc Pederson, Christian Yelich, and Keith).
  • Ricky Vanasco began his outing with a five-run lead at the top of the ninth. He allowed three hits, resulting in three earned runs before his removal.
  • Alex Vesia worked a scoreless eighth, yielding a hit and striking out two.

Hierarchy remains: Evan Phillips | Daniel Hudson | Alex Vesia

Milwaukee Brewers – Summoned with two runners on and two outs in the eighth, Trevor Megill quelled the threat with an inning-ending strikeout. However, in the ninth, he allowed a lead-off single by Luis García Jr., recorded an out on a sacrifice bunt, and gave up CJ Abrams’ go-ahead, two-run home run, resulting in his second loss and a second blown save. This snapped Megill’s 10-game scoreless streak and his save streak at 12.

  • Elvis Peguero notched his ninth hold, allowing two walks and striking out one over 1.1 innings.
  • Jakob Junis logged 3.1 innings, giving up two hits and an earned run while striking out one.

Updated Hierarchy: Trevor Megill | Elvis Peguero | Bryan Hudson

New York MetsTaking over in the eighth with two runners on, Dedniel Núñez retired all five batters faced. He induced a double play and a pop-out in the eighth, stranding both runners. After his team added three runs in the bottom of the inning, he returned for the ninth and struck out the side for his first career save. He finishes with two clean frames and three strikeouts on 20 pitches (80 Strike%) with three whiffs (15 SwStr%).

  • José Buttó collected his fourth win, third as a reliever, tossing 2.2 scoreless innings. He allowed a hit and a walk while striking out five. He threw 41 pitches (26 strikes – 63.4 Strike%) and generated ten whiffs (24.4 SwStr%). He’s recorded three wins and a save through four games as a reliever.

Hierarchy remains: Edwin Díaz | Dedniel Núñez | Phil Maton

Philadelphia Phillies – Entering with a seven-run cushion, José Alvarado struggled against Oakland. He gave up a one-out single, followed by a two-out RBI double by Miguel Andujar, issued consecutive walks loading the bases, then bore down, producing a game-ending strikeout against Brent Rooker. Alvarado threw 27 pitches (11 strikes – 40.7 Strike%) and induced three whiffs. He’s allowed at least a run in three of his last four games while recording four walks against two strikeouts.

  • Jeff Hoffman secured his 12th hold, issuing a walk and striking out three in a scoreless eighth.
  • Gregory Soto stranded two runners while striking out his only batter in the eighth for his sixth hold.
  • Orion Kerkering gave up two hits and recorded two strikeouts in the seventh, getting credit for his eight hold.

Hierarchy remains: *José Alvarado | *Jeff Hoffman | Orion Kerkering

*= floating closer

Pittsburgh Pirates – In ascending order of appearance, Kyle Nicolas stranded a runner in the sixth and tossed 1.1 clean frames while striking out one. He collected his first win because his teammates scored two runs in the top of the seventh.

  • Aroldis Chapman was credited with his 14th hold despite allowing a triple and a fielder’s choice RBI groundout while striking out one in the eighth.
  • Dennis Santana finished the four-run win with a clean bottom of the ninth and recorded two strikeouts.

Hierarchy remains: David Bednar | Aroldis Chapman | Colin Holderman

St. Louis Cardinals – Closing out a sweep, Ryan Helsley held on for his MLB-leading 32nd save in Game 2. He worked around a one-out single by Seiya Suzuki, who reached third on a wild pitch and a groundout, with a game-ending strikeout of Christopher Morel. Helsley threw 15 pitches (80 Strike%) and induced two whiffs. This marked his first outing since his blown save on July 5.

  • JoJo Romero collected his fourth win despite giving up a hit and a walk over two-thirds of the eighth.
  • Andrew Kittredge logged 1.1 clean frames, striking out two. 

Hierarchy remains: Ryan Helsley | Andrew Kittredge | JoJo Romero

Washington Nationals – Preserving a one-run win, Kyle Finnegan secured his 25th save with a scoreless ninth. He issued a walk while throwing 21 pitches (12 strikes – 57.1 Strike%) with two whiffs in his outing. He’s appeared in three straight contests and recorded two saves.

  • Derek Law collected his fifth win, tossing a clean bottom of the eighth.
  • Dylan Floro logged two scoreless frames, walking one and striking out two.
  • Jacob Barnes worked 2.2 scoreless innings, yielding a hit and striking out four.

Updated Hierarchy: Kyle Finnegan | Robert Garcia | Derek Law

Vulture Save Options for Sunday, July 14

  • Dodgers: It may be a match-up-based approach with Daniel Hudson or Alex Vesia receiving the save chance. Plan on Vesia going against the late-inning lineup pocket with Riley Greene.
  • Angels: Will be running a bullpen game, but Estévez, García, and Joyce have all pitched in back-to-back games, leaving Hans Crouse as a potential wild card in this contest.

Thanks for being a part of the Closer Monkey community. Stay safe and be well.

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Statistical Credits:

Fangraphs.com

Baseball-Reference.com

Statcast

Updated MLB Closer Depth Chart

Closer1st in line2nd in lineUpdatedCloser1st in line2nd in lineUpdated
BALKimbrelCanoPérez7/12/24ATLIglesiasJiménezMinter7/12/24
BOSJansenZ. KellyWeissert7/1/24MIAScottPukNardi7/12/24
NYYHolmesWeaverKahnle7/12/24NYMEd DíazNúñezMaton7/12/24
TBFairbanksAdamPoche7/12/24PHI*Alvarado*HoffmanKerkering7/12/24
TORGreenTr. RichardsPearson7/12/24WASFinneganR. GarciaLaw7/13/24
        
CHWKopechBrebbiaBanks7/12/24CHCNerisLeiter Jr.Hodge7/12/24
CLEClaseGaddisBarlow7/12/24CINAl.DíazCruzMoll7/12/24
DET*Foley*Holton*Miller7/12/24MILMegillPegueroB Hudson7/12/24
KCMcArthurHarveySchreiber7/13/24PITBednarChapmanHolderman7/12/24
MINDuránJaxAlcala7/12/24STLHelsleyKittredgeRomero7/12/24
        
HOUHaderPresslyAbreu7/12/24ARISewaldGinkelThompson7/12/24
LAAEstévezL GarcíaJoyce7/12/24COLBeeksKinleyVodnik7/12/24
OAKMillerErcegAlexander7/12/24LADPhillipsD HudsonVesia7/12/24
SEAMuñozStanekSantos7/12/24SDSuarezEstradaMorejon7/12/24
TEXYatesRobertsonLeclerc7/12/24SFDovalTy.RogersWalker7/12/24

* = closer-by-committee

Monkey Bytes: July 13

Friday’s full slate featured five reliever wins and eight saves. There was only one extra-inning game, with the Angels prevailing on a walk-off home run. David Bednar returned from the injured list with a save, showing no signs of rust against the White Sox.

Two young guns in the American League West displayed their high-octane speed, and a sullied non-save outing by a Reds’ reliever received attention in today’s Three Takeaways segment.

Three Takeaways

  • Alexis Díaz and traffic, a dangerous combination: Our recaps will not feature this, but Alexis Díaz closed out a win over Miami, entering with a four-run lead. He allowed a one-out double, followed by an RBI two-out single, uncorked a wild pitch, issued a walk, and induced a game-ending groundout. He threw 25 pitches (52 Strike%) and did not produce a whiff. He had not pitched since July 7 but has allowed four runs over his last two appearances on five hits and two walks. It’s been an up-and-down season for the Reds’ closer, but the valleys may outweigh the peaks. After this outing, he has a 1.46 WHIP in 2024, which aligns with his 1.44 WHIP over the last statistical year. He’s struggling with left-handed hitters, posting a .352 weighted on-base average (wOBA) and 1.84 WHIP through 72 batters faced this season, and he’s throwing more four-seam fastballs compared with last year with mixed results. He may not be on the “hot seat,” but he should be on watch in the second half: 

Link: https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/CK44C/2/

  • Feel the need, the need for speed? Look toward the AL West: Although Ben Joyce nor Mason Miller recorded a save or a hold on Friday night, they lit up the radar gun in their respective outings. Joyce turned in a scoreless seventh, hitting a batter and recording a strikeout during a tied game with the Mariners. Miller finished a four-run win in Philadelphia with a scoreless ninth, allowing a hit and striking out two. As for the velocities, let the Statcast leaderboard from last night’s games do the talking:
  • Yimi’s rehab outing: After having his rehab appearance pushed back on three occasions, Yimi García suffered a loss during Buffalo’s game last night. He allowed two hits, two earned runs, and a walk on 17 pitches (9 strikes – 52.9 Strike%) during his two-thirds of the sixth inning. Toronto maintains it may activate him as soon as Sunday; here’s hoping his velocity rebounds in the second half:

Closer CliffsNotes

American League

Houston Astros – Taking over with a three-run lead, Josh Hader locked down his 18th save with a clean ninth and recorded two strikeouts. He threw 13 pitches (9 strikes – 69.2 Strike%) and generated five whiffs (38.5 SwStr%) against the Rangers’ 7-8-9 lineup pocket, though two pinch-hitters were used. He’s turned in three straight scoreless outings with multiple strikeouts.

  • Ryan Pressly secured his 15th hold, retiring the side and striking out one in the eighth, extending his scoreless streak to 12 games.
  • Bryan Abreu gave up two hits, an earned run, and a walk while striking out two in the seventh. 

Hierarchy remains: Josh Hader | Ryan Pressly | Bryan Abreu

Los Angeles Angels – Although he let the “place” runner score on Mitch Garver’s RBI double, after issuing an intentional walk (Cal Raleigh), Hans Crouse induced consecutive strikeouts in the top of the tenth and collected his second win on a walk-off home run in the bottom of the frame.

  • Carlos Estévez tossed a scoreless ninth, giving up a one-out single and striking out two, keeping the game tied. He threw 17 pitches (12 strikes – 70.6 Strike%) and generated six whiffs (35.3 SwStr%).
  • Luis García navigated around two hits for a scoreless eighth.
  • Ben Joyce fired a scoreless seventh, hitting a batter (Luke Raley) and recorded a strikeout. He also threw the season’s fastest pitch at 104.5 m.p.h. in this sequence. He’s been scoreless over his last 10 appearances, spanning 13.1 innings.

Updated Hierarchy: Carlos Estévez | Luis García | Ben Joyce

New York Yankees – Nailing down his 21st save, Clay Holmes worked a scoreless ninth and recorded a strikeout. He hit Heston Kjerstad in the helmet with a pitch, precipitating a benches-clearing shoving match. Holmes threw 20 pitches (60 Strike%) and induced one whiff. He’s converted consecutive saves with a clean appearance in each.

  • Luke Weaver secured his 13th hold with a clean eighth.
  • Tommy Kahnle notched his fifth hold, giving up a hit during a scoreless seventh.

Hierarchy remains: Clay Holmes | Luke Weaver | Tommy Kahnle

Oakland A’s – Closing a four-run win in Philadelphia, Mason Miller navigated around a one-out single and recorded two strikeouts in a scoreless ninth. He threw 21 pitches (66.7 Strike%) and generated six whiffs (28.6 SwStr%). He’s been scoreless in eight of his last nine games and recorded multiple strikeouts in his last five.

  • Lucas Erceg stranded a runner and allowed a hit during a scoreless one-third of the eighth.
  • T.J. McFarland allowed a walk and struck out two in two-thirds of the eighth.
  • Scott Alexander notched his fifth hold with a clean seventh.
  • Osvaldo Bido collected his first win, logging three scoreless innings. He gave up a hit and recorded two strikeouts. 

Hierarchy remains: Mason Miller | Lucas Erceg | Scott Alexander

Seattle Mariners – With a one-run lead in the bottom of the tenth, Austin Voth suffered his third loss and first blown save, allowing Willie Calhoun’s two-run, walk-off home run.

  • Andrés Muñoz navigated around two walks and recorded a strikeout in a scoreless ninth, keeping the game tied. He threw 17 pitches (7 strikes – 41.2 Strike%) and induced two whiffs.
  • Ryne Stanek retired the side and struck out two in a clean eighth.
  • Gregory Santos worked a scoreless seventh, issuing a walk and striking out two. 

Hierarchy remains: Andrés Muñoz | Ryne Stanek | Gregory Santos

Tampa Bay Rays – Slamming the door on his fourth save, Jason Adam preserved a combined shutout while striking out the side against Cleveland. He threw 14 pitches (9 strikes – 64.3 Strike%) and generated four whiffs (28.6 SwStr%). Amidst an 11-game scoreless streak, Adam has recorded 14 strikeouts against three walks with a 0.42 WHIP over his last 12 innings.

  • Colin Poche retired the side and recorded two strikeouts for his 11th hold.

Hierarchy remains: Pete Fairbanks | Jason Adam | Colin Poche

Toronto Blue Jays –  Entering a tied game in the bottom of the ninth, Chad Green struggled with his command and suffered his second loss. His outing began with Corbin Carroll drawing a lead-off walk, a leverage mortal sin. Green issued Ketel Marte a one-out walk and, after a double steal, intentionally walked Christian Walker, then gave up the walk-off run on a sacrifice fly. He threw 18 pitches (7 strikes – 38.9 Strike%) without inducing a whiff.

  • Trevor Richards was tagged with his third blown save, giving up a hit, two earned runs, and two walks while striking out one in the eighth.
  • Brendon Little retired the side in the seventh for his third hold. 

Hierarchy remains: Chad Green | Trevor Richards | Nate Pearson

National League

Arizona Diamondbacks – Taking over a tied game in the top of the ninth, Justin Martinez retired the side against Toronto’s 5-6-7 lineup pocket and recorded a strikeout. He collected his fourth win courtesy of a walk-off rally in the bottom of the inning. He threw 10 pitches (70 Strike%) and induced one whiff. He’s allowed two unearned runs over his last five appearances with nine strikeouts against zero walks across eight innings.

  • Bryce Jarvis gave up three hits and an earned run in the eighth.

Hierarchy remains: Paul Sewald | Kevin Ginkel | Ryan Thompson

Chicago Cubs – Summoned with two runners on and the tying run in the on-deck circle, Héctor Neris induced a lineout, issued a walk, and recorded a game-ending strikeout for his 13th save, stranding both inherited runners. He threw 15 pitches (8 strikes – 53.3 Strike%) and induced one whiff. He’s converted his last three save opportunities and been scoreless over his last seven appearances with 11 strikeouts against three walks.

  • Hunter Bigge could not preserve the combined shutout, allowing a hit, an earned run, and two walks during one-third of the ninth.
  • Mark Leiter Jr. retired the side and recorded two strikeouts in the eighth.

Hierarchy remains: Héctor Neris | Mark Leiter Jr. | Porter Hodge

Los Angeles Dodgers – Hanging for his fourth save, Daniel Hudson navigated around two walks with two strikeouts and a game-ending flyout, preserving a one-run win. He threw 25 pitches (40 Strike%) and produced four whiffs (16 SwStr%).

  • Michael Peterson collected his third win, tossing a scoreless eighth. He issued a walk and recorded a strikeout.
  • Blake Treinen gave up a hit during a scoreless seventh.
  • Evan Philips made his first appearance since July 6 in the sixth inning. He allowed a single during a scoreless outing with his team down one.
  • Yohan Ramírez logged 1.1 scoreless frames, giving up a hit and striking out three. 

Hierarchy remains: Evan Phillips | Daniel Hudson | Alex Vesia

New York MetsWith a one-run lead, Edwin Díaz hung on for his tenth save. He issued consecutive walks with two outs before producing a game-ending strikeout for Ezequiel Tovar. He threw 25 pitches (52 Strike%) and produced four whiffs (16 SwStr%). He extended his scoreless streak to eight games while converting five of six save chances.

  • Phil Maton notched his tenth hold despite letting an inherited runner score on a Brenton Doyle home run, putting an earned run on his ledger during two-thirds of the eighth.
  • Jake Diekman gave up two hits, including a solo home run, and two earned runs in one-third of the eighth.

Hierarchy remains: Edwin Díaz | Dedniel Núñez | Phil Maton

Pittsburgh Pirates – Back from the injured list and right into a save situation, David Bednar retired the side while converting his 16th straight save and 17th of the season. He threw 12 pitches (75 Strike%) and induced one whiff while recording one strikeout. This marks his first appearance since June 19 and his third consecutive scoreless save.

  • Colin Holderman navigated around a hit and a walk with an inning-ending double-play grounder for his 15th hold.
  • Carmen Mlodzinski logged two clean frames and struck out two for his third hold.

Updated Hierarchy: David Bednar | Aroldis Chapman | Colin Holderman

Washington Nationals – Rebounding from a rough non-save appearance on Thursday, Kyle Finnegan secured his 24th save with a clean ninth and recorded two strikeouts in a win over Milwaukee. He threw 17 pitches (12 strikes – 70.6 Strike%) and induced two whiffs. This snapped a two-game stretch of allowing at least a run.

  • Hunter Harvey notched his 26th hold with a clean eighth and two strikeouts. He’s now tied for the major league lead in holds.
  • Derek Law issued a walk during a scoreless seventh and recorded his ninth hold.
  • Robert Garcia collected his first win. He stranded two runners in the fifth and logged 1.1 scoreless frames, yielding a hit and a walk while striking out two.

Updated Hierarchy: Kyle Finnegan | Hunter Harvey | Robert Garcia

Vulture Save Options for Saturday, July 13

  • Tayler Scott (HOU): With Hader, Pressly, and Abreu all having pitched the two previous days, Scott is atop the hierarchy for the save chance today.
  • Nate Pearson (TOR): Green has pitched in back-to-back games.
  • Porter Hodge (CHC): In the event of a sweep, he could garner a vulture save in Game 2.
  • Ryan Fernandez (STL): If the Cardinals can secure a sweep, he could be the preferred save choice in Game 2.

Vulture Save Option for Sunday, July 14

  • Dedniel Núñez (NYM): If Edwin Díaz pitches today, it will be consecutive appearances.

Thanks for being a part of the Closer Monkey community. Stay safe and be well.

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Statistical Credits:

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Baseball-Reference.com

Statcast

Top 50 Relievers for Saves and Top 75 for SOLDS: Week 16

I am experimenting with the presentation of the weekly rankings. Within the table are rankings for relievers this week. It includes their save, K-BB percentage, swinging strike rate, and WHIP through games played on July 7. This table also shows each reliever’s ranking in Standings Gain Points (SGP) for the season, the last 30 days, and the last two weeks, helping identify recent trends.

These rankings may change rapidly as closers work their way back on rehab assignments, and the trade deadline is just over three weeks away. For now, here’s how they stand. Because saves remain at the forefront of fantasy managers’ minds, the top 31 features our reliever currently residing atop the bullpen hierarchy, with the Phillies’ “floating closers” both ranked as the only outlier.

Closer Monkey’s Updated Top 50 Relievers for Saves

RankRelieverSavesK-BB%SwStr%WHIPSeasonLast 30Last 14
1Emmanuel Clase2721.9%13.5%0.641411
2Ryan Helsley3117.8%16.5%1.17274
3Robert Suarez2219.1%12.1%0.8742588
4Craig Kimbrel2328.1%11.9%0.90321
5Kyle Finnegan2318.4%11.9%0.9651555
6Raisel Iglesias2118.1%13.8%0.86101852
7Pete Fairbanks1414.5%9.2%1.17361628
8Kenley Jansen1818.4%11.7%1.05919
9Trevor Megill1823.9%17.1%0.9917310
10Carlos Estévez1623.1%12.5%0.8220543
11Tanner Scott1312.3%14.3%1.08663
12Jhoan Durán1314.5%12.5%1.0123821
13Kirby Yates1324.2%15.0%0.8681727
14Camilo Doval1714.8%15.7%1.5431222
15Mason Miller1436.6%20.1%0.857N/AN/A
16Josh Hader1532.1%18.5%1.05114554
17Edwin Díaz826.0%15.4%1.1449N/AN/A
18Andrés Muñoz1420.4%16.3%1.001263128
19Evan Phillips1421.1%12.8%1.012496
20James McArthur1514.2%12.8%1.30303714
RankRelieverSavesK-BB%SwStr%WHIPSeasonLast 30Last 14
21Alexis Diaz199.0%10.1%1.41412638
22Paul Sewald1119.4%10.9%0.8162N/A165
23Clay Holmes1918.7%11.4%1.3122N/AN/A
24Chad Green417.0%12.9%1.00693418
25Héctor Neris127.9%9.3%1.5832N/AN/A
26José Alvarado1317.1%11.6%1.0838132160
27Jeff Hoffman826.5%15.7%0.88131915
28Jalen Beeks89.2%9.3%1.27433283
29Aroldis Chapman314.6%12.1%1.681677389
30Michael Kopech816.3%14.0%1.50100142N/A
31Jason Foley1411.4%9.8%1.3244N/A182
32Alex Vesia520.9%13.3%0.91275068
33Griffin Jax728.3%17.6%0.941842107
34Daniel Hudson325.2%15.8%0.7914115
35Ryne Stanek717.9%15.0%1.21331026
36Jason Adam315.0%16.2%0.88262847
37Joe Jiménez117.6%13.9%0.97746687
38Tyler Holton215.5%11.2%0.824576N/A
39A.J. Puk119.6%13.0%0.83893613
40Jeremiah Estrada132.6%17.8%1.045313345
RankRelieverSavesK-BB%SwStr%WHIPSeasonLast 30Last 14
41Andrew Kittredge115.5%13.6%1.24119129161
42Ryan Pressly219.5%12.1%1.361686995
43Hunter Gaddis023.9%13.4%0.71212332
44Porter Hodge119.2%12.0%0.881545829
45Ryan Walker028.2%13.4%0.8516148
46Hunter Harvey018.6%13.5%1.28130192212
47Kevin Ginkel517.8%11.0%1.1129397
48Fernando Cruz025.5%18.2%1.2694191N/A
49Dedniel Núñez028.6%15.8%0.87792416
50Luke Weaver022.7%14.4%0.80199463
Updated Top 50 Relievers for Saves for Week 16 (statistics through games played on July 7)

Relievers on the Rise

  • Victor Vodnik (COL)
  • Justin Martinez (ARI)
  • Ben Joyce (LAA)
  • Andrew Nardi (MIA)

Relievers on or starting rehab assignments this week

  • Yimi García (TOR)
  • David Bednar (PIT)
  • Devin Williams (MIL)

Closer Monkey’s Updated Top 75 Relievers for SOLDS

RankRelieverSavesHoldsSOLDSK-BB%SwStr%WHIP
1Emmanuel Clase2702721.9%13.5%0.64
2Ryan Helsley3103117.8%16.5%1.17
3Robert Suarez2212319.1%12.1%0.87
4Craig Kimbrel2342728.1%11.9%0.90
5Kyle Finnegan2302318.4%11.9%0.96
6Raisel Iglesias2102118.1%13.8%0.86
7Pete Fairbanks1411514.5%9.2%1.17
8Kenley Jansen1801818.4%11.7%1.05
9Trevor Megill1832123.9%17.1%0.99
10Tanner Scott1311412.3%14.3%1.08
11JoJo Romero0262617.0%10.7%0.98
12Jhoan Durán1341714.5%12.5%1.01
13Griffin Jax7132028.3%17.6%0.94
14Evan Phillips1411521.1%12.8%1.01
15Andrés Muñoz1462020.4%16.3%1.00
RankRelieverSavesHoldsSOLDSK-BB%SwStr%WHIP
16Jeff Hoffman8101826.5%15.7%0.88
17Camilo Doval1701714.8%15.7%1.54
18Carlos Estévez1601623.1%12.5%0.82
19Kirby Yates1321524.2%15.0%0.86
20Josh Hader1501532.1%18.5%1.05
21Edwin Diaz821026.0%15.4%1.14
22Hunter Gaddis0181823.9%13.4%0.71
23James McArthur1511614.2%12.8%1.30
24Ryan Walker0151528.2%13.4%0.85
25Carlos Estévez1601623.1%12.5%0.82
26Alexis Diaz190199.0%10.1%1.41
27Paul Sewald1101119.4%10.9%0.81
28Mason Miller1401436.6%20.1%0.85
29Jason Adam3151815.0%16.2%0.88
30Héctor Neris123157.9%9.3%1.58
RankRelieverSavesHoldsSOLDSK-BB%SwStr%WHIP
31Daniel Hudson3131625.2%15.8%0.79
32Andrew Kittredge1242515.5%13.6%1.24
33José Alvarado1351817.1%11.6%1.08
34Clay Holmes1901918.7%11.4%1.31
35Chad Green461017.0%12.9%1.00
36Alex Vesia561120.9%13.3%0.91
37Hunter Harvey0252518.6%13.5%1.28
38Yennier Cano3232612.9%13.4%1.31
39Ryne Stanek7132017.9%15.0%1.21
40Ryan Pressly2131519.5%12.1%1.36
41Fernando Cruz0171725.5%18.2%1.26
42Joe Jiménez1171817.6%13.9%0.97
43Jeremiah Estrada18932.6%17.8%1.04
44A.J. Minter18921.3%15.1%0.90
45Tyler Rogers1171816.8%8.5%1.09
RankRelieverSavesHoldsSOLDSK-BB%SwStr%WHIP
46Bryan Abreu1192019.4%13.3%1.32
47A.J. Puk15619.6%13.0%0.83
48Dedniel Núñez06628.6%15.8%0.87
49Kevin Ginkel551017.8%11.0%1.11
50Blake Treinen17822.6%12.3%1.06
51Tyler Holton25715.5%11.2%0.82
52Scott Barlow2171921.4%15.4%1.29
53Jalen Beeks85139.2%9.3%1.27
54Justin Slaten1101120.9%14.7%1.03
55Ryan Fernandez191015.1%13.4%1.16
56Jorge Alcala08812.6%13.2%1.05
57Orion Kerkering06624.6%11.6%0.86
58Luke Weaver0111122.7%14.4%0.80
59Colin Poche281014.0%9.0%1.00
60Colin Holderman0131316.4%11.8%1.19
RankRelieverSavesHoldsSOLDSK-BB%SwStr%WHIP
61Aroldis Chapman3131614.6%12.1%1.68
62Bryan Hudson0111123.3%10.7%0.75
63Ryan Thompson0131315.7%9.1%0.95
64Cade Smith1131428.8%12.2%0.96
65Jason Foley1441811.4%9.8%1.32
66Sam Hentges09923.8%13.4%0.95
67Porter Hodge12319.2%12.0%0.88
68Tayler Scott04411.4%11.6%1.03
69Jacob Webb2121412.7%12.8%1.13
70Michael Kopech81916.3%14.0%1.50
71Tyson Miller04422.0%14.2%0.73
72John Schreiber118198.9%7.7%1.51
73Reed Garrett481222.9%16.7%1.38
74Andrew Nardi09921.4%14.4%1.25
75Victor Vodnik15610.0%8.7%1.50
Updated Top 75 Relievers for SOLDS for Week 16 (Statistics through July 7)

Statistical Credits:

Fangraphs.com

Baseball-Reference.com

Statcast

Trade Deadline Primer, 3.0: An evolving market may take shape by the All-Star break

Many columns regarding the Trade Deadline have been posted, but the reliever market is not yet robust. It will pick up momentum, especially during the All-Star break. Teams will have a better idea about their chances for the playoffs, making tough roster decisions easier.

Entering gameplay on July 5, the last Wild Card spot in the National League has seven teams within six games, five only four games or fewer behind, and three teams at three games back or less. Here are the current playoff odds from Baseball-Reference for the senior circuit:

Taking this a step further, here are the 10 teams in the Wild Card spots, and below, remaining schedules until the All-Star break:

  • Arizona Diamondbacks: 3 @ SDP; 4 vs. ATL; 3 vs. TOR
  • Atlanta Braves: 3 vs. PHI; 4 @ ARI; 3 @ SDP
  • Chicago Cubs: 3 vs. LAA; 3 @ BAL; 4 @ STL
  • Cincinnati Reds: 3 vs. DET; 4 vs. COL; 3 vs. MIA
  • New York Mets: 4 @ PIT; 3 vs. WSH; 3 vs. COL
  • Pittsburgh Pirates: 4 vs. NYM; 3 @ MIL; 3 @ CWS
  • San Diego Padres: 3 vs. ARI; 2 vs. SEA; 3 vs. ATL
  • San Francisco Giants: 3 @ CLE; 3 vs. TOR; 3 vs. MIN
  • St. Louis Cardinals: 3 @ WSH; 2 vs. KCR; 4 vs. CHC
  • Washington Nationals: 3 vs. STL; 3 @ NYM; 3 @ MIL

Things seem more stable in the American League, and teams like Tampa Bay and Boston should know how to proceed after the All-Star break. First, the playoff odds snapshot:

Teams currently in the Wild Card spots and within three-and-a-half games entering gameplay on July 5:

  • Boston Red Sox: 3 @ NYY; 3 vs. OAK; 3 vs. KCR
  • Houston Astros: 3 @ MIN; 3 vs. MIA; 3 vs. TEX
  • Kansas City Royals: 3 @ COL; 2 @ STL; 3 @ BOS
  • Minnesota Twins: 3 vs. HOU; 3 @ CWS; 3 @ SFG
  • New York Yankees: 3 vs. BOS; 3 @ TBR; 3 @ BAL
  • Tampa Bay Rays: 3 @ TEX; 3 vs. NYY; 3 vs. CLE

In the most recent Trade Deadline update at The Athletic, Ken Rosenthal feels these four teams will trend toward sellers in the next two weeks:

  • Chicago Cubs
  • Texas Rangers
  • Detroit Tigers
  • Toronto Blue Jays

Only the Cubs and Rangers represent new teams in the mix of projected sellers.

American League Projected “Sellers”

Chicago White Sox

  • On the block: Michael Kopech; John Brebbia
  • Potential Leverage Replacement: Jordan Leasure

Detroit Tigers

  • On the block: Andrew Chafin; Shelby Miller
  • Potential Leverage Replacement: None

Los Angeles Angels

  • On the block: Carlos Estévez; Luis García; Matt Moore
  • Potential Leverage Replacement: Ben Joyce

This note on Estévez appeared in a recent post by Mark Feinsand on MLB.com:

Oakland Athletics

  • On the block: Lucas Erceg
  • Potential Leverage Replacement: Grant Holman

Texas Rangers

  • “Potentially” on the block: Kirby Yates; David Robertson; José Leclerc
  • Potential Leverage Replacements: Josh Sborz; Antoine Kelly

From Feinsand’s column:

Toronto Blue Jays

  • “Potentially” on the block: Chad Green; Yimi García; Trevor Richards
  • Potential Leverage Replacements: Erik Swanson; Nate Pearson; Brendon Little

He may not be atop many teams target list, but Richards could be a sneaky play for a contender seeking length and depth in its bullpen:

National League Projected “Sellers”

Chicago Cubs

  • On the block: Héctor Neris; Drew Smyly
  • Potential Leverage Replacement: Julian Merryweather

Colorado Rockies

  • On the block: Jalen Beeks
  • Potential Leverage Replacement: Jaden Hill

Miami Marlins

  • On the block: Tanner Scott; Calvin Faucher
  • Projected Closer Replacement: Andrew Nardi

From Feinsand’s column:

I think you can put the Phillies and Dodgers on the potential fits as well.

Potential Sellers after the All-Star Break

Tampa Bay Rays

  • Potentially on the block: Jason Adam; Phil Maton
  • Possible Leverage Replacements: Justin Sterner

Washington Nationals

  • Potentially on the block: Kyle Finnegan; Hunter Harvey
  • Possible Leverage Replacement: Derek Law; Zach Brzykcy

If these two teams decide to move one or both of these relievers, the scope of the leverage market could change. It could also shift if the Rays keep Adam and trade Pete Fairbanks. However, it depends on how these franchises view the rest of this year and their window for next season.

Thanks for being a part of the Closer Monkey community. Stay safe and be well.

Month in Review for Relievers: Results of Interest and Trends through the end of June, 2024

As the sample sizes grow and teams pass the halfway point of the season, it helps break down performance in monthly splits. Using underlying metrics and hard statistical data, some intriguing names emerge in the June leaderboards with the Trade Deadline fast approaching.

League Saves

  • 2024: 638 saves recorded through the end of June
  • 2023: 636 saves recorded through the end of June

Blown Saves

  • 2024: 367 blown saves recorded through the end of June
  • 2023: 361 blown saves recorded through the end of June

Save Opportunites

  • 2024: 1,005 save chances through the end of June
  • 2023: 997 save chances through the end of June

It’s remarkable how closely aligned 2024 is with last season through the end of June. Taking this a step further, this chart illustrates the save distribution by relievers between the last two years:

Link: https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/doZGP/1/

There are slight nuances between the two seasons, though Ryan Helsley is the only reliever in this comparison, with 30 saves at the end of the month. He’s joined by Emmanuel Clase (25) as the only two with more than 24.

Individual Results and Trends from June

Link: https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/6xQYT/1/

Relievers cannot control their team’s performance, only the save situations they receive. Those with Andrés Muñoz on their roster do not like seeing Ryne Stanek accrue four saves in June, but he’s pitching through lingering back issues. On the other hand, fantasy managers with Trevor Megill must make alternate plans after the All-Star break with the pending return by Devin Williams.

In leagues with holds as a separate category, some new names are noted on the list, like Ryan Fernandez (STL), Austin Voth (SEA), and Cionel Pérez (BAL). Injuries or expanded leverage roles create opportunities in this format.

For those in leagues with SOLDS (saves plus holds):

Link: https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/3yB4W/2/

Shifting into some underlying metrics, these four relievers met the following criteria: a K-BB percentage greater than 20 percent, a swinging strike rate above 16 percent, a strike percentage over 66 percent, and a percent contact rate allowed below 66 percent in June:

Link: https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/GNtDn/1/

This group of qualified relievers attained three of the four metrics cited:

Link: https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/wRKNQ/1/

Two key indicators for sustained success by relievers are K-BB percentage and swinging strike rate. Leaders from each category are as follows:

Link: https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/QF0bt/2/

Strikeouts and WHIP (walks plus hits per inning pitched) should also be monitored closely by fantasy managers. Here are the leaders in these categories for June:

Link: https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/JivPb/2/

It’s been a great three months providing content for the Closer Monkey community. Until next time, stay safe and be well.

Statistical Credits:

Fangraphs.com

Baseball-Reference.com

Month in Review for Relievers: Results of Interest and Trends through the End of May

With two months of the season finished, one must remember it’s just past one-third of the season. Do not overreact. But, this process will focus on underlying metrics, hard statistical data, and comparing results from April to May.

Team Saves

  • May, 2024: 199 saves
  • May, 2023: 208 saves

Blown Saves

  • May, 2024: 115 blown saves
  • May, 2023: 131 blown saves

Save Opportunities

  • May, 2024: 314 save chances
  • May, 2023: 339 save chances

Year-to-Date (through May)

  • 2024: 439 saves, 257 blown saves, 696 save opportunities
  • 2023: 418 saves, 249 blown saves, 667 save opportunities

Leverage Trends by Relievers

Link: https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/qAal7/1/

One notices that saves remain more concentrated this year, especially for closers with more than 14 saves. Last year, only Emmanuel Clase reached this mark by the end of May, but this year, he’s joined by:

  • Ryan Helsley (STL) – 18 saves
  • Emmanuel Clase (CLE) – 17 saves
  • Robert Suarez (SDP) – 17 saves
  • Clay Holmes (NYY) – 16 saves
  • Kyle Finnegan (WSH) – 15 saves

Individual Results and Trends

During May, six relievers recorded at least six saves without suffering a blown one:

  • Jhoan Durán (MIN) – 8 saves
  • Ryan Helsley (STL) – 8 saves
  • Andrés Muñoz (SEA) – 7 saves
  • Robert Suarez (SDP) – 7 saves
  • David Bednar (PIT) – 6 saves
  • Craig Kimbrel (BAL) – 6 saves

Unlike in April, when only one qualified reliever (Mason Miller) recorded a K-BB percentage greater than 20, a swinging strike rate over 15 percent, a strike percentage over 65 percent, and a contact rate allowed below 65 percent, there were eight in May:

Link: https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/9tkhF/1/

These relievers qualified in three of the four categories during May:

Link: https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/qTUDp/1/

Shifting gears, here were the SOLDS (saves plus holds) leaders in May

Link: https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/UQwMf/1/

Here are the SOLDS leaders for the season through the end of May

Link: https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/yoU4j/1/

For those in leagues with holds as a separate category, the leaders in May:

Link: https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/l4Voe/1/

Here are the Holds leaders for the season through the end of May:

Link: https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/7reY9/1/

Two key indicators for success by relievers are K-BB percentage and swinging strike rate. Leaders from each category in May are as follows:

Link: https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/7QfJy/1/

Strikeouts and WHIP (walks plus hits per inning pitched) should also be monitored closely by fantasy managers. Here are the leaders in these categories for May.

Link: https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/zFWXJ/1/

It’s been two great months providing information at Closer Monkey. More volatility awaits, along with the trade deadline in less than 60 days. Stay safe and be well.

Statistical Credits:

Fangraphs.com

Baseball-Reference.com

Statcast

Monkey Bytes, May 17: Another blown save for Edwin, A Rays blunder costs Adam a save, and The Renegade notched his ninth

Thursday’s slate was small in size featuring only six games, but not in its provision of high-leverage event content. Philadelphia and the Mets played 11 innings, Tampa Bay tried making a mound visit in the ninth with none left, forcing the removal of its reliever during a save chance, and David Bednar recorded a second straight clean appearance while closing out a one-run win against the Cubs. These games and the remaining high-leverage events of interest from last night will be covered below in our condensed and full recaps.

Closer CliffsNotes

(RP | BOS): Suffering his first loss, Kenley Jansen allowed two hits, two earned runs, and a walk while striking out two against the Rays. 

(RP | CHC): Taking over in the top of the sixth, Hayden Wesneski tossed 1.1 scoreless frames and recorded three strikeouts. He threw 21 pitches (66.7 Strike%) and induced four whiffs (19 SwStr%). He or Ben Brown may earn a larger leverage share over the next two weeks, track their results closely. 

Updated Hierarchy: Héctor Neris | Mark Leiter Jr. | Ben Brown

(RP | CIN): Facing the Dodgers, Cincinnati ran a bullpen game which yielded a win for Nick Martinez. He threw five shutout innings and allowed one hit while striking out four after taking over in the third inning.

(RP | HOU): Going old school, Shawn Dubin registered his first major-league save during a three-inning outing against Oakland, preserving a lopsided win. He allowed two hits and an earned run while striking out two on 39 pitches (66.7 Strike%) with six whiffs (15.4 SwStr%).

Hierarchy remains: Josh Hader | Ryan Pressly | Bryan Abreu

(RP | NYM): Hanging on for his first save, Jake Diekman navigated around a hit-batter and a walk, scoring the “place” runner, but preserved the one-run win in the bottom of the 11th. 

(RP | PHI): Entering in the top of the 11th, José Alvarado suffered his second loss, giving up two hits, two runs (one earned), and striking out two against the Mets. 

(RP | PIT): Nailing down his ninth save, David Bednar fired a clean bottom of the ninth, striking out one while securing a one-run win over the Cubs in Chicago. 

(RP | TBR): Pressed into action because of a rules violation, Erasmo Ramírez recorded his first save after retiring his only batter faced, preserving a two-run win in Boston. 

Game Recaps – May 16

Boston Red Sox Veteran closer Kenley Jansen took over a tied game in the top of the ninth and suffered his first loss of the season. He issued a one-out walk and allowed consecutive singles, scoring the go-ahead run, then a sacrifice fly, resulting in a two-run deficit. Jansen did record two strikeouts, throwing 18 pitches (13 strikes – 72.2 Strike%) and inducing three whiffs (16.7 SwStr%). He’s allowed multiple runs in two of his last five contests. Chris Martin worked a scoreless eighth, yielding a hit. Justin Slaten fired a clean seventh, striking out the side on 16 pitches (13 strikes – 81.3 Strike%) while generating six whiffs (37.5 SwStr%).

Hierarchy remains: Kenley Jansen | Chris Martin | Justin Slaten

Cincinnati Reds Appearing as the “bulk follower” in a bullpen game, Nick Martinez took over in the third inning producing five shutout frames while giving up one hit and striking out four for his first win. He threw 68 pitches (45 strikes – 66.2 Strike%) and generated 11 whiffs (16.7 SwStr%). Lucas Sims fired a clean eighth while striking out two on 15 pitches (80 Strike%) with two whiffs (13.3 SwStr%).

Hierarchy remains: Alexis Díaz | Lucas Sims| Fernando Cruz

New York Mets – Entering with a two-run lead in the bottom of the 11th, Jake Diekman escaped with his first save. He retired his first batter-faced, followed by Brandon Marsh reaching on an error and a walk. After inducing a run-scoring fielder’s choice ground out, he produced a game-ending strikeout of Kyle Schwarber. Jorge López collected his first win, issuing an intentional walk (Bryce Harper) during a scoreless tenth. Edwin Díaz suffered his third blown save of the season, and third in four outings. He issued Marsh a lead-off walk after 10 pitches and recorded a strikeout but threw a wild pitch, advancing the runner who scored on a game-tying RBI single by Bryson Stott. Díaz struck out Schwarber and produced a lineout by J.T. Realmuto, ending the inning. Adam Ottavino notched his seventh hold, allowing a hit in a scoreless eighth. Reed Garrett was tagged with his second blown save, yielding two hits, an earned run, and a walk while striking out two over 1.2 innings.

Many will want Díaz placed on the hot seat, especially since he’s already matched his blown save total from 2022 this season. However, his underlying data does not imply a reduction in skills, he must refine his command and improve his strikeout rates moving forward.

Hierarchy remains: Edwin Díaz | Adam Ottavino | Reed Garrett

Philadelphia Phillies – Suffering his second loss, José Alvarado gave up two hits, including a go-ahead RBI single by J.D. Martinez leading off the 11th, a double, and a run on a wild pitch. He also recorded two strikeouts in his outing, throwing 15 pitches (66.7 Strike%) while producing three whiffs (20 SwStr%). José Ruiz logged two clean frames, striking out three. Jeff Hoffman was tagged with his third blown save, allowing a hit, two unearned runs, and a walk while striking out two in the eighth, courtesy of a throwing error by Bryson Stott. Gregory Soto retired the side in the seventh. Orion Kerkering worked a scoreless sixth, yielding a hit and striking out three. Matt Strahm fired 1.2 clean innings, striking out two.

One should note, that Kerkering has been scoreless over his last three allowing one hit while recording five strikeouts (50 K%).

Hierarchy remains: *José Alvarado | *Jeff Hoffman | Orion Kerkering

*= closer-by-committee

Pittsburgh Pirates – Raise the Jolly Roger following a second straight clean appearance by David Bednar, locking down his ninth save. He threw eight pitches (7 strikes – 87.5 Strike%) and produced one while recording one strikeout. He’s converted all four save chances in May and been scoreless in five of his last six games with five strikeouts against one walk. Colin Holderman held on for his fourth hold, giving up an unearned run, a hit-by-pitch, and a walk while striking out one in a scoreless eighth. Aroldis Chapman fired a clean seventh, striking out two, and securing his ninth hold.

Hierarchy remains: David Bednar | Aroldis Chapman | Colin Holderman

Tampa Bay Rays – With two outs, and two runners on, the Rays pitching coach tried making a mound visit without one remaining, causing the removal of Jason Adam from the save chance. Erasmo Ramírez stranded both inherited runners, inducing a game-ending groundout by Romy Gonzalez for his first save this season, and first since 2020. Adam gets credit for his ninth hold, giving up a hit and a walk while striking out one on 23 pitches (15 strikes – 65.2 Strike%) while producing four whiffs (17.4 SwStr%). Manuel Rodríguez collected his first win, striking out one during a clean bottom of the eighth, ahead of his team’s rally. Garrett Cleavinger turned in a scoreless seventh, walking one and striking out one.

Hierarchy remains: *Pete Fairbanks | *Jason Adam | Garrett Cleavinger

*= closer-by-committee

Closer Monkey’s filthy outing of the day goes to Justin Slaten, recording all three outs via strikeout during his outing against the Rays, courtesy of the Pitching Ninja.

Thanks for being a part of the Closer Monkey community, stay safe and be well.

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Under the Hood: What’s going on with David Bednar and Héctor Neris

Life, like underlying data, can be tricky. Although time did not allow itself last week, it’s time for another Under the Hood session featuring two relievers in the National League Central. Acknowledging ERA can be a fluky statistic, lets post some surface numbers for the two relievers:

  • Reliever A: 17 games, 19:5 K:BB, 1.53 WHIP
  • Reliever B: 16 games, 13:14 K:BB, 1.80 WHIP

Which one owns the lower ERA? As one can assume, it’s Reliever B, Héctor Neris. Despite his inflated WHIP, he’s posted a 3.00 ERA through 15 innings this season. Reliever A, David Bednar has a 9.00 ERA even though he allows less contact, throws more strikes, and induces more whiffs. Using season-to-date results, each reliever’s outcomes, and outlook will be explored in today’s post.

David Bednar, Pittsburgh Pirates

It’s tough not rooting for the “Renegade“. He’s a hometown talent playing in front of friends and family. However, he missed most of the spring with a latissimus dorsi issue and had a rough start to his season. Fantasy managers assumed with more repetitions that Bednar would find past form, which can still happen.

Seeing his current ERA, and his 3.03 SIERA, a metric on Fangraphs that predicts in-season ERA better than other ones such as FIP, one envisions him as a potential buy low from a fantasy perspective. But he must improve his results, especially in contact allowed and with his four-seam fastball placement.

Beginning with his contact trends this season, he’s produced a career-worst 30.4 percent line drive rate, fueling a disparity in his quality of contact:

  • 2.2 pop-up percentage plus 4.3 percent weak contact = 6.5 percent poor contact-induced
  • 8.7 solid contact percentage plus a 13 percent barrel rate = 21.7 good contact allowed

As a comparison, here’s his heatmap from Statcast with his pitches this year:

However, on hits this season, one notices most are on fastballs at the middle or bottom third of the strike zone:

Location may play a part in his early struggles, but when viewing his splits-by-pitch this year versus past results, the fastball results jump off the chart:

Link: https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/J2Lfr/2/

One would think he would throw more of his secondary pitches, but he’s increased his four-seam use early on this year:

Hope lies in improved results with the curve, which has suffered a steep drop in swinging strike percentage in 2024. Delving into his leverage trends, there are no major differences, which may mean better outcomes lie in the offing:

Link: https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/rwSLw/3/

It’s tough giving up on a closer like Bednar, especially when he’s produced a 19.4 K-BB percentage with a 65.4 strike percentage and a 72.9 percent contact rate allowed. Monitor his results over the next two weeks closely, especially the curve, and hope this will be a small sample fantasy players forget about as the year progresses.

Héctor Neris, Chicago Cubs

It’s been a running joke in the game recaps, but he’s been the “Teflon” man during high-leverage events. He’s logged 16 appearances this year with one clean outing. He’s issued at least a walk during 10 games, and multiple walks in three.

He’s staved off trouble by increasing his ground ball percentage, currently at a career-best 54.8 percent. Despite the high volume of traffic on the bases in his outings, he’s only induced one groundball double play out of 22 opportunities. Like Bednar, he’s not performed great in terms of quality of contact, but it does not have as large of a disparity:

  • 2.4 pop-up percentage plus a 9.5 percent weak contact rate = 11.9 percent poor contact-induced
  • 7.1 solid percentage plus an 11.9 percent barrel rate = 18.9 percent good contact allowed

Leaning into his split-finger fastball has helped him avoid implosions:

But, when diving into his splits by pitch this year compared with past results, there are some eye-opening numbers:

Link: https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/juCNv/1/

Taking this step further, his leverage trends in this updated chart:

Link: https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/ZmOLj/3/

One cannot refute Neris being a valuable component of Chicago’s leverage ladder, but it’s tough staving off this much pending migration, especially with a negative K-BB percentage. He’s relied on and produced results with the split-finger fastball, but he will be forced to adjust if hitters lay off this pitch moving forward. It will be intriguing to see how he performs through the end of May, and into June. Note his 5.75 SIERA entering his next appearance.

Thanks for being a part of the Closer Monkey community. Stay safe and be well.

Statistical Credits:

Baseball-Reference.com

Fangrapghs.com

Month in Review for Relievers: Results of Interest and Trends through the End of April

Remembering the sample size this season remains small, with only a month-plus of results in the rearview mirror, it helps to review how relievers performed, which will be the process for today’s post. Using underlying metrics and hard statistical data, we try to remain ahead of the curve in the ever-changing world of high-leverage events.

Team Saves

  • 2024: 248 saves recorded between March and April
  • 2023: 210 saves recorded between March and April

Blown Saves

  • 2024: 132 blown saves between March and April
  • 2023: 118 blown saves between March and April

Save Opportunities

  • 2024: 380 save chances between March and April
  • 2023: 328 save chances between March and April

As one can observe, there’s been more saves recorded, and save opportunities provided, over the first month-plus of this season compared with last year’s results. This coincides with offense on the decline, illustrated by runs scored:

  • 2024: 3,408 runs scored between March and April
  • 2023: 3, 744 runs scored between March and April

Before delving into individual performances, there’s a small difference between the numbers of pitchers recording at least one save with 72 through the end of April this year and 69 with one through this same timeframe last season. Despite the rise in save chances, the distribution has remained mostly stable.

Individual Results and Trends

At the end of April, there were four relievers with at least eight saves without suffering a blown one:

  • Robert Suarez (SDP) – 10 saves
  • Jason Foley (DET) – 9 saves
  • Mason Miller (OAK) – 8 saves
  • Evan Phillips (LAD) – 8 saves

Not only has Miller been terrific as his team’s closer, he’s also the only qualified reliever at the end of April with a K-BB percentage greater than 20, a swinging strike rate above 15 percent, a strike percentage over 65 percent, and a contact rate allowed below 65 percent. He finished with a 47.1 K-BB percentage, a 22.4 swinging strike percentage, a 68.7 strike percentage, and a 58.4 percent contact rate allowed, just dominant.

These relievers qualified for three of the four categories described above:

Link: https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/tRu81/7/

Shifting gears, here were the SOLDS (saves plus holds) at the conclusion of April:

Link: https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/wXS38/8/

These relievers have the most SOLDS without suffering a blown save, knock on wood:

Link: https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/hMCId/1/

For those who play in leagues with holds as a separate category, here are the leaders from March and April in them:

Link: https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/VI04i/1/

Two key indicators for sustained success by relievers are K-BB percentage and swinging strike rate. Leaders from each category are as follows:

Link: https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/Lpx9L/1/

Strikeouts and WHIP (walks plus hits per inning pitched) should also be monitored closely by fantasy managers. Here are the leaders in these categories during the first month-plus this season:

Link: https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/Lpx9L/1/

It’s been a great first-month providing information for the Closer Monkey community. More volatility lies on the horizon, so stay safe and be well until these situations arise.

Statistical Credits:

Fangraphs.com

Baseball-Reference.com

Under the Hood: Alzolay and Hader outlooks moving forward

This week’s under the hood sets its sights on the early struggles by Adbert Alzolay, removing him from the closer role in Chicago in the near-term, and Josh Hader suffering from some bad luck in his results.

Adbert Alzolay, Chicago Cubs

Not much has gone right for Alzolay, he’s already suffered more blown saves (four) in 2024 through 11 games than he did last year (three) over 58 appearances. He’s given up four home runs in only 31 batted ball events and gave up five all last year across 168 batted ball events. He’s matched last season’s home run total with his slider (three) in only 14 batted balls in play.

He’s not throwing with a drastic reduction in velocity and increased his first-strike percent rate. However, when diving into his results on Statcast, one notices an increase in sweet spot percentage by over five percentage points, a boost in his expected batting average (.278), and a 5.02 expected ERA (xERA).

In terms of quality of contact, he’s struggling:

  • 3.2 solid percentage allowed plus 12.9 percent barrel rate = 16.1 good contact allowed
  • 0 percent weak contact and 0 percent pop-ups = 0 percent poor contact-induced

Taking this a step further, here’s his 10-game rolling chart from beginning of last year through his last outing, using strikeout percentage, walk rate, swinging strike percentage, and contact rate allowed:

One notices some shifts in his outcomes during the second half before he landed on the injured list and at the start of this season. With this in mind, here are his splits in some key leverage categories:

Link: https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/R2jww/1/

If he retakes the ninth inning for Cubs relies on his slider. Comparing his outcomes by pitch, the lack of whiffs, and increased expected results against his most used pitch accounts for his early struggles:

Link: https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/vUjx0/2/

Focus on his slider over the next two weeks, and his usage patterns. It’s tough being patient with a struggling closer, but if he finds his past production with the pitch, better days may happen. However, it’s a tough needle for a reliever to thread during the season.

Josh Hader, Houston Astros

Expecting a repeat of his 1.28 ERA from 2023 would not be realistic, but seeing Hader’s 8.38 ERA entering game play on Monday, April 22 seems like some sort of cruel joke. While sorting out qualified relievers by ERA minus SIERA, he ranks eighth in bad luck with a 5.95 run difference between the metrics. He owns a 2.43 SIERA, almost in line with his 2.34 expected ERA (xERA) from last year.

In fact, his SIERA and 2024 xERA (3.35) set a nice baseline of expectations for his results going forward. Despite his inflated ERA, he owns a 25.6 K-BB percentage, a 14.9 percent swinging strike rate, and a 64.1 strike percentage through his first 11 appearances.

As upsetting as his ERA may be, his usage patterns under first year manager Joe Espada proves more confusing. Hader’s appeared in four games with a lead, in three tied games, and worked in four games with his team trailing. Using Baseball Reference’s leverage ratings, he’s turned in four high-leverage outings, two medium leverage appearances, and pitched in five low leverage contests. Not ideal.

Viewing his underlying data from Statcast, his barrel rate remains in line with last year but he’s allowed a spike in hard hit percentage (45.5 percent) versus his career 32.9 percent barrel rate allowed. Hope lies in his .223 xBA with the sinker against his current .375 batting average against with the pitch, and a .278 expected slugging (xSLG) versus a .458 slugging percent allowed by the pitch. Things migrate toward the mean, and his results will even out.

It’s tough seeing a closer with such a high price point struggle, but focus on his past production with his pitches, and know things will improve:

Link: https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/SoiKP/1/

Houston gets a break with the schedule over the next two weeks, here’s hoping Hader and his leverage teammates turn the tide with regression working in their favor.

Thanks for being a part of the Closer Monkey community, until next time, stay safe and be well.

Tiered Rankings for SOLDS, April 5

Once again, noting these rankings remain fluid, here’s an updated tiered look at relievers in SOLDS formats. Those in leagues with holds as a separate category can use this list as well.

Tier One

  • Emmanuel Clase (CLE)
  • Evan Phillips (LAD)
  • Edwin Díaz (NYM)
  • Andrés Muñoz (SEA)
  • David Bednar (PIT)
  • Raisel Iglesias (ATL)
  • Pete Fairbanks (TBR)
  • Ryan Helsley (STL)
  • Josh Hader (HOU)
  • Griffin Jax (MIN)

Tier Two

  • Craig Kimbrel (BAL)
  • Adbert Alzolay (CHC)
  • Robert Suarez (SDP)
  • Jason Foley (DET)
  • Carlos Estévez (LAA)
  • Clay Holmes (NYY)
  • Abner Uribe (MIL)
  • Kyle Finnegan (WSH)
  • Alexis Díaz (CIN)
  • Camilo Doval (SFG)
  • Kenley Jansen (BOS)
  • Kevin Ginkel (ARI)

Tier Three

  • José Alvarado (PHI)
  • Aroldis Chapman (PIT)
  • Chris Martin (BOS)
  • Tanner Scott (MIA)
  • A.J. Minter (ATL)
  • Giovanny Gallegos (STL)
  • Jason Adam (TBR)
  • Joel Payamps (MIL)
  • Jeff Hoffman (PHI)
  • Hunter Harvey (WSH)
  • Hector Neris (CHC)
  • Ryan Pressly (HOU)
  • Ian Hamilton (NYY)
  • Yennier Cano (BAL)
  • Bryan Abreu (HOU)
  • Mason Miller (OAK)

Tier Four

  • Pierce Johnson (ATL)
  • Lucas Sims (CIN)
  • Fernando Cruz (CIN)
  • Scott Barlow (CLE)
  • Daniel Hudson (LAD)
  • Justin Lawrence (COL)
  • Kirby Yates (TEX)
  • David Robertson (TEX)
  • José Leclerc (TEX)
  • Brock Stewart (MIN)
  • Tyler Rogers (SFG)
  • Shelby Miller (DET)
  • JoJo Romero (STL)
  • Andrew Chafin (DET)
  • Ryne Stanek (SEA)
  • Yimi García (TOR)
  • Taylor Rogers (SFG)

Tier Five

  • Michael Kopech (CWS)
  • Gabe Speier (SEA)
  • John Schreiber (KCR)
  • Ryan Borucki (PIT)
  • Will Smith (KCR)
  • Chad Green (TOR)
  • James McArthur (KCR)
  • Matt Moore (LAA)
  • Ryan Thompson (ARI)
  • Julian Merryweather (CHC)
  • Emilio Pagán (CIN)
  • Joe Kelly (LAD)
  • Josh Sborz (TEX)
  • Gregory Soto (PHI)

Tiered Rankings for Saves, April 5

Noting these rankings remain fluid, here’s an updated tiered look at relievers for saves-only formats entering the weekend.

Tier One

  • Emmanuel Clase (CLE)
  • Edwin Díaz (NYM)
  • Evan Phillips (LAD)
  • David Bednar (PIT)
  • Raisel Iglesias (ATL)
  • Pete Fairbanks (TBR)
  • Ryan Helsley (STL)
  • Josh Hader (HOU)

Tier Two

  • Craig Kimbrel (BAL)
  • Andrés Muñoz (SEA)
  • Adbert Alzolay (CHC)
  • Robert Suarez (SDP)
  • Carlos Estévez (LAA)
  • Clay Holmes (NYY)
  • Abner Uribe (MIL)
  • Jason Foley (DET)
  • Kyle Finnegan (WSH)
  • Alexis Díaz (CIN)
  • Camilo Doval (SFG)
  • Kenley Jansen (BOS)
  • Kevin Ginkel (ARI)

Tier Three

  • Griffin Jax (MIN)
  • José Alvarado (PHI)
  • Tanner Scott (MIA)
  • Mason Miller (OAK)
  • José Leclerc (TEX)
  • Michael Kopech (CWS)
  • Justin Lawrence (COL)
  • Aroldis Chapman (PIT)
  • Brock Stewart (MIN)
  • Joel Payamps (MIL)
  • Giovanny Gallegos (STL)
  • Daniel Hudson (LAD)
  • Will Smith (KCR)

Tier Four

  • Hunter Harvey (WSH)
  • Ian Hamilton (NYY)
  • Ryan Pressly (HOU)
  • Chris Martin (BOS)
  • Jason Adam (TBR)
  • Shelby Miller (DET)
  • David Robertson (TEX)
  • Kirby Yates (TEX)
  • Bryan Abreu (HOU)
  • Yennier Cano (BAL)
  • Chad Green (TOR)
  • Yimi García (TOR)
  • John Schreiber (KCR)
  • James McArthur (KCR)
  • Jeff Hoffman (PHI)
  • Scott Barlow (CLE)
  • Dany Jiménez (OAK)

Tier Five

  • A.J. Minter (ATL)
  • Lucas Sims (CIN)
  • Fernando Cruz (CIN)
  • Hector Neris (CHC)
  • José Soriano (LAA)
  • John Brebbia (CWS)
  • Anthony Bender (MIA)
  • Yuki Matsui (SDP)
  • Josh Sborz (TEX)

Thanks for being a part of the Closer Monkey community.

American League Central 2024 Preview

Chicago White Sox: Way more questions than answers for the White Sox bullpen coming into 2024. If looking for the most likely reliever to land 10 or more saves, you may consider Michael Kopech. The once highly-touted starter turned emergency reliever is as good a bet as anyone to hit the double-digit mark. Other potential SV leaders include John Brebbia, although the veteran is ailing this spring. Young Jordan Leasure is a deep roster name to monitor too. This situation is best avoided as currently constructed.

Here are the three-year high-leverage results for Chicago:

Projected 2024 Hierarchy: Michael Kopech | John Brebbia | Steven Wilson | Jordan Leasure

Primary hold candidates: Brebbia, Wilson, Leasure, Tim Hill, Prelander Berroa

Cleveland Guardians: Lock Emmanuel Clase in as a top fantasy option once in 2024. He sits atop the Cleveland depth chart and was the top SV getter in baseball in 2023, with 44. The depth behind Clase, however, will be tested. Veteran Scott Barlow is in the fray, while Sam Hentges‘ finger must remain calm throughout the year. Carlos Carrasco may end up providing high-leverage outings for Cleveland, as well.

Here is how the Guardians high-leverage relievers have fared over the past three seasons:

Projected 2024 Hierarchy: Emmanuel Clase | Scott Barlow | Nick Sandlin

Primary holds candidates: Barlow, Hentges, Sandlin, Eli Morgan

Detroit Tigers: Command, command, command are the three keys to Alex Lange remaining as the Detroit closer in 2024. Gone are the days when he was the only option in town, as Jason Foley, Beau Briske, and Shelby Miller all pose threats to Lange’s hold on the ninth.

Projected 2024 Hierarchy: Alex Lange | Jason Foley | Shelby Miller | Andrew Chafin

Primary holds candidates: Chafin, Foley, Miller, Briske

Kansas City Royals: It’s not sexy, but Will Smith again finds himself in a fantasy-friendly position within the Royals bullpen. Now, it may not last all season, as his fastball is god-awful and James McArthur lurks, but Smith is a near certainty to get the role and a leash pre-trade deadline for KC. There are a few other names of interest including John Schreiber, Nick Anderson, and Chris Stratton.

High leverage results for the past three seasons in Kansas City:

Projected 2024 Hierarchy: Will Smith | James McArthur(HLR) | John Schreiber | Chris Stratton

Primary holds candidates: Schreiber, Anderson, Stratton, McArthur, John McMillon

Minnesota Twins: A repeat performance in 2024 from Jhoan Durán would make the Twins’ closer a Top 5 relief pitching option. Any progression could have Durán landing as the overall best fantasy reliever this year. The Minnesota bullpen is a collection of powerful arms behind their closer too. Griffin Jax led the team in appearance over the past two seasons, posting a 68:19 K:BB ratio in 2023. While Brock Stewart was unscored upon in 27 of 28 relief appearances.

Below is a look at the Twins high-leverage results over the last three seasons:

Projected 2024 Hierachy: Jhoan Durán | Griffin Jax | Brock Stewart

Primary holds candidates: Jax, Stewart, Caleb Thielbar

Thanks for stopping by Closer Monkey.

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Spring Vibes, March 17: White Sox Leverage Updates, Colorado closer choice emerging, Kimbrel improving, and Game Recaps

Chicago White Sox – Making his first spring relief appearance, Michael Kopech retired the side in order, and in the recap by Scott Merkin of MLB.com, the reliever hit 100 m.p.h. on the stadium radar. Although he’s not focused on being the “closer“, he would welcome it but remains focused on doing the “best job he can”. Stay tuned.

In a separate post for the Chicago Sun-Times, Daryl Van Schouwen featured quotes about Jordan Leasure being a potential ninth-inning option by Pedro Grifol as well. Until the lights go on, it appears the manager will keep his high-leverage plans close to the vest. Also in the mix is John Brebbia, though he’s not appeared in a Cactus League game yet.

Projected Hierarchy: *Michael Kopech | *Jordan Leasure | *John Brebbia

Colorado Rockies – Perhaps a pivotal day in the “closer” competition. During Saturday’s contest, Tyler Kinley retired the side in order in the sixth inning. He owns a 0.50 WHIP with seven strikeouts against two walks over six innings. Justin Lawrence went nuclear in one-third of the eighth. He allowed five hits, six runs (five earned), and a walk while striking out one. This spiked his WHIP to 2.05 with 10 strikeouts versus two walks through 6.1 innings this spring. Patrick Saunders, of the Denver Post, penned in his game recap, Kinley “continues to show why he’s likely to begin the season as the closer“.  Once Bud Black echoes this sentiment, the committee designation will be removed. Our bullpen depth chart leaned Kinley from the jump, hopefully he fares well in the role this season, or until Daniel Bard returns.

Hierarchy remains: *Tyler Kinley | *Justin Lawrence | Jake Bird

Baltimore Orioles –  Appearing in the sixth inning, Craig Kimbrel issued a walk and recorded two strikeouts during a scoreless outing. Following his rough start this spring, he’s scoreless in his last three contests with three strikeouts. He’s on schedule for Opening Day, and his manager agrees in this column by Jake Rill for MLB.com. As for his last hurdle, working on consecutive days will be the last test for the veteran reliever. He enters this season eighth in MLB history with 417 saves. 

Hierarchy: Craig Kimbrel | Yennier Cano | Dillon Tate

Boston Red Sox –  Veteran reliever Chris Martin successfully completed his live batting practice throwing session and will move forward in his preparations for the season. His next step will be another live batting practice or his Grapefruit League debut per the injuries and roster moves page on MLB.com. He’s a key component in the leverage ladder recording four wins, three saves, and 23 holds last year with a 1.03 WHIP and 19.1 K-BB percentage. 

Hierarchy remains: Kenley Jansen | Chris Martin | Josh Winckowski

Seattle Mariners – Multiple updates about the Mariners bullpen were posted on “X”. First, Ryan Divish shared Ryne Stanek will appear in a Cactus League game in the coming days. He also reported Matt Brash will long toss at max effort then progress to a mound in the next few days if there’s no lingering soreness. Last, but not least, Gregory Santos is rehabbing and resting, but not throwing. No timetable for his return until he commences a throwing program. 

Hierarchy for Opening Day remains: Andrés Muñoz | Ryne Stanek | Gabe Speier

Quick Hits (Game Recaps from March 16)

Atlanta Braves – A traffic-laden outing by Raisel Iglesias did not result in any runs despite allowing a hit and two walks during his two-thirds of the sixth. He did record one strikeout in this outing but owns a 1.93 WHIP with six strikeouts against four walks through 4.2 innings this spring.

Chicago CubsHector Neris notched his first spring hold, allowing two hits and an earned run while striking out one. Adbert Alzolay fired a clean eighth, striking out two for his first hold. He owns a 0.50 WHIP with six strikeouts against one walk over six innings. Julian Merryweather recorded his first spring save with a clean ninth, striking out the side.

Cincinnati Reds – Suffering his first blown save this spring, Alexis Díaz allowed two hits, including a two-run home run, and recorded two strikeouts. This marked his fourth outing and he owns a 1.50 WHIP with seven strikeouts versus two walks.

Houston Astros – In an eventual loss, Ryan Pressly fired a clean fifth, striking out one. He’s posted a 1.00 WHIP with three strikeouts over four innings. Bryan Abreu gave up two hits, four earned runs, and two walks during two-thirds of the sixth. He’s struggled this spring and owns a 2.73 WHIP with five strikeouts against six walks through 3.2 innings.

Miami Marlins –  In an eventual tie, George Soriano worked a scoreless fifth, giving up a hit. Tanner Scott completed an inning, this is not a test. He allowed a hit and recorded a strikeout during a scoreless sixth. He threw 17 pitches (12 strikes – 70.6 Strike%) and induced three whiffs (17.6 SwStr%). Hopefully, this will be an outing he can build on moving forward:

Milwaukee Brewers –  Collecting his first win, Hoby Milner fired 1.1 clean innings. Trevor Megill took the baton in the seventh, facing two hitters, and retired both for his second hold. Suddenly on fantasy players’ radars, he owns a 1.33 WHIIP with five strikeouts against one walk over six innings.

Oakland A’s – In a split-squad game against Milwaukee,  a rough outing alert by Trevor Gott. He was tagged with his first loss, giving up four hits, five earned runs, and two walks without recording an out in the fifth inning. Lucas Erceg also struggled, allowing two hits, three earned runs, and two walks in the sixth.

Seattle Mariners – For a second straight outing, Andrés Muñoz struggled, giving up two hits and an earned run in two-thirds of the sixth. He’s made five appearances this spring, posting a 1.07 WHIP with five strikeouts and zero walks over 4.2 innings.

Texas Rangers – During a split-squad game against Arizona, Kirby Yates fired a clean sixth, striking out one. Through five appearances this spring, he owns a 0.80 WHIP with eight strikeouts versus one walk. 

Closer Monkey’s filthy sequence of the day winner goes to Luis Gil, featuring his change-up and slider.

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Until next time, stay safe and be well, especially on this celebration of St. Patrick’s Day.

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American League East 2024 Preview

March 13, 2024

Baltimore Orioles – As a team last year, the Orioles finished second in the American League in saves, fueled by the breakout season turned in by Félix Bautista. He will miss the season after undergoing elbow surgery, but all will not be lost for the franchise. Craig Kimbrel signed as a free agent and will take over as the primary save share. He finished third in strikeouts among qualified relievers in the National League in 2023 and converted 23 of 28 save chances for the Phillies. Yennier Cano will operate as the eighth inning option, and will often take on the toughest lineup pockets on opposing teams. He logged 72 appearances last year and tied for the major-league lead in holds (31). Getting Dillon Tate back and using Danny Coulombe versus left-handed pockets will enhance the bridge options for the upcoming season.

With this in mind, here’s the team’s high-leverage results over the last three years:

Projected 2024 Hierarchy: Craig Kimbrel | Yennier Cano | Dillon Tate

Primary Holds Candidates: Cano, Coulombe, Mike Baumann, Keegan Akin

Boston Red Sox After tipping their hand about potentially trading Kenley Jansen, he remains a Red Sox as of this writing. He will open the season as their “closer” unless a last-minute deal occurs. Even though he missed time down the stretch, he went 29-for-33 in save opportunities last year (87.9 save percentage) and he’s tied for ninth all-time with nine seasons with 30 or more saves. How he performs early on may set his trade market. He’s an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. Chris Martin played Robin to Jansen’s Batman well last year, recording a team-high 23 holds along with three saves, and 46 strikeouts against eight walks over 51.1 innings. His 1.03 WHIP makes him an alluring target in leagues with holds or SOLDS categories. With eyes on the future, the team signed Liam Hendriks. He plans on returning near the Trade Deadline (August 2), but how much and in what situations Boston deploys him in will be determined as the season progresses.

Here’s Boston’s high-leverage results since 2021:

Projected 2024 Hierarchy: Kenley Jansen | Chris Martin | Josh Winckowski

Primary Holds Candidates: Martin, Winckowski, Isaiah Campbell, Brennan Bernardino, Justin Slaten, Greg Weissert

New York Yankees – This bullpen may lean heavily on Clay Holmes early on this year. He turned in a career-high 24 saves last season and finished strong being scoreless in 12 of his last 13 outings. His 66 appearances in 2023 represent the second most in his career and he will utilize his 64.8 ground ball percentage in leverage events. However, getting him to save situations may be a weak link for this bullpen. Tommy Kahnle will open the season on the injured list and oft injured Jonathan Loáisiga projects as the main set-up option early on. One bright spot will be Ian Hamilton. He will take over the vacated multi-inning role filled by Michael King last year, and has shoved so far this spring. In deeper formats, he will retain value by providing vulture wins, ancillary saves, and strikeout upside.

Since 2021, here’s how this leverage ladder has performed in high-leverage events:

Projected 2024 Hierarchy: Clay Holmes | Jonathan Loáisiga | Ian Hamilton

Primary Holds Candidates: Loáisiga, Caleb Ferguson, Nick Burdi

Tampa Bay Rays – It happened, the Rays stopped spreading the wealth in the bullpen and relied upon Pete Fairbanks as their “closer” when he was not on the injured list. He set career highs in appearances (49), innings (45.1), strikeouts (68), and saves (25). He also ranked seventh among American League relievers with an 86.2 save percentage. His save total represented the most by a Tampa Bay reliever since Sergio Romo recorded 25 in 2018. Setting him up affably, and filling in as the “closer” when necessary, Jason Adam remains a rock in this leverage ladder. Through 117.2 innings with the Rays, he ons a 0.875 WHIP with 144 strikeouts versus 37 walks, and secured 20 saves. Colin Poche led all relievers with 12 wins last season, but it’s a tough feat to repeat. He’s only the sixth reliever in team history with consecutive 65-plus game seasons.

Taking all of this in, here’s the teams high-leverage results since 2021:

Projected 2024 Hierarchy: Pete Fairbanks | Jason Adam | Colin Poche

Primary Holds Candidates: Adam, Poche, Shawn Armstrong, Garrett Cleavinger

Toronto Blue Jays – Anchoring a deep, and pliable leverage ladder, Jordan Romano has recorded 36 saves in back-to-back seasons. He accomplished this total despite missing 18 days with back inflammation during the second half. His durability will determine his ceiling for 2024, along with how he handles left-handed hitters, but from a saves standpoint, he remains a reliable source. Erik Swanson set career-bests in games (69), innings (66.2), and strikeouts (75) in his first season with Toronto. He also finished third in the American League with 29 holds. Tim Mayza, Yimi García, Chad Green, and Trevor Richards will also factor as bridge relievers this year.

Here’s the Blue Jays high-leverage trends since 2021:

Projected 2024 Hierarchy: Jordan Romano | Erik Swanson | Yimi García

Primary Holds Candidates: Swanson, García, Tim Mayza, Chad Green, Trevor Richards

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Spring Vibes, March 13: Injury Updates, Colorado’s Closer Competition, Game Recaps and more

With Opening Day (stateside) just over two weeks away, injury news may determine a player’s availability when the season begins. Results in games will vary as well with relievers experiencing a “dead arm” phase in their buildups. Here are the notes of interest from a fantasy perspective.

Milwaukee Brewers – Per Sophia Minnaert of Bally Sport Wisconsin, Devin Williams will see a spine specialist on Wednesday, while the fantasy community holds its collective breath about the severity of his back issues. He will undergo further imaging at his appointment.

Chicago White Sox – For a bullpen already stretched thin on talent, updates on Wednesday did not go well for the leverage ladder. Jimmy Lambert has been experiencing lingering shoulder issues and will see Dr. ElAttrache in Los Angeles for a second opinion. Later on, Daryl Van Schouwen reported Prelander Berroa will be sidelined with an arm/shoulder area issue, with an update pending clarification. On MLB.com’s injuries and roster moves page, manager Pedro Grifol said Berroa pitched with reduced velocity in his last outing against Colorado and will see the team doctors. Less than optimal, unless one prefers taking a “Leasure“-ly approach for targeting saves in this bullpen.

Updated hierarchy for the White Sox: John Brebbia | Jordan Leasure | Tim Hill

Seattle Mariners – In the never ending injury saga for the this leverage ladder, Gregory Santos felt a pinch” in his lat, and will be shut down for a few days, which will keep him sidelined on Opening Day. Daniel Kramer and Ryan Divish broke the news on “X”. 

In a separate column by Daniel Kramer of MLB.com about how Seattle’s bullpen will take shape after Santos’ injury, he speculated Andrés Muñoz will work almost exclusively in the save situations. Because of this, Ryne Stanek will open the season as the primary set-up reliever. However, two relievers may be selected from the “Steckenrider” bucket. 

Updated hierarchy for Seattle: Andrés Muñoz | Ryne Stanek | Gabe Speier

These next two teams feature a camp battle for the “closer” role.

Colorado Rockies – As each game passes, the “closer” competition heats up. On Tuesday, Tyler Kinley notched his first hold this spring, firing a clean seventh, striking out one. He threw 11 pitches (54.5 Strike%) and induced two whiffs (18.2 SwStr%). He owns a 0.60 WHIP with seven strikeouts versus two walks over five innings. Justin Lawrence also worked a clean outing in the eighth, recording a strikeout for his second hold on 12 pitches (50 Strike%) with one whiff. He’s made six appearances this spring, posting a 1.17 WHIP with nine strikeouts against one walk through six innings. 

Oakland A’s –  In his latest roster projection for MLB.com, Martín Gallegos wrote Mason Millerlines up as the closer“, with Lucas Erceg, Dany Jiménez, and Trevor Gott all in the mix for high-leverage situations. Until Mark Kotsay confirms Miller’s role, it’s purely speculation. However, the talented pitcher’s outings and eye-popping velocities may result in a reliable reliever in save opportunities. 

Quick Hits (Game Recaps from March 12)

Baltimore Orioles – Making his third appearance this spring, Yennier Cano retired the side in order, recording two strikeouts. He owns a 0.33 WHIP with five strikeouts against zero walks over three innings. Cionel Pérez navigated around two hits and a walk for a scoreless sixth.

Los Angeles DodgersEvan Phillips worked a scoreless eighth inning, walking one and striking out one. He’s made five appearances this spring, recording a 0.40 WHIP with six strikeouts versus one walk over five innings.

Oakland A’s –  Although he let his only inherited runner score, Dany Jiménez collected his first spring win, giving up a hit and a walk while retiring two batters in the fifth. After five outings this spring, he owns a 1.07 WHIP with five strikeouts against two walks through 4.2 innings.

San Francisco Giants – Getting in work during the fourth inning, Camilo Doval navigated around two hits for a scoreless outing. This marked his fourth outing this spring, he owns a 1.25 WHIP with five strikeouts against two walks over four innings.

Washington NationalsHunter Harvey fired 1.1 clean frames while striking out two. He’s made five spring outings and owns a 1.13 WHIP with a 9:1 K:BB over 5.1 innings. Kyle Finnegan faced two batters, striking both out, in the top of the ninth. He’s logged five appearances and posed a 0.43 WHIP with nine strikeouts against one walk.

Closer Monkey’s filthy outing of the day goes to prospect, Jackson Jobe. He will be a starting pitcher, but recorded his first spring save, turning in a clean ninth, and striking out two while hitting triple digits on the radar.

Until next time, stay safe and be well.

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Tiered Rankings (March 1, 2024)

With March upon us and draft season on the horizon, it’s time for the first run of tiered rankings. It’s difficult to choose which reliever will be the “closer” for a few teams, and many may prefer avoiding certain situations, like these three:

At present, there are three writers ready at the wheel for Closer Monkey fueled by Reliever Recon. Myself (Greg Jewett), Nate Marcum, and Aaron Pags. Being three individuals, there will be different relievers in each of our tiers, but they will be shared at the same time with quick thoughts or explanations of why our tier differs from the perceived consensus. As with any rankings, they are our own, not gospel. If anyone feels differently about a reliever, then it’s clear how they should handle him during their draft or auction. Enjoy.

Tier One

Greg

  • Edwin Díaz (NYM)
  • Jhoan Durán (MIN)
  • Devin Williams (MIL)
  • Emmanuel Clase (CLE)

Nothing crazy here. Strong “closer” candidates with ratio insulation, and three with strikeout upside. Many remain wary of Emmanuel Clase but he’s entering his Age-26 season coming off a career-worst WHIP courtesy of an inflated batting average on balls in play (BAbip). His team construct helps save chances accumulate. If he cuts his blown saves in half last year, he would have made a run at 50. Jhoan Durán remains the reliever I believe will turn in the breakout performance of the year. He could record 100 strikeouts, last year 473 of his 1,017 pitches were 100 m.p.h. or faster in 2023, most among MLB pitchers. He’s thrown 865 100-plus pitches since 2022, also the most among major-league pitchers.

Nate

  • Edwin Díaz (NYM)
  • Raisel Iglesias (ATL)
  • Emmanuel Clase (CLE)
  • Jhoan Durán (MIN)

The common names atop most draft boards when it’s time for RP.  A notable exception is Devin Williams, which is not a slight on his potential, but based on the potential for a trade when the Brewers are no longer contenders.  While the fire has supposedly been extinguished, I still have my reservations.  The name I have in my 1st Tier that could seem out of place to some is Raisel Iglesias.  Iglesias’ strikeout percentage was a tick down, but his ground ball rate was supported by a solid Braves infield.  As good a chance as there is in baseball for 30 saves, that is if the Braves don’t win every game by 10.

Aaron

  • Josh Hader (HOU)
  • Devin Williams (MIL)
  • Emmanuel Clase (CLE)
  • Camilo Doval (SFG)
  • Edwin Díaz (NYM)

The Doval Guy

So, I am the Doval guy! And it has nothing to do with his ability but is 100 percent about his stability. For me, he is one of five relievers with a less than one percent chance of losing their job to anyone on their team’s roster. That makes him a tier-one closer.
But also, Camilo Doval‘s 2023 season showcased him as a vital force for the San Francisco Giants, marked by impressive stats, including a 2.93 ERA over 67.2 innings and 87 strikeouts. Despite a rocky start and a notable streak of four consecutive blown saves, a first for a Giants closer, Doval demonstrated resilience and excellence, especially from May onwards, significantly contributing to the team’s midseason turnaround. His stellar performance, underscored by his All-Star selection, solidified his status as a key player, despite a late-season slump that raised questions about overuse.

Tier Two

Greg:

  • Raisel Iglesias (ATL)
  • Josh Hader (HOU)
  • Andrés Muñoz (SEA)
  • Camilo Doval (SFG)
  • Pete Fairbanks (TBR)
  • Jordan Romano (TOR)
  • David Bednar (PIT)

Some veterans mixed in with a little bit of upside. Recent news about Matt Brash means Andrés Muñoz could gain the primary save share like Paul Sewald held last year. If he notches 30 or more saves and remains healthy, he’s a top-five reliever in fantasy. There may be some migration toward the mean for David Bednar and Camilo Doval, but they each secured 39 saves last year. For Pete Fairbanks, it’s all about health. More innings yield more fantasy goodness. I’m likely the low man on Josh Hader. He’s seen his K-BB percentage decline in each of the last two years, he’s in a deep bullpen, and not recorded more than 60 innings since 2019.

**With the recent injury news about Bednar, he’s been moved to the end of this tier.**

Nate:

  • Devin Williams (MIL)
  • Josh Hader (HOU)
  • Pete Fairbanks (TBR)
  • David Bednar (PIT)
  • Evan Phillips (LAD)
  • Camilo Doval (SFG)
  • Andrés Muñoz (SEA)

This tier is where I will most likely do most of my RP fishing during drafts.  The concerns I have for Williams’ team security are minimal.  Hader may have his hiccups, but with a track record as long as his, the double-digit walk percentage in three of the last four years is a wart worth looking past.  The fact that he hasn’t had 60-plus innings means the days of 100 strikeouts are gone.  If I could get a full season out of Fairbanks guaranteed, he may appear in the first tier in 2025. The Rays’ neglect for a true closer may be over.  Evan Phillips may be the “outlier” in this tier for me.  Similar to Iglesias and others, his team construct is set to build up his save total “floor”, but may limit his “ceiling” with their offensive output.  Over the past two seasons, Phillips has a combined 1.59 ERA and 0.80 WHIP.  Andrés Muñoz’s value remains intact with the news of Matt Brash’s injury.  Both Camilo Doval and David Bednar are convenient RP1 anchors for those who want to cast their line into the second tier.

Aaron:

  • Jordan Romano (TOR)
  • Raisel Iglesias (ATL)
  • Alexis Díaz (CIN)
  • Jhoan Durán (MIN)
  • David Bednar (PIT)
  • Paul Sewald (ARI)
  • Evan Phillips (LAD)
  • Andrés Muñoz (SEA)

Durán’s Health


I know you can say, “But health…” for anyone, however, Jhoan Durán has a history that shouldn’t be dismissed quickly. He missed the 2020 season due to COVID-19 and experienced arm issues in 2021. Despite a strong start post-recovery, he struggled in June and was shut down for the season without undergoing surgery. In 2022, he showed promise in spring training, secured a spot on the Opening Day roster, and became a key bullpen arm, cautiously managing to avoid overuse. His performance in 2023 was strong, marked by a slight increase in ERA and WHIP but maintained a high strikeout rate, despite not being selected as an All-Star. But, he was unleashed more often than last year. His powerful pitching arm also raises concerns about potential injury risks, as has been noted in many studies of the past.

Tier Three

Greg

  • Alexis Díaz (CIN)
  • Evan Phillips (LAD)
  • Tanner Scott (MIA)
  • Ryan Helsley (STL)
  • Paul Sewald (ARI)
  • Craig Kimbrel (BAL)
  • Clay Holmes (NYY)
  • Adbert Alzolay (CHC)

If the Reds can keep Alexis Díaz fresh, he may finish the season strong, but it’s still an if. When viewing his end-of-year statistics, do not forget he owned a 2.10 ERA and 36 saves through his first 66 games (until September 15). Tanner Scott provides strikeout upside if the command gains hold. Evan Phillips represents the only qualified reliever to do this over the last two years. Ryan Helsley could be the steal in this tier if he’s healthy all season. Steady and unsexy options also lie in this tier like Craig Kimbrel, Paul Sewald, Clay Holmes, and Adbert Alzolay.

Nate

  • Paul Sewald (ARI)
  • Tanner Scott (MIA)
  • Ryan Helsley (STL)
  • Alexis Díaz (CIN)
  • Jordan Romano (TOR)
  • Clay Holmes (NYY)

The best “values” could be in my third tier.  Alexis Diaz flashed in his first season as “the guy” in Cincy.  Diaz’s 37 saves still only accounted for 70 percent of the Reds’ total saves.  Seeing how his second half compared to his first, it wouldn’t surprise me to see him with a similar team save percentage. Oliver Marmol turned to Ryan Helsley down the stretch of 2023 and was rewarded with a 0.77 ERA, a .108 batting average against, and a 0.86 WHIP.  There will be many who don’t trust the Cardinals’ to stick with Helsley, but I think they will. 

Aaron

  • Tanner Scott (MIA)
  • Clay Holmes (NYY)
  • Pete Fairbanks (TBR)
  • Craig Kimbrel (BAL)
  • José Alvarado (PHI)
  • Ryan Helsley (STL)
  • Kenley Jansen (BOS)

Tier Four

Greg:

  • Kenley Jansen (BOS)
  • José Alvarado (PHI)
  • Hunter Harvey (WSH)
  • Carlos Estévez (LAA)
  • Robert Suarez (SDP)
  • Alex Lange (DET)

Welcome into the volatile tier of relievers. This could be where many see a cliff during their drafts. Kenley Jansen could be a fallback option for many, but where he pitches will make a difference. A trade could move him up, or down in this process. José Alvarado has the velocity and skillset, but his pre-and-post-injury splits last year cannot be ignored. Carlos Estévez and Alex Lange may open the year as the preferred save option for their respective teams, but can they stay there?

Nate

  • Craig Kimbrel (BAL)
  • Adbert Alzolay (CHC)
  • Kenley Jansen (BOS)
  • José Alvarado (PHI)

If you don’t have your first reliever by now, let’s hold hands and say a prayer.  While there are many household names (Craig Kimbrel, Kenley Jansen), it will require some guts to trust as your RP anchor.  Both of those two are in situations that are conducive to plenty of opportunities, but what they do with those opportunities is yet to be seen.   Jansen is also “most likely to screw up a good closer situation for another team” in 2024.

Alvarado will get the first crack this season, but injuries were rough last year, and we have Pags along with my favorite “closer in waiting”, Orion Kerkering lurking.  Say that five times fast.

Aaron

  • Robert Suarez (SDP)
  • Kyle Finnegan (WSH)
  • Mason Miller (OAK)
  • Alex Lange (DET)
  • Will Smith (KCR)
  • Adbert Alzolay (CHC)
  • Robert Stephenson (LAA)

Wild for Will

If you told me that I would ever be the high-man on Will Smith in reliever rankings, I would have laughed in your face. His fastball STINKS ON ICE! However, he always seems to wriggle his way into promising fantasy baseball situations. Kansas City is no different. Veteran presence during a rebuild is a must, especially in high leverage spots. Sure, a trade is always likely with the Royals and their relievers, but saves in April, May, June, and July can equate to value. Just jump off the bucking horse before it’s too late.

Tier Five

Greg

  • José Leclerc (TEX)
  • Kyle Finnegan (WSH)
  • Will Smith (KCR)
  • Yuki Matsui (SDP)
  • Mason Miller (OAK)
  • Tyler Kinley (COL)
  • John Brebbia (CWS)

Pick your poison in this tier. It’s sort of wide open and should be used as an end-game option during a build. For the “never pay for saves” crowd, this will be what it looks like at the end of your draft. Feeling lucky? From purely a skills perspective, Miller could be a steal in this tier if the A’s make him their primary save share. But it’s speculative until his manager anoints him.

Nate:

  • José Leclerc (TEX)
  • Alex Lange (DET)
  • Yuki Matsui (SDP)
  • Kyle Finnegan (WSH)

I would love to have one of these relievers as my third RP, but grabbing three RPs in a draft and still having balance is nearly impossible.  That being said, each of these as your RP2 could result in a full season of production, but most likely indigestion.  Alex Lange gets mentioned in the same breath as Mark Melancon, which is gross.  I can’t quit José Leclerc, but I acknowledge that he needs to throw strikes to keep his job.  Yuki Matsui could see his draft stock rise during the Spring, but I still think it could be an uphill battle to overtake Suarez.  I have Matsui here and not Suarez because I think Matsui will eventually take the job.  In Washington, it’s choose your stance.  Harvey is the better pitcher.  Finnegan has a “proven” track record of saves.

Aaron:

  • Hunter Harvey (WSH)
  • José Leclerc (TEX)
  • Jason Adam (TBR)
  • Ryan Pressly (HOU)
  • Hector Neris (CHC)
  • David Robertson (TEX)

Thanks for checking out our reliever tiers. If interested, check out Closer Monkey’s updated bullpen depth charts.

Monkey Bytes: July 12

Thursday’s slate started slowly but finished with two reliever wins and six saves. Paul Sewald recorded his second save in as many days with a little help from his defense, and Josh Hader fired a clean ninth against the Marlins, closing out a series sweep.

There have been reports that Pittsburgh will activate David Bednar and Ryan Borucki for this weekend’s series, but nothing official has been confirmed. Once it happens, the team’s hierarchy will be adjusted accordingly.

Three Takeaways

  • Vulture wins?: Although our niche coverage focuses on streaming for saves, some relievers emerge as vulture win candidates yearly. Tayler Scott collected his sixth win of the season last night and his fourth over the last 30 days. He’s tied with Daniel Hudson for the most wins in the last statistical month, and only three relievers have more wins this season (three tied with seven). Scott, Hudson and Kevin Ginkel have all recorded six wins, which makes them streamable options in head-to-head formats.
  • D-Will heads to High-A: Adam McAlvy reported Milwaukee closer Devin Williams will make his first rehab outing for the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers on Saturday. Statcast data will not be available until he reaches Triple-A. Still, fantasy managers can track his usage patterns with eyes on a potential return date near or ahead of the trade deadline (July 30).
  • Where’s Yimi?: Scheduled for a second rehab outing since Tuesday, Yimi García has not appeared since suffering neck stiffness. Thursday marks a third straight scratch for the Blue Jays reliever, who some speculate could be activated as early as this weekend. This may not happen, and the team will be cautious with one of its best trade deadline assets. He was a popular stash in many formats over the weekend, but his runway for save chances keeps dissipating.

Next, our condensed game recaps cover Thursday’s high-leverage events of interest.

Closer CliffsNotes

American League

Boston Red SoxLogging his third multi-inning save of the season, Chase Anderson tossed three scoreless frames and preserved a combined shutout with Tanner Houck. Anderson gave up two hits and recorded five strikeouts against the A’s. He threw 39 pitches (28 strikes – 71.8 Strike%) and produced six whiffs (15.4 SwStr%).

Updated Hierarchy: Kenley Jansen | Justin Slaten | Zack Kelly

Houston Astros – Converting his 17th straight save chance, Josh Hader fired a clean ninth and recorded two strikeouts during a three-run win over the Marlins. He threw 17 pitches (10 strikes – 58.8 Strike%) and produced four whiffs (23.5 SwStr%). This marks consecutive scoreless outings with multiple strikeouts. Can he cut down the home run per fly ball rate in the second half?

  • Ryan Pressly allowed a hit and struck out one in a scoreless eighth, securing his 14th hold. He’s been scoreless over his last 11 appearances.
  • Bryan Abreu navigated around two hits while striking out three in a scoreless seventh, notching his 21st hold.
  • Tayler Scott collected his fourth win, stranding two runners and recording two outs, one via strikeout in the sixth inning.

Hierarchy remains: Josh Hader | Ryan Pressly | Bryan Abreu

Tampa Bay Rays – Struggling with his command, Pete Fairbanks issued a lead-off walk in the ninth, a one-out Juan Soto walk, and induced an Aaron Judge pop-out before Ben Rice produced an RBI single. With two outs and two on, Fairbanks bore down and retired Gleyber Torres on a game-ending pop-out for his 16th save. He threw 28 pitches (15 strikes – 53.6 Strike%) with two whiffs.

  • Manuel Rodríguez stranded two runners and issued a walk in one-third of the eighth for his second hold.
  • Colin Poche gave up a hit and a walk while striking out one in one-third of the eighth, getting credit for his tenth hold.
  • Jason Adam fired 1.1 clean frames and recorded two strikeouts while nailing down his 17th hold.
  • Garrett Cleavinger retired the side in the sixth and struck out two for his eighth hold.
  • Kevin Kelly stranded one of two runners and issued a walk, collecting his third win in two-thirds of the fifth.

Hierarchy remains: Pete Fairbanks | Jason Adam | Colin Poche

Toronto Blue Jays –  With two outs and a three-run lead, Chad Green allowed a solo home run by Mike Yastrzemski before a game-ending strikeout for his fifth save. He threw 21 pitches (60 Strike%) and induced one whiff. He’s recorded a win and three saves through five appearances in July but has given up a home run in two contests.

  • Zach Pop worked a clean eighth and secured his seventh hold.

Hierarchy remains: Chad Green | Trevor Richards | Nate Pearson

National League

Arizona Diamondbacks – Pitching with a one-run lead, Paul Sewald secured his 13th save and second in as many days with a scoreless ninth, though Jake McCarthy should get credit for his defense on this Matt Olson flyout. He worked around a two-out Marcell Ozuna with a game-ending groundout. Sewald threw 15 pitches (66.7 Strike%) and induced two whiffs (13.3 SwStr%). Over his last two saves, he’s been efficient during his two scoreless innings, producing a 73.9 strike percentage while retiring six of seven batters.

  • Ryan Thompson navigated around two walks for a scoreless eighth and his 15th hold.
  • Kevin Ginkel notched his seventh hold, allowing a hit and striking out one in a scoreless seventh inning. He owns a nine-game scoreless streak and has been scoreless in 19 of his last 20 appearances.

Hierarchy remains: Paul Sewald | Kevin Ginkel | Ryan Thompson

Philadelphia Phillies – Taking over with a four-run lead, José Alvarado worked a scoreless ninth and finished a sweep of the Dodgers. He allowed a one-out walk, then induced a game-ending double-play groundout. He threw 14 pitches (8 strikes – 57.1 Strike%) and induced one whiff while striking out one in his non-save appearance.

  • Jeff Hoffman worked into and out of trouble in the eighth. He recorded a strikeout, had a runner reach on an error, issued a walk, and gave up a single, loading the bases before an inning-ending lineout double play. Hoffman secured his 11th hold and extended his modest scoreless streak to five.
  • Matt Strahm walked one during a scoreless seventh for his ninth hold.

Hierarchy remains: *José Alvarado | *Jeff Hoffman | Orion Kerkering

*= floating closer

Pittsburgh Pirates – Moving into 20th all-time in saves, Aroldis Chapman locked down his 325th career save and fourth this season with a clean ninth while striking out one. He threw nine pitches (77.8 Strike%) and induced one whiff. This marked his first clean appearance since June 26 and his first in July without issuing a walk.

  • Colin Holderman navigated around two hits and a walk with three strikeouts in a scoreless eighth. He spoiled the combined no-hit bid but preserved the combined shutout for his 14th hold.

Hierarchy remains: Aroldis Chapman | Colin Holderman | Carmen Mlodzinski

Vulture Save Option for Friday, July 12

  • Justin Martinez (ARI): With each reliever in our hierarchy working on consecutive days, the rookie could benefit from the vulture save chance in tonight’s game.
  • Gregory Soto (PHI): If a save chance presents itself, the southpaw could be in line. Alvarado and Hoffman pitched on Wednesday and Thursday, leaving them unavailable in tonight’s contest versus Oakland.

Vulture Save Option for Saturday, July 13

  • Manuel Rodríguez (TBR): If Fairbanks and Adam pitch in tonight’s game, it will be back-to-back outings.
  • Ryan Fernandez (STL): He could garner a vulture save chance with a doubleheader on tap for Saturday.
  • Hunter Bigge (CHC): If the Cubs can sweep the Cardinals, the rookie could get his first high-leverage outing in Game 2.

Heading into the last weekend before the All-Star break, here are some leaderboards for saves, holds, and SOLDS.

Saves and Holds Leaders (last 30 days)

Link: https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/eB4WK/2/

SOLDS Leaders (last 30 days)

Link: https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/alnLC/1/

Saves and Holds Leaders (last 14 days)

Link: https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/pilMX/1/

SOLDS Leaders (last 14 days)

Link: https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/eJUku/1/

Thanks for being a part of the Closer Monkey community. Stay safe and be well.

Please consider becoming a premium subscriber for a one-time $20 donation to the site, featuring full-text emails with charts, column blurbs, and ad-free analysis.

Statistical Credits:

Fangraphs.com

Baseball-Reference.com

Statcast

Monkey Bytes: July 11

Wednesday’s 17-game slate yielded four relievers wins and 10 saves. JamesThe GeneralMcArthur recorded saves in each game of his team’s sweep of a split-game doubleheader against St. Louis. He’s the sixth Royals reliever to accomplish the feat and the first since Greg Holland did it two times in 2013. In the other doubleheader, Michael Kopech fired an “immaculate” inning while locking down his ninth save in Game 1, and Jhoan Durán recorded his 14th save during a one-run win in Game 2.

Two struggling closers, Clay Holmes and Paul Sewald, secured saves on this slate with clean appearances. Although the Phillies share saves in their “floating closer” concept, the scales have tipped recently, which will be a topic in today’s takeaways.

Three Takeaways

  • Hoffman’s on a heater: Since June 30, Jeff Hoffman has recorded four of his team’s five saves, including a clean outing last night against the Dodgers. This recent surge in the category ties him with teammate José Alvarado for the team lead since June. Since April 10, Hoffman’s made 34 appearances, spanning 33 innings, and only allowed three earned runs while recording 41 strikeouts versus five walks (28.3 K-BB percentage). He also leads all qualified National League relievers in ERA (1.17) and converted his last seven save opportunities.
  • Sewald rebounds: Avoiding a rage drop is tough when a closer struggles. After Paul Sewald suffered his third straight blown save, Torey Lovullo immediately reinforced Sewald’s role with the team, which resulted in a save on Wednesday night against Atlanta. It’s a fine line closers walk during high-leverage events, and in two of his blown saves, he retired the first two batters (July 2 vs. the Dodgers and July 8 against Atlanta). He may not reach past performance levels, but his role remains stable.
  • Joyce gaining trust: In this column by Jeff Fletcher for The Orange County Register, manager Ron Washington acknowledged Ben Joyce could be used in save situations if Carlos Estévez is unavailable and Luis García has been used. It’s not a ringing endorsement, but it signals that the rookie will be on the radar for save chances in the second half. Estévez and García are free agents at the end of the season, which may result in their being moved before the trade deadline. Part of Joyce’s growing leverage presence comes from more efficient outings this season. He’s reduced his pitches per plate appearance from 4.15 last year to 3.87 in 2024 by adding a “splinker” into his arsenal. There will be some bumps in the road, but he’s produced a 0.73 WHIP during his nine-game scoreless streak, which spans 12.1 innings.

Next, our condensed game recaps cover Wednesday’s high-leverage events of interest.

Closer CliffsNotes

American League

Chicago White Sox – (Game 1) Variety is the spice of life, and it may be key to Michael Kopech‘s continued success. He locked down his ninth save with an immaculate ninth inning in Game 1, striking out the side against the Twins’ 6-7-8 batters. He threw nine pitches, all strikes, and generated four whiffs (44.4 SwStr%). He’s recorded consecutive clean appearances and only thrown 11 four-seam fastballs of his 19 pitches (57.9%) in these contests.

  • John Brebbia worked around a hit and recorded two strikeouts in a scoreless eighth, securing his 13th hold.
  • Jordan Leasure notched his ninth hold but allowed Trevor Larnach’s solo home run in the seventh.
  • Justin Anderson retired the side in the sixth, striking out one for his third hold.
  • (Game 2) Michael Soroka suffered his tenth loss, allowing two hits, including Ryan Jeffers’ go-ahead RBI single in the top of the seventh. Soroka finished with two hits, an earned run, and a walk while striking out two on his ledger.

Hierarchy remains: Michael Kopech | John Brebbia | Tanner Banks

Detroit Tigers – Summoned with an inherited runner on third and one out ahead by one, Jason Foley induced a fielder’s choice groundout, retiring the inherited runner. He then issued Brayan Rocchio an intentional walk, uncorked a wild pitch, put runners on second and third, and recorded a game-ending groundout for his 15th save.

  • Alex Faedo was credited with his seventh hold, allowing an earned run and two walks over a combined inning of relief. He scored a runner with a wild pitch in the ninth.
  • Tyler Holton secured his sixth hold, logging 1.1 scoreless frames, giving up a hit and striking out one.

Hierarchy remains: *Jason Foley | *Tyler Holton | *Shelby Miller

*= closer-by-committee

Kansas City Royals – During a split-doubleheader, James McArthur recorded the save in each game, his 16th and 17th of the season. He threw a combined 34 pitches (24 strikes – 70.6 Strike%) and produced five whiffs (14.7 SwStr%). He gave up three hits and an earned run while striking out two across his two appearances on Wednesday. He’s been scoreless in nine of his last ten outings and converted all five save chances.

Game 1

  • Sam Long notched his second hold, giving up a hit and striking out one in a scoreless eighth.
  • Will Smith retired the side in the seventh, securing his sixth hold.

Game 2

  • Kris Bubic recorded his first hold, tossing a clean eighth and striking out one.
  • John Schreiber worked a clean seventh and struck out two for his 19th hold.

Updated Hierarchy: James McArthur | John Schreiber | Sam Long

Los Angeles Angels – After warming for a save opportunity, Carlos Estévez retired the side in the ninth, finishing a five-run win over Texas when his teammates tacked on two runs in the bottom of the eighth. He threw 11 pitches (81.8 Strike%) and did not induce a whiff. This marked his first outing in July, and he has a 12-game scoreless streak with 11 strikeouts versus one walk while converting all nine save chances.

  • José Marte stranded three runners in the seventh and tossed 1.1 clean frames while striking out one for his first hold.
  • Hunter Strickland was credited with his sixth hold, giving up a hit, a walk, and a hit batter during two-thirds of the seventh.
  • Hans Crouse stranded the bases loaded in the fifth and logged 1.2 scoreless innings en route to his first major league win. He issued a walk and recorded two strikeouts.

Hierarchy remains: Carlos Estévez | Luis García | Ben Joyce 

Minnesota Twins – Preserving a one-run win and a split in Game 2, Jhoan Durán fired a clean bottom of the ninth while striking out two against the White Sox, securing his 14th save. He threw 10 pitches (80 Strike%) and generated three whiffs (30 SwStr%). His scoreless streak reached seven games after this outing, during which he recorded two wins, three saves, and seven strikeouts against two walks across 6.2 innings.

  • Griffin Jax worked a scoreless eighth, walking one and striking out one for his 14th hold.
  • Jorge Alcala retired the side and struck out one in the seventh, securing his tenth hold.
  • Steven Okert was awarded his third win, tossing a clean sixth inning.

Hierarchy remains: Jhoan Durán | Griffin Jax | Jorge Alcala

New York Yankees – Recording his 20th save, first since June 9, Clay Holmes retired all four batters and stranded two in the eighth. He preserved a one-run win while striking out two. He threw 21 pitches (13 strikes – 61.9 Strike%) and induced two whiffs. He had allowed at least a run in five of his previous seven appearances, so fantasy managers hope he’s turning a corner.

  • Tommy Kahnle was credited with his fourth hold, allowing a hit and a walk while striking out one in two-thirds of the eighth.
  • Luke Weaver tossed 1.2 scoreless, issuing two walks and striking out one.
  • Tim Hill collected his third win, stranding three runners in the fifth and working a scoreless combined innings. He gave up two hits and recorded two strikeouts.

Updated Hierarchy: Clay Holmes | Luke Weaver | Tommy Kahnle

Oakland A’s – Securing his first save since June 21, Mason Miller tossed a scoreless bottom of the ninth for his 15th save, finishing a three-run win. He allowed a two-out single but recorded a game-ending strikeout, his second of the outing. He threw 13 pitches (69.2 Strike%) and induced two whiffs. He’s been scoreless in seven of his last eight but only has two saves.

  • Lucas Erceg logged 1.1 scoreless innings but let one of two inherited runners score in the seventh during his 11th hold. He gave up a hit and a walk while striking out one.
  • T.J. McFarland was credited with his 11th hold, allowing two hits and an earned run during his two-thirds of the seventh.
  • Austin Adams stranded a runner and retired his only batter via strikeout for his 17th hold in the sixth. 

Hierarchy remains: Mason Miller | Lucas Erceg | Scott Alexander

Seattle Mariners—Shutting the door on his 15th save and preserving a combined shutout, Andrés Muñoz stranded two runners in the eighth and navigated around two walks in the ninth while striking out two. He threw 28 pitches (15 strikes—53.6 Strike%) and produced four whiffs (14.3 SwStr%) during his 1.1 scoreless frames. This marked his sixth save, requiring at least four outs.

  • Ryne Stanek allowed a hit and a walk during his two-thirds of the eighth, getting credit for his 14th hold.
  • Austin Voth notched his ninth hold, retiring the side and striking out one in the seventh.

Hierarchy remains: Andrés Muñoz | Ryne Stanek | Gregory Santos

National League

Arizona Diamondbacks – Being a goldfish (short memory) and benefiting from a nice play by Geraldo Perdomo, Paul Sewald snapped his blown save streak with a clean ninth while recording his 12th save. He capped a two-run rally in the bottom of the eighth, throwing eight pitches (87.5 Strike%) without a whiff. He breathed a sigh of relief after the last out, just like his fantasy managers.

  • Ryan Thompson suffered his fifth blown save, giving up Marcell Ozuna’s game-tying two-run home run, and collected his fifth win courtesy of his team’s rally in the bottom of the eighth.
  • Justin Martinez worked a scoreless seventh, allowing a hit and striking out two.
  • Kevin Ginkel fired a clean sixth, striking out the side. He’s been scoreless in 17 of his last 18 with 20 strikeouts against two walks.

Hierarchy remains: Paul Sewald | Kevin Ginkel | Ryan Thompson

Colorado Rockies – Hanging on for his ninth save, Jalen Beeks allowed Tyler Stephenson’s lead-off home run, consecutive singles, an RBI single by Santiago Espinal, and a sacrifice fly before recording a game-ending groundout by Elly De La Cruz. Beeks finished with three hits and two earned runs on 21 pitches (66.7 Strike%) with two whiffs. This snapped his three-game scoreless streak.

  • Victor Vodnik recorded his sixth hold while giving up a solo home run by Jonathan India and striking out two in the eighth.

Updated Hierarchy: Jalen Beeks | Victor Vodnik | Tyler Kinley

New York MetsWith the bullpen running on fumes, José Buttó stepped up and recorded his first career save, finishing a four-run win over the Nationals. He took over in the eighth with a runner on second, two outs with a three-run lead, and retired Lane Thomas via strikeout. Buttó returned for the ninth and retired the side with another strikeout. He threw 15 pitches (11 strikes – 73.3 Strike%) and induced a whiff during his 1.1 clean innings. He’s an intriguing SPARP option moving forward for those playing in head-to-head leagues. He’s recorded two wins and a save through three appearances as a reliever.

  • Danny Young notched his second hold, recording two outs and giving up a double in the top of the eighth.
  • Jake Diekman stranded a runner and struck out both batters in the seventh for his eighth hold.

Updated Hierarchy: Edwin Díaz | Dedniel Núñez | Phil Maton

Philadelphia Phillies – Protecting a one-run lead, Jeff Hoffman retired the side and recorded a strikeout in the top of the ninth, facing the Dodgers 7-8-9 lineup pocket. He threw 12 pitches (7 strikes – 58.3 Strike%) and generated four whiffs (33.3 SwStr%). He’s recorded four saves in four scoreless appearances since June 30.

  • José Alvarado gave up a one-out double by Andy Pages and Miguel Rojas’ RBI single, who was thrown out at second base. This marked Alvarado’s sixth hold, but he’s allowed a run in consecutive outings and three of his last five.
  • Matt Strahm secured his eighth hold, retiring both batters, one via strikeout, while stranding two runners in the seventh.
  • Orion Kerkering was credited with his seventh hold despite giving up two hits and striking out one in one-third of the seventh.

Hierarchy remains: *José Alvarado | *Jeff Hoffman | Orion Kerkering

*= floating closer

Vulture Save Options for Thursday, July 11

  • None

Vulture Save Options for Friday, July 12

  • Gregory Santos (SEA): If Muñoz and Stanek pitch on Thursday, it will be consecutive outings.
  • Luis García (LAA): If Estévez works today, it will be back-to-back appearances.
  • Shelby Miller (DET): If Foley works again on Thursday, it will be two straight games, giving him Friday off.

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Statistical Credits:

Fangraphs.com

Baseball-Reference.com

Statcast