Joe Biagini benefits as Drew Storen falls

May 28, 2016

Toronto Blue Jays — Joe Biagini was the bridge to closer Roberto Osuna yesterday, finishing the seventh inning and starting the eighth before giving up the tying run and eventually vulturing a win. Drew Storen (7.80 ERA) hasn’t pitched since May 20th and is reportedly on the trading block. A change of scenery may do Storen wonders, but it seems unlikely that he could wind up closing.

Updated hierarchy: Osuna | Floyd | Biagini.

New York Yankees — Aroldis Chapman was brought in to get the final out after Kirby Yates gave up a homer to make it a three-run game. Chapman did his job twice, getting the rare stat line that has more strikeouts than outs recorded. The last pitcher to do this was the immortal Jerry Blevins, who did it in the bare minimum of six pitches. The last guy to do it in a full inning was Mr. July himself, Will Smith, who should be back with the Brewers next week.

Hierarchy remains: Chapman | Miller | Betances.

VULTURE SAVE WATCH
1. Gavin Floyd, Toronto Blue Jays — Roberto Osuna has pitched in the last three games (39 pitches).
2. Michael Blazek, Milwaukee Brewers — Jeremy Jeffress and Tyler Thornburg have each seen action in three of four (four of six for Jeffress).
3. Addison Reed, New York Mets — Jeurys Familia gave up a four-run lead in the ninth on Friday night (32 pitches).
4. Andrew Miller, New York Yankees — Chapman threw only nine pitches to earn that otherworldly 54 K/9 ratio, but you know Joe Girardi tries to avoid using his big three on back-to-back-to-back nights.

Updated MLB Closer Depth Chart

Closer 1st in line 2nd in line Updated Closer 1st in line 2nd in line Updated
BAL Britton O'Day Brach 5/15/16 ATL Vizcaino Grilli Cervenka 5/11/16
BOS Kimbrel Uehara Tazawa 5/25/16 MIA Ramos Phelps Barraclough 5/10/16
NYY Chapman Miller Betances 5/28/16 NYM Familia Reed Henderson 5/23/16
TB Colome Cedeno Ramirez 5/27/16 PHI Gomez Neris Hernandez 5/15/16
TOR Osuna Floyd Biagini 5/28/16 WAS Papelbon Kelley Rivero 5/14/16
.                    
CHW Robertson Jones Duke 4/25/16 CHC Rondon Strop Grimm 5/19/16
CLE Allen Shaw McAllister 5/19/16 CIN *Cingrani Ohlendorf Wood 5/19/16
DET Rodriguez J.Wilson Lowe 5/24/16 MIL Jeffress Thornburg Blazek 5/27/16
KC Davis Herrera Soria 5/2/16 PIT Melancon Watson Feliz 5/26/16
MIN Jepsen Abad May 5/26/16 STL Rosenthal Siegrist Oh 5/23/16
    .            
HOU Gregerson Giles Harris 5/27/16 ARI Ziegler Hudson Clippard 5/21/16
LAA Smith Salas Mahle 5/22/16 COL McGee Estevez Castro 5/26/16
OAK Madson Axford Doolittle 5/17/16 LAD Jansen Baez Coleman 5/26/16
SEA Cishek Benoit Peralta 5/18/16 SD Rodney Buchter Maurer 5/15/16
TEX Dyson Diekman Bush 5/26/16 SF Casilla Gearrin Strickland 5/16/16

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* = closer-by-committee

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Ken Giles finally picks up his first Astros save

May 27, 2016

Houston Astros — Just as the Vulture Save Watch called for, Ken Giles waltzed on out in the ninth inning Thursday night and picked up his first save since being dealt to the Astros. The inning wasn’t clean (1 ER, 2 H) and his overall numbers are ugly (5.75 ERA, 1.52 WHIP), but he had just come off a string of nine straight scoreless appearances. Since the beginning of May, his ERA has dropped by more than two runs. Hopefully, for the Astros’ sake, they are finally getting some return on their huge investment in Giles.

Hierarchy remains: Gregerson | Giles | Harris.

Milwaukee Brewers — Until this week’s series against the hapless Braves, the Brewers weren’t needing the help of their best late-inning relievers all too often. But then, we got a strange situation: Someone not even in the team’s back three, Carlos Torres, picked up his second straight vulture save Thursday night (as the Vulture Save Watch correctly predicted). So, what gives? Torres, who’s probably the third-in-line for Craig Counsell, got a traditional save Wednesday, but Thursday’s save was a bit more vulturey. Torres came on in the eighth inning to protect a two-run lead and did his job. After the Brewers scored two in the ninth inning, Torres came back out to close things out. It’d be hard to count on Torres for another Brewers save for a while, as Jeremy Jeffress, Tyler Thornburg and Michael Blazek should all be well-rested.

Hierarchy remains: Jeffress | Thornburg | Blazek.

Toronto Blue Jays — Journeyman Gavin Floyd appears to be gaining more of John Gibbons’ trust. The righty tossed a scoreless eighth inning ahead of closer Roberto Osuna on Thursday, retiring the side on 12 pitches (with one hit mixed in). Drew Storen, meanwhile, has a long history of closing (including two saves this year), but is 0-2 with a 7.80 ERA, 1.73 WHIP and has allowed four runs in his last four innings.

Updated hierarchy: Osuna | Floyd | Storen.

Tampa Bay Rays — Injured closer Brad Boxberger, who picked up 41 saves last season, could be closer to returning to the big league club. Boxberger pitched an inning Wednesday for the AA Montgomery Biscuits and will be on the hill on Friday, too. If all goes well, he could be back as early as Sunday or Monday.

Hierarchy remains: Colome | Cedeno | Ramirez.

VULTURE SAVE WATCH
1. Gavin Floyd/Drew Storen, Toronto Blue Jays – Roberto Osuna has thrown 28 pitches over two straight games.
2. Neftali Feliz, Pittsburgh Pirates – Tony Watson, are you there? With the new father likely out again Friday on paternity leave, there’s not much left at the back end for Pittsburgh. Closer Mark Melancon has thrown 37 pitches over the last two days (including coming out for the ninth to throw 24 pitches with a five-run lead Thursday), and Neftali Feliz has gone in two straight as well, throwing just a total of 24 pitches. Melancon may get another shot on Friday given how short the back end is, but Feliz or perhaps even Jared Hughes could get the opportunity as well.
3. Bryan Shaw, Cleveland Indians – The Tribe was off Thursday, but Cody Allen had pitched in three straight games before that. Sometimes, managers like to give worked relief pitchers a second straight breather after an off-day, if at all possible. In that case, Shaw would get the opportunity.

The Twins turn to Fernando Abad and Brandon Kintzler

May 26, 2016

Minnesota Twins — With all that’s gone wrong for the Twins this season, it’s been easy to overlook how bad their bullpen has gotten. Glen Perkins is on the 60-day DL and Kevin Jepsen has made his home on the hot seat, but now Trevor May’s recent struggles have led Paul Molitor to demote him from the setup role, in favor of journeyman lefty Fernando Abad and the oft-injured Brandon Kintzler. We can’t give up on May just yet, though; his high K rate (33 in 22.2 IP) and favorable xFIP suggest that this is mostly a run of bad luck. Abad’s success this year gets him in the hierarchy, but we’ll keep a close eye on Minnesota’s bullpen use going forward — provided they can get the lead.

Updated hierarchy: Jepsen | Abad | May.

Colorado Rockies — Jason Motte is back from the disabled list, but taking his place will be Boone Logan (strained shoulder). Walt Weiss intends to ease Motte back into things, so for now, Miguel Castro moves to second in line.

Updated hierarchy: McGee | Estevez | Castro.

Texas Rangers — Shawn Tolleson didn’t do himself any favors on Wednesday, giving up two singles and a home run in a brief eighth-inning appearance. The outing didn’t really hurt the team — Texas was up seven when Tolleson came in — but it won’t get him any closer to regaining his old job.

Hierarchy remains: Dyson | Diekman | Bush.

Los Angeles Dodgers — Louis Coleman has holds in his last three appearances and appears to have moved ahead of Chris Hatcher in the Dodgers’ hierarchy.

Updated hierarchy: Jansen | Baez | Coleman.

Pittsburgh Pirates — Bullpen completists and holds connoisseurs should know that Tony Watson went on paternity leave Wednesday, and could be out until Saturday.

Hierarchy remains: Melancon | Watson | Feliz.

Milwaukee Brewers — The top three options in the Brewers bullpen had already pitched, so Carlos Torres wound up with the 13th-inning save Wednesday night. As always, the first person to contact us with proof that they owned and started Torres yesterday gets a free year of Closer Monkey Premium (full text emails)!!

Hierarchy remains: Jeffress | Thornburg | Blazek.

VULTURE SAVE WATCH
1. Tyler Thornburg/Carlos Torres, Milwaukee Brewers — Jeremy Jeffress has thrown in two straight, including a two-inning outing last night. Thornburg is the most rested option in the hierarchy, but if the whole triumvirate needs rest, we could always see Torres again.
2. Ken Giles, Houston Astros — Luke Gregerson has thrown 43 pitches over two straight days of work.