Nate Jones leads the league in blown saves

August 30, 2016

St. Louis Cardinals — Alex Reyes’s return to the rotation over the weekend has left a hole in the seventh inning for the Cardinals. Matt Bowman has been filling in there, but when he and Kevin Siegrist gave up a combined four runs last night, it was the recently promoted Miguel Socolovich who stopped the bleeding and set St. Louis up for a comeback win. It was an impressive outing for Socolovich, but not enough to crack the hierarchy yet.

Updated hierarchy: Oh | Siegrist | Bowman.

Chicago White Sox — The major league leader in blown saves is Nate Jones, who suffered his ninth on Monday night. It’s mostly been a matter of bad timing, however; his 0.93 WHIP and 3.25 FIP don’t point to any significant problems.

Hierarchy remains: Robertson | Jones | Jennings.

Toronto Blue Jays — Joe Biagini picked up a clean eighth-inning hold last night, his fifth of the season to go with a 2.28 ERA. Biagini still seems to be fourth in the Toronto bullpen, but we’ll be keeping an eye on the big righty down the stretch.

Hierarchy remains: Osuna | Grilli | Benoit.

VULTURE SAVE WATCH
1. Andrew Miller, Cleveland Indians — Cody Allen threw 37 pitches to get five outs on Monday.
2. Antonio Bastardo, Pittsburgh Pirates — The Pirates bullpen is running on fumes at this point. Tony Watson and Felipe Rivero have pitched on five of the last six days, and Neftali Feliz has gone on four of five (including a 29-pitch outing last night). Who’s left? We’re crazy enough to think it might be Bastardo, who has pitched surprisingly well since returning to Pittsburgh at the trade deadline.
3. Shawn Kelley, Washington Nationals — Mark Melancon has pitched in four of five.

Updated MLB Closer Depth Chart

Closer 1st in line 2nd in line Updated Closer 1st in line 2nd in line Updated
BAL Britton Brach Givens 8/25/16 ATL Johnson Cabrera Vizcaino 8/19/16
BOS Kimbrel Ziegler Buchholz 8/29/16 MIA *Rodney Ramos Barraclough 8/25/16
NYY Betances Warren Clippard 8/29/16 NYM Familia Reed Henderson 8/21/16
TB Colome Cedeno Boxberger 8/26/16 PHI Gomez Neris Ramos 7/7/16
TOR Osuna Grilli Benoit 8/30/16 WAS Melancon Kelley Treinen 8/14/16
.                    
CHW Robertson Jones Jennings 8/30/16 CHC Chapman Edwards Wood 8/20/16
CLE *Allen Miller Shaw 8/23/16 CIN *Cingrani Iglesias Lorenzen 8/20/16
DET Rodriguez J.Wilson Greene 8/10/16 MIL Thornburg Knebel Torres 8/24/16
KC Herrera Soria Strahm 8/27/16 PIT Watson Feliz Rivero 8/28/16
MIN Kintzler Pressly Rogers 8/11/16 STL Oh Siegrist Bowman 8/30/16
    .            
HOU Giles Harris Gregerson 8/27/16 ARI *Hudson Delgado Barrett 8/27/16
LAA Salas Ramirez Guerra 8/26/16 COL Ottavino Logan Estevez 8/28/16
OAK Madson Axford Dull 8/11/16 LAD Jansen Blanton Liberatore 8/20/16
SEA Diaz Cishek Vincent 8/28/16 SD Maurer Quackenbush Hand 8/28/16
TEX Dyson Diekman Bush 8/27/16 SF Casilla Romo Strickland 8/29/16

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* = closer-by-committee

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Derek Law goes to the DL and Clay Buchholz could be a key reliever

August 29, 2016

San Francisco Giants — More bad news for the woebegone Giants over the weekend, as Derek Law, the team’s most effective reliever since the All-Star break, went on the disabled list with a right elbow strain. Law had Tommy John surgery in 2014, but says that an MRI showed only inflammation from scar tissue. Bruce Bochy said that he would lean on Hunter Strickland and Cory Gearrin in Law’s absence.

Updated hierarchy: Casilla | Romo | Strickland.

Boston Red Sox — Matt Barnes got the call in a very high-leverage spot for Boston, up two in the sixth, with one out and the bases loaded. It didn’t go well. Infield single, three-run triple, hit-by-pitch, fielder’s choice, single to left — the final word was three inherited runs allowed, plus five charged to his own account. Since the All-Star break, Barnes has an 8.62 ERA and 1.60 WHIP. As unlikely as it once seemed, Clay Buchholz could play a pivotal role as an eighth-inning reliever for Boston down the stretch.

Updated hierarchy: Kimbrel | Ziegler | Buchholz.

New York YankeesJonathan Holder is the 23-year-old closer for New York’s AAA affiliate in Scranton (the mighty RailRiders). He entered Sunday’s game in Rochester in the sixth inning, up two with two on and nobody out, and proceeded to strike out the next 11 hitters. After a bloop infield single, he finished the game with another strikeout, earning a 12-K, 4-IP save for the ages. The MLB record for consecutive strikeouts is 10 (Tom Seaver), and no one has ever struck out more than nine while earning a major league save. Keep an eye on Holder.

Hierarchy remains: Betances | Warren | Clippard.

VULTURE SAVE WATCH
1. Joe Blanton/Adam Liberatore, Los Angeles Dodgers — Kenley Jansen has pitched in three straight, five of six, and six of eight. Blanton has also seen some heavy use lately.
2. Neftali Feliz, Pittsburgh Pirates — Tony Watson has gone in four of five, and Feliz grabbed the last vulture save on Saturday.
3. John Axford, Oakland A’s — Ryan Madson pitched Saturday and Sunday; Monday could tell us whether Axford has slipped out of the backup closer role.
4. Joaquin Benoit, Toronto Blue Jays — Jason Grilli and Roberto Osuna have each pitched in two straight.

Feliz and Quackenbush record saves

August 28, 2016

Pittsburgh Pirates — As predicted in yesterday’s Vulture Save Watch, Tony Watson got the day off on Saturday and Neftali Feliz picked up the save.  Feliz should continue to fill in as closer when Watson is unavailable.

Hierarchy remains: Watson | Feliz | Rivero.

San Diego Padres — Kevin Quackenbush pitched a perfect ninth with two strikeouts for his first save of the season.  The Vulture Save Watch correctly predicted that Brandon Maurer would have Saturday off and that Quackenbush would get the save.  However, Brad Hand was available and pitched the eighth inning.  Quackenbush saved six games for the Padres down the stretch in 2014 and it looks like he has moved ahead of Hand in the Padres bullpen and could continue to see save chances when Maurer is not able to go.

Updated hierarchy: Maurer | Quackenbush | Hand. 

Seattle Mariners — The Mariners have placed Tom Wilhelmsen on the disabled list with back spasms.  Steve Cishek and Nick Vincent should help set-up Edwin Diaz while Wilhemsen is out.

Updated hierarchy: Diaz | Cishek | Vincent.

Colorado Rockies – Up until yesterday, Adam Ottavino’s ERA for 2015 and 2016 matched his jersey number; 0.  Ottavino blew the save on Saturday while giving up his first run since September 2014.  Ottavino had the longest active scoreless streak in the majors, but it was ended by the Washington Nationals, who ended Zach Britton’s streak just a few days earlier.

Hierarchy remains: Ottavino | Logan | Estevez.

VULTURE SAVE WATCH
1. Shawn Kelley, Washington Nationals – Mark Melancon has gone in three straight.
2. Joe Blanton, Los Angeles Dodgers – Kenley Jansen has pitched in back-to-back games and four of the past five.
3. A.J. Ramos, Miami Marlins – Fernando Rodney has appeared in three of the past four games.
4. Randall Delgado, Arizona Diamondbacks – Daniel Hudson got the last save opportunity but was unable to convert it so Delgado could get the next shot.