Latest update: May 23, 2013
Colorado Rockies – Rex Brothers pitched a scoreless ninth for his first save of the season. It appears Rafael Betancourt will avoid the disabled list and could be back tomorrow. However, Betancourt has a history of groin injuries so we will wait and see if he is actually ready to go that soon. No hierarchy change.
Pittsburgh Pirates – Mark Melancon picked up the save on Wednesday. As noted in yesterday’s Vulture Save Watch, Jason Grill had pitched three of the last four games. No hierarchy change.
Minnesota Twins – Josh Roenicke relieved Vance Worley in the 4th inning yesterday and his usage has been all over the place this season. Casey Fien pitched a scoreless 7th on Tuesday and has seen more action later in games. Hierarchy change: Casey Fien to 2nd in line, replacing Josh Roenicke.
At a glance:
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May 22, 2013
Colorado Rockies – Rafael Betancourt left Tuesday night’s game with what the team immediately described as a “tight right groin” — no real surprise given its recent workload. Betancourt was initially listed as day-to-day, but if Wednesday’s MRI leads to a DL stint, it’s likely that Rex Brothers will take over the closer role. Wilton Lopez is another option if Walt Weiss wants to play matchups or reduce the injury’s impact on the eighth inning. Hierarchy change: Rafael Betancourt injured, Rex Brothers to Closer, Wilton Lopez to Set-up.
Chicago Cubs – If Dale Sveum insists on using his best reliever, James Russell, in the sixth or seventh inning, and then trusting Carlos Marmol in the eighth, then yes, we will update the Cubs’ hierarchy accordingly. Just don’t expect us to be happy about it. Hierarchy change: Carlos Marmol to 2nd in line, replacing James Russell.
San Francisco Giants – Santiago Casilla returned to the disabled list with continued right knee trouble; he will see a specialist on Wednesday, and may even need surgery. Hierarchy change: Santiago Casilla to DL, Jeremy Affeldt to Set-up, Jean Machi to 2nd in line.
Miami Marlins – Marlins skipper Mike Redmond is prepared to use a bullpen-by-committee approach, naming Mike Dunn and Chad Qualls as potential ninth-inning options to complement the embattled Steve Cishek. Hierarchy change: Chad Qualls to 2nd in line, replacing A.J. Ramos.
Pittsburgh Pirates – With a win and two holds in the last week, Justin Wilson has moved ahead of Tony Watson in the Pirates’ pen. Hierarchy change: Justin Wilson to 2nd in line, replacing Tony Watson.
VULTURE SAVE WATCH
1. Rex Brothers/Wilton Lopez, Colorado Rockies — As noted above, Rafael Betancourt is out with a tight groin.
2. Mark Melancon/Justin Wilson, Pittsburgh Pirates – Jason Grilli has pitched in three of the last four games, including a grueling 35-pitch outing last night. Mark Melancon is slightly better rested, while Justin Wilson is rather fresh.
3. Josh Lueke/Kyle Farnsworth, Tampa Bay Rays – The Rays’ top three relievers have gotten a lot of work lately, including a 1.2-inning save for Fernando Rodney last night. Off a subpar 22-pitch outing of his own, Joel Peralta might be able to go tomorrow, but if you’re in the mood for an extremely speculative bullpen play, Josh Lueke and Kyle Farnsworth are the deep sleeper options.
4. Cory Gearrin, Atlanta Braves – Craig Kimbrel picked up the win last night; it was his fourth appearance in five games.
May 21, 2013
Boston Red Sox – Andrew Bailey was reactivated in time for Monday’s loss to the White Sox. Although he will return to the closer’s seat immediately, John Farrell is likely to limit his workload, at least initially. Hierarchy change: Andrew Bailey to Closer, Junichi Tazawa to Set-up, Koji Uehara to 2nd in line.
Baltimore Orioles – In under a week, a Jim Johnson blown save has gone from historical oddity to disturbing three-time trend. It’s likely that Johnson, never conventionally dominant, is simply reverting to the mean via a run of particularly bad luck. On the heels of a six-game losing streak in the competitive AL East, however, Buck Showalter may not long have the luxury of keeping faith in his large righthander. Jim Johnson to Hot Seat.
Philadelphia Phillies – Mike Adams was placed on the disabled list with a strained back, retroactive to May 11. He hopes to return by the 27th, but in the meantime, Charlie Manuel has indicated that Justin De Fratus will see more action. Hierarchy change: Antonio Bastardo to Set-up, Justin De Fratus to 2nd in line.
Kansas City Royals – After Kelvin Herrera surrendered his eighth home run in his last 14 innings on Sunday, Ned Yost announced Herrera’s demotion from the setup role. Hierarchy change: Aaron Crow to Set-up, Kelvin Herrera to 2nd in line.
Houston Astros – Hector Ambriz is again the first choice for Houston in the eighth innings of close games, while lefty Wesley Wright has been used in earlier matchup situations. Hierarchy change: Hector Ambriz to Set-up, Wesley Wright to 2nd in line.
Atlanta Braves – As predicted in Monday morning’s Vulture Save Watch, Cory Gearrin grabbed a weird one-out save on Monday after entering with two on and a four-run lead. No hierarchy change.
VULTURE SAVE WATCH
1. Vinnie Pestano, Cleveland Indians – Chris Perez struggled Monday in a 28-pitch outing and was lucky to avoid the loss. Although Pestano also pitched in that game, he might get the call if Perez is fatigued.
2. Brandon League, Los Angeles Dodgers – Brandon League could get a save on any night if Kenley Jansen is needed before the 9th.
May 20, 2013
Oakland A’s - Grant Balfour and Sean Doolittle both had the day off on Sunday after pitching the previous two days, so Ryan Cook got the call in the 9th inning. The righty made it interesting, allowing two runners to reach, but ultimately locked down his first save of the season. No hierarchy change.
Miami Marlins – Steve Cishek struggled after coming in with a man on 2nd and nobody out in the 9th inning against the Diamondbacks. He got 2 outs, but was lifted for set-up man Mike Dunn after a single and a walk. Dunn, who came in sporting a 1.77 ERA on the year, walked his first batter before closing the game out and leaving the bases loaded. The lefty is the best candidate to get save chances if Cishek is pulled from the closer role. Steve Cishek to Hot Seat.
VULTURE SAVE WATCH
1. Cory Gearrin/Luis Avilan, Atlanta Braves - Craig Kimbrel has pitched in three straight and should get the night off tonight. The Braves will likely play matchups in the 9th if they have a lead.
2. Carlos Martinez/Seth Maness, St. Louis Cardinals - Edward Mujica and Trevor Rosenthal have both pitched in three straight. Carlos Martinez or Seth Maness will likely get the call in the 9th tonight, if needed.
3. AJ Ramos, Miami Marlins - Steve Cishek has pitched in two straight and three of the last four, throwing 55 pitches in the process. Mike Dunn, meanwhile, has pitched in two straight and four of the last five. If they’re both rested tonight, AJ Ramos is the most likely candidate for a save chance.
4. Tanner Scheppers, Texas Rangers - Joe Nathan has pitched in back to back games and has yet to pitch on three straight days at any point this year.
5. Brandon League, Los Angeles Dodgers – Brandon League could get a save on any night if Jansen is needed before the 9th.
May 19, 2013
Los Angeles Dodgers – With 1 out in the 8th and the Dodgers up 1, Don Mattingly went to Kenley Jansen. Jansen immediately gave up a 2 run homer to Evan Gattis and ended up taking the loss. Mattingly will continue to use his best reliever Jansen in high pressure situations. For Kenley owners, hopefully these high-pressure situations will occur in the 9th inning more often than otherwise. However, it appears Brandon League will still see save opportunities on nights when Jansen is used prior to the 9th. Kenley Jansen to Hot Seat.
Milwaukee Brewers – John Axford got the final out of the 8th inning and stayed on to pitch a scoreless 9th with the game tied. He ended up getting the win after the Brewers scored two runs in the 10th inning, and if he continues to pitch well, he should work his way back towards the back end of the Brewers bullpen. Hierarchy change: John Axford to 2nd in line, replacing Burke Badenhop.
Atlanta Braves – Another day, another injury for the Braves bullpen. This time it was Eric O’Flaherty landing on the DL and he will visit Dr. James Andrews later this week so it doesn’t sound good. Cory Gearrin pitched the 8th yesterday and Freddi Gonzalez said after the game that he will use Gearrin and lefty Luis Avilan based on matchups. Hierarchy change: Cory Gearrin to set-up, Eric O’Flaherty to DL.
VULTURE SAVE WATCH
1. Brandon League, Los Angeles Dodgers – Brandon League could get a save on any night if Jansen is needed before the 9th.
2. Luke Gregerson, San Diego Padres – Huston Street has pitched in back to back nights and four of the last five.
3. Carlos Martinez, St. Louis Cardinals – Edward Mujica and Trevor Rosenthal have both pitched two nights in a row and three of the last four.
May 18, 2013
Tampa Bay Rays – As predicted in yesterday’s vulture save watch, Joel Peralta recorded the save last night. Fernando Rodney was warming up in the 9th but Joe Madden did not need to bring him in as Peralta pitched a perfect 9th. No hierarchy change.
Boston Red Sox – Koji Uehara picked up the save on Friday night. Junichi Tazawa pitched 2 innings while getting the win on Thursday night so it appears John Farrell wanted to give him a day off last night. Andrew Bailey is expected to come back on Monday and Farrell has already said that he will return to the close role. No hierarchy change.
Washington Nationals – Drew Storen picked up an extra-inning save last night. Rafael Soriano gave up 2 unearned runs in the 9th for the blown save and Tyler Clippard had already appeared in the game. No hierarchy change.
Atlanta Braves – Jordan Walden was placed on the DL Friday due to right shoulder inflammation. Luis Avilan pitched the 7th inning ahead of O’Flaherty and Kimbrel and picked up his 5th hold of the season. Hierarchy change: Luis Avilan to 2nd in line, Jordan Walden to DL.
Cleveland Indians – Vinnie Pestano returned from the DL last night and picked up the win in extra innings. He should immediately take over the set-up role. Hierarchy change: Vinnie Pestano to Set-up, Joe Smith to 2nd in line.
VULTURE SAVE WATCH
1. Tyler Clippard, Washington Nationals – Rafael Soriano has pitched in two straight games and hasn’t pitched in three straight yet this season.
2. Matt Thornton, Chicago White Sox – Addison Reed and Jesse Crain have both pitched two nights in a row and three of the last four.
3. Luke Gregerson, San Diego Padres – Huston Street took the loss in extra innings last night and has pitched in three of the last four games