Cesar Valdez and Lou Trivino establishing themselves in their respective bullpens

April 17, 2021

Baltimore Orioles — with a 3 run lead in the 9th the Orioles went with Cesar Valdez to close out the game. He pitched a clean inning for his third save of the year. The only other reliever to record a save for Baltimore was Paul Fry in extra innings. While the Orioles announced that their closer’s role would be a committee with Hunter Harvey out, Valdez seems ready to kick the asterisk, and one more clean save will be enough to do it.

Hierarchy remains: *Valdez | Scott | Armstrong.
* = closer-by-committee

Oakland A’s — With everyone rested, the Athletics went Petit in the 7th, Diekman in the 8th, and Trivino in the 9th. Since Bob Melvin tapped Trivino as a closing option, he has two saves, which is two more than anyone else on the team. He was also warming up for a potential save situation recently, only to see the A’s score enough runs to prevent a save opportunity. While Diekman hasn’t been bad in the early going, it’s clear that Melvin sees Trivino as his top option in the 9th inning, and that’s enough to remove the asterisk.

Hierarchy remains: Trivino | Diekman | Petit.

Miami Marlins – Since falling out of the closer’s role, Anthony Bass has been excellent.  He picked up the win last night with a scoreless 8th inning of a tie game and is now holding a modest 4 game scoreless streak. While Bass may not resume closing as long as Yimi Garcia stays hot, he’s at least seeing higher leverage innings.

Updated hierarchy: Garcia | Bleier | Bass.

VULTURE SAVE WATCH
Today
1. Tanner Rainey/Daniel Hudson (WAS) – Brad Hand has pitched back to back, and the Nationals may watch his workload early in the season. Hudson has also gone back to back, while Rainey is well-rested.
2. Sean Newcomb/ AJ Minter (ATL) – Today would be back to back and 3 of 4 for Will Smith (who threw 34 pitches yesterday). However, nobody in the Atlanta bullpen is very well-rested. Newcomb also threw 29 pitches yesterday and AJ minter has already pitched back to back, so this save may fall to Tyler Matzek.
3. Blake Treinen/Corey Knebel (LAD)– The Dodgers have already shown that they will manage Kenly Jansen’s workload, so after a 26 pitch outing last night, expect someone else to get the call today. Like Atlanta, this bullpen needs rest so keep an eye on Scott Alexander, who has a couple of days rest.

Tomorrow:
1. Tanner Scott (BAL) – Cesar Valdez threw 20 pitches yesterday so another long outing could earn him a rest day on Sunday.
2. Joe Smith (HOU) – Today would be back to back and 3 of 4 for Ryan Pressly.
3. Emilio Pagan/Drew Pomeranz (SD) – Mark Melancon threw 2 innings yesterday, so another outing today would likely keep him out Sunday.

Updated MLB Closer Depth Chart

Closer1st in line2nd in lineUpdatedCloser1st in line2nd in lineUpdated
BAL*ValdezScottArmstrong4/17/21ATLSmithNewcombMinter4/11/21
BOSBarnesOttavinoHernandez4/15/21MIAY.GarciaBleierBass4/17/21
NYYChapmanGreenO'Day4/10/21NYMDiazMayCastro4/9/21
TB*CastilloReedThompson4/10/21PHINerisAlvaradoCoonrod4/12/21
TOR*RomanoDolisMayza4/16/21WASHandHudsonRainey4/10/21
        
CHWHendriksBummerMarshall3/3/21CHCKimbrelChafinBrothers4/13/21
CLE*ClaseKarinchakWittgren4/16/21CIN*GarrettSimsDoolittle4/13/21
DET*B.GarciaSotoFarmer4/15/21MILHaderWilliamsSuter4/8/21
KC*HollandStaumontZimmer4/16/21PIT*RodriguezCrickStratton4/2/21
MIN*ColomeRogersRobles4/6/21STLReyesGallegosHicks4/9/21
        
HOUPresslySmithParedes4/4/21ARI*CrichtonGinkelClarke4/8/21
LAAIglesiasMayersCishek4/6/21COLBardGivensAlmonte4/1/21
OAKTrivinoDiekmanPetit4/17/21LADJansenKnebelTreinen4/16/21
SEA*MonteroGravemanMiddleton4/16/21SD*MelanconPaganPomeranz4/16/21
TEXKennedySborzKing4/10/21SFMcGeeRogersPeralta4/12/21

* = closer-by-committee

Everyone seems to be getting a save in Seattle and Kansas City

April 16, 2021

Seattle Mariners – It sure looks like a committee is taking shape in Seattle. Kendall Graveman and Keynan Middleton each earned their second save of the year in both ends of a doubleheader on Thursday. Rafael Montero, who also has two saves this season, pitched the sixth inning to set up Graveman in game one. Manager Scott Servais said he used the pitchers in that order because of the pockets of hitters due up in each inning. Both pitchers did not pitch in the nightcap. So who is the closer? It’s complicated, but it seems Montero leads the group, for now. 

Updated hierarchy: *Montero | Graveman | Middleton.
* = closer-by-committee

Toronto Blue Jays – Jordan Romano has joined Julian Merryweather on the injured list. Look for Rafael Dolis to lead a beleaguered bullpen in the meantime. 

Updated hierarchy: *Dolis | Mayza | Thornton.
* = closer-by-committee

Cleveland Indians – Manager Terry Francona had a slim lead Thursday, so he turned to his three best late-inning arms to close things out. Nick Wittgren pitched a scoreless seventh inning, James Karinchak nailed down a scoreless eighth and Emannuel Clase tossed a scoreless ninth for his third save. Clase has looked terrific (0.00 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, 7 Ks in 5.1 IP) and it appears he’s the guy, at least for now. 

Hierarchy remains: *Clase | Karinchak | Wittgren.
* = closer-by-committee

Kansas City Royals — One of the cloudier bullpen situations in baseball got even murkier Thursday when Scott Barlow pitched the final two innings to earn his first save. He is now the fifth Royal to have a save over the first 11 games. There was little reporting after the game about the team’s closer situation, so a lot of uncertainty remains. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ What else do we say? 

Hierarchy remains: *Holland | Staumont | Zimmer.
* = closer-by-committee

Los Angeles Dodgers — It was a special night in Los Angeles on Thursday as David Price pitched a clean ninth to earn his first save since the 2008 ALCS. Manager Dave Roberts said he told Price before the game he’d get the opportunity to close if the situation presented itself. When Price converted to close Jackie Robinson Day across Major League Baseball, Roberts said, “I think (it) capped a really good night off.” Price could be looking at some high-leverage bullpen work moving forward, so we’ll track his upcoming usage. 

Hierarchy remains: Jansen | Knebel | Treinen.

San Diego Padres — Craig Stammen pitched the final three innings of the team’s 8-3 victory Thursday to earn his first save of the season in unconventional style. He shouldn’t factor into the team’s late-inning plans very often. 

Hierarchy remains: *Melancon | Pagan | Pomeranz.
* = closer-by-committee

VULTURE SAVE WATCH
Today:
1. Kendall Graveman (SEA) — Rafael Montero has pitched in four of six.
2. Sean Newcomb (ATL) — Even with an off day Thursday, Will Smith has gone in four of six.

Saturday:
1. Trevor May (NYM) — If he goes Friday, that would be three of four for Edwin Diaz.
2. Adam Ottavino (BOS) — Same as above for Matt Barnes.
3. Gregory Soto (DET) — Ditto for Bryan Garcia.
4. Sean Newcomb (ATL) — A Friday appearance would be five of seven for Will Smith.
5. Dylan Floro (MIA) — A Friday outing would be three of five for Yimi Garcia.

Jordan Romano the latest Blue Jay to hit the IL

April 15, 2021

Toronto Blue Jays – The Jays again lost their committee leader to the IL, as Jordan Romano will miss time with right ulnar neuritis. Rafael Dolis is likely the first choice for saves now as Toronto will try to patchwork its way through the late innings. Tim Mayza and Trent Thornton could also figure in.

Updated hierarchy: *Dolis | Mayza | Thornton.
* = closer-by-committee

Bryan Garcia nearly earns a Houdini

April 15, 2021

Detroit Tigers — Up three in the eighth and facing the top of the Astros order, AJ Hinch turned to Gregory Soto, perhaps hoping that the 26-year-old could get a six-out save. But Soto loaded the bases (error, walk, hit) and even an inning-ending double play couldn’t get him a shot at the ninth — that was left, for some reason, for Jose Cisnero, whose two appearances earlier in the week each involved earned runs. Cisnero loaded the bases as quickly as possible, daring Bryan Garcia to really earn a save, and wouldn’t you know it, the youngster stepped up, striking out two around a flyout — and even throwing in a walk to keep Cisnero’s ER streak alive. It’s the little things. There’s nothing remotely solid here, but we like Garcia to get the next shot after a performance like that. 
 
Updated hierarchy: *Garcia | Soto | Farmer.
* = closer-by-committee

Boston Red Sox — In Wednesday’s opener, 24-year-old Darwinzon Hernandez picked up his second straight hold directly in front of Matt Barnes. It looks like Alex Cora trusts Hernandez over Hirokazu Sawamura at this point.

Updated hierarchy: Barnes | Ottavino | Hernandez.

Kansas City Royals — Josh Staumont’s immediate return from the injured list suggests a brief brush with COVID-19 that did not involve a positive test. He looked none the worse for wear, delivering two scoreless innings to pick up a hold.

Updated hierarchy: *Holland | Staumont | Zimmer.
* = closer-by-committee

Toronto Blue Jays — As Toronto waits to see how serious Julian Merryweather’s left oblique strain will be, Rafael Dolis picked up a win after pitching the ninth in a tie game. Jordan Romano is likely to see any Thursday save chance.

Hierarchy remains: *Romano | Dolis | Mayza.
* = closer-by-committee

VULTURE SAVE WATCH
Today:
1. Sean Newcomb/AJ Minter (ATL) — Will Smith has pitched in four of five. Newcomb pitched yesterday, while Minter has had two days off.
2. Kendall Graveman (SEA) — Rafael Montero has pitched in three of five, plus Seattle has a doubleheader today.
3. Richard Bleier/Dylan Floro (MIA) — Yimi Garcia has gone in two of three.
4. Trevor May (NYM) — Edwin Diaz has pitched on two straight days.
5. Adam Ottavino (BOS) — So has Matt Barnes.

Friday:
1. Buck Farmer/Alex Lange (DET) — Soto and Garcia (and Cisnero) have been used a lot recently, which could present an opportunity for one of these two.