April 21, 2017
Philadelphia Phillies – In his seemingly continuous quest to frustrate fantasy team owners, Phillies manager Pete Mackanin opted to use his newly anointed closer Joaquin Benoit in the eighth inning Thursday to face the 4-5-6 hitters, giving likely closer-of-the-future Hector Neris a shot in the ninth. Neris slammed the door shut for his first save of the year. After the game, Mackanin said, “I was going to use Benoit for the time being. It just occurred to me: It’s nice to have two guys who can close. It was a good opportunity for me to use Neris. He came through very well.” Furthermore, he called Benoit and Neris guys he trusts in the late innings, refused to actually name a closer and then refused to call the situation a closer-by-committee. We’ll do Mackanin’s job for him by calling this a committee and sliding Neris to the top — he’s much younger and better than Benoit — though Benoit may get save chances as Mackanin sees fit.
Updated hierarchy: *Neris | Benoit | Ramos.
* = closer-by-committee
Houston Astros – Chris Devenski is off to a blistering start this year for the Astros and manager A.J. Hinch opted to use the reliever to finish the seventh and pitch the eighth and ninth innings, too, with a slim lead. Devenski ran into some trouble in the ninth — and actual closer Ken Giles was warming in the bullpen just in case — but Devenski closed the door for his first save of the year. But why him and not Giles? “I trust him as much as any pitcher I hand the ball to,” Hinch said, citing that his pitcher had such a clean eighth inning that he didn’t want to take him out. “He’s been exceptional.” Writers in Houston are calling Devenski the team’s relief ace — and who could blame them? He now has an astounding 25 strikeouts in 13.1 innings this year, good for a 16.88 K/9 mark. At worst, he’ll be in line for a number of holds and perhaps a few more save opportunities if he keeps this Andrew Miller-like impression going.
Updated hierarchy: Giles | Gregerson | Devenski.
New York Mets — Jeurys Familia returned from his 15-game domestic-violence suspension and tossed a scoreless ninth inning Thursday for the Mets in a 6-4 loss. Manager Terry Collins planned to pitch Familia in a non-save situation Thursday, with the hope he’d return him to the role as early as Friday.
Updated hierarchy: Familia | Reed | Salas.
Washington Nationals — The new Nationals closer committee got off on the right foot Thursday, with Koda Glover nailing down the final two outs of the eighth and Shawn Kelley finishing things off in the ninth for his second save. Expect Kelley to get the bulk of the opportunities, for now.
Hierarchy remains: *Kelley | Glover | Treinen.
* = closer-by-committee
Detroit Tigers — The Tigers’ top relief prospect, Joe Jimenez, is reportedly getting called up from Triple A Friday to take the roster spot of injured infielder Jose Iglesias. The 22-year-old has dominated hitters this year in the minors (10 Ks, 0 ER in 5 appearances) and may factor quickly into the Tigers’ late-inning plans. We’ll see how Brad Ausmus uses him.
Hierarchy remains: Rodriguez | J. Wilson | A. Wilson.
Milwaukee Brewers – As predicted in yesterday’s Vulture Save Watch, Jacob Barnes was called upon in the ninth inning Thursday and finished the job for his first save of the year. Neftali Feliz and Corey Knebel were both unavailable.
Hierarchy remains: Feliz | Knebel | Barnes.
VULTURE SAVE WATCH
1. Matt Barnes — Red Sox manager John Farrell opted to use Craig Kimbrel in relief of a dominant Chris Sale in the 9th inning Thursday and Kimbrel blew the save, allowing a tying home run to Kendry Morales. Kimbrel stayed on to pitch the 10th and gather the win, but he threw 30 pitches in the process. If he’s unavailable Friday, Barnes will likely get the opportunity.
2. Corey Knebel — Neftali Feliz has been used a lot lately (three out of four before Thursday, including a nightmare 33-pitch outing Wednesday). He rested Thursday, but if he needs more rest Friday, Knebel could get the call.
3. Ryan Buchter — Brandon Maurer has pitched in two straight and three of the last four days. Assuming he’ll need a rest Friday, Ryan Buchter would slide in if the opportunity presents itself.
4. Koda Glover — Shawn Kelley threw 21 pitches Thursday and the Nationals don’t like using him on back-to-back days, so expect Glover to have a turn.
1. Matt Barnes — If Kimbrel pitches again Friday, he’ll likely be out Saturday.
2. Darren O’Day — Brad Brach has gone in two straight games entering today. If he goes again Friday, he certainly won’t be available Saturday, giving O’Day an opportunity.
3. Joaquin Benoit/Edubray Ramos — If Hector Neris pitches again Friday, he likely won’t be available Saturday as that would be three appearances in four days. If Benoit AND Ramos both pitch again Friday, Edubray Ramos could get a look Saturday.