The Nationals are ever more desperate for a closer

July 15, 2017

Washington Nationals — When Matt Albers loaded the bases in the ninth inning with a five-run lead, it gave Matt Grace a chance to earn his first career save. Albers’s struggles highlight Washington’s continuing weakness in the bullpen, which we expect to be addressed through trade in the next two weeks. K-Rod, it seems, will not be the answer.

Hierarchy remains: *Albers | Romero | Treinen.
* = closer-by-committee

Houston Astros – Will Harris has been placed on the disabled list with inflammation in his throwing shoulder, and will be out until at least next Friday.

Updated hierarchy: Giles | Devenski | Gregerson.

Arizona Diamondbacks — Jake Barrett has made a few successful appearances since his return from a shoulder injury, reclaiming his old role at the back end of the Arizona bullpen.

Updated hierarchy: Rodney | Bradley | Barrett.

Pittsburgh Pirates — Tony Watson pitched a clean seventh inning in a tie game last night. The Pirates may simply be showcasing him for a trade, but Watson has responded by giving up a run in only one of his last twelve appearances, earning a place in the late-inning mix and our hierarchy.

Updated hierarchy: Rivero | Nicasio | Watson.

Baltimore Orioles — Zach Britton pitched the eighth ahead of Brad Brach on Friday. Speculators should target Brach and his owners should hold him; the floundering Orioles may move Britton either to the Nationals (as a closer) or the Dodgers (as a world-class setup guy, giving Kenley Jansen goose bumps).

Hierarchy remains: Britton | Brach | O’Day.

St. Louis Cardinals — Seung Hwan Oh came on in a tied ninth and gave up a three-run homer for his fifth loss of the year. This season, The Final Boss is less of a Mike Tyson and more of a Birdo.

Hierarchy remains: Oh | Rosenthal | Cecil.

Texas Rangers — With two lefties due up in the ninth, Texas turned to their committee lefty, Alex Claudio, to protect a two-run lead. He pitched a perfect inning for his second save of the season, and will continue to be a major part of the Rangers committee until and unless they bring in some outside help.

Hierarchy remains: *Leclerc | Claudio | Bush.
* = closer-by-committee

Milwaukee Brewers — Rookie Josh Hader picked up his second hold of the season, striking out the last two batters of the seventh inning. Hader is a solid prospect who has transitioned well to the majors since his callup on June 9, sporting a 0.69 ERA and a 1.08 WHIP to go with a solid strikeout rate. While he won’t crack the hierarchy just yet, and he projects as a starter long-term, he’s still a hard-throwing lefty on a contender that should give him plenty of hold chances.

Hierarchy remains: Knebel | Barnes | Hughes.

VULTURE SAVE WATCH
Today:
1. David Phelps — AJ Ramos threw 29 pitches in a loss on Friday.

Sunday:
1. Dellin Betances/Chad Green — Aroldis Chapman threw 23 pitches on Friday, making three straight appearances unlikely. Betances was used for 20 pitches himself. Green should get Saturday off after a 30-pitch outing on Friday.
2. Hunter Strickland — Sam Dyson also ran up his pitch count on Friday.

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