Vulture save lottery tickets galore on the penultimate day of the season

September 30, 2017

Chicago Cubs — The Cubs took the lead in the eighth inning last night, and brought in the already-warm Justin Grimm for the ninth. Grimm pitched a perfect inning to pick up his first save of the year. Grimm has had a tough year, and doesn’t normally figure into the late inning plans for Chicago, but the Cubs have locked up the division, and are looking to rest their top relievers going into the playoffs. We won’t update the hierarchy based on this, but keep an eye on the vulture save watch section as the Cubs may provide a good opportunity this weekend.

Hierarchy remains: Davis | Edwards | Strop.

Miami Marlins — Brad Ziegler got a rare one-pitch double-play save for his 10th of the year. The last time this happened was David Robertson on September 29 last year. The Marlins committee will continue through the weekend as they finish up another year outside the playoffs.

Hierarchy remains: *Barraclough | Ziegler | Steckenrider.
* = closer-by-committee

This weekend provides some unique vulture save opportunities. The Twins, Nationals, Cubs and Diamondbacks all have locked in their playoff positions, and may be looking to rest their normal relievers, so they will appear in the VSW despite the fact that their late inning usage may not seem to indicate it. This is the order we think has the best chance at a vulture save this weekend.

1. Justin Wilson/Hector Rondon — Joe Maddon has already indicated he wants to rest Wade Davis, CJ Edwards, and Pedro Strop ahead of the playoff matchup with the Nationals. If the Cubs hold a late lead, they will likely turn to Wilson or Rondon this weekend.
2. Archie Bradley — Fernando Rodney has been excellent this year, but with the Diamondbacks locked into the top wild card in the NL, the Diamondbacks may rest the 40-year-old to be ready for the playoffs.
3. Bryan Shaw — Cody Allen pitched the seventh inning of a blowout last night, and was previously rested to be ready for the playoffs. Expect the Indians to be cautious with their closer for the last two games, with an eye on the postseason.
4. Chris Devenski — Ken Giles recorded a save last night and has now pitched in back-to-back games. The Astros could still challenge for the best record in the AL, but probably won’t burn out Giles in order to do it.
5. Tyler Duffey — The Twins leaned heavily on their bullpen in their playoff push; now that their spot is secured, they may rest their top arms and give the well-rested Duffey a chance to lock up any saves.
6. Brandon Kintzler — The Nationals are already pretty well-rested, but if they decide not to overwork Sean Doolittle, Kintzler would be the beneficiary.  He’s still lookimg for save number 30.
7. Joakim Soria — Mike Minor got the save last night for the Royals and he has now pitched in three of the last four.
8. Matt Bush — Alex Claudio has pitched in back-to-back games for the Rangers.
9. Anthony Swarzak/Josh Hader — The Brewers need to win out to have any chance at the playoffs, but Corey Knebel has gone back-to-back and in three of four, including giving up two runs last night. Milwaukee may have to rest him for one of these two games, and while Hader is better-rested, Swarzak has been pitching better recently.
1. Addison Reed/David Price — Craig Kimbrel pitched last night, and the Red Sox may have wrapped up the AL East race by Sunday. Reed or David Price may get a save opportunity as a result.
2. Cam Bedrosian — If either Blake Parker or Yusmiero Petit pitches today, that would be back-to-back and three out of four.