April 14, 2018
St. Louis Cardinals — In a clear save opportunity, the Cardinals opted to go with Bud Norris over $14 million man Greg Holland. Norris put the tying runs on base, but managed to escape unscathed. Even as Norris was struggling, Holland wasn’t warming up, although Mike Matheny likes whoever is closing to feel trusted, “like the king of the world,” so don’t read too much into that. After the game, Matheny said Holland would “get his opportunity, but we’ve got to get him feeling really good about his stuff before we do that.” We still think that Holland will close soon, but his leash may be shorter than usual with Norris pitching well.
Hierarchy remains: Holland | Norris | Hicks.
Houston Astros — In a one-run game with everyone available in the bullpen, it was Chris Devenski who got the call in the ninth, instead of Ken Giles. Devenski struck out the side around a single and a hit batsman to become the third Astro to earn a save this season. AJ Hinch has said previously that he won’t set full-time roles for the bullpen, and although he likes the flexibility of using Devenski and Peacock over multiple innings, we have to be honest and call this a committee. We still like Giles as the leader for saves, but the situation is more complicated than his owners would like.
Updated hierarchy: *Giles | Devenski | Peacock.
Los Angeles Angels — After a day of rest, Keynan Middleton was right back in the ninth inning, picking up his second straight save. Middleton definitely is the favorite in LA right now, but with Mike Scioscia pulling the strings, we are reluctant to kick this asterisk just yet.
Hierarchy remains: *Middleton | Bedrosian | Parker.
* = closer-by-committee
New York Yankees — It’s time to talk about how bad Dellin Betances has been this year. Three homers allowed in six appearances; a WHIP higher than his ERA in 2014 or 2015; and, last night, an inability to get through the eighth with a five-run lead. Betances was hit so hard that he told reporters it wouldn’t have helped if he had thrown the rosin bag. There’s no hierarchy change following, though, because Aaron Boone continues to trust the big righthander: “He’s very close to where we need to him to be and we’ll continue to put him out there.” Chad Green would be likeliest to benefit if Betances continues to struggle.
Hierarchy remains: Chapman | Robertson | Betances.
Colorado Rockies — Adam Ottavino has been on fire to start the season, racking up 18 strikeouts in his 8.2 innings, and he picked up his third hold of the season by closing out the eighth Friday night. Bryan Shaw has been good, pitching a clean seventh inning ahead of Ottavino, but Ottavino’s recent usage suggests he’s ahead of Shaw at this point.
Updated hierarchy: Davis | McGee | Ottavino.
Tampa Bay Rays — Alex Colome’s seat is getting hotter and hotter. Although manager Kevin Cash called last night’s outing — where Colome struck out the side, but also allowed two hits and the go-ahead run — a “step in the right direction,” Colome’s 2018 has been marked by hard contact and earned runs. Sergio Romo and Jose Alvarado are lurking.
Hierarchy remains: Colome | Romo | Alvarado.
Kansas City Royals — The Royals sent Brandon Maurer down to Omaha after a disappointing start to his season. Manager Ned Yost said Maurer needed to get his confidence back, and that he had been “pressing” too much since spring training. Kevin McCarthy was called up to take his place, and pitched a scoreless inning last night after Justin Grimm was charged with a blown save. McCarthy, who closed for a few years in the minors, may find his way to the later innings eventually, but for now we expect lefty Tim Hill and 22-year-old Brad Keller to take on bigger roles.
Updated hierarchy: Herrera | Grimm | Hill.
VULTURE SAVE WATCH
1. Juan Nicasio/Nick Vincent — Edwin Diaz has pitched in three of four, including 21 pitches last night. Juan Nicasio has gone in two of three, so Vincent might get the chance.
1. Archie Bradley/Yoshihisa Hirano — If Brad Boxberger and/or Bradley pitch Saturday, it will be three of four.
2. AJ Minter/Jose Ramirez — Same for Arodys Vizcaino and/or Minter (four of five)
3. Jake McGee — Same situation for Wade Davis . . .
4. David Robertson — . . . Aroldis Chapman . . .
5. Luis Garcia/Adam Morgan — . . . and Hector Neris.