Tampa Bay Rays

RofafTampa Bay Rays Fantasy Baseball Daily Bullpen Updates and Closer Depth Chart

Closer1st in line2nd in line2019 CloserUpdated
TBAlex ColomeJose AlvaradoSergio RomoAlex Colome5/25/18

Previous updates:

May 25, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays — It’s official. Rays manager Kevin Cash will use relievers to open each of the three games this weekend. Sergio Romo will start on Friday and Sunday, with Ryne Stanek taking the ball Saturday. The theory here is that the Orioles, like the Angels last weekend, are righty-heavy at the top of their order, so using a strong reliever to mow them down early will soften them up for the long reliever who follows. We’ll see how long this trend continues, but if Romo is starting games half of the time, he’s out of the running for vulture saves and holds. Jose Alvarado and Chaz Roe should pick up the slack. We’ll keep an eye on this fascinating strategy.

Updated hierarchy: Colome | Alvarado | Romo.

May 20, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays – Sergio Romo made his first major league start yesterday, and struck out the side in a perfect inning.  Since it went so well, the Rays have decided to start Romo again on Sunday.  Once he stops starting, he should return to his role at the back end of the Rays bullpen, but in the meantime, Jose Alvarado and Chaz Roe should help set-up Alex Colome.

Hierarchy remains: Colome | Romo | Alvarado.

May 4, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays – Welcome back to the major leagues, Jonny Venters! He hasn’t pitched since the 2012 playoffs, when Hall of Famer Chipper Jones was still active. Venters, now 33, underwent an incredible 3.5 Tommy John surgeries to get to this point, and the lefty specialist has allowed just one hit in 2.1 innings since his call-up.

Hierarchy remains: Colome | Romo | Alvarado.

May 1, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays – Jose Alvarado got the last two outs of the game on Monday night to pick up his first career save. Alex Colome and Sergio Romo had each pitched in three of the previous four.

Hierarchy remains: Colome | Romo | Alvarado.

April 28, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays — Chaz Roe got the last two outs of the eighth inning to pick up his sixth hold of the year, putting him among the league leaders on the season, alongside teammate Jose Alvarado. Roe has been good in the early going, earning himself late-inning looks since starting the season in mop-up duty, and if Sergio Romo continues to struggle, Roe may crack the hierarchy soon. Either way, he’ll stay a good source of holds as long as he keeps getting situational chances.

Hierarchy remains: Colome | Romo | Alvarado.

April 14, 2018
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.

April 11, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays – Alex Colome hasn’t quite been the same closer that recorded 47 saves a year ago. On Tuesday, he allowed a pair of inherited runners to score courtesy of a three-run homer before walking the potential tying run. Colome got out of the jam to earn his second straight shaky save, but there is cause for concern, especially when he is just a few days removed from his second blown save of the season. Colome doesn’t seem too worried about it, while manager Kevin Cash doesn’t think it’s a mechanical thing. Sergio Romo will likely get Wednesday’s save chance, as Colome has pitched each of the last three days, and Romo may be worth a stash in case Colome can’t snap out of his funk.

Hierarchy remains: Colome | Romo | Alvarado.

March 27, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays – Two veteran relievers that appeared to be strong candidates for set-up roles at the start of the spring — Daniel Hudson and Dan Jennings — didn’t even make the roster and will be seeking employment elsewhere. The moves were both a bit surprising — Hudson couldn’t get anyone out all spring (15.19 ERA) but was the player that the Rays acquired for Corey Dickerson; while Jennings had posted four straight scoreless outings after a rough first appearance — but at any rate, it’s now likely that the Rays will use veteran Sergio Romo and hard-throwing youngster Jose Alvarado to bridge the gap to Alex Colome.

Updated hierarchy: Colome | Romo | Alvarado.

February 26, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays — The Rays’ bullpen may soon look different if the team continues to gut the roster. For now, Alex Colome will return as closer after a 47-save campaign in 2017. There has been trade interest in Colome, though, and he probably projects as a setup man if he’s dealt. If Colome stays, Dan Jennings and newly acquired Daniel Hudson will share setup duties, with Sergio Romo, Ryne Stanek, and Andrew Kittredge all holds candidates.

Starting 2018 hierarchy: Colome | Hudson | Jennings.
Holds candidates: Jennings, Romo, Stanek.

August 31, 2017
Tampa Bay Rays — Steve Cishek pitched two scoreless innings in middle relief last night, his fifteenth appearance since being acquired from Seattle. He hasn’t given up a run yet, and he’s rung up 16 strikeouts against only six hits and four walks.

Updated hierarchy: Colome | Hunter | Cishek.

August 29, 2017
Tampa Bay Rays – Matt Andriese, a former starter who was activated earlier in the day, picked up the save last night, pitching the final three innings of a blowout and extending the Royals’ scoreless streak to a stunning 43 consecutive innings. Andriese should return to the rotation shortly and, obviously, won’t factor into the Tampa bullpen going forward.

Hierarchy remains: Colome | Hunter | Boxberger.

August 2, 2017
Tampa Bay Rays — Tommy Hunter (1.75 ERA, 0.97 WHIP) picked up his fourth eighth-inning hold in his last five appearances on Tuesday. When Alex Colome is unavailable, expect Hunter to get the ball in the ninth.

Updated hierarchy: Colome | Hunter | Boxberger.

July 29, 2017
Tampa Bay Rays — The Rays acquired Steve Cishek in a trade that sent Erasmo Ramirez to Seattle. Cishek has been okay for the Mariners this year (3.15 ERA, 15:7 K/BB ratio), but we’re not ready to slot him above Tommy Hunter (1.93 ERA, 10.5 K/9) or Dan Jennings just yet.

Hierarchy remains: Colome | Boxberger | Hunter.

July 28, 2017
Tampa Bay Rays — The Rays acquired Dan Jennings from the White Sox on Thursday, and Jennings entered last night’s game in the seventh inning, allowing two hits and one run on just eight pitches before getting pulled. He’ll hang around the late-innings for Tampa Bay, but we’ll monitor his usage to see where exactly he slots in.

Hierarchy remains: Colome | Boxberger | Hunter.

July 5, 2017
Tampa Bay Rays — Alex Colome nearly blew a three-run lead against the Cubs yesterday, but he was able to convert the save. It was Colome’s fifth straight appearance in which he allowed an earned run; he’s given up 10 earned runs in that five-game stretch. Kevin Cash didn’t suggest a change was imminent and Colome surprisingly only has one blown save in this recent stretch that has ballooned his ERA to 4.10. While Colome’s job doesn’t appear to be in jeopardy, former closer Brad Boxberger is looming and Colome’s leash has to be a little bit shorter.

Hierarchy remains: Colome | Boxberger | Hunter.

June 29, 2017
Tampa Bay Rays — Brad Boxberger was activated from the DL following Wednesday’s game, taking the place of Danny Farquhar, who was designated for assignment. Farquhar has the stuff and the experience to wind up on another major league roster immediately, either through waivers or a trade. Tampa has a lot of mediocre options in middle relief, so we’ll slot Boxberger right into his old (2014) setup role for now.

Updated hierarchy: Colome | Boxberger | Hunter.

June 28, 2017
Tampa Bay Rays — After Alex Colome suffered his second straight rough outing, Tommy Hunter nabbed his first save since 2015 by pitching a scoreless 10th inning. The save, coupled with a solid five-out hold on Sunday, has bumped Hunter into the hierarchy for the time being. As for Colome, after the game manager Kevin Cash said he’s not going to read much into his closer’s recent struggles. Help is on the way, however, as Brad Boxberger may be activated as early as today after what should have been his final rehab outing on Tuesday. Cash mentioned that Boxberger and Erasmo Ramirez could both see some high-leverage spots ahead of Colome, though Hunter, Jumbo Diaz and Danny Farquhar will likely be in the mix too.

Updated hierarchy: Colome | Farquhar | Hunter.

June 24, 2017
Tampa Bay Rays — Austin Pruitt pitched a scoreless three innings in a blowout to earn his first career save. You know the routine: first person to send us a screenshot with him in your fantasy lineup last night earns free Premium!

Hierarchy remains: Colome | Farquhar | Diaz.

June 22, 2017
Tampa Bay Rays — Chase Whitley escaped a bases-loaded jam up five in the eighth and stayed on for the ninth inning to pick up a five-out save. Meanwhile, Brad Boxberger had a final rehab outing to forget, walking twice as many batters as he retired.

Hierarchy remains: Colome | Farquhar | Diaz.

June 18, 2017
Tampa Bay Rays – Jumbo Diaz picked up the eighth inning hold ahead of closer Alex Colome yesterday.  That was his second eighth inning hold since returning from the disabled list a week ago, and it appears the Rays trust him in the later innings again after his struggles in May.

Updated hierarchy: Colome | Farquhar | Diaz.

May 29, 2017
Tampa Bay Rays – Erasmo Ramirez, who had been shifted to the rotation less than two weeks ago, was summoned in the 15th inning of Sunday’s marathon game against the Twins, where he picked up his first save of the season. Amazingly, Ramirez still plans to start today for the Rays. That’s pretty cool.

Hierarchy remains: Colome | Farquhar | Alvarado.

May 18, 2017
Tampa Bay Rays — With Erasmo Ramirez returning to the Rays’ rotation yet again, Jose Alvarado should see even more late-inning opportunities.

Updated hierarchy: Colome | Farquhar | Alvarado.

May 17, 2017
Tampa Bay Rays — Jose Alvarado pitched two 1-2-3 innings over the 7th and 8th frames, including a clean trip through the heart of Cleveland’s order, to help maintain a 6-4 lead on Tuesday. It was his second straight hold, and Kevin Cash praised the 21-year-old lefty after the game. Alvarado has not allowed a run since a rough debut on May 3, allowing just two hits and zero walks over his last 6.2 innings. He does only have two strikeouts during that span, but he will be worth keeping an eye on as the season progresses and his confidence grows.

Hierarchy remains: Colome | Farquhar | Ramirez.

May 13, 2017
Tampa Bay Rays — Erasmo Ramirez has returned from his stint as a spot starter and seems to have reclaimed his role as the Rays’ middle-inning specialist.

Updated hierarchy: Colome | Farquhar | Ramirez.

May 3, 2017
Tampa Bay Rays — Alex Colome made his third appearance in as many days, but it was who pitched in front of him that raised some eyebrows. Erasmo Ramirez, whose last two appearances lasted four and five innings, respectively, and included a start he won, recorded an eighth-inning hold. Meanwhile, usual long reliever Chase Whitley locked down his fourth hold of the year with a strong seventh inning. Prior to Tuesday, Whitley had twice been tasked to get one or two outs as opposed to throwing two or three innings. We’ll move him and his 0.00 ERA into the Tampa hierarchy since it looks like Kevin Cash trusts him in big spots at the moment.

Updated hierarchy: Colome | Farquhar | Whitley.

April 29, 2017
Tampa Bay Rays — With both Alex Colome and Danny Farquhar resting, Jumbo Diaz got the call up four in the 9th. After a leadoff double followed by a single and a sacrifice fly, Chase Whitley came in to end the threat. He got the next two outs for his first save of the year. Whitley has been an effective long reliever since his return from Tommy John surgery; going forward, he’s mostly just a threat for three-inning saves.

Hierarchy remains: Colome | Farquhar | Diaz.

April 22, 2017
Tampa Bay Rays — Struggling lefty Xavier Cedeno has been moved to the disabled list with mild tightness in his forearm. The cupboard’s getting bare in the Rays bullpen — Brad Boxberger was recently transferred to the 60-day DL and can’t return until early June. Jumbo Diaz and Tommy Hunter will help Danny Farquhar get the ball to Alex Colome.

Updated hierarchy: Colome | Farquhar | Diaz.

April 19, 2017
Tampa Bay Rays – Danny Farquhar got the seventh inning on Tuesday in a Rays win, and with Erasmo Ramirez expected to start on Thursday, Farquhar has entered the late-innings conversation in Tampa.

Updated hierarchy: Colome | Cedeno | Farquhar.

April 8, 2017
Tampa Bay Rays – Xavier Cedeno has been bad in the early going this year. One day after giving up a hit to the only batter he faced, he was called on in a bases loaded jam only to walk in two runs before getting out of the inning. He did back into the win after the Rays took the lead in the bottom of the inning, and Alex Colome pitched a clean 9th for his 2nd save. Erasmo Ramirez took the 7th and 8th inning on Wednesday, and may get the next 8th inning shot.

Updated hierarchy: Colome | Ramirez | Cedeno.

April 6, 2017
Tampa Bay Rays — Kevin Cash is weird. He pulled starter Alex Cobb in the sixth after just 90 pitches, then yanked putative setup guy Xavier Cedeno after only one batter, who got an infield single. Jumbo Diaz escaped the jam, allowing Cash to get two scoreless innings from Erasmo Ramirez. Alex Colome earned the save despite two hits that bounced off him at high velocity. We won’t mess with the Rays’ hierarchy yet, but changes could be coming.

Hierarchy remains: Colome | Cedeno | Ramirez.

March 30, 2017
Tampa Bay Rays — A lingering lat injury will sideline Brad Boxberger through at least the first few weeks of April. If Erasmo Ramirez isn’t traded soon, he’ll be in line to get some seventh-inning work. Old friends Danny Farquhar, Chase Whitley, and Shawn Tolleson are the other options.

Updated hierarchy: Colome | Cedeno | Ramirez.

February 27, 2017
Tampa Bay Rays — Alex Colome will resume his duties as closer for the Rays, with a crowded group behind him on the depth chart. 2015 closer Brad Boxberger probably has the inside edge for the eighth inning given his experience, but the seventh inning is a different story. Danny Farquhar, lefty Xavier Cedeno and former Rangers closer Shawn Tolleson will all battle for time in the late innings. If everyone remains healthy, Kevin Cash can mix and match in the late innings as he sees fit.

Starting 2017 hierarchy: Colome | Boxberger | Cedeno.
Holds candidates: Boxberger, Cedeno, Farquhar, Tolleson, Tommy Hunter.

September 23, 2016
Tampa Bay Rays — Chase Whitley now has three holds in three appearances, with each appearance lasting at least two innings. On Thursday, he bridged the gap from the sixth inning through two outs in the eighth inning ahead of closer Alex Colome. It may seem like a stretch, but he could be sneaking into the Rays late-inning plans as the season’s end draws near. Plus, Brad Boxberger has been terrible lately. He has allowed six runs over his last two outings, raising his season ERA to 5.31.

Updated hierarchy: Colome | Cedeno | Whitley.

August 26, 2016
Tampa Bay Rays — Congratulations to Enny Romero, who picked up the first save of his major league career Thursday when he struck out a pinch-hitting David Ortiz to end things against the Red Sox. While the Vulture Save Watch correctly predicted a night off for Alex Colome, manager Kevin Cash played the matchups. He went with Tyler Sturdevant to start the ninth and Romero to end it, as his other late-inning options (Xavier Cedeno, Brad Boxberger) each pitched in two straight and needed a breather.

Hierarchy remains: Colome | Cedeno | Boxberger.

August 10, 2016
Tampa Bay Rays — Erasmo Ramirez collected his first career save by pitching the final three innings in a 9-2 victory. While he’s appeared in our hierarchy in the past, he won’t factor in the Rays’ late-inning plans unless Brad Boxberger gets hurt again.

Hierarchy remains: Colome | Cedeno | Boxberger.

July 30, 2016
Tampa Bay Rays — Former All-Star closer Brad Boxberger was activated from the disabled list on Friday. Although he’s unlikely to unseat Alex Colome, he should immediately enter the late-inning conversation, just ahead of Kevin Jepsen and Erasmo Ramirez.

Updated hierarchy: Colome | Cedeno | Boxberger.

July 20, 2016
Tampa Bay Rays — Matt Andriese picked up a three-inning save in a 10-1 Rays win over the Rockies. He does not normally factor into the team’s late-inning plans.

Hierarchy remains: Colome | Cedeno | Ramirez.

July 16, 2016
Tampa Bay Rays — Kevin Jepsen, released by the Twins, was picked up by the Rays this week and immediately pitched the ninth with the team down a run. While Jepsen will have to improve on his woeful Minnesota numbers to stick around, he is returning to a team where he saved five games last season — and Kevin Cash has been known to use his best reliever in the highest-leverage moments, not just the ninth inning. If Jepsen can return to the form he showed in 2015, he could climb into the hierarchy, but we’ll wait and see how he gets used before making that move.

Hierarchy remains: Colome | Cedeno | Ramirez.

July 6, 2016
Tampa Bay Rays — Alex Colome was activated from the DL Tuesday and pitched in a losing effort, his first work since June 18. The All-Star will resume his role as the Rays’ closer going forward.

Updated hierarchy: Colome | Cedeno | Ramirez.

July 5, 2016
Tampa Bay Rays – Ryan Garton snagged a sneaky vulture save last night with Xavier Cedeno getting the night off. The Rays have used a number of pitchers in the late innings recently, but Kevin Cash has shown confidence in Garton in the last few weeks. We expect him to continue to get late inning work going forward.

Updated hierarchy: Cedeno | Ramirez | Garton.

June 29, 2016
Tampa Bay Rays – Alex Colome was placed on the 15-day DL Tuesday with biceps tendinitis. It’s retroactive to June 19, so Colome may not miss much more time, but in his stead, manager Kevin Cash will mix and match in the late innings based on matchups. Xavier Cedeno is the best bet to lead that committee, with Cash also mentioning righties Matt Andriese and Erasmo Ramirez as candidates.

Updated hierarchy: Cedeno | Ramirez | Andriese.

June 28, 2016
Tampa Bay Rays – Alex Colome has been placed on the disabled list with biceps tendinitis. The Rays have not named an official replacement yet, though we feel it’s likely that Xavier Cedeno gets the first crack at closing. Erasmo Ramirez and Danny Farquhar are the other names to consider, but no one really stands out from this group beyond Cedeno.

Updated hierarchy: Cedeno | Ramirez | Farquhar.

June 2, 2016
Tampa Bay Rays — Brad Boxberger officially landed on the 15-day DL Wednesday with a left oblique injury, though he is slated to miss 4-8 weeks. When discussing Boxberger’s injury, manager Kevin Cash mentioned two names – Tyler Sturdevant and Ryan Garton – saying that they have pitched well and that it will warrant them more opportunities going forward.

Hierarchy remains: Colome | Cedeno | Ramirez.

June 1, 2016
Tampa Bay Rays — Brad Boxberger’s return to major league action didn’t go quite the way he’d hoped. After quickly retiring two batters in the sixth inning, Boxberger gave up a single and a home run, then grabbed his left abdomen on a pitch that hit the next batter. He was immediately diagnosed with a side muscle strain and the prognosis didn’t look any better after the game. Boxberger seems likely to return to the DL — where he’d been ever since adductor surgery in March. Hope you hung on to Alex Colome.

Updated hierarchy: Colome | Cedeno | Ramirez.

May 31, 2016
Tampa Bay Rays – The Rays activated Brad Boxberger from the disabled list yesterday and will ease him back in to the closer role. Kevin Cash insisted there would be no closer controversy despite Alex Colome’s success, so we’ll place Boxberger straight into the closer spot, with the understanding that he might pitch the 8th inning a couple of times before he gets a save chance.

Updated hierarchy: Boxberger | Colome | Cedeno.

May 27, 2016
Tampa Bay Rays — Injured closer Brad Boxberger, who picked up 41 saves last season, could be closer to returning to the big league club. Boxberger pitched an inning Wednesday for the AA Montgomery Biscuits and will be on the hill on Friday, too. If all goes well, he could be back as early as Sunday or Monday.

Hierarchy remains: Colome | Cedeno | Ramirez.

May 21, 2016
Tampa Bay Rays — Enny Romero pitched the 8th for Tampa on Friday and picked up his first hold since April 25. Entering Friday, opponents were batting just .098 against him, which is the lowest among MLB relievers. We’ll keep an eye out to see if he continues to get high-leverage work for the Rays.

Hierarchy remains: Colome | Cedeno | Ramirez.

April 27, 2016
Tampa Bay Rays — With Danny Farquhar optioned to Triple-A, Erasmo Ramirez has picked up back-to-back holds. Ramirez is a versatile pitcher that can also start, but it seems as if Kevin Cash likes the righty in the late innings.

Updated hierarchy: Colome | Cedeno | Ramirez.

April 22, 2016
Tampa Bay Rays — The days of Kevin Cash’s closer committee appear to be over, as Alex Colome has picked up a save in three straight games. Thursday, Colome was called upon in the middle of the ninth inning of a wild 12-8 game against the Red Sox. With two men on and one out, he retired Mookie Betts and Dustin Pedroia — and Tampa’s asterisk, at least for now.

Updated hierarchy: Colome | Cedeno | Farquhar.

April 20, 2016
Tampa Bay Rays – Alex Colome recorded his second save and remains the number one option in Kevin Cash’s committee, though he and the team have only two saves.

Hierarchy remains: *Colome | Cedeno | Farquhar.
* = closer-by-committee

April 18, 2016
Tampa Bay Rays – Alex Colome picked up his first save of the season on Sunday. Though not the official closer yet, he remains firmly in the driver’s seat for any saves until Brad Boxberger’s return.

Hierarchy remains: *Colome | Cedeno | Farquhar.
* = closer-by-committee

April 7, 2016
Tampa Bay Rays – As the first Vulture Save Watch of the year predicted, Alex Colome was unavailable after a 34-pitch outing on Tuesday. However, Kevin Cash is nothing if not consistent with his bullpen. He has let the reliever who pitched the eighth inning finish the game in each of the last two outings, with Erasmo Ramirez the latest pitcher to do so. Ramirez may return to the rotation when Brad Boxberger returns to the bullpen. Meanwhile, Xavier Cedeno was seen warming up for the ninth, and given that Danny Farquhar has made two straight 7th-inning appearances with the Rays trailing, it seems that Cedeno is being trusted with higher-leverage situations in the early going. Until Boxberger returns from injury, it looks like Kevin Cash will keep his promise to play matchups, which means we will be monitoring the Rays bullpen closely for the next few weeks.

Updated hierarchy: *Colome | Cedeno | Farquhar.
* = closer-by-committee

April 6, 2016
Tampa Bay Rays – Alex Colome didn’t relinquish the lead in the Rays’ committee on Tuesday, although he did get some help from the Chase Utley Rule. Colome also threw 34 pitches over two innings, so don’t expect him to pitch on Wednesday.

Hierarchy remains: *Colome | Farquhar | Cedeno.
* = closer-by-committee

March 29, 2016
Tampa Bay Rays – A lengthy profile published recently in the Tampa Bay Times includes the suggestion that Alex Colome “appears the first choice to fill in for Brad Boxberger” when the season starts. Danny Farquhar has had an excellent spring, but we’ve learned to trust the local beat writers when there hasn’t been an overt declaration from a manager. So we’ll bump Colome to the top of the committee until we hear more.

Updated hierarchy: *Colome | Farquhar | Cedeno.
* = closer-by-committee

March 25, 2016
Tampa Bay Rays – Danny Farquhar has had a strong spring, including a nice outing yesterday. But Alex Colome has done just fine himself, and neither reliever has distinguished himself in the race to replace the injured Brad Boxberger. However, the duo have distanced themselves from their nearest competition — Xavier Cedeno and Steve Geltz — both of whom are getting knocked around in spring. Unless your league is especially deep, these are probably the only two relievers worth owning for now.

Hierarchy remains: *Farquhar | Colome | Cedeno.
* = closer-by-committee

March 18, 2016
Tampa Bay Rays — Brad Boxberger will be out at least eight weeks after surgery on his abdominal muscles. Manager Kevin Cash would not name a closer, saying that the team would fill the role with a committee based on matchups and recent usage. Options in the ninth will include Danny Farquhar, Alex Colome, Xavier Cedeno, Steve Geltz, and Ryan Webb. Farquhar has experience closing for Seattle in 2013, while Colome has the best stuff and probably the highest upside. As the team’s top lefthander, Cedeno might get more than his share of chances too.

Updated hierarchy: *Farquhar | Colome | Cedeno.

February 29, 2016
Tampa Bay Rays — Brad Boxberger will hold onto the closer role he inherited last season, but with Jake McGee out of the picture, it’s the newly acquired Danny Farquhar who will be his chief assistant. Behind them are familiar names like Xavier Cedeno, Alex Colome, and Steve Geltz, although Enny Romero is a longshot worth watching.

Starting 2016 hierarchy: Boxberger | Farquhar | Cedeno.
Holds candidates: Farquhar, Cedeno, Geltz.

September 25, 2015
Tampa Bay Rays — Jake McGee, who had arthroscopic knee surgery in August, will be available to pitch Friday night. After throwing a 30-pitch simulated inning Wednesday, he arrived at the ballpark “feeling good” on Thursday. Meanwhile, Brad Boxberger picked up the save Thursday and has pitched in three straight. Could McGee get thrown into the fire right away?

Updated hierarchy: Boxberger | Cedeno | McGee.

September 22, 2015
Tampa Bay Rays — Xavier Cedeno returned to action on Sunday, and pitched again last night against the Red Sox. Cedeno had been nursing a strained oblique muscle since September 5, but with his bullpen brethren Alex Colome and Brandon Gomes both roughed up last night, we like Cedeno to slide right back into his first-in-line spot behind Brad Boxberger for the remainder of the season.

Updated hierarchy: Boxberger | Cedeno | Colome.

September 16, 2015
Tampa Bay Rays – As predicted in the Vulture Save Watch, a pooped Brad Boxberger got the night off, but it was Brandon Gomes who earned his first career save. Alex Colome pitched the 8th, but he faced the 3-4-5 hitters in the Yankees’ order. Colome is the man if Boxberger is unavailable, but by virtue of Tuesday’s save and Xavier Cedeno’s battle with left side tightness, Gomes slides into the Rays’ hierarchy.

Updated hierarchy: Boxberger | Colome | Gomes.

September 15, 2015
Tampa Bay Rays – Brad Boxberger imploded in dramatic fashion while trying to hold a 1-0 lead in the 9th inning against the Yankees last night. Following a game-tying double by Alex Rodriguez, Boxberger allowed a 3-run home run by #72 Slade Heathcott. With the Rays season all but lost, we expect Boxberger to continue to get save opportunities, but he has experienced a significant decline this season relative to his dominant 2014.

Hierarchy remains: Boxberger | Colome | Cedeno.

August 23, 2015
Tampa Bay Rays — Alex Colome pitched a perfect eighth inning with the Rays down one run last night.  After the Rays scored two runs in the top of the ninth to take the lead, Colome came back out for the ninth and pitched another perfect inning to finish the game.  Brad Boxberger had thrown 33 pitches on Friday so even though it turned out to be a save opportunity, he was likely unavailable.  Colome has been impressive recently in relief, including striking out the side in Houston on just 10 pitches in the eighth inning a couple nights ago, and could be the guy when Boxberger is unavailable moving forward.

Updated hierarchy: Boxberger | Colome | Cedeno.

August 21, 2015
Tampa Bay Rays — Sometimes-closer Jake McGee has a torn meniscus and will miss the rest of the season after knee surgery. Xavier Cedeno and Steve Geltz will be Tampa’s next line of defense behind a shaky but secure Brad Boxberger (four blown saves, nine losses).

Updated hierarchy: Boxberger | Cedeno | Geltz.

August 20, 2015
Tampa Bay Rays — Brad Boxbgerger blew the save last night, and the Rays ended up losing in extra innings. However, his job just got a bit safer because primary set-up man Jake McGee was sent back to Tampa after tweaking his knee in a 33-pitch outing on Tuesday. He will be evaluated today, but Kevin Cash said he may not join the team until next week. Look for Xavier Cedeno and Steve Geltz to see some higher leverage spots while McGee is out, and check back to see how serious this injury is.

Hierarchy remains: Boxberger | McGee | Cedeno.

August 12, 2015
Tampa Bay Rays — Kevin Cash got Brad Boxberger and Jake McGee some extra rest by using lefty Xavier Cedeno to pick up the save. The outing was Cedeno’s twelfth straight without a run allowed, and Cash has praised him as a “model of consistency.”

Updated hierarchy: Boxberger | McGee | Cedeno.

August 10, 2015
Tampa Bay Rays — Jake McGee picked up his 6th save of the year on Sunday, as Brad Boxberger got the night off after pitching in five of the previous seven games. McGee continues to have tremendous value in holds leagues and is only a Boxberger misstep or two away from full time closer role.

Hierarchy remains: Boxberger | McGee | Geltz.

August 1, 2015
Tampa Bay Rays — After all the rumors, the only Tampa reliever to get dealt at the deadline was Kevin Jepsen, who will head to the Twins. Steve Geltz (45 K in 48.2 IP, 0.88 WHIP) returns to the hierarchy at second in line. Jake McGee coughed up a lead in the eighth Friday night, but his role should remain secure.

Updated hierarchy: Boxberger | McGee | Geltz.

July 30, 2015
Tampa Bay Rays — The Rays are all but out of the race this year, and have been floating Brad Boxberger’s name as a potential trade piece. Last night he was used for only the third time in a game the Rays were trailing, which may have been a last-chance audition before the trade deadline. While he’s in Tampa, he’s still the closer, but if he gets moved, Jake McGee would be worthy of an immediate add (if he’s not already taken).

Hierarchy remains: Boxberger | McGee | Jepsen.

July 25, 2015
Tampa Bay Rays — Jake McGee earned his fifth save on Friday, in a game where Brad Boxberger did not appear. A McGee save by itself isn’t that unusual, but given the rumors swirling around all three members of the Tampa hierarchy, Friday could have been either an attempt to showcase the lefthander, who boasts 21 straight scoreless appearances, or an early look at life after a Boxberger trade.

Hierarchy remains: Boxberger | McGee | Jepsen.

July 19, 2015
Tampa Bay Rays — Jake McGee picked up his 4th save of the season on Saturday and has not allowed a run in his last 18 appearances.  However, it was Brad Boxberger who pitched in the more important spot, as he faced the top of the order in the 8th inning.  Boxberger still appears to be the closer for the Rays but McGee could still see some save opportunities when Boxberger is needed before the 9th inning.

Hierarchy remains: Boxberger | McGee | Jepsen.

July 11, 2015
Tampa Bay Rays — Brad Boxberger bounced back from losses in his past two appearances, including giving up a walk-off grand slam, to record his 21st save yesterday.  Boxberger owners were happy to see that his recent struggles don’t appear to have impacted his status as closer, but Jake McGee, and his sixteen straight scoreless appearances, is still lurking.

Hierarchy remains: Boxberger | McGee | Jepsen.

June 27, 2015
Tampa Bay Rays — After yet another conventional Jepsen-McGee-Boxberger use of the Tampa bullpen, we’re ready to pull the plug on the closer committee asterisk and acknowledge that Brad Boxberger has earned the job.

Updated hierarchy: Boxberger | McGee | Jepsen.

June 24, 2015
Tampa Bay Rays — Brad Boxberger continues to be the most valuable member of the Rays’ bullpen, as he locked down his fourth straight save despite allowing a solo home run. We’ll keep the asterisk because manager Kevin Cash can go to Jake McGee or Kevin Jepsen at any point, but Boxberger is the man to own in Tampa.

Hierarchy remains: *Boxberger | McGee | Jepsen.
* = closer-by-committee

June 21, 2015
Tampa Bay Rays — Brad Boxberger ran into a little trouble on Saturday night, loading the bases in the 9th, but he was able to get out of it without allowing any runs, and picked up his 18th save of the season in the process.  After recording no saves in the first half of June, Boxberger has now gotten saves in each of the past three games.  Manager Kevin Cash has other good options to close out games with Jake McGee and Kevin Jepsen, but Boxberger seems to be re-asserting himself as the guy after a shaky start to the month.

Hierarchy remains: *Boxberger | McGee | Jepsen.
* = closer-by-committee

June 19, 2015
Tampa Bay Rays — The committee chugs along in Tampa, where Brad Boxberger earned the save on Thursday night. Boxberger allowed a hit and struck out two in a complete ninth for the save, preceded by Jake McGee in a scoreless eighth, and Kevin Jepsen pitching around two hits and a walk in the seventh. We expect this committee to remain for the bulk of the season, with Boxberger still most likely to collect saves.

Hierarchy remains: *Boxberger | McGee | Jepsen.
* = closer-by-committee

June 15, 2015
Tampa Bay Rays – Kevin Jepsen picked up another save for the Rays on Sunday. Brad Boxberger had thrown 28 pitches Saturday, while Jake McGee had pitched in three of the last four. Still, the way this bullpen is managed, any of these three guys could get a save on any given night at this point.

Hierarchy remains: *Boxberger | McGee | Jepsen.
* = closer-by-committee

June 14, 2015
Tampa Bay Rays — Jake McGee recorded his third save of the season on Saturday after Brad Boxberger pitched the 8th inning.  Boxberger replaced starter Chris Archer after he gave up a leadoff walk to start the 8th.  After giving up the tying homerun to the first batter he faced, Boxberger was able to get out of the inning without anymore runs.  Kevin Cash had good things to say about him since he went through the heart of the White Sox order to finish the 8th and helped them win the game.  This looks like a full committee right now, with the Rays using Boxberger in big spots before the 9th if they need to.  We will leave Boxberger as head of the committee for now, but if McGee gets the next save opportunity, he would likely move to the top.

Hierarchy remains: *Boxberger | McGee | Jepsen.

June 13, 2015
Tampa Bay Rays — As foretold by the Vulture Save Watch, Jake McGee was summoned for the save on Friday night, allowing Brad Boxberger to take a night off.

Hierarchy remains: *Boxberger | McGee | Jepsen.

June 12, 2015
Tampa Bay Rays — It was a bad seventh inning for the Rays bullpen Thursday night. Up 2-1, manager Kevin Cash went with Kevin Jepsen, who allowed the tying run before getting yanked. Brad Boxberger came into the game with men on first and third with one out and the 1-2-3 hitters due up for the Angels — arguably the highest leverage spot in the game, which is how Kevin Cash has said he’d handle Boxberger’s use in the past. Boxberger allowed an RBI groundout and an RBI double, allowing two inherited runs to score before he was pulled. Jepsen and Boxberger each recorded only one out, and the Rays went on to lose 6-2. With Boxberger’s recent ineffectiveness (6.1 IP, 5 ER since May 26) and his use in non-save situations, we’re going to slap the closer-by-committee tag back on Tampa for the time being.

Updated hierarchy: *Boxberger | McGee | Jepsen.

June 11, 2015
Tampa Bay Rays — Jake McGee finally earned that elusive first save of 2015, allowing one hit and striking out two in an uneventful 9th inning. Brad Boxberger pitched the 8th, facing the 2-3-4 hitters in the Angels’ lineup. It was Boxberger’s first appearance in a week after a battle with triceps soreness, and he arguably pitched in a higher-leverage spot given whom he faced. Since a blown save on May 26, McGee has allowed just one hit and lowered his ERA from 8.10 to 3.00. He slides ahead of Kevin Jepsen for now, but those two may be used interchangeably.

Updated hierarchy: Boxberger | McGee | Jepsen.

June 8, 2015
Tampa Bay Rays – After a 32-pitch outing on Wednesday, Brad Boxberger has been dealing with some triceps soreness. The Rays don’t expect it to be serious, and Boxberger believes he’ll be back on Tuesday. In the meantime, Kevin Jepsen picked up another save.

Hierarchy remains: Boxberger | Jepsen | McGee.

June 6, 2015
Tampa Bay Rays — Kevin Cash wanted to give Brad Boxberger another day off after his 32-pitch outing on Wednesday, so Kevin Jepsen got the call for a second straight night. He gave up a leadoff triple, but wriggled out of trouble impressively to pick up his third save.

Hierarchy remains: Boxberger | Jepsen | McGee.

June 5, 2015
Tampa Bay Rays — Kevin Jepsen — and not Jake McGee — pitched the 9th and earned the save against the Seattle Mariners, his second of the season. Brad Boxberger was unavailable after throwing 32 pitches in a rough outing Wednesday night. McGee pitched a scoreless eighth inning Thursday, but hasn’t had a save opportunity since he returned from the disabled list. We’re going to slide Jepsen to the first-in-line slot for the time being.

Updated hierarchy: Boxberger | Jepsen | McGee.

June 4, 2015
Tampa Bay Rays – Brad Boxberger was brought in with two outs in the 8th to protect a lead, which he did, but then blew the save in the 9th inning. He picked up the win after the Rays scored in the 10th, and Steven Geltz secured up his second save of the year with Jake McGee and Kevin Jepsen having already pitched. Boxberger has been excellent, despite a recent rough stretch, and his primary competition, Jake McGee, was used in the 7th inning last night, so his job is probably safe for now.

Hierarchy remains: Boxberger | McGee | Jepsen.

June 1, 2015
Tampa Bay Rays – If there was ever a time to give someone other than Brad Boxberger a save opportunity, it was earlier this week, after he had consecutive bad outings. Instead, Kevin Cash went back to the righty immediately for the next two save chances, and Box converted them both. We know the Rays have said otherwise all season, but until they actually use someone else in the 9th, we’re finally removing the committee asterisk.

Hierarchy remains: Boxberger | McGee | Jepsen.

May 28, 2015
Tampa Bay Rays — After converting nine straight save opportunities, Brad Boxberger has taken losses in his last two appearances. Last night he gave up three runs on two walks and a Nelson Cruz moonshot. Boxberger has been great right up until this recent rough patch, and his primary competitor Jake McGee is coming off his own disaster outing on Tuesday, so its unlikely that he would slide out of his spot as the top guy in the committee just yet. However, if he blows a save in his next loss, it could be McGee getting the next look.

Hierarchy remains: *Boxberger | McGee | Jepsen.
* closer-by-committee

May 20, 2015
Tampa Bay Rays — Jake McGee grabbed his first hold of 2015, setting up Brad Boxberger for his 11th save of the season. McGee now has four strikeouts in two innings since his return, and he is the sensible candidate to pitch directly ahead of Brad Boxberger. However, manager Kevin Cash has repeatedly reminded us that he’s playing matchups, meaning McGee and Boxberger can swap spots on a whim.

Hierarchy remains: *Boxberger | McGee | Jepsen.
* closer-by-committee

May 15, 2015
Tampa Bay Rays — Matt Andriese had a rare four-inning save Thursday night against the Yankees, before getting sent down to make room for the returning Jake McGee. Brad Boxberger (2-1, 1.29 ERA, 10 saves in 10 chances, 12.86 K/9) has been excellent in McGee’s absence, so for now, Kevin Cash will play the matchups. McGee could grab the job for good later this summer, however.

Updated hierarchy: *Boxberger | McGee | Jepsen.
* closer-by-committee

May 7, 2015
Tampa Bay Rays — Jake McGee may be ready to rejoin the team as early as this weekend, but manager Kevin Cash indicated that when McGee returns he “won’t just make him the ninth-inning guy.” This isn’t the news that anyone who stashed McGee on the DL was hoping to hear, but it is not too surprising. Brad Boxberger has been extremely effective at the top of the committee, and Kevin Cash has already signaled that he will use his best relievers in the most important spots.

Hierarchy remains: *Boxberger | Jepsen | Geltz.

May 2, 2015
Tampa Bay Rays – Steve Geltz struck out two hitters in a perfect 7th inning ahead of Kevin Jepsen and Brad Boxberger. His impressive outing comes on the back of an even better one on Wednesday, when he struck out five consecutive Yankees. The righty now has 16 Ks in 12.2 IPs, to go along with a tidy ERA (2.84) and WHIP (0.87).

Updated hierarchy: *Boxberger | Jepsen | Geltz.

May 1, 2015
Tampa Bay Rays – Rays reliever Jake McGee said he “felt good” in a rehab outing Wednesday allowing no runs, hits or walks in an inning of work at Single-A. McGee believes he’ll pitch again for Single-A on Friday or Saturday before beginning a rehab stint with Triple-A Durham. If all goes well, he will certainly toss his name into Tampa Bay’s late-innings hat.

Hierarchy remains: *Boxberger | Jepsen | Frieri.
* closer-by-committee

April 30, 2015
Tampa Bay Rays –Ernesto Frieri picked up the save in a 13-inning game after committee colleagues Kevin Jepsen and Brad Boxberger had already pitched.

Hierarchy remains: *Boxberger | Jepsen | Frieri.
* closer-by-committee

April 25, 2015
Tampa Bay Rays — Matt Andriese gave up his spot in the rotation to Drew Smyly today, but wound up earning a three-inning blowout save instead — and his first Closer Monkey reference. I’d take that deal. While we’re here, we should mention that Jake McGee will throw a bullpen session tomorrow and, if all goes well, will start rehab with the High-A Stone Cutters Crabs.

Hierarchy remains: *Boxberger | Jepsen | Frieri.
* closer-by-committee

April 23, 2015
Tampa Bay Rays – Manager Kevin Cash earned a lot of praise Wednesday night for his willingness to use closer Brad Boxberger in the seventh inning of a tie game. The move paid off, as Boxberger struck out the heart of the Red Sox order. This led to Steven Geltz earning his first Major League save. Cash is of the mindset that his best reliever should pitch the most volatile situation, and this means that we’re back to calling this a committee for the time being. Boxberger is still the clear favorite for saves, but don’t be surprised if he is used in the seventh or eighth depending on the situation.

Hierarchy remains: *Boxberger | Jepsen | Frieri.
* closer-by-committee

April 21, 2015
Tampa Bay Rays – Jake McGee is on his way to the Durham Bulls to begin a rehab assignment after throwing a successful bullpen session on Sunday. Brad Boxberger has pitched well in the closer role to start the season, but expect McGee could potentially compete for save opportunities as soon as he completes his stint in Triple-A.

Hierarchy remains: Boxberger | Jepsen | Frieri.

April 19, 2015
Tampa Bay Rays — Grant Balfour gave up 3 runs last night, and the Rays decided they have seen enough.  Balfour was designated for assignment after the game.

Updated hierarchy: Boxberger | Jepsen | Frieri.

April 17, 2015
Tampa Bay Rays — Injured closer Jake McGee, working his way back after arthroscopic elbow surgery in December, tossed an inning in an extended spring training game on Thursday. The Rays will decide the next step in McGee’s recovery process on Friday; he may return to the big club within two weeks.

Hierarchy remains: Boxberger | Jepsen | Balfour.

April 15, 2015
Tampa Bay Rays – Brad Boxberger had pitched four of the last five days, and despite an off day on Sunday, was held out for Tuesday’s tilt. Kevin Jepsen earned the Vulture Save in Boxberger’s stead.

Hierarchy remains: Boxberger | Jepsen | Balfour.

April 12, 2015
Tampa Bay Rays – Ernesto Frieri cleaned up an 8th inning mess and then stayed on for the 9th after the Rays tacked on a run. Frieri allowed a run himself, but picked up a vulture save.

Hierarchy remains: Boxberger | Jepsen | Balfour.

April 11, 2015
Tampa Bay Rays — Grant Balfour entered in the fifth inning of Friday’s game with the Rays down seven, a solid indication that he’s not the first choice for high-leverage setup work in Tampa. Kevin Cash has also shown no indication that he’s using a closer committee, with Brad Boxberger getting enough endgame opportunities to shed his asterisk. Boxberger should have another three weeks in the role before Jake McGee returns.

Updated hierarchy: Boxberger | Jepsen | Balfour.

March 29, 2015
Tampa Bay Rays — The Rays have several options to close while Jake McGee is out.  Grant Balfour should be ready for the start of the season after missing a couple weeks due to the passing away of his father.  However, it looks like Brad Boxberger will see the most save chances.  Boxberger had over 100 strikeouts last year and could thrive in the closer’s role to start the season.

Updated hierarchy: Boxberger* | Balfour | Jepsen.
* closer-by-committee

March 26, 2015
Tampa Bay Rays — Grant Balfour made his first appearance of the spring on Monday and expects to be ready for Opening Day. All three of Tampa’s current top relievers allowed a run in the game. Jake McGee is throwing curveballs again and should be back to closing in late April or early May.

Hierarchy remains: Balfour | Boxberger | Jepsen.

March 18, 2015
Tampa Bay Rays – In the race to close games in Tampa’s sans-McGee bullpen, Grant Balfour had a few distinct advantages. He has the most experience in the role, he had expressed an interest in it, and most importantly, Kevin Cash had mentioned him as a possibility. But Balfour has missed the last few weeks of spring training following the death of his father, while Brad Boxberger has come out of the gate with three scoreless innings. With his strong start, we think Boxberger has pulled even with Balfour, and suspect the Opening Day closer will be largely determined by which player looks better over the next couple weeks.

Hierarchy remains: Balfour | Boxberger | Jepsen.

March 6, 2015
Tampa Bay Rays — Joe Maddon is gone, which perhaps means a more stable bullpen in 2015. Jake McGee will lead that group when he returns from elbow surgery, as he impressed as the closer last year when he finally got the role for good. Grant Balfour struggled mightily last season but still wants the closer job. He’ll have to compete with newly-acquired Kelvin Jepsen and Ernesto Frieri, as well as Brad Boxberger, who had a strong 2014. In addition, Jeff Beliveau had 28 strikeouts in 24 innings last season, and might be the only lefty on the team’s Opening Day roster.

Starting 2015 hierarchy: Balfour | Boxberger | Jepsen.
Holds candidates: Boxberger, Beliveau.

September 15, 2014
Tampa Bay Rays – After Jake McGee blew the save in the 9th, Jeff Beliveau picked up the scraps once the Rays re-took the lead in the 10th. It was Beliveau’s first save.

Hierarchy remains: McGee | Boxberger | Balfour.

September 13, 2014
Tampa Bay Rays — Grant Balfour pitched a perfect 9th inning last night to record his first save since July 1st.  Jake McGee threw a perfect 8th inning and should continue to see the majority of save chances.  However, with Joel Peralta giving up 5 runs in his past two outings, Balfour could see more time in the later innings.

Updated hierarchy: McGee | Boxberger | Balfour.

August 25, 2014
Tampa Bay Rays – After Jake McGee pitched a scoreless 8th and 9th inning for the Rays, Brad Boxberger picked up the save after the Rays took the lead in the 10th. We said a little while back that McGee was getting 86% of the Rays save chances — that still seems about right.

Hierarchy remains: McGee | Boxberger | Peralta.

August 20, 2014
Tampa Bay Rays — Lately it has seemed that Grant Balfour pitches only when the Rays are losing. Though that wasn’t the case when he entered the game on Tuesday night, it certainly was when he left, three runs and no outs later. Of Balfour’s 14 pitches, only two were strikes — and one of those was lined for a hard-luck triple. Grant’s struggles (he leads all relievers in walks) make Joel Peralta relevant again, if only by default.

Updated hierarchy: McGee | Boxberger | Peralta.

August 9, 2014
Tampa Bay Rays – Jake McGee pitched the 8th inning last night with a one run lead and the Rays went to Brad Boxberger for the save in the 9th.  Boxberger wasn’t able to convert the save, as he allowed a run for the first time since June 27th.  The Rays scored a run in the top of the 10th, and again they sent Boxberger out there to protect a one run lead.  This time he threw a perfect inning to finish the game.  McGee is still the closer but it looks like Boxberger could still see an occasional save chance.

Hierarchy remains: McGee | Boxberger | Balfour.

August 2, 2014
Tampa Bay Rays – In his second appearance since coming off the DL, Joel Peralta struck out the side on only 10 pitches.  McGee seems to have established himself as the Rays’ closer, but Joel Peralta could work his way back towards the set-up role with more outings like that.

Hierarchy remains: McGee | Boxberger | Balfour.

July 29, 2014
Tampa Bay Rays – After notching his fifth post-All-Star-Break save on Monday, Jake McGee has now closed out Tampa victories in six of his last seven appearances. Will he get every opportunity for the surging Rays the rest of the way? With Joe Maddon around, probably not. But if he’s getting 86% of the save chances, that’s good enough to kick our closer-by-committee asterisk for the time being.

Hierarchy remains: McGee | Boxberger | Balfour.

July 27, 2014
Tampa Bay Rays — Brad Boxberger pitched a scoreless 8th inning and Jake McGee picked up his 11th save of the season last night.  Boxberger has allowed zero runs in July and has recorded a win, a save, and six holds this month.  Jake McGee has gotten the last three save opportunities for the Rays and has converted each one.

Updated hierarchy: McGee | Boxberger | Balfour.

July 24, 2014
Tampa Bay Rays — Brad Boxberger to Jake McGee: two perfect innings with five strikeouts. A fella could get used to this. And get well soon, Joel Peralta; hope you don’t have that nasty chikungunya virus.

Hierarchy remains: McGee | Balfour | Boxberger.

July 21, 2014
Tampa Bay Rays – We were again getting close to removing the asterisk next to Jake McGee’s name — it seemed like he’d finally been established as the one and only 9th inning guy in Tampa. But yesterday, Joe Maddon decided to use him in the 8th, and instead sent Grant Balfour out for the 9th. Balfour struggled, and eventually had to be pulled for Kirby Yates, who picked up his first career save. So we’re still in committee mode here, though McGee is still getting the vast majority of save chances.

Hierarchy remains: McGee | Balfour | Boxberger.

July 15, 2014
Tampa Bay Rays – You could really play buy or sell with the Rays’ bullpen in the middle of the game thanks to Joe Maddon’s hijinks. TRADE DEADLINE BUY/SELL: None

July 14, 2014
Tampa Bay Rays – The Rays had a nice, civilized 9th inning on Sunday, with Jake McGee taking over for a stellar David Price and pitching a 1-2-3 inning with 2 Ks. Every time this happens, we hope it’s a harbinger of some normalcy in Maddon-land, and thanks to the All Star break, we’ll be able to live with that blissful vision for the next four days.

Hierarchy remains: McGee | Balfour | Boxberger.

July 12, 2014
Tampa Bay Rays — Grant Balfour came on for the 9th inning of a tie game yesterday and promptly gave up three runs, while only recording one out.  Joel Peralta also gave up two runs in his last time out.  Meanwhile, Brad Boxberger pitched a scoreless inning last night and hasn’t given up a run in his last 9.1 innings of work.  Boxberger has already received one save in the Rays crazy committee and could see more chances if Balfour and Peralta continue to struggle.

Updated Hierarchy: McGee | Balfour | Boxberger.

July 10, 2014
Tampa Bay Rays — Time for our daily look at the bullpen you don’t want anything to do with! Use of would-be closer in the eighth inning? Check. Five pitchers called on to get the final seven outs? Check! Rookie Kirby Yates brought in at the highest-leverage moment to yield a game-winning home run? CHECK! The Rays have Thursday off, giving Joe Maddon the chance to take a fresh look at all of his bullpen options, then return to using them in baffling and inconsistent ways.

Hierarchy remains: McGee | Balfour | Peralta.

July 9, 2014
Tampa Bay Rays — After using each of the three other members of the Tampa closer committee in turn, Joe Maddon has now called on Jake McGee in three straight save situations. McGee didn’t make it easy on Tuesday, giving up two runs in the ninth, but he got out of trouble in the end. It’s still a committee until mad genius Joe Maddon says otherwise, but McGee remains the best guy to own.

Hierarchy remains: McGee | Balfour | Peralta.

July 5, 2014
Tampa Bay Rays —   Yesterday it was Jake McGee’s turn again in the Rays’ committee and he didn’t disappoint, pitching a scoreless 9th for his 4th save of the season.  However, the most important work out of the bullpen came from Brad Boxberger.  Boxberger, who picked up the save on Wednesday, came on with the bases loaded and nobody out in the 6th inning.  He was able to limit the damage to one run by getting a double play and a strikeout.  Boxberger came back out for the 7th and struck out 2 batters in a perfect inning of work.  This is still very much a committee, and Joel Peralta pitched a scoreless 8th yesterday so it is hard to put Boxberger on the hierarchy yet, but with 51 Ks in 33.1 innings, he could move ahead of Balfour and Peralta as the primary righty in the committee if he continues to pitch well.

Hierarchy remains: McGee | Balfour | Peralta.

July 3, 2014
Tampa Bay Rays — It’s unclear precisely what good deed Brad Boxberger performed to get the latest nod in the ninth from mystic philosopher-king Joe Maddon. All we know for sure is that if you want a reliable source of saves, Tampa relievers aren’t for you.

Hierarchy remains: McGee | Balfour | Peralta.

July 2, 2014
Tampa Bay Rays — Oh, Joe Maddon. No one was surprised to see him call on Jake McGee to face the Yankees’ 2-3-4 hitters in a one-run eighth. A few people were surprised when he summoned Grant Balfour to nail down the save with the same score in the ninth. But everyone was surprised when Maddon revealed his reasoning in a postgame statement and tweet: he was rewarding Balfour for the good “karma” he sensed as the embattled reliever walked his octogenarian Aussie grandmother through the lobby of the team hotel. Some Rays fans called the move brave, but honestly, with the way the Yankees have been hitting lately, Granny B could have taken the mound herself.

Hierarchy remains: McGee | Balfour | Peralta.

July 1, 2014
Tampa Bay Rays – Every time we think Jake McGee has creeped closer to claiming the ninth-inning duties for the Rays, Joe Maddon reminds us that he truly believes in his committee. On Monday, he had McGee face the Yankees’ 2-6 hitters in the eighth inning before allowing Joel Peralta to pitch to the bottom of the order in the ninth. His plan was foiled, however, when a Brian Roberts’ solo shot off Peralta tied the game. It’s clear that Maddon wanted his best reliever to face the Yankees’ best hitters, and it’s thinking like that which will keep the Rays’ committee alive and well.

Hierarchy remains: McGee | Balfour | Peralta.

June 29, 2014
Tampa Bay Rays – Jake McGee picked up his second save in two days on Saturday.  Grant Balfour worked the 8th inning ahead of McGee in game 1 of the doubleheader on Friday and did it again yesterday.  It is also worth noting that Joel Peralta gave up 2 runs in the 7th inning with the Rays losing in game 2 of the doubleheader on Friday.  McGee looks to be moving ahead of the other members of the Rays committee and could be establishing himself as the primary closer.

Hierarchy remains: McGee | Balfour | Peralta.

June 23, 2014
Tampa Bay Rays – It seems pretty common for managers to declare “Committee!” after their stopper proves ineffective, but Joe Maddon is actually following through on it. There have been four saves since Grant Balfour lost his full time job, and Balfour, Juan Carlos Oviedo, Jake McGee, and Joel Peralta have all gotten one of them. (Peralta picked his up on Sunday.) We still like McGee the best of the four, but it may take some time for someone to distinguish themselves.

Hierarchy remains: McGee | Balfour | Peralta.

June 20, 2014
Tampa Bay Rays – The best thing Grant Balfour has going for him is a manager hellbent on getting him back to the 9th inning.  But he’s also put together a modest line since being demoted two weeks ago (4.2 IPs, 1 ER, 3 H, 5 Ks, and 1 BB), and for a guy who spent much of the year with a 6+ ERA and more walks than strikeouts, this constitutes tremendous progress.  Last night, he got the 9th inning in a 5-run game (pitching behind Joel Peralta, who got the 8th), and struck out the side.

Updated hierarchy: McGee | Balfour | Peralta.

June 17, 2014
Tampa Bay Rays – Committees can be maddening for fantasy owners, and Joe Maddon hasn’t helped matters by the way he has gone about the late innings. Joel Peralta pitched the seventh before giving way to Grant Balfour, who struggled through one out of the eighth. Jake McGee, who appeared to be the leading candidate for saves, was called upon to bail him out and instead allowed an inherited runner to score, tying the game. The Rays regained the lead in the bottom half of the inning and it was Juan Carlos Oviedo who picked up his first save since he was Leo Nunez in 2011. After the game, Maddon insisted that there’s “no need” to settle on one closer, and that it’ll be the opponents’ batting order that dictates who enters the game. We still think McGee is at the head of the committee, but at this point it really could be anyone who gets the call at any particular moment.

Hierarchy remains: McGee | Peralta | Balfour.

June 16, 2014
Tampa Bay Rays – It’s been obvious that Jake McGee has been the best arm in the Rays bullpen this year.  But even when Grant Balfour began to struggle, there were various reasons — arbitration considerations, usage, his left-handedness — to think that he wasn’t going to be the first man to get a save chance in Tampa’s new committee.  (And, he wasn’t.)  But despite the lack of save chances, the stars have been aligning for McGee ever since the Rays made the switch.  He pitched the 9th inning of a 1-run loss — behind Joel Peralta — in the first day after the Rays declared a committee last week.  Grant Balfour picked up that weird, 7-out save on Wednesday, but Joe Maddon went out of his way after the game to point out that McGee was unavailable.  Two nights ago, he likely would’ve gotten a save chance, except that the Rays scored a bunch of runs in the 9th.  And yesterday, after David Price turned in 8 solid innings, it was McGee who closed the door in the 9th.  There are still way too many dynamics in play to anoint McGee the new full time closer, and after all, this was just his first save.  But with that finally out of the way, we’re inching him to the head of the Tampa committee.

Updated hierarchy: McGee | Peralta | Balfour.

June 14, 2014
Tampa Bay Rays — The Rays used Joel Peralta in the 8th inning last night with a 3 run lead.  They added 2 more runs in the top of the 9th so there was no save opportunity for anyone.  Jake McGee did end up coming on for the last out of the game and likely would have gotten the save if the Rays had not tacked on more runs.  Peralta was warming up for the save in the 9th the other night so it seems like this is a true committee.  We still like Peralta but we would also not be surprised if McGee saw the next save opportunity.

Updated hierarchy: Peralta | McGee | Balfour.

June 12, 2014
Tampa Bay Rays — Huh. In a one-run game, Joe Maddon summoned Juan Carlos Oviedo in the sixth, watched him get one out and hit a batter in the seventh, brought in Cesar Ramos as a LOOGY, and then let deposed closer Grant Balfour finish the inning. When the Rays scored two in the bottom of the seventh, Maddon sensed an opportunity to help the embattled Australian regain some confidence — so out he came to pitch a perfect eighth. And though Joel Peralta was up and warming prior to the ninth inning, it was Balfour who finished the game, earning a surprising 2.1-inning save. After the game, Maddon explained that the closer committee is still in effect, but it seems he’d like the Goose Gossage of New South Wales back in the role as soon as possible.

Updated hierarchy: Peralta | Balfour | McGee.

June 11, 2014
Tampa Bay Rays — It’s fun to talk about, but until the team finally wins a game, the Tampa closer committee will remain a matter for philosophers, theologians, and Seminole medicine men. Juan Carlos Oviedo might get the first shot at breaking the curse tomorrow, since Joel Peralta was used Tuesday in a high-leverage spot in the eighth, and Jake McGee followed him with a 20-pitch ninth. If that happens, we can’t rule out the possibility that Oviedo takes the job and runs with it, perhaps earning up to one save per month for the flailing Rays. Watch out for Kirby Yates as a dark horse candidate too; he’s been a lights-out closer for the AAA Durham Bulls.

Hierarchy remains: Peralta | McGee | Oviedo.

June 9, 2014
Tampa Bay Rays – The Rays will go with a closer-by-committee for the time being, announced Joe Maddon this morning.  Grant Balfour will be part of that committee, but as mentioned in our previous update, we like Joel Peralta to get the next save chance, with Jake McGee and Juan Carlos Oviedo also involved.  Balfour will have to work his way back to the 9th inning, which seems unlikely given his terrible ratios thus far.

Updated hierarchy: Peralta | McGee | Oviedo.

June 9, 2014
Tampa Bay Rays – Grant Balfour gave up five more runs on Sunday and now has a 6.46 ERA. Joe Maddon wouldn’t say if Balfour had finally lost the job that he should’ve lost a long time ago, but it seems silly to keep running him out there. Until we see evidence that Balfour has lost the job, all we can do is speculate, but the three candidates to take over the job right now are Joel Peralta, Jake McGee, and Juan Carlos Oviedo. Oviedo (the former Leo Nunez) had a better chance at the job before allowing a run in three consecutive outings last week. McGee clearly has the best stuff, averaging more than a strikeout per inning and currently rocking a 1.59 ERA, but just three days ago, he was pitching in the 6th inning. That leaves the veteran Peralta, who despite a rough start to the season, has continued to pitch the 8th inning and has managed to hold the opposition scoreless in 13 of his last 14 outings. Stressing that we don’t have any hints from inside the clubhouse about what happens next, we still think Peralta has a narrow lead in the race to replace Balfour.

Hierarchy remains: Balfour | Peralta | McGee.

May 26, 2014
Tampa Bay Rays – Joel Peralta has had his problems with the long ball this year, which has led to a high ERA for the usually-reliable veteran, but despite Jake McGee’s dominance, Peralta has consistently been the 8th inning guy all year long.  However, McGee owners had reasons to feel optimistic yesterday, as Peralta, for the first time, was summoned in the 7th, rather than the 8th.  He gave up his fifth home run of the season — a 2-run shot to Jonny Gomes — and saw his ERA climb to 5.24.  Though we’re not ready to deem McGee the heir apparent just yet, any small shift in the Rays pen is worth mentioning, given Grant Balfour’s struggles.

Hierarchy remains: Balfour | Peralta | McGee.

May 23, 2014
Tampa Bay Rays – We’ve mentioned Grant Balfour’s ratios here before, but it truly is incredible to see a pitcher with peripherals this bad continue to get the ball in the 9th inning. After walking two (and getting annoyed with the crowd for booing him) in a blown save on Thursday afternoon, Balfour now has 18 BBs and just 15 Ks in 18.1 innings pitched. He’s already on the Hot Seat, though he might hang on to his job in part because the Rays ended up winning their game in extras. But Joel Peralta — and maybe Jake McGee — is definitely worth a speculative pick up at this point.

Hierarchy remains: Balfour | Peralta | McGee

May 17, 2014
Tampa Bay Rays – Grant Balfour picked up his 8th save by pitching a perfect 9th inning last night, just one night after being removed from a save opportunity without recording an out.  Manager Joe Maddon said that Balfour is still his closer.  Balfour may have given himself a little more leeway with his outing yesterday, but we still think Maddon will have to think about changing things up if Balfour has another outing like Thursday.

Hierarchy remains: Balfour | Peralta | McGee.

May 16, 2014
Tampa Bay Rays – Summoned to protect a three-run lead, Grant Balfour walked the first two batters he faced (the 8 and 9 hitters) before allowing an RBI single.  Balfour was then yanked by Joe Maddon, and watched from the clubhouse as Brad Boxberger gave up a walk off 3-run HR to Mike Trout.  Balfour wasn’t happy about being removed, but the quick hook shows how little trust Maddon has in him at this point.  Already on our Hot Seat, Balfour (15.1 IPs, 6.46 ERA, 1.63 WHIP, 11 Ks, 14 BBs) is probably just one more blown save from losing his job — if he hasn’t done so already.

Hierarchy remains: Balfour | Peralta | McGee.

April 26, 2014
Tampa Bay Rays – Grant Balfour gave up a walk off grand slam last night, and while that’s all well and terrible, we’re actually even more worried about his ratios so far this year — 10.1 innings with 7 Ks and 9 BBs.  There’s no shortage of arms in the Tampa bullpen: Joel Peralta has been as reliable as ever, Jake McGee has a 0.90 ERA — heck, there was even a Leo Nunez Juan Carlos Oviedo sighting this week.  With Balfour’s health in question even before the year began, we have to think he’s on a short leash.  Grant Balfour to Hot Seat.

April 14, 2014
Tampa Bay Rays – A day after Jake McGee got an 8th hold inning for the Rays, Heath Bell was called upon to pitch in the 7th of a game that the Rays were losing by four.  Bell didn’t help matters, allowing two earned runs and raising his season ERA to 5.40.  His peripherals aren’t great so far, either, and at age 36, he’s got to start proving that he still belongs.  Hierarchy change: Jake McGee to 2nd in line, replacing Heath Bell.

March 13, 2014
Tampa Bay Rays — The irascible Australian Grant Balfour, rejected by Baltimore, will be out to prove something to his division rivals. Ranked #14 in our preseason closer rankings.

March 11, 2014
Tampa Bay Rays –Almost an Oriole, Grant Balfour returns to the Rays this season as the team’s closer. He was 38-of-41 in save opportunities last season in Oakland and will replace Fernando Rodney, who departed for Seattle. The Rays feel they have the best bullpen in baseball, and they have plenty of options behind Balfour. Juan Carlos Oviedo, Heath Bell, Joel Peralta and Jake McGee all figure to factor in Joe Maddon’s late-inning plans. Bell struggled last season, but if Peralta struggles Bell may see his more high-leverage time. Starting 2014 hierarchy: Closer – Grant Balfour, Set-up – Joel Peralta, 2nd in line – Heath Bell.

September 25, 2013
Tampa Bay Rays — Jake Odorizzi picked up a three-inning save on Tuesday as the Rays shut out the Yankees. No hierarchy change.

September 24, 2013
Tampa Bay Rays — After nearly three months on the disabled list, All-Star set-up man Jesse Crain was finally activated on Monday. If he’s truly healthy, he should soon pass Jake McGee as Tampa’s top seventh-inning option. No hierarchy change.

September 4, 2013
Tampa Bay Rays — Starter Roberto Hernandez picked up the first save of his eight-year major league career with 3.2 scoreless innings in a 7-1 win. No hierarchy change.

August 28, 2013
Tampa Bay Rays — After Joel Peralta struck out the side in the eighth inning, Fernando Rodney entered and blew his eighth save of the season. The Rays fell to 3-12 in games where they have blown leads in the seventh inning or later. With the Rays in the heart of a pennant race, they can’t afford to keep losing this way. Fernando Rodney to Hot Seat.

July 30, 2013
Tampa Bay Rays — The Rays took a gamble on Jesse Crain; if he’s able to return from his injury with the same form he exhibited earlier in the season, he’ll be in the thick of the bullpen mix with Joel Peralta and Jake McGee down the stretch. Hierarchy change: Jesse Crain to 2nd in line (DL).

July 17, 2013
Tampa Bay Rays — Fernando Rodney isn’t the most reliable closer in the league, but the Rays are still likely to stand pat at this year’s trade deadline. TRADE DEADLINE BUY/SELL: None.

July 12, 2013
Tampa Bay Rays – Fernando Rodney had the night off on Thursday, and Jake McGee who got the save in his absence.  The opp likely would’ve gone to Joel Peralta, but Peralta had to be summoned in the 8th inning to bail the Rays out of a sticky situation.  But McGee has been pitching very well lately, having only allowed 3 runs in his last 24.2 innings, and his usage over the past week suggest that he’s basically sharing the set-up role with Peralta at this point.  No hierarchy change.

June 1, 2013
Tampa Bay Rays – Cesar Ramos went three innings for the save on Friday.  No hierarchy change.

May 26, 2013
Tampa Bay Rays – Joe Maddon on Saturday gave Fernando Rodney yet another vote of confidence after the closer’s fifth blown save of the year.  But with his ERA now at 6.05 on the season, Rodney remains on the hottest of Hot Seats, and Joel Peralta’s continued efficiency makes him a great speculative add, if he’s available.  No hierarchy change.

May 18, 2013
Tampa Bay Rays – As predicted in yesterday’s vulture save watch, Joel Peralta recorded the save last night.  Fernando Rodney was warming up in the 9th but Joe Madden did not need to bring him in as Peralta pitched a perfect 9th.  No hierarchy change.

May 17, 2013
Tampa Bay Rays – After another dreadful outing, Fernando Rodney now has a 5.28 ERA and 3 blown saves in 10 tries this year.  Joe Madden gave him a vote of confidence after the game, saying: “I’m not really concerned yet. I’m not running away from Fernando. We’ll get him right.”  We are, though, especially with reliable set-up man Joel Peralta (1.96 ERA) having another solid season.  Fernando Rodney to Hot Seat

May 13, 2013
Tampa Bay Rays – Jake McGee picked up his second 7th-inning hold in the past week on Sunday.  McGee has an extremely high ERA, but it’s mostly due to one horrible outing he had in early May.  On the rare night when both Fernando Rodney and Joel Peralta were unavailable, he’d likely get the save opp.  Hierarchy change: Jake McGee to 2nd in line, replacing Jamey Wright. 

May 2, 2013
Tampa Bay Rays – An ugly April for the Rays bullpen has spilled into May, as 7th inning man Jake McGee gave up 5 runs on Wednesday against the Royals.  McGee’s ERA jumped from 6.48 to 11.00 after the shellacking, and with hard-throwing righty Kyle Farnsworth struggling, the Rays may have to start leaning on journeyman Jamey Wright to get a few high-leverage outs late in games.  Wright has been one of the few reliable arms in Tampa, with a 1.54 ERA in 12 games so far.  Hierarchy change: Jamey Wright to 2nd in line, replacing Jake McGee.

April 11, 2013
Tampa Bay Rays – Jake McGee pitched the 7th inning last night, a role he has settled into nicely.  Kyle Farnsworth, meanwhile, hasn’t pitched in many high-leverage situations in the early going.  Hierarchy change: Jake McGee to 2nd in line, replacing Kyle Farnsworth.

February 24, 2013
Tampa Bay Rays – Starting 2013 hierarchy: Closer- Fernando Rodney, Set-up- Joel Peralta, 2nd in line- Kyle Farnsworth.

July 13, 2012
Tampa Bay Rays – Fernando Rodney’s dominance has been one of the biggest surprises of the season, and with Kyle Farnsworth recently returned from the DL, the Rays are unlikely to add any bullpen arms. TRADE DEADLINE BUY/SELL: None.

July 1, 2012
Tampa Bay Rays – Kyle Farnsworth pitched his first inning of year on Saturday, logging a scoreless frame in the 7th inning. The former closer immediately slots in to the Rays late-inning hierarchy, and could push Joel Peralta for the 8th inning role. Hierarchy change: Kyle Farnsworth to 2nd in line, replacing Jake McGee.

June 14, 2012
Tampa Bay Rays – Jake McGee pitched a perfect inning in a losing effort on Wednesday, lowering his ERA to 1.69. JP Howell, meanwhile, has not rediscovered the velocity that made him such a dynamic reliever two years ago and has struggled, particularly in recent weeks. Hierarchy change: Jake McGee to 2nd in line, replacing JP Howell.

May 5, 2012
Tampa Bay Rays – Joel Peralta recorded a one-out save on Friday. As noted in the vulture save watch, Fernando Rodney had been used a lot lately, so he was given a night off. No hierarchy change.

April 20, 2012
Tampa Bay Rays – JP Howell pitched the 7th inning yesterday while the game was still close. Joe Maddon seems more willing to use Howell to pitch to both righties and lefties, while Jake McGee has settled into more of a LOOGY role. Hierarchy change: JP Howell to 2nd in line, replacing Jake McGee.

April 9, 2012
Tampa Bay Rays- Fernando Rodney closed out Sunday’s game against the Yankees, notching his second save in as many days. It seems that Joel Peralta’s leash was at short as it could be, as Rodney will close until Kyle Farnsworth returns from the DL. Hierarchy change: Fernando Rodney to Closer, Joel Peralta to Set-up.

April 8, 2012
Tampa Bay Rays- Joel Peralta was brought in to stop the Yankees rally yesterday, but only faced two hitters, the second of whom hit a HR off him. Jake McGee was then brought in for one batter before Fernando Rodney came in to close it out. Based on Peralta’s success filling in as closer last year, he figures to get another shot, but could be in danger of losing the job should he falter again. Joel Peralta to Hot Seat.

April 5, 2012
Tampa Bay Rays- Kyle Farnsworth was on the Rays’ 25-man opening day roster yesterday, but today, he’s been placed on the disabled list after complaining of elbow soreness. Joel Peralta will see save opportunities in his absence. Hierarchy change: Joel Peralta to Closer, Fernando Rodney to Set-up, Jake McGee to 2nd in line, Kyle Farnsworth to DL.

March 20, 2012
Tampa Bay Rays- Joe Maddon’s 2012 group looks much like the 2011 version of the bullpen – and that’s a good thing for the Rays. Starting 2012 hierarchy: Closer- Kyle Farnsworth, Set-up- Joel Peralta, 2nd in line- Fernando Rodney.

Sept. 26, 2011
Tampa Bay Rays- Kyle Farnsworth pitched his first inning in several weeks on Saturday, so the Rays gave him Sunday off and turned to Joel Peralta for the save. No hierarchy change.

Sept. 19, 2011
Tampa Bay Rays- Kyle Farnsworth is still out for at least two more days, and Joel Peralta picked up another save in his absence on Sunday. No hierarchy change.

Sept. 18, 2011
Tampa Bay Rays- Joel Peralta picked up the save last night with Kyle Farnsworth still on the shelf. Farnsworth is due to return on Wednesday or Thursday, so Peralta may get one or two more opportunities to close. No hierarchy change.

Sept. 13, 2011
Tampa Bay Rays- Kyle Farnsworth will be out a few days as he recovers from some shoulder soreness. Joel Peralta picked up the save last night and will close until he gets back. No hierarchy change.

Aug. 28, 2011
Tampa Bay Rays- Joel Peralta got the save last night as Farnsworth was unavailable due to a sore elbow. Madden said Farnsworth should be able to pitch tomorrow. No hierarchy change.