Hector Neris still a prominent part of Phillies committee

May 22, 2018

Philadelphia Phillies – After a few outings in non-save situations, Hector Neris got the 9th inning with a three-run lead on Monday night, converting for his 9th save. Seranthony Dominguez threw a scoreless 8th, allowing his first baserunner of the season but extending his scoreless streak to 7.2 innings to start his career. Since Gabe Kapler started his no-defined-roles approach, it’s been these two — along with Edubray Ramos — who are most often stirring in the bullpen when the Phillies have a lead late in games.

Hierarchy remains: *Neris | Ramos | Dominguez.
* = closer-by-committee

Milwaukee Brewers – Two weeks after coming off the DL, Corey Knebel finally got a save opportunity, converting for only his second save of the year. Knebel and Josh Hader should continue to lead this bullpen, and it remains to be seen whether they’ll split opportunities, or whether Knebel will get the bulk.

Hierarchy remains: Knebel | Hader | Jeffress.

VULTURE SAVE WATCH
Today
1. Addison Reed – Fernando Rodney has gone back to back (and hasn’t pitched in three straight all year).

Tomorrow
1. Robert Gsellman – If Jeurys Familia goes today, it’ll be back to back and four of five.

Blake Parker finding his form; Jordan Hicks hits 105 mph

May 21, 2018

Washington Nationals – After appearing in exactly half of the team’s first 42 games, Ryan Madson was placed on the disabled list with a sore pectoral muscle. Brandon Kintzler should be the main set-up man in his absence, while old friend Shawn Kelley returns to the hierarchy for the first time since last June.

Updated hierarchy: Doolittle | Kintzler | Kelley.

Los Angeles Angels – Amidst the turmoil in the Angels bullpen as of late, Blake Parker has quietly found his form. On Sunday, he logged his 9th straight scoreless outing, picking up his second save of the year. If he gets another one, he’ll jump to the top of this perpetually-in-flux hierarchy.

Updated hierarchy: *Anderson | Parker | Johnson.
* = closer-by-committee

Chicago White Sox – With Nate Jones getting the afternoon off, Jace Fry picked up his first save of the year on Sunday, and it was yet another scoreless, hitless inning. Fry, a lefty with crazy-deceptive stuff, has now stretched his hitless-innings streak to 8.1 and jumps his way up to the handcuff position.

Updated hierarchy: *Jones | Fry | Rondon.
* = closer-by-committee

Texas Rangers – Chris Martin was activated from the disabled list, and looked strong in his return outing, striking out two hitters in a clean inning. We’ll move him back up to his former position behind Keone Kela until he gives us a reason to do otherwise.

Updated hierarchy: Kela | Martin | Diekman.

New York Mets – Rather than use Jeurys Familia for the third straight day, the Mets left Robert Gsellman in for the 9th inning after he’d gotten the final two outs of the 8th. Gsellman converted the gsave, and has surpassed AJ Ramos as the most likely man to get an opportunity when Familia is unavailable. Given Ramos’s control problems thus far (10 BBs in 16.2 innings), he might have fallen behind Seth Lugo as well.

Updated hierarchy: Familia | Gsellman | Ramos. 

Miami Marlins – The Braves rallied for 6 runs in a walkoff victory Sunday afternoon, with the first four coming against Brad Ziegler. With Drew Steckenrider and Kyle Barraclough having already pitched, Tayron Guerrero was tasked with getting the game’s final out, and he wasn’t up to the task. Ziegler had converted four straight saves prior to the outing, so we don’t actually think he’s out of a job yet, but at some point, the fact that he has given up literally four times as many earned runs this year as Barraclough (in fewer innings!) has to catch up with him.

Hierarchy remains: Ziegler | Barraclough | Steckenrider. 

Los Angeles Dodgers – Josh Fields came on with the Dodgers up three runs in the 8th, then stayed on for the 9th once they stretched the lead to five. He probably would’ve stayed on regardless, though, since Kenley Jansen was likely unavailable. But you read the Vulture Save Watch yesterday, so you already knew that, didn’t you?

Hierarchy remains: Jansen | Fields | Baez. 

St. Louis Cardinals – Jordan Hicks threw two pitches at 105 mph yesterday. So yeah, that’s a thing that happened.

Updated hierarchy: Norris | Hicks | Holland.

VULTURE SAVE WATCH
Today
1. Kyle Barraclough – Brad Ziegler threw 30 pitches yesterday and might not be available tonight.

Tomorrow
1. Kirby Yates/Craig Stammen – If Brad Hand goes tonight, it’ll be back to back and three of four. Yates and Stammen have also seen a lot of work lately, though, so their usage will dictate who gets a possible save opp tomorrow.

Seranthony Dominguez and Nate Jones record saves

May 20, 2018

Philadelphia Phillies — Seranthony Dominguez has had a very impressive start to his major league career and on Saturday, he recorded his first career save.  Dominguez has not allowed a hit or walk in his first six career appearances, the longest such streak to start a career in major league history.  With Gabe Kapler, you never know who is going to get the next save, but Dominguez certainly deserves to be in the mix.

Hierarchy remains: *Neris | Ramos | Dominguez.
* = closer-by-committee

Chicago White Sox — For the second time in three games, the White Sox actually had a lead in the 9th inning and they called on Nate Jones again for the save.  Jones recorded the last two outs of the ninth and has received (and converted) the last two save opportunities for the White Sox. That is enough to push Jones to the top of the committee.  Joakim Soria is close to dropping out of the hierarchy altogether and Jace Fry is a guy to watch.  Fry, a lefty, pitched a perfect eighth and came back out for the first out of the ninth before giving way to Jones.  Fry has not allowed a hit this season, and if the White Sox decide to match up more in the ninth, he could become more of a factor.

Updated hierarchy: *Jones | Rondon | Soria.
* = closer-by-committee

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.

Cincinnati Reds – Amir Garrett picked up his sixth hold on Saturday by pitching a scoreless seventh inning.  He also let out quite a yell after he struck out Javier Baez to end the inning, causing the benches to clear.

Hierarchy remains: Iglesias | Hughes | Garrett.

VULTURE START WATCH
Today:
1. Sergio Romo – Sergio Romo will start for the second straight day on Sunday.  Can he make it three in a row on Monday or will the Vulture Start Watch be gone for good after today?

VULTURE SAVE WATCH
Today:
1. Josh Fields – Kenley Jansen saved both games of the doubleheader yesterday and has pitched in two of three.
2. Santiago Casilla/Yusmeiro Petit – Blake Treinen has pitched in two straight, throwing at least 20 pitches in both appearances.
3. Bruce Rondon – Nate Jones has pitched in three of four.

Monday
1. Bruce Rondon – If Jones pitches on Sunday, he should get Monday off

Joakim Soria’s struggles continue in Chicago

May 19, 2018

Chicago White Sox — The White Sox turned to Joakim Soria when faced with a four-run deficit in the final inning. Soria struggled through a 33-pitch outing, allowing three runs (two earned) and pushing his ERA to 5.65. Soria has allowed at least one earned run in each of his last three appearances. At this point, we have to think Rick Renteria will go to either Bruce Rondon or Nate Jones for the next save chance, but if enough time passes until then, maybe Soria will get another shot.

Hierarchy remains: *Soria | Rondon | Jones. 
* = closer-by-committee

Baltimore Orioles — Brad Brach got the last out of the 8th inning in what was then a two-run contest, then stayed on for the 9th to close out a 7-4 victory. Brach has established himself as the top choice in Baltimore when he is available, enough that this really isn’t a committee anymore. However, it may be a good time to sell high on Brach, as Darren O’Day and Zach Britton both threw bullpen sessions last night. O’Day could be activated Sunday, but Britton will need a rehab assignment before returning. With both of them getting closer to a return, Baltimore’s bullpen will get much more crowded soon.

Hierarchy remains: Brach | Givens | Bleier.

Kansas City Royals – Since Brian Flynn’s two-out vulture save on May 1, he has been relegated to long relief. In his place, Kevin McCarthy and Tim Hill have found themselves in higher leverage situations and have mostly delivered (as much as one can for a 14-30 team). Hill has been in more of a LOOGY role lately, so we will bump McCarthy, who picked up a seventh-inning hold last night, into the hierarchy for now. However, if you are scrapping for holds, Hill may be the better bet.

Updated hierarchy: Herrera | Keller | McCarthy.

Colorado Rockies – With a three-run lead on Friday, the Rockies turned to Bryan Shaw in the 7th inning. Shaw stayed on to pitch a clean 8th to pick up his 10th hold of the year. Shaw has only given up one run in his last 10 appearances, lowering his ERA from 7.11 to 4.43. Meanwhile, Jake McGee has been left out of some close games recently. Both McGee and Shaw have been subject to some pretty severe home-road splits (even for Colorado), but it seems that Shaw is slightly ahead of McGee in Bud Black’s mind for now.

Updated hierarchy: Davis | Ottavino | Shaw.

Houston Astros — Ken Giles has converted the last four save opportunities for the Astros, so it finally seems safe to remove the committee tag.

Hierarchy remains: Giles | Devenski | Peacock.

VULTURE START WATCH
Today:
1. Sergio Romo — With Tampa facing a righty-heavy heart of the Angels’ order, Kevin Cash will give Sergio Romo his first career start on Saturday night before bringing in rookie southpaw Ryan Yarbrough. Cash says he’s been kicking the idea around for a while. Will this new approach reap the benefits that Cash is hoping for? Will the Vulture Start Watch become a regular feature? Will Mike Trout make this experiment look like a failure two batters into it? Only time will tell, but with the Rays employing a four-man rotation this year, this plan may not be Romo’s last start.

VULTURE SAVE WATCH
Today:
1. Drew Steckenreider — Both Brad Ziegler and Kyle Barraclough have pitched in three of the last four. Ziegler has kept his pitch count low, so he may be available. But look for Don Mattingly to try to rest him if possible.

Sunday:
1. Kyle Barraclough/Drew Steckenreider — If Ziegler pitches again on Saturday, there’s a good chance he gets rested on Sunday.
2. Kirby Yates/Craig Stammen — Brad Hand threw 20 pitches to get four outs on Friday. If he has another lengthy outing on Saturday (and he may, with Kirby Yates having thrown 36 pitches over two straight outings), then either Yates (if rested on Saturday) or Craig Stammen may vulture a save Sunday.

Nate Jones latest to grab White Sox save, but who’s next?

May 18, 2018

Los Angeles Angels — There’s unfortunate news for Keynan Middleton, who will undergo Tommy John surgery, ending his season. Meanwhile, the healthy members of the Angels bullpen continue to falter. Jim Johnson entered Thursday night’s game in the seventh inning with a 1-0 deficit and ran into trouble — single, flyout, homer, single, single — before departing. He was charged with four runs (three earned) while recording just one out. We like Justin Anderson more and more to get the next save chance after Johnson’s performance Thursday.

Hierarchy remains: *Anderson | Johnson | Bedrosian.
* = closer-by-committee

Chicago White Sox — In true committee fashion, Nate Jones picked up a clean save for the White Sox on Thursday night, with Joakim Soria presumably available. Soria, who took a loss in his last outing, blew his most recent save chance, and since then, Jones and Bruce Rondon have picked up saves. With chances so rare for the 11-win White Sox, it’s tough for any potential closer to establish himself. Our guess is that Soria gets the next shot.

Hierarchy remains: *Soria | Rondon | Jones. 
* = closer-by-committee

Oakland A’s — The A’s bullpen continues to be . . . intriguing? Frustrating? Last night, Santiago Casilla came into the game in the third inning and allowed three runs over two innings — strange usage for a man who looks like the first in line for saves if Blake Treinen gets hurt. He has the team’s only vulture save this season (and zero holds), so for now that’s the only evidence keeping him in the hierarchy. If you’re hunting for holds, Yusmeiro Petit and Lou Trivino (0.59 ERA in 15.1 IP) are better bets.

Hierarchy remains: Treinen | Casilla | Petit.

San Francisco Giants — Mark Melancon is getting closer to returning. He tossed live batting practice Thursday and looked good. He’ll begin a minor league assignment this Sunday and, if all goes well, he should return to the majors in two weeks.

Hierarchy remains: Strickland | Watson | Dyson.

VULTURE SAVE WATCH
Today:
1. Joe Jimenez — Shane Greene pitched Thursday night — his fifth(!) appearance in six days.

Saturday:
1. Michael Feliz/Richard Rodriguez — Both Felipe Vazquez and Feliz have pitched in two straight. A Friday appearance for either would likely lead to an off day on Saturday.
2. Tony Watson — Hunter Strickland has pitched in two of three and three of five.