Ty Buttrey now atop Angels hierarchy; Keone Kela shut down

September 17, 2018

Baltimore Orioles – Paul Fry got the final five outs of Sunday’s game — four by strikeout — to pick up his first save of the year. He entered with the Orioles up by 3 in the 8th, then stayed on after their extended their lead. Mychal Givens continues to be the first option for saves down the stretch in Baltimore.

Hierarchy remains: Givens | Fry | Wright Jr.

Boston Red Sox – With Craig Kimbrel having pitched in three of the past four, the Red Sox gave Sunday’s save chance to Steven Wright. Earlier, Wright had narrowly avoided time travel after microwaving some instant coffee, but it didn’t seem to affect his performance, as he floated his way through a hitless inning for his first career save.

Updated hierarchy: Kimbrel | Wright | Brasier.

Tampa Bay Rays – After pitching just once in three weeks, Sergio Romo has now appeared in three straight games, notching his third consecutive save. The committee tag returns to Tampa, with Romo back on top. We honestly have no idea what was going on during his disappearance act in late August and September, and as far as we can tell, nobody in the Tampa media ever bothered to ask. Baffling.

Updated hierarchy: *Romo | Alvarado | Roe. 
* = closer-by-committee

Los Angeles Angels – Ty Buttrey has gotten the last three Angels saves. Blake Parker has been totally fine lately, so chalk this one up to Scioscia being Scioscia, but Buttrey now sits atop this committee.

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

Pittsburgh Pirates – Over the weekend, the Pirates announced that Keone Kela will not pitch again this season, as they attempt to protect his arm from any additional workload. Kyle Crick and Richard Rodriguez will slide up — they got the 8th and 7th innings, respectively, in both of the last two games.

Updated hierarchy: Vazquez | Crick | Rodriguez. 

1. Tyler Clippard/Ryan Tepera – Ken Giles has pitched 2.1 IP over the last two days.

1. Kyle Crick/Richard Rodriguez/Edgar Santana – If Vazquez, Crick, or Rodriguez goes today, it’ll be three straight. Monitor usage to see who will be available tomorrow.
2. Taylor Rogers – If Trevor Hildenberger goes today, it’ll be back to back and three of four.
3. Joe Jimenez – If Shane Greene goes today, it’ll be back to back and three of four.


Steve Cishek records save and Sergio Romo returns

September 16, 2018

Chicago Cubs — After Justin Wilson pitched a scoreless 8th inning, the Cubs mixed and matched through the 9th.  Righty Jesse Chavez started the inning and recorded the first out, lefty Randy Rosario got the second out, and righty Steve Cishek came on for the final out to record his fourth save of the season.  The Cubs have a lot of quality bullpen arms and Joe Madden likes to play matchups so it’s going to be hard to predict who will get the final out each night.

Updated hierarchy: *Cishek | Wilson | Edwards.
* = closer-by-committee

Tampa Bay Rays – After being absent for most of the beginning of September, Sergio Romo has now pitched the 9th inning in two straight games, including recording his 20th save last night.  We will move Romo to 1st in line and he could turn this back into a committee with Jose Alvarado if he continues to be available down the stretch.

Updated hierarchy: Alvarado | Romo | Roe.

Chicago White Sox – Juan Minaya got the last four outs of the White Sox 2-0 victory to pick up his first save of the season.  Minaya has not allowed a run in September and could be an option for saves behind Jace Fry and Nates Jones for the rest of the year.

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

Boston Red Sox — With the Red Sox protecting a two-run lead, they sent Steven Wright out for the 7th, Ryan Brasier for the 8th, and Craig Kimbrel for the 9th.  All three responded with scoreless innings with Kimbrel recording his 41st save of the season.  Joe Kelly has given up at least one run in half of his September appearances, while Ryan Brasier has a win and two holds in his past three outings.  The Red Sox would like to get Kelly pitching well going into the playoffs but for now, they might continue to turn to Brasier ahead of Kimbrel.

Updated hierarchy: Kimbrel | Brasier | Wright.

Philadelphia Phillies — Pat Neshek pitched a perfect 9th inning yesterday for the save, although Tommy Hunter had arguably the tougher task as he faced the 3-4-5 hitters for the Marlins in the 8th inning.  Neshek and Hunter should both continue to see save chances down the stretch for the Phillies.

Hierarchy remains: *Hunter | Neshek | Dominguez.
* = closer-by-committee

1. Kenta Maeda – Kenley Jansen got yesterday off but the Dodgers might want to give him another day off after pitching in three in a row prior.

1. Chris Martin – Jose Leclerc has pitched in two in a row.
2. Paul Fry – If Mychal Givens pitches on Sunday, it will be two in a row and three of four.

Jorge De La Rosa vultures a save for the Cubs

September 15, 2018

Chicago Cubs — The Cubs’ patchwork bullpen turned in an excellent performance last night with Dillon Maples and Jaime Garcia pitching ahead of Jorge De La Rosa. De La Rosa is a surprise candidate for the first save of the Strop and Morrow-less Cubs, but Steve Cishek, CJ Edwards and Justin Wilson had all pitched in three of the last four games, leaving De La Rosa as a well-rested option. The 37-year-old isn’t likely to see many more save chances, as Cishek and Edwards have the inside track on this committee and Brandon Morrow is set to return next week, but last night highlights just how wide open this committee is and how willing Maddon is to play matchups in the late innings when necessary.

Hierarchy remains: *Cishek | Edwards | Wilson.
* = closer-by-committee

Chicago White Sox – Jace Fry pitched a clean 8th inning with a two-run lead, which left Nate Jones for the 9th inning. Jones gave up a hit but closed the game out for his first save since May 22. Activated earlier this week, this was Jones’ first high-leverage action since his return. Jones is certainly in the mix for saves during the last few weeks, but with the White Sox out of contention and Rick Renteria indicating that they will monitor Jones’ usage, he probably will only see a couple more opportunities to close this year.

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

Arizona Diamondbacks – Yoshihisa Hirano wasn’t perfect on Friday, but he bounced back after a blown save on Wednesday to close out a 4-2 win at Houston. Brad Ziegler came on in the seventh to strike out George Springer in a tie game, then stayed on for the eighth after Arizona took the lead. It looks like Hirano and Ziegler are the two leaders of the pack for the Diamondbacks’ committee at the moment if they can continue to pitch well.

Updated hierarchy: *Hirano | Ziegler | Diekman.
* = closer-by-committee

Atlanta Braves – The Braves activated Arodys Vizcaino from the 60-day DL on Friday. According to Brian Snitker, it’s unlikely that Vizcaino sees any high-leverage work right away. With two weeks to prepare for the postseason, expect the Braves to ease Vizcaino back into the late-inning mix as he auditions for a role on the playoff roster.

Hierarchy remains: Minter | Venters | Winkler.

New York Yankees – With the Yankees clinging to an eight-run lead, they turned to Luis Cessa to start the 7th inning. He pitched well enough to go out for the 8th and then the 9th, picking up his second three-inning save of the year to preserve the shutout. Cessa is long relief for the Yankees and is not a normal part of the late innings.

Hierarchy remains: *Betances | Robertson | Britton.
* = closer-by-committee

1. Jake Diekman — Both Yoshihisa Hirano and Brad Ziegler have pitched in three of the last four.
2. Kenta Maeda — Kenley Jansen has pitched in three straight games.
3. Taylor Rogers/Trevor May –  Trevor Hildenberger gave up a walk-off grand slam last night and has now pitched in three of the last four. He may get tonight off after last night’s disaster. Taylor Rogers has also pitched in three of four.

1. Joe Jimenez – Today would be back-to-back and three of four for Shane Greene.
2. Josh Hader – The same goes for Jeremy Jeffress.
3. Chaz Roe/Sergio Romo – And both Roe and Jose Alvarado.
4. Jeurys Familia – Blake Treinen threw 29 pitches last night, so another long outing could mean he gets a rest on Sunday.


Strop hamstring injury leaves Cubs bullpen in disarray

September 14, 2018

Chicago Cubs — Pedro Strop injured his left hamstring while trying to beat out a throw to first base in the 10th inning of Thursday’s game. Strop was batting with one out and the bases loaded, puzzling Cubs fans, but Joe Maddon explained that he planned to send Strop back out to pitch if the team scored. Strop says he’s out for at least two weeks and will undergo an MRI this weekend. Replacing Strop should be a committee with Steve Cishek at the front, followed by the struggling CJ Edwards, Justin Wilson, and perhaps Jesse Chavez. Cishek closed earlier this season when Brandon Morrow was out, while Chavez has nailed down three second-half saves himself. Morrow, for what it’s worth, hopes to return next week, and what was slated to be a gradual return to high-leverage might need to be sped up. Who actually recorded the save Thursday? Of course, it was no one we just mentioned: enter Robert Rosario. It was Rosario’s first career save, but his peripherals (5.5 K/9, 1.43 WHIP) suggest you shouldn’t count on him to pick up many more chances.

Updated hierarchy: *Cishek | Edwards | Wilson.
* = closer-by-committee

Boston Red Sox — The Red Sox bullpen continued to be a mess behind Craig Kimbrel on Thursday. Clinging to a one-run lead, Joe Kelly coughed it up, allowing a walk, a single, and two hit batters. Out of 15 pitches, he threw just five strikes. When he’s going good, he can be a dominant setup man. When he’s not… well, he can be the team’s worst reliever. But there’s really no one ready yet to step into the eighth inning with Kelly struggling, at least until Matt Barnes comes back… perhaps next week after he throws off a mound? Don’t sleep on Steven Wright, who has been used a lot in high-leverage, late-game spots lately. Also, there’s Ryan Brasier, who may continue to get his late-inning cracks, too.

Hierarchy remains: Kimbrel | Kelly | Wright.

1. Kenta Maeda — Kenley Jansen has pitched in two straight, but he had an arduous outing Thursday (29 pitches). He may need a day off.
2. Kevin McCarthy — Wily Peralta has pitched in three of four.

1. Joe Kelly/Steven Wright — Craig Kimbrel has pitched in two straight. Joe Kelly has not looked good lately, so does manager Alex Cora give Steven Wright a shot?
2. Greg Holland — Entering Friday, Sean Doolittle has pitched in two of three, throwing 46 pitches.
3. Seth Lugo — Robert Gsellman has pitched in two of three.
4. Paul Fry — So has Mychal Givens.

Pedro Strop appears to suffer bad hamstring injury

September 13, 2018

Chicago Cubs – Closer Pedro Strop was injured Thursday trying to beat out a throw at first base. ESPN’s Buster Olney says based on his reaction, it looks like a left hamstring injury. If that diagnosis is correct, it’s a tough blow to the Cubs, who will now turn to a committee of Steve Cishek, CJ Edwards and Justin Wilson, who all have picked up late-inning holds lately. Don’t sleep on Jesse Chavez, though, who has three saves in the second half. Regular closer Brandon Morrow expects to be back before the end of the season, though what his role will be isn’t clear yet.

Updated hierarchy: *Cishek | Edwards | Wilson
* = closer-by-committee