September 15, 2017
Kansas City Royals — Recently removed closer Kelvin Herrera got another chance to earn his job back Thursday, and he blew his second straight save chance since getting removed from the role, yielding a run in the ninth to tie the game and keep the Indians’ win streak alive. Brandon Maurer did the honors in the tenth, allowing the game-winning run. Given Herrera’s usage, we’ll slide him to the bottom of the hierarchy even though he blew his chance, because it seems Ned Yost is one of those “he’s got experience closing, so let’s use him as a closer” managers. As for Maurer, he has been dreadful since arriving in Kansas City. The fact that Ned Yost considered Herrera the best option for the ninth is concerning for Maurer. Scott Alexander likely benefits. He had pitched two straight heading into Thursday, so a night off makes sense. Expect him to get the next save chance.
Updated hierarchy: *Alexander | Maurer | Herrera.
* = closer-by-committee
Cleveland Indians — Is it bad luck to have Andrew Miller back? The Indians were 21-2 without him entering Thursday’s game, yet in his return (a scoreless seventh inning) they picked up their first extra-innings win and first walk-off win during the streak. We guess that guy can stick around. And even better for Cleveland, Terry Francona said Miller “looked much, much closer to Andrew than the last time.” That’s a good sign. He won’t crack our hierarchy quite yet, as he will likely get a couple days off and be eased back into a high-leverage role, as Cleveland wants to ensure he is ready for the postseason.
Updated hierarchy: Allen | Shaw | Smith.
Boston Red Sox — Speaking of Andrew Miller, the Red Sox may have finally found their replacement, albeit an insanely expensive one. David Price was activated from the DL Thursday and will pitch out of the bullpen for the rest of the season. It remains to be seen how the lefty will be used, but ESPN’s Scott Lauber thinks it may be in the Miller mold. Price can only hope to follow in the footsteps of Hall-of-Fame starter-turned reliever Dennis Eckersley, who Price once called “the greatest pitcher who ever lived.”
Hierarchy remains: Kimbrel | Reed | Kelly.
Houston Astros – Closer Ken Giles secured his second hold of the season against the Angels on Thursday. Wait, what? Giles was used in the eighth inning of a 3-1 game and escaped with a clean inning. Giles did face the top of the order in a pretty important and tight spot of the game (gee, is everyone trying to be Andrew Miller these days?). He did his job and his not in jeopardy of losing his actual job.
Hierarchy remains: Giles | Devenski | Harris.
VULTURE SAVE WATCH
1. Kyle Barraclough — Is Brad Ziegler (back problems) ready to return?
As for the others… It’s mid-September though, and some managers could choose to rest guys more often if a playoff spot is already clinched (like for Cleveland, see below). For other teams fighting for their playoff lives (see Minnesota below), they may push their best relievers as much as possible. For Houston, they basically have clinched (magic number is 3) so they may choose to rest Ken Giles Friday instead of doing so on Saturday.
1. Bryan Shaw — Cody Allen has pitched in two straight. Given the 22-game streak, he may be needed again Friday. If so, look for Bryan Shaw to get a crack on Saturday.
2. Trevor Hildenberger/Taylor Rogers — The entire late-inning crew has pitched two straight for the Twins. If Matt Belisle goes again Friday, perhaps the Twins turn to Trevor Hildenberger on Saturday, assuming he gets a rest the day before. If both men are unavailable, the Twins may turn to Taylor Rogers.
3. Chris Devenski — Ken Giles has gone in two of three. If he pitches Friday, that’ll almost certainly mean rest for Saturday.