Almost a meaningful Greg Holland sighting, plus Corey Knebel throws a bullpen

April 22, 2018

St. Louis Cardinals — For a minute, it looked like we might finally see a Greg Holland save opportunity.  With the Cardinals clinging to a one-run lead in the 9th inning, rookie Jordan Hicks gave up a couple walks and hit a batter to load the bases with one out.  Holland was warming in the bullpen, but Hicks got a double play to end the inning.  It shouldn’t be too much longer before Greg Holland finally gets a chance to do what he was signed to do.

Hierarchy remains: *Norris | Holland | Lyons.
* = closer-by-committee

Milwaukee Brewers — Corey Knebel threw a bullpen on Saturday, his first time on the mound since injuring his hamstring.  There is still no timetable for Knebel’s return, but it would make one Brewers fan extremely happy if they cut Brent Suter to make room for Knebel on the active roster.

Hierarchy remains: *Hader | Albers | Barnes.
* = closer-by-committee

Detroit Tigers – Warwick Saupold picked up his first career save on Saturday.  Saupold recorded the last seven outs of a 12-4 Tigers win.  Although Saupold has a 0.00 ERA so far this season, he isn’t quite ready to crack the Tigers’ hierarchy

Hierarchy remains: Greene | Jimenez | Wilson.

Chicago White Sox — Danny Farquhar suffered a brain hemorrhage during the game on Friday.  Our thought and prayers are with Danny and his family.

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

1. Juan Nicasio – Edwin Diaz threw 40 pitches yesterday in recording the save and also pitched on Friday so he will almost certainly get Sunday off.
2. Robert Gsellman – Jeurys Familia has pitched in back-to-back games, including a blown save yesterday.  AJ Ramos has also pitched in back-to-back games and three of four.
3. Luis Garcia/Adam Morgan – Hector Neris has pitched in two straight, including a four out save yesterday.  Garcia and Morgan have also both pitched in two straight but thrown far fewer pitches so they could still be available today.

1. Cam Bedrosian – Keynan Middleton needed 28 pitches to get the save on Saturday so if he pitches again today, he will likely get Monday off.
2. Juan Nicasio – Diaz might get Monday off also after throwing 59 pitches over the past two games.


Updated MLB Closer Depth Chart

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* = closer-by-committee

Baltimore moves into committee status; Hector Neris free and clear in Philly

April 21, 2018

St. Louis Cardinals — Okay, we can’t keep pretending that Greg Holland is at the top of this bullpen when he never sniffs a save chance. We’ll adjust when and if he gets a role commensurate with his paycheck, but for now, Bud Norris and his five saves have earned the slot. The Cardinals have a lot of good late-inning options behind those two, but Tyler Lyons has three eighth-inning holds in his last three appearances, so we’ll give him the nod.

Updated hierarchy: *Norris | Holland | Lyons.
* = closer-by-committee

Baltimore Orioles — With a two-run lead over the Indians, Darren O’Day converted the save opportunity. Brad Brach hadn’t pitched in three days, so this wasn’t a traditional vulture save. After the game, Buck Showalter said that he liked the matchups for O’Day, and wanted to give him a chance to bounce back after a rough outing on Wednesday. These comments, coming after Brach pitched the seventh on Tuesday, mean this should be considered a committee at least until Zach Britton returns in about a month. Meanwhile, Richard Bleier pitched two perfect innings ahead of O’Day for his third hold of the year (0.61 ERA). Bleier has earned a place in the hierarchy over Mychal Givens.

Updated hierarchy: *Brach | O’Day | Bleier.

Philadelphia Phillies — Hector Neris picked up his third save last night, with Adam Morgan and Luis Garcia getting him the ball. The roles in the Philadelphia pen seem solid enough to pull the committee asterisk.

Updated hierarchy: Neris | Garcia | Morgan.

Houston Astros — Ken Giles pitched the ninth inning with a lead for the first time since April 9th. Sure, it was a 10-run lead, but with Giles hurting, it had to be a relief for his owners to see him put together a clean inning. The next save opportunity will provide some clarity in Houston, but with Chris Devenski so valuable in a more flexible role, we think Giles still has the inside track to keep the closer’s job if he can stay healthy.

Hierarchy remains: *Giles | Devenski | Peacock.
* = closer-by-committee

1. Joe Jimenez — Shane Greene threw 38 pitches in Friday’s doubleheader and has gone in four of the last five games.
2. Archie Bradley — Brad Boxberger had a rough outing last night, and he has pitched in three straight.

1. Sergio Romo — An appearance today would be four out of five for Alex Colome.
2. Addison Reed — If Fernando Rodney pitches today, it will be three out of four.

Ken Giles is hurting, but how badly?

April 20, 2018

Houston Astros — Manager A.J. Hinch revealed before Thursday’s game that Ken Giles has been dealing with back tightness that has “gotten a bit worse.” The tightness was the reason for his absence for the last couple days. Giles said after Thursday’s game that he believes he must have slept wrong, but he’ll be “ready to go” on Friday. So has his tightness gotten worse, or is he ready to go? We’ll see what happens Friday night, but consider handcuffing yourself with Chris Devenski in the meantime, if he’s available.

Hierarchy remains: *Giles | Devenski | Peacock.
* = closer-by-committee

St. Louis Cardinals – Likely future closer Greg Holland got in some work with his team down three in the seventh inning Thursday night and held the Cubs to no hits with just one walk in a clean frame. He’ll need to string a few appearances like this one together before he is given the full reins as closer.

Hierarchy remains: *Holland | Norris | Hicks.
* = closer-by-committee

Baltimore Orioles — Injured closer Zach Britton is scheduled to throw off a half-mound on Friday — a big step in the rehabilitation process. Britton still projects to be out until at least late May.

Hierarchy remains:  Brach | O’Day | Givens.

San Diego Padres – Kirby Yates was activated off the disabled list on Thursday when first eligible. He should resume his role at the back end of the Padres bullpen going forward.

Updated hierarchy: Hand | Yates | Stammen.

San Francisco Giants — Manager Bruce Bochy said Mark Melancon is about a week away from playing catch. Sure, it’s a good sign, but he still has a long way to go.

Hierarchy remains: Strickland | Watson | Dyson.

1. Santiago Casilla/Ryan Buchter – Blake Treinen threw three innings on Wednesday and probably needs another rest today. As we mentioned yesterday, this could offer some insight into what the A’s hierarchy really looks like. All it requires is Oakland having a lead against the 16-2 Red Sox — and protecting it.

1. Archie Bradley/Yoshihisa Hirano – Brad Boxberger and Archie Bradley have each pitched in two straight entering today’s games.
2. CJ Edwards/Steve Cishek – Brandon Morrow, CJ Edwards and Steve Cishek have all pitched in two of the last three. Usage today will determine rest for someone in this trio for Saturday. If they all make an appearance again today, perhaps Justin Wilson, Pedro Strop or Brian Duensing would get a look on Saturday.
3. Joe Jimenez – If Shane Greene throws today, that’ll be three out of four for him.

Grimm moments for the Kansas City bullpen

April 19, 2018

Kansas City Royals — Less than two weeks ago, Justin Grimm had three holds, a 2.08 ERA, and the inside track on the Royals’ setup job. In five appearances since, he has an ERA over 50 (a stratospheric 243.00 over his last two games) and a style aptly described on Twitter as fat guy in a 5K: “walk, walk, run, walk, run, shower.” On Wednesday, he faced seven batters, let six score, and was just a triple away from the reverse cycle. All this to say: he’s not setting up anymore. We’ll bump up rookies Tim Hill and Brad Keller, with the understanding that it could be weeks before the Royals can confirm it by having a lead to protect.

Updated hierarchy: Herrera | Hill | Keller.

Milwaukee Brewers — Keeping Kato Kaelin happy and vulture save hunters honest, Craig Counsell chose Jacob Barnes to close out Wednesday’s game with Josh Hader getting a day of rest.

Hierarchy remains: *Hader | Albers | Barnes.
* = closer-by-committee

San Francisco Giants — Hunter Strickland blew his second save of the season, but Brad Boxberger gave up two runs in the top of the tenth. Bruce Bochy called on Cory Gearrin for the save in the tenth. Although Gearrin gave up two straight doubles, then walked the bases loaded, he escaped with the save.

Hierarchy remains: Strickland | Watson | Dyson.

Oakland A’s — The A’s called on setup guy Santiago Casilla right away in Wednesday’s game, summoning him in the fourth inning with two on, down three. He gave up his first two hits of the season, expanding the lead to five. Burning Casilla so early forced Oakland to use Blake Treinen for the ninth, tenth, and eleventh innings (44 pitches), then rely on rookie Lou Trivino for three impressive innings to earn the win in 14. We don’t expect Casilla to get a lot of play in the fourth going forward; although Ryan Buchter has been used late, Casilla is probably still the handcuff of choice for the A’s.

Hierarchy remains: Treinen | Casilla | Buchter. 

1. Blake Parker/Jim Johnson — Keynan Middleton threw 30 pitches last night and Cam Bedrosian has gone in two straight (35 pitches).

1. Joe Jimenez — Shane Greene has gone in two straight.
2. Santiago Casilla/Ryan Buchter — A save chance on Friday may give us insight into the Oakland hierarchy, as Blake Treinen is likely to get a second day off after pitching three innings on Wednesday.

Chris Devenski, Bud Norris pick up saves

April 18, 2018

Houston Astros — After Will Harris kept the Astros ahead, 4-1, through the eighth inning, it was Chris Devenski who got the ball for the ninth. Devenski converted the save and now leads Houston with a whopping two saves this season. AJ Hinch will always look for the best matchup, and Devenski has been terrific against left-handed hitters, two of which were due up in the ninth. Ken Giles owners have every right to be frustrated, as Hinch’s committee appears to be here to stay.

Hierarchy remains: *Giles | Devenski | Peacock.
* = closer-by-committee

St. Louis Cardinals – Mike Matheny called on Greg Holland to protect a 5-1 lead in the eighth inning. A walk, a two-run homer and another walk ended Holland’s night early, however, and Bud Norris came on to convert a five-out save. Norris now has four saves this season and should be the team’s closer. However, with Matheny insistent on easing Holland into that role, Norris’ grasp on the ninth inning remains tenuous. For now though, Norris is the man to own in St. Louis. Meanwhile, Matheny expects Luke Gregerson to be part of the setup mix in what is becoming a crowded bullpen.

Hierarchy remains: *Holland | Norris | Hicks.
* = closer-by-committee

Los Angeles Dodgers – Kenley Jansen now has as many blown saves as he does converted saves after he allowed the Padres to tie Tuesday’s tilt in the ninth. Jansen got off to a rough start to the season, and a combination of low velocity and poor command of his cutter was once again on display Tuesday. After the game, manager Dave Roberts said that Jansen wasn’t right, but also said that he’d run Jansen back out there again. Jansen said he’d figure it out, and he’s earned a longer leash than others. Meanwhile, keep an eye out for Pedro Baez, who earned his first hold of the season on Tuesday thanks to four strikeouts. He has 12 strikeouts against just two walks in 8.2 IP and a 1.04 ERA.

Hierarchy remains: Jansen | Fields | Cingrani.

1. AJ Minter – Arodys Vizcaino has thrown 43 pitches over back-to-back games.
2. Matt Albers – Josh Hader threw 29 pitches in a two-inning save on Tuesday, and Craig Counsell wants to make sure Hader gets the proper rest.

1. AJ Minter – If Vizcaino gets the ball today, he’ll almost certainly get Thursday off.
2. Matt Albers – If Hader does get a second straight save chance on Wednesday, he’ll get that rest on Thursday.