Wade Davis converts save while Drew Steckenrider blows save

August 19, 2018

Miami Marlins – Drew Steckenrider got his first save chance since Kyle Barraclough was removed from the closer’s role, but he couldn’t convert.  He gave up a game-tying home run to the first batter he faced but was able to get out the inning without any further damage to keep the game tied.  Steckenrider ended up with the win after the Marlins took the lead back in the top of the 10th and Brett Graves picked up his first career save with a scoreless bottom of the inning.  Graves has made eleven appearances and the Marlins have 9 losses and 2 wins in those games.  In the 2 wins, Graves has a win and a save so he is certainly making the most of his appearances in Marlins’ wins.  Adam Conley threw 1.2 scoreless innings earlier in the game and could be an option for future save chances, but he gave up 5 runs in his previous outing so we will see where the Marlins turn next.

Hierarchy remains: *Steckenrider | Conley | Guerra.
* = closer-by-committee

Colorado Rockies — Wade Davis converted his 34th save of the season on Saturday night.  Since giving up three runs on August 9th, Davis has strung together four straight scoreless appearances, picking up a win and two saves during that time.  He may be back on track and seems to have cooled down his hot seat for now.

Hierarchy remains: Davis | Ottavino | Oh. 

Atlanta Braves — AJ Minter blew the save on Saturday, giving up three runs in the ninth inning.  Minter has been so good recently, only one run in his previous twelve innings, that one blown save probably isn’t much cause for concern.  However, a cut on his finger could be cause for concern.  Minter said the cut did not affect his pitches, but this is something worth monitoring to see if it becomes a bigger issue.

Hierarchy remains: Minter | Brach | Winkler.

VULTURE SAVE WATCH
Today
1. Brad Brach – Brach could see a save chance if AJ Minter’s cut on his finger is bothering him today.

Monday
1. Kevin McCarthy/Brandon Maurer – If Wily Peralta goes on Sunday, it will be two straight and three of four. The same will be true for McCarthy and Maurer so if one of them is rested on Sunday, he could get the save chance on Monday.

Kenley Jansen hopes to be back next week

August 18, 2018

Los Angeles Dodgers – The injuries keep piling up for the Dodgers as Erik Goeddel returned to the DL yesterday. Meanwhile, the Dodgers hope to get Kenley Jansen back early next week, as the all-star closer chose to delay surgery until the offseason. The Dodgers need the help since the bullpen has been woeful in the past week, although they did a fine job protecting a 10-run lead last night. Jansen is likely to go straight back to closing as soon as he is cleared to play, so this may be the last weekend for Scott Alexander or Kenta Maeda to snag a save opportunity.

Updated hierarchy: *Alexander | Maeda | Chargois.
* = closer-by-committee

San Francisco Giants – Hunter Strickland is due to be activated from the DL today and should return to high-leverage situations immediately. Will Smith has been outstanding for the Giants, recording 10 saves over the past six weeks, so until Strickland starts pulling save opportunities from him, he will return behind Smith and Tony Watson.

Updated hierarchy: Smith | Watson | Strickland. 

Chicago Cubs – As the Vulture Save Watch noted, CJ Edwards and Pedro Strop were both given the night off, leaving a mixture of four pitchers to protect a one-run lead. Joe Maddon elected to play matchups, and it fell to Jesse Chavez to get the final two outs of the game. He walked a batter but got David Freese to ground into the Pirates seventh double play of the night, tying a major league record. Chavez has been excellent since coming over from the Texas Rangers, but he isn’t going to crack the stacked Cubs hierarchy.

Hierarchy remains: Strop | Kintzler | Edwards.

Cleveland Indians – Cody Allen got the ninth inning for the Indians in a one-run game last night. He worked around a walk to strike out two batters and earn his 24th save of the year. This is also his fourth save since the Indians acquired Brad Hand. Hand also has four saves, making this one of the most even committees in the league. Expect Allen and Hand to trade off save opportunities as long as both pitchers are effective.

Hierarchy remains: *Hand | Allen | Miller.
* = closer-by-committee

New York Yankees — In a curious move, the Yankees brought out newly acquired closer Mother Nature while they batted in the 7th inning. She brought the thunder, ending the game moments after Giancarlo Stanton put the Yankees up by two with a homer off of Marcus Stroman. Never one to accumulate statistics, Nature granted the recorded save to David Robertson, but unofficial records have her perfect in save opportunities in her journeywoman career, having suited up for all 30 teams at some point. Despite her age of roughly 4.5 billion years, Nature shows no signs of stopping, but isn’t a consistent part of the Yankees bullpen.

Hierarchy remains: Chapman | Betances | Britton.

Minnesota Twins — Despite Trevor Hildenberger converting all three save chances he has been given since the Fernando Rodney trade, Paul Molitor elected to use Matt Magill to protect a two-run lead in the 9th. Magill gave up a run and put runners on first and second before Taylor Rogers came in to put out the fire. Rogers got a groundout to earn his first save of the season. Rogers had a rough start to the season, but he has run off 11 straight scoreless appearances and has five holds in August. Rogers is generally a LOOGY-type pitcher, but given his recent run he is worth an add in holds leagues if he is available. He may even snag a couple more save opportunities if the matchups are right.

Hierarchy remains: *Hildenberger | Reed | May.
* = closer-by-committee

Philadelphia Phillies — Seranthony Dominugez earned a break following two straight nights of work, which left the door open for Pat Neshek to record his third save of the year after Victor Arano pitched against the top of the Mets order in the eighth.

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

VULTURE SAVE WATCH
Today:
1. Jared Hughes — Raisel Iglesias threw 26 pitches last night and has pitched in three of the last four. Hughes has pitched on the same days, but only threw three pitches last night.
2. Cory Gearrin — Jose Leclerc has pitched back-to-back days (30 pitches) and could get today off.

Sunday:
1. Jeurys Familia — Blake Trienen threw 22 pitches last night and is coming off of three days in a row earlier this week. If he goes today, he will likely get a rest on Sunday.
2. Jordan Hicks — Today would be two straight and three of four for Bud Norris.

Koda Glover converts for the Nationals

August 17, 2018

Washington Nationals — In a bullpen wracked by injuries, Koda Glover stepped up to earn his first save of the year with a scoreless ninth inning. Glover should remain first choice for saves with Sean Doolittle, Kelvin Herrera, and Ryan Madson all on the disabled list.

Hierarchy remains: Glover | Miller | Holland.

Philadelphia Phillies — It’s not often we discuss the bullpen of a team who lost by 20 runs, but old friend Hector Neris made his return in as low-leverage a situation you can get in Game 1 of a doubleheader on Thursday, with the Phillies down 15-4 in the sixth inning, right before the position players took the hill. Neris mowed down a Mets offense — one that was clearly on fire — striking out the side in order. He may break into the hierarchy before long, but let’s see some high-leverage looks first. In the nightcap, Seranthony Dominguez nailed down the save.

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

Tampa Bay Rays — With the Yankees threatening with two outs in the eighth inning on Thursday, Sergio Romo was called in. He induced a grounder to end that inning, but ran into trouble in the ninth, allowing two hits and a walk before being pulled for lefty sidearmer Adam Kolarek, of all people. Kolarek got Greg Bird to foul out, then struck out the next two batters to nail down his first career save, vulture-style. And for Romo owners in holds leagues, consider his Thursday hold a bonus!

Hierarchy remains: Romo | Alvarado | Roe.

Atlanta Braves — As the Vulture Save Watch predicted, Brad Brach was called on to close things out for the Braves on Thursday. But the VSW cannot predict whether the vulture candidate actually converts the save; that’s on the pitcher. Brach allowed two hits, a walk, and three unearned runs to blow it, taking his first loss with Atlanta.

Hierarchy remains: Minter | Brach | Winkler.

VULTURE SAVE WATCH
Today:
1. Brandon Kintzler/CJ Edwards — Pedro Strop has gone in two straight, including an intense, high-leverage save yesterday that involved a staredown from his own first baseman.

Saturday:
1. Jared Hughes — Raisel Iglesias has pitched in two of three.
2. Adam Ottavino — Same for Wade Davis.
3. Ryan Tepera — Same for Ken Giles.
4. Brad Brach — Same for AJ Minter (and three of five).
5. Victor Arano/Pat Neshek — Seranthony Dominguez has gone in two straight.

Trevor Hildenberger with his third straight save, but the job isn’t all his yet

August 16, 2018

Minnesota Twins — Trevor Hildenberger may be getting the hang of this, picking up his third save in as many chances since Fernando Rodney’s departure. Paul Molitor insists that the closer role is still fluid, and although Hildenberger was asked to pick a closer entrance song on Wednesday, so were four other guys with a shot to close (Addison Reed, Trevor May, Taylor Rogers, and Tyler Duffey). Reed has been passed over for those other guys lately in the middle innings, but if Molitor is telling the truth, Reed could still get the next chance.

Hierarchy remains: *Hildenberger | Reed | May.
* = closer-by-committee

Oakland A’s — Oakland is consistently using Fernando Rodney later than Lou Trivino, and we have to believe that Rodney would be the team’s third choice for saves at this point.

Updated hierarchy: Treinen | Familia | Rodney.

Toronto Blue Jays — Ken Giles gave up a one-out home run in the ninth on Wednesday, but he still converted his third save in four days — enough to pull the committee asterisk from the Blue Jays.

Hierarchy remains: Giles | Tepera | Clippard.

Chicago White Sox — Ugh, these guys again. Wednesday it was Jeanmar Gomez to start the ninth with a walk, a single, and a strikeout. Lefty Luis Avilan hadn’t pitched with a lead in two weeks, so of course Rick Renteria called his number. Avilan wasn’t particularly effective, allowing Gomez’s two baserunners to score on two hits, but he managed to secure a third out for his second save. STAY AWAY.

Hierarchy remains: *Cedeno | Vieira | Minaya. 
* = closer-by-committee

VULTURE SAVE WATCH
Today:
1. Brad Brach — AJ Minter has appeared in three of four.
2. Addison Reed — Two straight nights for Hildenberger and a manager who’s talking matchups.
3. Ryan Tepera — Ken Giles has gone in three of four.
4. Jordan Hicks — So has Bud Norris.
5. Justin Anderson — And Blake Parker.

Friday:
1. Craig Stammen — Kirby Yates has pitched in two of three.

Ryan Madson’s DL stint opens the door for Koda Glover

August 15, 2018

Washington Nationals – Ryan Madson thought he would avoid the disabled list, but it turns out that’s not the case and he’ll become the latest Washington reliever to hit the DL. Prior to Tuesday’s game, Dave Martinez indicated that Koda Glover is now his first option at closer. He also said that Justin Miller would have gotten the ninth on Tuesday if the Nationals were in a save situation since Glover was unavailable. There was some positive news yesterday, as Sean Doolittle threw off a mound for the first time in weeks, but he is still at least a week or two away from returning.

Updated hierarchy: Glover | Miller | Holland.

Chicago White Sox — If you had Xavier Cedeno in your lineup last night, congratulations! After Juan Minaya walked the first batter of the ninth inning on five pitches, Cedeno came in and collected his first save of the season. Cedeno wasn’t even the best White Sox lefty on Tuesday, as Jace Fry struck out four of the seven batters he faced. What does this mean for the late innings on the South Side? Minaya certainly didn’t help his case to close more games, but with both Cedeno and Fry pitching well (for now), Luis Avilan may currently be the lefty on the outside looking in at the moment. Thyago Vieira still has the stuff to close, but it’s telling that Rick Renteria opted to keep Cedeno in last night’s game against the top of the Tigers’ order rather than keep mixing and matching. We’ll move Cedeno to the top of this volatile hierarchy and keep hoping you don’t have to rely on any of these guys for saves.

Updated hierarchy: *Cedeno | Vieira | Minaya. 
* = closer-by-committee

Los Angeles Dodgers – Kenta Maeda made his first appearance out of the bullpen since being moved there, pitching the ninth inning a 1-1 game. Maeda, who may not be thrilled to be in the bullpen, allowed three hits and the go-ahead run. Meanwhile, Ross Stripling is meeting with a doctor today with regards to his stiff back. While he probably won’t be available today, Stripling doesn’t believe it will be anything long term. Erik Goeddel, just activated from the DL, was warming with Maeda for the ninth inning last night and should once again pitch in high-leverage spots.

Hierarchy remains: *Alexander | Maeda | Stripling.
* = closer-by-committee

St. Louis Cardinals – Just as the Vulture Save Watch predicted, Bud Norris got Tuesday off and Jordan Hicks picked up his fourth save of the season. It is worth noting that Norris is dealing with some soreness in his right hip, so he may get some additional rest during the week.

Hierarchy remains: Norris | Hicks | Hudson.

Tampa Bay Rays – The Rays activated Chaz Roe from the DL prior to Tuesday’s game. Roe should return to pitching in high-leverage situations during the late innings.

Updated hierarchy: Romo | Alvarado | Roe.

San Francisco Giants – Mark Melancon has not pitched too many innings of any consequence lately. Sam Dyson has the same amount of holds since August 2 as Melancon does, but Dyson is more likely at this point to get a save chance if Will Smith and Tony Watson are unavailable. Keep an eye on Reyes Moronta as well. Moronta owns a 2.05 ERA, a 1.04 WHIP and has struck out 62 batters in 52.2 IP this season.

Updated hierarchy: Smith | Watson | Dyson. 

Philadelphia Phillies – Hector Neris is back with the Phillies for the third different time this season. Will the third time be the charm? Gabe Kapler seems to think so, saying that he won’t hesitate to use Neris in a tight spot. We’ll certainly hesitate to put Neris back in the hierarchy right away, though Kapler’s confidence in Neris is not unfounded. In 19 appearances at Lehigh Valley, Neris did not allow a home run, posted a 1.45 ERA and allowed just 17 baserunners in 18.2 IP.

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

Atlanta Braves — Arodys Vizcaino is scheduled to begin throwing today, which is good news for the Braves. There’s still no timetable for Vizcaino’s return to a bullpen that has been pretty good in his absence. Jonny Venters still hasn’t allowed a run since returning to Atlanta after last night’s outing, and he should continue to see high-leverage spots along with Dan Winkler as the Braves look to get the ball to Brad Brach and AJ Minter.

Hierarchy remains: Minter | Brach | Winkler.

VULTURE SAVE WATCH
Today
1. Jeurys Familia – Blake Treinen has pitched in three straight games. Fernando Rodney pitched the eighth inning last night as both Familia and Lou Trivino were held back.
2. Tony Watson – Will Smith has also pitched in three straight contests.
3. Matt Barnes – Craig Kimbrel has pitched in three of the last four, and if the Sox have a three-run lead, Barnes may get the save chance over Kimbrel.

Tomorrow
1. Brad Brach – AJ Minter may get Thursday off if he has a lengthy outing today.
2. Adam Ottavino/Seung Hwan Oh – Both Wade Davis and Ottavino will have pitched in two straight and three of four if they make an appearance today.