Tyler Clippard gets the first chance to close in the new Toronto bullpen

May 10, 2018

Toronto Blue Jays — Tyler Clippard got the first shot at a Toronto save in the absence of Roberto Osuna. Clippard doesn’t have the job locked down, though; all indications are that it’s a true committee. Seung Hwan Oh, the favorite of many to lead the committee, pitched the sixth in Wednesday’s game, followed by John Axford and Ryan Tepera — all with the team behind. All four of those guys are pitching well this season, and all but Tepera have at least two seasons of full-time closer experience. Clippard believes any of them can handle the ninth, and we’ll all have to wait and see who gets the next opportunity.

Updated hierarchy: *Clippard | Tepera | Oh.
* = closer-by-committee

Milwaukee Brewers — Corey Knebel’s first appearance after his injury started with a long home run, but quieted down with three consecutive groundouts. Knebel was used in a low-leverage spot with the team down four, and Craig Counsell says he’s not going to rush his closer back into the ninth. For his part, Knebel is willing to sacrifice his role for the team, saying he doesn’t expect to return to closing right away and that it “doesn’t matter” where he’s used, given the talent in the bullpen. We’ll see whether the Brewers stay in the committee mindset going forward.

Hierarchy remains: Knebel | Hader | Jeffress.

Atlanta Braves — It’s been all Arodys Vizcaino ever since Brian Snitker talked about sometimes playing matchups with AJ Minter. We’re no longer buying the committee tag here.

Updated hierarchy: Vizcaino | Minter | Carle.

Boston Red Sox — Seeking to protect a narrow lead over the rival Yankees in the game and the division, Alex Cora called on Craig Kimbrel to do something he’d never done before: collect a five-out save. He failed. With a triple and a home run, the Yankees captured both leads, picking up their 17th win in 18 games.

Hierarchy remains: Kimbrel | Kelly | Barnes.

Baltimore Orioles — With Darren O’Day on the DL with a hyperextended elbow, Brad Brach returned to the role of closer/trade bait. A desire to showcase the perennial trade chip to possible suitors is a major reason Brach might have the job to himself in O’Day’s absence.

Updated hierarchy: *Brach | Givens | Bleier.
* = closer-by-committee

Chicago White Sox — The White Sox haven’t been earning many save opportunities, and when one arises, their putrid 5.68 ninth-inning ERA hasn’t led to many conversions. Wednesday they called on Nate Jones with a three-run lead in the ninth, and he gave up four runs on four hits to take the loss and run his own ninth-inning ERA to 8.44. Joakim Soria (6.14 ninth-inning ERA) should get the next save chance, in a week or so.

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

Houston Astros — Two straight days, two straight uneventful saves for Ken Giles, but AJ Hinch’s love of matchups compels us to keep the committee tag, for now at least.

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

1. AJ Minter — Even if the Atlanta situation isn’t a committee anymore, Vizcaino has gone in three of four.
2. David Robertson — Aroldis Chapman has gone in two straight games and Robertson got Wednesday off.

1. Jared Hughes — Raisel Iglesias pitched two innings on Wednesday. He needed only 19 pitches, so he might be good for Thursday — but if so, don’t expect him to go in three straight.
2. Joe Kelly — Another tough outing for Kimbrel and he’ll need a day off.