May 12, 2018
Philadelphia Phillies — Tommy Hunter has been excellent since his return from the DL, picking up five holds while bridging the gap to Hector Neris, who has been less than excellent of late. Neris allowed three earned runs to blow yesterday’s save, and he has two blown saves in his last four outings to push his ERA to 5.17. After Friday’s disaster, Gabe Kapler remained confident that Neris would overcome these recent struggles and that he’d be willing to use Neris tonight if necessary. We’ll keep a close eye on this to see if Neris can keep his job or if a committee of Hunter and Luis Garcia will rule the late innings in Philadelphia.
Updated hierarchy: Neris | Hunter | Garcia.
Los Angeles Angels — After pitching the eighth inning last night, Justin Anderson remained out for the ninth with a chance to pick up the save with the Angels clinging to a 4-2 lead. He allowed a leadoff home run and a double before ceding the chance to Jim Johnson and not Keynan Middleton. Johnson gave up a single and a sac fly to complete the blown save. After the game, Mike Scioscia said that he felt that Anderson had enough to get through the ninth, and when that didn’t work, he liked the matchups with Johnson. Where was Keynan Middleton in all this? Presumably resting, as he threw 22 pitches in his return from the DL on Thursday. Scioscia also probably wanted to give Johnson a night off as well before being forced to use him. We still think Middleton will eventually get the ninth all to himself, but it’s clear Scioscia is monitoring his workload right now.
Updated hierarchy: *Middleton | Johnson | Anderson.
* = closer-by-committee
Cleveland Indians — As expected, Andrew Miller returned from the DL and was immediately thrown into the 7th inning of a one-run game. He walked the first batter he faced, struck out two in a row and then gave up the go-ahead home run to Salvador Perez. Getting Miller back is a boost to the struggling Indians bullpen, despite last night’s results. Meanwhile, Tyler Olson is headed to the paternity list, leaving Dan Otero, Evan Marshall or Zach McAllister to perhaps pick up a hold in Olson’s absence.
Updated Hierarchy: Allen | Miller | Olson.
Milwaukee Brewers — As we mentioned yesterday, Josh Hader was brought in to close out a one-run lead and complete a Brewers comeback. Corey Knebel had pitched the last two days and Craig Counsell had said he was going to ease Knebel back to the ninth inning. We’ll see how Knebel gets used this weekend, but we expect him to be closing games sooner rather than later.
Hierarchy remains: Knebel | Hader | Jeffress.
Cincinnati Reds – Amir Garrett picked up a hold last night, pitching five clean outs ahead of Raisel Iglesias. Garrett has been more of a long reliever for the Reds and has been talked about as a starting pitcher for them, but this is his fourth hold on the season and he is the best arm in the Reds bullpen behind Iglesias. This is enough to bring him into the hierarchy, but be aware that he could become a spot starter at any time.
Updated hierarchy: Iglesias | Hughes | Garrett.
Baltimore Orioles — Brad Brach picked up the second straight save for this committee, pitching the last out of the eighth before returning for the ninth. Brach is definitely the leader of this committee and with a couple more strong showings he may win the job outright.
Hierarchy remains: *Brach | Givens | Bleier.
* = closer-by-committee
VULTURE SAVE WATCH
1. Tommy Hunter/Luis Garcia — Hector Neris may get a night off just based on usage. He’s pitched three of four and five of the last seven.
2. Jared Hughes — Raisel Iglesias has pitched each of the last three days and four times over the last five days.
1. Tommy Hunter/Luis Garcia — If Neris pitches Saturday and actually does well, he’ll still need a day off for sure on Sunday.
2. Kyle Barraclough/Drew Steckenreider – A third straight appearance for Brad Ziegler on Saturday should earn him an off day Sunday. If Barraclough also gets the ball on Saturday, that will be two straight outings for him.
3. Ryan Madson — Sean Doolittle will have pitched in three straight games if he goes on Saturday.