Will Smith picks up a save for the Giants

June 30, 2018

San Francisco Giants – Bruce Bochy announced before Friday’s game that Sam Dyson would be unavailable for a save chance after pitching in four of the last seven games. Mark Melancon had also pitched in four of seven, so with a one-run lead and Tony Watson having already pitched, the save chance fell to Will Smith. Smith pitched a perfect 9th with two strikeouts to earn his first save of the year. Dyson has had a rough June, with a 5.11 ERA and two blown saves. Because Bochy announced before the game that Dyson would get the night off, we aren’t ready to remove him from the closer’s role, but he is on a burning hot seat with Watson, Melancon and now Smith pitching well behind him.

Hierarchy remains: Dyson | Melancon | Watson.

Toronto Blue Jays – The Blue Jays used Seung Hwan Oh in the 8th inning of a one-run game before they turned to Tyler Clippard instead of Ryan Tepera to close out the game in the 9th. Clippard converted for his fifth save of the year. Tepera started out with six straight save conversions, but has since blown two in a row. John Gibbons said after the game that Tepera was unavailable, but this has all the looks of a committee, with Tepera, Oh and Clippard all getting saves in the past week. Whoever closes for Toronto in July, it seems that it is only a temporary role, as Toronto GM Ross Atkins announced that Roberto Osuna is the team’s closer when he returns from his suspension on August 5. Osuna is serving a 75-game suspension for a violation of MLB’s domestic violence policy, and has a court date on July 9th. Now may be the time to stash Osuna in case he was dropped when the suspension was announced.

Hierarchy remains: *Tepera | Oh | Clippard.
* = closer-by-committee

Tampa Bay Rays – Sergio Romo started the 9th inning, but after two quick outs he gave up a single and got pulled for Jose Alvarado. Alvarado got a groundout to end the game and secure his second save of the year. Tampa Bay may still use Romo as a starter, but if he isn’t opening games he will certainly continue to see save opportunities when available.

Hierarchy remains: *Romo | Alvarado | Roe.
* = closer-by-committee

Atlanta Braves – The Braves had a five-run lead going into the 9th inning, but when Luke Jackson loaded the bases with only one out, they brought in Dan Winkler. An inherited runner scored, but Winkler got out of the inning to record his first save of the year. The Braves are clearly in committee mode and used AJ Minter in the 8th inning. Both Minter and Winkler are pitching well, so any save opportunity will come down to matchups, at least until Arodys Vizcaino returns.

Hierarchy remains: *Minter | Winkler | Carle.
* = closer-by-committee

Los Angeles Dodgers — Setup man Josh Fields was placed on the 10-day DL with shoulder inflammation. Manager Dave Roberts has indicated he will use a variety of pitchers to replace Fields in the 8th. Fields’ absence isn’t likely to be very long, but while he is out we think Scott Alexander is likely to see a bump in responsibilities. Alexander has five holds in his last eight appearances, but as a lefty his situational use may cut down on clear save opportunities.

Updated hierarchy: Jansen | Goeddel | Alexander.

Baltimore Orioles – Darren O’Day has hit the 60-day DL, and may be out for the rest of the season with a hamstring injury. As we noted, this makes Brad Brach the clear frontrunner for saves when Zach Britton is inevitably traded.

Hierarchy remains: Britton | Brach | Givens.

1. Lou Trivino – Blake Treinen has pitched in back to back games and four of the last five.
2. Adam Ottavino – Wade Davis has gone on back-to-back days, and the only time he has pitched three n a row this year (June 5/6/7), he blew the save chance on that third day.

1. Joe Kelly/Matt Barnes – Craig Kimbrel got a much needed rest last night, but if he pitches today it will be three of four with over 40 pitches in that span.
2. Steve Cishek – Brandon Morrow has pitched back-to-back games (while only throwing seven pitches), so today would be three in a row for him.
3. Kyle Crick – Today would be back-to-back and three of four for Felipe Vazquez.

Sam Dyson might not be closing for much longer

June 29, 2018

San Francisco Giants – Sam Dyson’s stint as Giants closer may be nearing an end. After allowing the tying and go-ahead runs last night, he’s now got four blown saves and has allowed 6 runs in his last 4.2 IP. Mark Melancon got the 8th inning hold and might get the next opportunity, if Bruce Bochy deems him ready.

Updated hierarchy: Dyson | Melancon | Watson.

Seattle Mariners – With Edwin Diaz and Alex Colome unavailable, having both pitched three straight, the Mariners went to James Pazos and then Nick Vincent in a tie game. When they took the lead in the 10th inning, Juan Nicasio entered and picked up his first save of the season. We still consider him behind both Pazos and Vincent on the depth chart, though it’s rare anyone other than Diaz or Colome will be needed for saves on most nights.

Hierarchy remains: Diaz | Colome | Pazos.

Philadelphia Phillies – With a 3-run lead entering the 9th, Gabe Kapler opted for Tommy Hunter, but when Hunter proceeded to allow the first two batters to reach base, Seranthony Dominguez started getting loose. After a groundout, Dominguez was summoned, and he would strike out the two batters he faced, locking down the save. Count on Kapler deploying his bullpen in an unusual manner from time to time, but over the past month, Dominguez has 5 saves while the entire rest of the bullpen has 4. He remains the favorite going forward.

Hierarchy remains: *Dominguez | Hunter | Neris.
* = closer-by-committee

Houston Astros – All signs are pointing towards this job being Hector Rondon’s to lose. On Tuesday, Rondon was ready to come in for the save when the Astros offense decided to get home run happy and blow the game open in the 8th, and last night AJ Hinch once again turned to Rondon to close out a 1 run game. Rondon did allow a hit, but struck out the other 3 batters he faced, giving him 38 K’s in 30 IPs so far this season. Hinch will probably still opt for other relievers on occasion, but we’ll consider removing Rondon’s asterisk in the near future.

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

1. Trevor Hildenberger – Fernando Rodney threw 35 pitches in a blown save last night.

1. Joe Kelly/Matt Barnes – If Craig Kimbrel or Joe Kelly go tonight, it’ll be three straight.
2. Lou Trivino – If Blake Treinen goes tonight, it’ll be back to back and four of five.
3. Alex Colome/James Pazos – If Edwin Diaz or Alex Colome go tonight, it’ll be four of five.

So Wily Peralta is maybe worth owning?

June 28, 2018

Chicago Cubs — As expected, Brandon Morrow was activated from the disabled list and should immediately return to closing for the Cubs. Removing his pants, however, should probably become a committee job.

Updated hierarchy: Morrow | Cishek | Strop.

New York Mets — Jeurys Familia earned a five-out save on Tuesday, but fell short on Wednesday, giving up three singles and a walk before Anthony Swarzak came in and allowed all three inherited runners to score. Sell Familia now on the strength of his name before he gets traded and winds up pitching the eighth.

Hierarchy remains: Familia | Swarzak | Gsellman.

Kansas City Royals — Break up the Royals! After a 2-16 start to June, KC has won three of its last six, with the last two victories saved by wily Wily Peralta. A longtime Brewer, Peralta was summoned to shut down his old team after Tim Hill turned a four-run lead into a one-run lead without retiring a batter. Peralta’s velocity is up and his slider is, um, also up, but we’ve seen stranger relief renaissances before. Maybe the Royals are onto something here?

Hierarchy remains: *Peralta | McCarthy | Maurer.
* = closer-by-committee

Oakland A’s — Blake Treinen got Wednesday off after some heavy recent use and — as we predicted — Lou Trivino earned his second save of the season.

Hierarchy remains: Treinen | Trivino | Buchter.

1. James Pazos — Both Edwin Diaz and Alex Colome have pitched in three straight.
2. Josh Fields — Kenley Jansen has pitched in three of four.
3. Tommy Hunter — Seranthony Dominguez got a two-inning save on Wednesday night.
4. Archie Bradley — Brad Boxberger has gone in three of four (23 pitches last night).

1. Jared Hughes — Raisel Iglesias has pitched in two straight and three of four.
2. Brad Brach — Zach Britton has pitched in two out of three, including a blown save last night.

Darren O’Day back on the shelf; Brandon Morrow coming off of it

June 27, 2018

Chicago Cubs – Brandon Morrow will likely return from the DL today. The Cubs didn’t win much in his absence, but the bullpen’s deployment in his absence answered few questions about who would get save chances should the oft-injured righty get hurt again. Steve Cishek, who was leading our hierarchy, entered the game last night with a 7-2 lead in the 6th inning last night, pitching well in his two innings of work, but not exactly appearing in a spot for a traditional closer. At any rate, expect Morrow to immediately return to his 9th inning role (we won’t be sending an alert since this is a DL activation) and expect continued confusion if he gets hurt again.

Hierarchy remains: *Cishek | Strop | Wilson.
* = closer-by-committee

Baltimore Orioles – Darren O’Day will return to the DL after hurting his hamstring last night. All this means is that Brad Brach likely won’t have any significant competition for the closer role once Zach Britton is traded.

Updated hierarchy: Britton | Brach | Givens.

Milwaukee Brewers – Josh Hader vultured a 1-out save after Jacob Barnes worked himself into some trouble with a 4 run lead in the 9th. Corey Knebel was available, but with the left-handed Alex Gordon coming to the plate, Craig Counsell wisely opted for his dominant lefty.

Hierarchy remains: Knebel | Hader | Jeffress.

Chicago White Sox – We could wax poetic about Jace Fry all night, as Tuesday brought another appearance and another clean 8th inning. Fry struck out the Twins’ two best hitters, Eddie Rosario and Eduardo Escobar, in another impressive outing for the young lefty. He now has 30 K’s in 23 IP, and with Nate Jones on the shelf, Fry would likely be the White Sox closer if and when Joakim Soria gets dealt.

Hierarchy remains: Soria | Fry | Rondon.

Arizona Diamondbacks – Archie Bradley crapped his pants before an outing earlier this year and still went out and pitched a scoreless inning. So that’s amazing. Of more relevant fantasy news, Bradley got the 7th inning last night while Yoshihisa Hirano got the 8th, marking the third straight time that Hirano has pitched the 8th inning. Bradley got a save just 9 days ago, but with Hirano’s ERA/WHIP sitting at 1.29/1.00 through 35 major league innings, he’s likely in competition with Bradley for saves on nights when Boxberger is unavailable. We’ll continue to watch this one closely.

Hierarchy remains: Boxberger | Bradley | Hirano.

1. Alex Colome/James Pazos – Edwin Diaz has pitched back to back and three of four; Alex Colome has also gone back to back.
2. Lou Trivino – Blake Treinen has pitched back to back and three of four.
3. Robert Gsellman – Jeurys Familia pitched 1.2 innings last night, and also pitched on Sunday; he could get the day off today.
4. Jared Hughes – Raisel Iglesias pitched 1.1 innings last night and also pitched on Sunday; he could get the noon game off today.

1. Tony Watson – If Sam Dyson pitches tonight, it’ll be back to back and four of five.
2. Joe Jimenez – If Shane Greene goes tonight, it’ll be three straight.

Wily Peralta heads to the front of the line in Kansas City

June 26, 2018

Kansas City Royals — The Royals bullpen remains unstable, as Wily Peralta picked up his first career save on Monday in a 2-0 victory. After the game, Ned Yost said his plan all along was to use Peralta in the ninth, with Kevin McCarthy and Brandon Maurer slated for the seventh and eighth. Peralta doesn’t have the greatest MLB track record and wasn’t exactly lighting it up in the minors this season either (35.0 IP, 4.37 ERA, 39 K) prior to his arrival in Kansas City, but after Monday’s outing he’s moved himself to the top of this committee. We’ll see how long he stays there.

Updated hierarchy: *Peralta | McCarthy | Maurer.
* = closer-by-committee

Philadelphia Phillies — Edubray Ramos was placed on the 10-day DL because of a right shoulder impingement. Gabe Kapler said the move is very much precautionary and that Ramos should spend the minimum amount of time on the DL. That makes room for Hector Neris to make his return to the majors after a pair of outings in Triple-A. He allowed one hit, walked one and struck out two over two innings with Lehigh Valley. If Gabe Kapler is desperate over the next 10 days, don’t be surprised if Neris gets a save chance. In other news, Pat Neshek is close to returning, though there’s no specific timetable in place.

Updated hierarchy: *Dominguez | Hunter | Neris.
* = closer-by-committee

Seattle Mariners — Juan Nicasio picked up a hold in his first appearance off the DL, but his second outing on June 22 was a disaster in which he allowed four hits, one walk and five earned runs in 0.1 IP to move his ERA to 6.60. James Pazos picked up a seventh-inning hold on Monday and has been solid all year. Nick Vincent is also off the DL, and while he too got rocked on June 22, he’s probably ahead of Nicasio as well.

Updated hierarchy: Diaz | Colome | Pazos.

Oakland A’s — Ryan Buchter, activated from the DL on Monday, made sure not to waste any energy getting to the mound in his first appearance since April 25. He didn’t exert much energy once he got to the mound, either, as the only batter he faced hit a ground rule double and eventually scored. Before the game, Bob Melvin was excited about Buchter’s return. Despite Monday’s tough start, we expect Buchter to once again be a part of Oakland’s late-inning plans.

Updated hierarchy: Treinen | Trivino | Buchter.

Toronto Blue Jays – Seung Hwan Oh was the only reliever on yesterday’s Vulture Save Watch and he came through with his second save of the season, though Randal Grichuk deserves most of the credit. Ryan Tepera had thrown 33 pitches over 2.1 IP on Saturday and Sunday.

Hierarchy remains: Tepera | Oh | Clippard.

Washington Nationals — Brandon Kintzler was activated from the DL on Monday and joins a crowded Nationals bullpen. Dave Martinez likes that Kintzler gets ground balls, and will look for the righty to generate those ground balls in either the sixth inning or seventh inning. If there was a fourth spot in our hierarchy, Kintzler would be there.

Hierarchy remains: Doolittle | Herrera | Madson.

1. Josh Fields – Kenley Jansen has gone in two straight and three of the last four. Jansen has only pitched three straight days once this year.
2. Dan Winkler – There was no save chance for the Braves last night, but AJ Minter still pitched the ninth in a tie game. That was his second straight appearance and third outing in the last four games, so Winkler may get Tuesday’s save chance for that committee.

1. Josh Fields – If Jansen pitches tonight, he’ll almost certainly be unavailable on Wednesday.
2. Brad Brach/Darren O’Day – Zach Britton has pitched in three of the last four. Brach has as well, and Tuesday would be a third straight appearance for him. O’Day is the most well-rested of the bunch entering Tuesday.
3. Joe Jimenez/Alex Wilson – Both Shane Greene (25 pitches) and Joe Jimenez (33) had rough outings on Monday. If either of them have a second straight lengthy appearance on Tuesday, Alex Wilson could be in line for a save.
4. Jordan Hicks/Sam Tuivailala – If Bud Norris pitches tonight, it will be two straight and four of five. Same goes for Hicks.