July 4, 2018
Atlanta Braves — Arodys Vizcaino was activated from the DL on Tuesday and will return to his role as the Braves closer. Manager Brian Snitker did say that he plans to be careful with Vizcaino for the rest of the season and won’t push him a lot. He also said that he feels like he has three closers because of how A.J. Minter and Dan Winkler pitched during Vizcaino’s absence. We’ll remove the committee tag, but expect Minter and Winkler to be in the mix for saves if the Braves play a lot of close games.
Updated hierarchy: Vizcaino | Minter | Winkler.
Toronto Blue Jays – John Axford nearly got the final six outs on Tuesday, as he pitched the eighth inning of a tie game and started the ninth after Toronto took a two-run lead. Axford retired the first two batters he faced in the ninth, but a single and a walk moved manager John Gibbons to call on Tyler Clippard to record the final out. Axford’s performance earns him a spot in our hierarchy. We’ll also keep Seung Hwan Oh at the top of the committee, as it’s likely Gibbons wanted to rest Oh after three appearances in four days.
Updated hierarchy: *Oh | Clippard | Axford.
* = closer-by-committee
Chicago Cubs — Brandon Morrow earned a second day off on Tuesday after Sunday’s four-out save. With Morrow unavailable, Joe Maddon turned to Steve Cishek in the eighth before handing the ball to Pedro Strop in the ninth for the save. Cishek was filthy against the heart of the Tigers’ order, but we’ll edge Strop ahead of Cishek in the hierarchy based off of yesterday’s usage.
Updated hierarchy: Morrow | Strop | Cishek.
Texas Rangers — Chris Martin was optioned to Triple-A Round Rock before Tuesday’s tilt, but Jeff Banister made it clear that the move had nothing to do with Martin’s performance. Martin must remain optioned for 10 days unless another player moves to the DL. That could happen very soon, as Tony Barnette suffered a right shoulder sprain on Tuesday and will have an MRI on Wednesday. Jose Leclerc has pitched well this year and should see more high-leverage work in Martin’s absence.
Updated hierarchy: Kela | Diekman | Leclerc.
Tampa Bay Rays – The Rays grabbed a 9-4 lead against the Marlins in the 16th inning and turned to catcher Jesus Sucre to lock up the win. He allowed the first three batters to reach, followed by a sac fly in what turned out to be quite a unique at-bat. Jose Alvarado then entered to finally end things and pick up his third save of the year. Sergio Romo had pitched a scoreless 10th and 11th, throwing 42 pitches in the process, which means Alvarado has a good chance to get his second save of the day.
Hierarchy remains: *Romo | Alvarado | Roe.
* = closer-by-committee
San Diego Padres — Kirby Yates went on paternity leave Tuesday and will likely be back on Friday. We also learned after Tuesday’s game that Brad Hand was unavailable due to a family matter, but he is expected to be back on Wednesday.
Hierarchy remains: Hand | Yates | Stammen.
Houston Astros – Hector Rondon notched a four-out save on Tuesday. He has allowed just one earned run over his last 18 appearances and owns a 1.44 ERA with 40 total strikeouts in 31.1 IP this season. Safe to say at this point that the closer’s role firmly belongs to Rondon.
Hierarchy remains: Rondon | Giles | Devenski.
Boston Red Sox – Tyler Thornburg will be activated today, which means he will be in the majors for the first time in 2016. The righty was projected to be a big part of the Boston bullpen when the Red Sox acquired him prior to the 2017 season, but those expectations have since been tempered. Still, it will be interesting to see if Thornburg can pitch himself into the late-innings conversation. If he does, it will certainly be a big boost for the AL East leaders.
Hierarchy remains: Kimbrel | Kelly | Barnes.
VULTURE PILOT WATCH
1. Russell Casse – Casse hasn’t factored in the U.S. military’s war plans since he fought in Vietnam, but the Air Force is desperate for anyone who can fly a plane. He has seen mostly low-leverage crop dusting work of late, but if Casse can overcome his struggles with alcoholism, he may end up saving the world.
VULTURE SAVE WATCH
1. Dellin Betances – Aroldis Chapman has pitched in three straight games.
2. Jared Hughes – Same goes for Raisel Iglesias.
3. Jose Alvarado – As we mentioned above, Sergio Romo threw 42 pitches yesterday and has now appeared in four of five.
4. Brad Ziegler – Kyle Barraclough and Drew Steckenrider have both pitched in three of four. Ziegler has gone in two straight, but has only thrown 14 pitches over that time.
1. Jace Fry/Bruce Rondon – If Joakim Soria pitches today it will be two straight and three of four. Jace Fry has pitched in three of four, so if he also gets the ball on Wednesday then it’s likely he gets a day off as well.
2. Ken Giles – Hector Rondon threw 35 pitches in a four-out save on Tuesday, so depending on his usage today he could see a day off on Thursday.
3. Drew Steckenrider/Brad Ziegler – If Barraclough gets the ball today, he should have Thursday off. Same goes for Steckenrider.
4. Jeremy Jeffress – Corey Knebel enters Wednesday having pitched two straight. Josh Hader threw 36 pitches in three innings of work on Tuesday, so he may get another day of rest.
5. Alex Colome – Edwin Diaz will have pitched in two straight and four of his last five with a Wednesday appearance.