July 12, 2018
Houston Astros — A few hours after Ken Giles met his manager on the mound with a less-than-friendly salutation, GM Jeff Luhnow greeted Giles with his own F-word: Fresno. Yes, the once-dominant closer will be punching his ticket in the minors for the first time since his breakout rookie year in 2014. You really can’t go wrong with anyone else in the Astros’ stable of middle relievers: Will Harris has good K numbers and an ERA inflated by a high BABIP; Joe Smith has fashioned four scoreless outings since his return from the DL; Tony Sipp is an effective lefty; and even Brad Peacock’s recent struggles haven’t wrecked a very good season. But for second in line, we’ll bet on converted starter Collin McHugh, whose ERA has hovered around 1.00 all season, while he’s struck out 57 in 44 innings.
Updated hierarchy: Rondon | Devenski | McHugh.
Detroit Tigers — Shane Greene will be activated on Thursday and should immediately resume his role as the Tigers’ closer. If Greene can prove that he’s healthy, he could wind up moving to a contender in need of bullpen help.
Updated hierarchy: Greene | Jimenez | Wilson.
Minnesota Twins — An MRI on Wednesday revealed inflammation and swelling around Addison Reed’s triceps, so he’ll rest on the DL through the All-Star break. Ryan Pressly (13.08 K/9) — in Rochester exile no longer — should get more looks in the seventh inning; he picked up a sixth-inning hold last night.
Updated hierarchy: Rodney | Hildenberger | Pressly.
Tampa Bay Rays — Jose Alvarado was unfortunately placed on family medical emergency leave and will be out through the All-Star break. Stepping up in his place in the eighth inning on Wednesday was Diego Castillo, who could also be in line for a vulture save on Thursday. In Alvarado’s absence, Ryne Stanek (1.99 ERA; 39 K in 31.2 IP) could be called upon occasionally in the late innings when he’s not serving as a lights-out “opener.”
Updated hierarchy: *Romo | Castillo | Stanek.
* = closer-by-committee
Cleveland Indians — The only pitcher from either team in Cleveland’s 19-4 victory to leave without allowing a run was knuckleballing Reds third baseman Alex Blandino. Far less effective was Adam Plutko, who entered with a 16-run lead, gave up three runs and eight baserunners, and yet came away with a save because Jerome Holtzman said so.
Hierarchy remains: Allen | Ramirez | Perez.
Hierarchy remains: Davis | Ottavino | McGee.
VULTURE SAVE WATCH
1. Diego Castillo — Romo has pitched in three straight and four of five.
2. Kyle Crick — Felipe Vazquez has also pitched in four of five.
1. Victor Arano — If Seranthony Dominguez pitches Thursday, he’ll have gone in three of four.
2. Anthony Swarzak — Same is true of Jeurys Familia.
3. Josh Hader — And Corey Knebel.
4. Brad Brach — And Zach Britton.
5. Lou Trivino — And Blake Treinen.