Keep an eye on Justin Wilson in Cubs bullpen

September 21, 2018

Chicago Cubs — Now that Brandon Morrow is out for the season and Pedro Strop is uncertain to return, the Cubs will be hunting for a possible October closer over the final two weeks. One writer theorizes that Justin Wilson will emerge from a crowd that includes Steve Cishek, Jesse Chavez, CJ Edwards and Jorge de la Rosa, among others. Joe Maddon seemed to agree, calling Wilson a possible “linchpin.” Wilson doesn’t have a save this season, but that may change over the final 10 games.

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

Tampa Bay Rays — The Rays went into the bottom of the ninth up six runs on Toronto, but after Jamie Schultz gave four of them back, they brought in closer Sergio Romo to nail things down. But after a strikeout and a bloop single to center, Romo yielded back-to-back home runs for his eighth blown save of the season.

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

New York Yankees — Aroldis Chapman made his return to game action Thursday and was given a chance in a pretty tight spot against the Red Sox, down 8-6 in the eighth inning. He appeared rusty, allowing a single, a walk, and a three-run shot to Mookie Betts before being pulled. He will continue to get eased in, so the Yankees’ relievers aren’t likely to help you a ton during the fantasy playoffs.

Hierarchy remains: Chapman | Betances | Robertson.

New York Mets — Extra innings and a win for the away team are a perfect recipe for a vulture save, and Paul Sewald (5.93 ERA) did the honors on Thursday. It was his second save this month, but don’t fret, all regular hierarchy members pitched earlier in the game.

Hierarchy remains: Gsellman | Lugo | Swarzak.

1. Cody Allen — Allen has gotten five straight days off and Brad Hand has pitched in the last two.
2. Jose Alvarado — Sergio Romo could use a night off maybe.
3. Jared Hughes — Raisel Iglesias threw 28 pitches Thursday and has gone in three of five.
4. Zach Britton/Dellin Betances — If Aroldis Chapman isn’t going in two straight, Britton is the best-rested Yankee.
5. Kyle Crick — As we told you yesterday, Felipe Vazquez has pitched on four of the last six days.

1. Justin Miller — Entering Friday, Sean Doolittle and Greg Holland have each pitched in three of five.

Aroldis Chapman returns for the stretch run

September 20, 2018

New York Yankees — Aroldis Chapman is back from the disabled list, although he’ll be eased back into action over the next 10 days. If New York’s relievers are right, their playoff bullpen might be the best in baseball.

Updated hierarchy: Chapman | Betances | Robertson.

Chicago White Sox — If Ian Hamilton turns out to be Chicago’s closer of the future, he’ll have nowhere to go but up. Called on for his first save chance with one out, two on, and a one-run lead, Hamilton hit Yan Gomes to load the bases, then gave up a walk-off grand slam. Better days are coming.

Hierarchy remains: *Fry | Jones | Minaya.
* = closer-by-committee

1. Dellin Betances/David Robertson — Aroldis Chapman is unlikely to make his debut in the ninth.

1. Kyle Crick — The Pirates don’t play Thursday, but Felipe Vazquez has still pitched on four of the last five days.

Aroldis Chapman could be activated Wednesday

September 19, 2018

New York Yankees – Zach Britton picked up his sixth save of the season on Tuesday night after David Robertson pitched the eighth inning. The biggest bullpen news out of the Bronx came before the game, however, as Aaron Boone said that Aroldis Chapman will be activated either today or Thursday. The Yankees are likely to be careful with Chapman prior to the postseason, so Britton, Robertson and Dellin Betances may still see save chances depending on Chapman’s usage.

Hierarchy remains: *Betances | Robertson | Britton.
* = closer-by-committee

Cleveland Indians – Andrew Miller recorded three strikeouts as part of a four-out ninth inning to pick up his second save of the season. Terry Francona thought Miller had his best stuff on Tuesday, which is encouraging news for a team planning for October. With Cleveland having already clinched the AL Central, Francona can rest both Brad Hand and Cody Allen whenever he pleases. Francona can also give Miller the necessary work he needs to get ready for the playoffs, which means Miller may vulture a couple more saves over the final dozen games.

Hierarchy remains: *Hand | Allen | Miller.
* = closer-by-committee

Philadelphia Phillies — On this episode of “It’s Always a Committee in Philadelphia,” four different relievers kept the Mets scoreless over the final 3.1 innings, with Hector Neris ultimately recording his 11th save of the season. Pat Neshek recorded the final out of the sixth inning to keep the Phillies trailing by just two. After the Phillies took the lead in the bottom half of the frame, Seranthony Dominguez and Tommy Hunter pitched the seventh and eighth innings, respectively. Neshek has been the best of the bunch lately, as he hasn’t allowed an earned run over his last seven appearances, but the next save chance could go to any of the aforementioned arms.

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

Chicago Cubs — Brandon Morrow will miss the rest of the season because of a nagging bone bruise. With Pedro Strop still nursing a strained hamstring, the Cubs will continue to rely on a committee to help clinch another division title.

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

Arizona Diamondbacks – Jake Diekman has allowed three earned runs in each of his last two outings. Given his recent struggles (and the fact he pitched the fourth and innings with his team trailing by four), It’s unlikely that he’ll see a save chance unless there’s a matchup Torey Lovullo really likes. Archie Bradley hasn’t been exceptional over his last three outings, but all three were scoreless, so we’ll move him into the hierarchy.

Updated hierarchy: *Hirano | Ziegler | Bradley.
* = closer-by-committee

1. Blake Parker – Ty Buttrey has pitched in three of four, including a five-out save last night.
2. Pat Neshek – The other three guys in Philadelphia’s bullpen have all pitched two straight days, with Tommy Hunter and Hector Neris having gone in three of four.
3. Hunter Strickland – Will Smith and Mark Melancon have both pitched two straight and three of four.
4. Ryan Tepera – Ken Giles has pitched in three of four, though he only threw nine pitches yesterday.

1. Jared Hughes – If Raisel Iglesias goes tonight, it’ll be back to back and three of four.
2. Ryan Tepera – A Ken Giles appearance tonight will be his fourth in five days.

Marlins committee continues work down stretch

September 18, 2018

Miami Marlins – Adam Conley recorded his third save of the season on Monday. Drew Steckenrider had pitched the previous two nights, but while Steckenrider is nominally the first choice for saves here, this should continue to be a committee for the remainder of the season.

Hierarchy remains: *Steckenrider | Conley | Barraclough.
* = closer-by-committee

Milwaukee Brewers – Brandon Woodruff pitched the final three innings of an 8-run blowout to record his first save. He does not factor in to Milwaukee’s usual late inning plans.

Hierarchy remains: *Jeffress | Hader | Knebel.
* = closer-by-committee


1. Alex Colome – If Edwin Diaz goes tonight, it’ll be back to back and three of four.
2. Mark Melancon/Hunter Strickland – If Will Smith goes tonight, it’ll be back to back and three of four.

Ty Buttrey now atop Angels hierarchy; Keone Kela shut down

September 17, 2018

Baltimore Orioles – Paul Fry got the final five outs of Sunday’s game — four by strikeout — to pick up his first save of the year. He entered with the Orioles up by 3 in the 8th, then stayed on after their extended their lead. Mychal Givens continues to be the first option for saves down the stretch in Baltimore.

Hierarchy remains: Givens | Fry | Wright Jr.

Boston Red Sox – With Craig Kimbrel having pitched in three of the past four, the Red Sox gave Sunday’s save chance to Steven Wright. Earlier, Wright had narrowly avoided time travel after microwaving some instant coffee, but it didn’t seem to affect his performance, as he floated his way through a hitless inning for his first career save.

Updated hierarchy: Kimbrel | Wright | Brasier.

Tampa Bay Rays – After pitching just once in three weeks, Sergio Romo has now appeared in three straight games, notching his third consecutive save. The committee tag returns to Tampa, with Romo back on top. We honestly have no idea what was going on during his disappearance act in late August and September, and as far as we can tell, nobody in the Tampa media ever bothered to ask. Baffling.

Updated hierarchy: *Romo | Alvarado | Roe. 
* = closer-by-committee

Los Angeles Angels – Ty Buttrey has gotten the last three Angels saves. Blake Parker has been totally fine lately, so chalk this one up to Scioscia being Scioscia, but Buttrey now sits atop this committee.

Updated hierarchy: *Buttrey | Parker | Anderson.
* = closer-by-committee

Pittsburgh Pirates – Over the weekend, the Pirates announced that Keone Kela will not pitch again this season, as they attempt to protect his arm from any additional workload. Kyle Crick and Richard Rodriguez will slide up — they got the 8th and 7th innings, respectively, in both of the last two games.

Updated hierarchy: Vazquez | Crick | Rodriguez. 

1. Tyler Clippard/Ryan Tepera – Ken Giles has pitched 2.1 IP over the last two days.

1. Kyle Crick/Richard Rodriguez/Edgar Santana – If Vazquez, Crick, or Rodriguez goes today, it’ll be three straight. Monitor usage to see who will be available tomorrow.
2. Taylor Rogers – If Trevor Hildenberger goes today, it’ll be back to back and three of four.
3. Joe Jimenez – If Shane Greene goes today, it’ll be back to back and three of four.