Ian Kennedy has two straight saves — 29 days apart

May 31, 2019

Kansas City Royals — The Royals have just 19 wins in 56 games, so save chances are few and far between. Yesterday, Ian Kennedy recorded the team’s first save since May 1! He got the last one too, and now has three, but he’s been sketchy in May (0-2, 8.10 ERA) after a strong start. With Wily Peralta (one save this year) in and out of the closer role, Kennedy seems like the man to own. Peralta pitched a scoreless seventh on Thursday. We’ll keep this in committee mode, but with Kennedy at the top. 

Updated hierarchy: *Kennedy | Peralta | Diekman.
* = closer-by-committee

Seattle Mariners — Hunter Strickland will throw off a mound on Sunday for the first time in a while, a big step as he aims for a return in mid- to late June. He’ll be in the mix for saves when he gets back.

Hierarchy remains: *Elias | Brennan | Sadzeck.
* = closer-by-committee

New York Yankees — Dellin Betances has thrown two recent bullpen sessions and may face live hitters as soon as next week. The Yankees’ bullpen is loaded, so they’ll take it slow with Betances, but a return to the late innings for the big righty this summer is likely.

Hierarchy remains: Chapman | Britton | Ottavino.

1. Carlos Estevez — Scott Oberg and Bryan Shaw have each pitched in four of five. 
2. Brandon Brennan/Connor Sadzeck/Cory Gearrin — Roenis Elias has pitched in two straight and three of five, allowing four runs (two earned) on 67 pitches. And Seattle’s bullpen is a mess.

1. Nick Wittgren — An appearance Friday would be three of four for Brad Hand. 
2. Kelvin Herrera — Same for Alex Colome.
3. Joe Jimenez — Ditto Shane Greene.
4. Diego Castillo/Emilio Pagan — None of the Rays’ top options pitched Thursday, but a Friday outing would be four of six for Jose Alvarado, while an appearance for Castillo would be three of four. 

Another Phillies reliever hits the IL

May 30, 2019

Washington Nationals — Kyle McGowin did something amazing on Wednesday. Entering with an 14-run lead in the seventh, he gave up three straight singles and a grand slam to make things a bit more sporting, then retired 9 of the next 10 batters (six by strikeout) to earn the “save.” Per the Baseball-Reference Play Index, this was only the fourth save of the Closer Monkey era (2011-present) to include four or more earned runs (Jerome Williams, Eddie Butler, and Sergio Romo complete Mount Runsmore). And no one had done it with six strikeouts since the legendary . . . Kevin Gregg.

Hierarchy remains: Doolittle | Barraclough | Suero.

Philadelphia Phillies — Adam Morgan (left forearm strain) joins David Robertson and Pat Neshek on the sidelines in the Phillies’ beleaguered bullpen. 22-year-old rookie Edgar Garcia and his killer slider will see more high-leverage looks.

Updated hierarchy: Neris | Dominguez | Garcia.

San Diego Padres — Over his last three appearances, Adam Warren has allowed seven runs and retired seven batters, not the ratio you want in a middle reliever. He’s fallen behind Trey Wingenter — back from the IL with three straight scoreless outings — and former top prospect Matt Wisler.

Updated hierarchy: Yates | Stammen | Wingenter.

Texas Rangers — Over a three-day period, Jose Leclerc experienced shoulder stiffness and calf soreness, but the Rangers still used him as the opener on Wednesday afternoon. This left Shawn Kelley to pick up his sixth save in the ninth.

Hierarchy remains: *Kelley | Leclerc | Martin.
* = closer-by-committee

1. Robert Gsellman — Edwin Diaz has gone in four of five, including last night’s brutal blown save, and Jeurys Familia has gone in three of four.
2. Carlos Estevez/Chad Bettis — Scott Oberg and Bryan Shaw have each pitched in three of four.
3. Emilio Pagan — Jose Alvarado has gone in three of four and Diego Castillo two straight (39 pitches).
4. Kelvin Herrera/Evan Marshall — Alex Colome was used for the second straight day (including two innings on Tuesday), and Herrera struggled through 23 pitches last night.

1. Nick Wittgren — An appearance on Thursday would be three straight for Brad Hand.
2. Adam Conley — If Sergio Romo pitches Thursday, it’ll be three out of four.

Ryne Harper, Chad Bettis each collect first career save

May 29, 2019

Minnesota Twins — The stage was set for Taylor Rogers to collect another save, as he started the ninth inning with a 5-2 lead after Blake Parker gave up a pair of runs on three hits in the eighth. Rogers allowed a solo shot to lead off the frame, but he retired the next two batters. The next two Milwaukee hitters doubled and homered off Rogers in Monday’s eighth inning to hand the reliever a blown save, so Rocco Baldelli called upon 30-year-old Ryne Harper to face Hernan Perez, and Harper induced a pop-up to pick up his first career save. Harper has a devastating curveball that he throws 56% of the time, and it’s been effective to the tune of a 1.61 ERA and 20 strikeouts in 22.1 IP. Harper has four holds, including one on Monday, and should continue to see high-leverage work.

Updated hierarchy: *Parker | Rogers | Harper.
* = closer-by-committee

Tampa Bay Rays — Diego Castillo picked up his first save since May 15, allowing a run but still managing to close out a 3-1 victory. That was only the Rays’ third save overall since that May 15 triumph. Jose Alvarado, who has the other two saves since then, had pitched in two straight and three of four entering Tuesday. Castillo was likely in line for a save on Monday had the Rays not scored four runs in the bottom of the eighth; Alvarado navigated the top of the Toronto order in the top half of the frame.

Hierarchy remains: *Alvarado | Castillo | Pagan. 
* = closer-by-committee

New York Mets — After Robert Gsellman escaped a seventh-inning jam having allowed only one run, the Mets turned to Jeurys Familia in the eighth inning to protect what became a four-run lead. Familia put two men on before inducing a double play to end the frame and record his fourth consecutive scoreless appearance. Familia appears to have earned Mickey Callaway’s trust again, but we’ll see how long that lasts. Meanwhile, Seth Lugo is eligible to return from the IL on Thursday but is unlikely to do so since he has yet to even throw a bullpen session.

Updated hierarchy: Diaz | Familia | Gsellman.

Chicago Cubs — Pedro Strop made his first of two rehab appearances for Triple-A Iowa on Tuesday, needing just six pitches to get through the eighth inning. If everything goes as planned on Thursday, Strop should be activated this weekend. Meanwhile, Brad Brach has posted three straight bad outings and shouldn’t be seeing a save chance anytime soon. We’ll slot Tyler Chatwood, who recorded a save on May 25 and has found a little redemption this year, into the hierarchy until Strop returns.

Updated hierarchy: *Cishek | Kintzler | Chatwood.
* = closer-by-committee

Colorado Rockies — Chad Bettis retired three of the four hitters he faced in the eighth inning to keep the Rockies ahead, 4-2. When Colorado added two more runs in the ninth, Bettis returned to the hill and used a 1-2-3 inning to earn his first career save. Bettis, who began the year in the rotation, has turned in six scoreless outings over his last seven appearances out of the bullpen. He may be in line for more holds, especially multi-inning holds, if he continues to pitch well. He certainly came through for a tired Rockies bullpen on Tuesday, with Scott Oberg and Bryan Shaw desperately needing an off day.

Hierarchy remains: Oberg | Shaw | Estevez.

Boston Red Sox – The Red Sox had a good plan for the final three innings last night, using Brandon Workman in the seventh, Marcus Walden in the eighth and Matt Barnes in the ninth. Walden got into trouble in his turn on the mound, however, and Barnes had to come in for the final two outs of the eighth. Alex Cora didn’t want to use Barnes for additional outs, which meant Ryan Brasier got a save chance that he quickly blew as Cleveland scored five runs in the top of the ninth. As we mentioned on Monday, Cora doesn’t want Barnes to face a team’s best hitters every night, but it’s clear he also doesn’t want to overwork his best reliever so early in the season just to chase a win in May.

Hierarchy remains: *Barnes | Workman | Walden.
* = closer-by-committee

1. Kelvin Herrera – Alex Colome threw 24 pitches across two ninth-inning appearances yesterday, picking up the win in the resumption of a suspended game before securing a save in Tuesday’s regularly-scheduled affair.
2. Nick Wittgren/Tyler Clippard – Brad Hand needed 28 pitches to record last night’s save, his second-longest outing of the year. He may get a chance to pitch again tonight, but Wittgren or Clippard could also get a look if Hand is rested.
3. Will Harris – Roberto Osuna (52 pitches), Ryan Pressly (46 pitches) and Hector Rondon (63 pitches) have all pitched in two straight and three of four. Harris is rested, has a 1.00 ERA and seven holds this year.
4. Ian Kennedy – Kennedy is the most well-rested arm in the Kansas City committee, as Jake Diekman and Wily Peralta have pitched in three of four.
5. Jeurys Familia/Drew Gagnon – Edwin Diaz has pitched in three of four and four of six. Robert Gsellman threw 28 pitches last night, while Familia tossed 13. Drew Gagnon is a dark horse candidate as well for a save.

1. Justin Anderson – Hansel Robles (20 pitches) and Ty Buttrey (26 pitches) were busy on Tuesday and both may get Thursday off if they have similar workloads on Wednesday.

Shawn Armstrong picks up first post-Givens save in Baltimore

May 28, 2019

Baltimore Orioles – After demoting Mychal Givens earlier in the day, the Orioles turned to Shawn Armstrong to protect a 2-run lead in the 9th inning. Armstrong made it through just allowing a walk to earn his first save, and we’d guess he continues to get chances until he falters.

Updated hierarchy: *Armstrong | Fry | Kline.
* = closer-by-committee

1. Carlos Estevez – Scott Oberg and Bryan Shaw have both gone back to back and three of four.

1. Lou Trivino/Joakim Soria – If Blake Treinen goes today, it’ll be back to back and four of five. Trivino and Soria have also seen a lot of action lately, so check usage tonight.
2. Kyle Crick – Felipe Vazquez threw 23 pitches across 1.1 innings on Monday. If he goes again tonight, he’ll probably be off Wednesday.
3. Zack Britton – If Aroldis Chapman goes tonight, it’ll be back to back and three of four.
4. Pedro Baez – Kenley Jansen threw 1.2 innings on Monday; if he goes again today he’ll likely be off tomorrow.
5. Ryan Pressly – If Roberto Osuna goes tonight, it’ll be back to back and four of five.

Mychal Givens is out of the closer job in Baltimore

May 27, 2019

Baltimore Orioles — After eight earned runs, three losses, and two blown saves in his last four appearances, Mychal Givens will get a break from the high-stress Oriole ninth. Manager Branden Hyde anointed the vaunted “whoever” to get the next shot, and our guess is that will mean Shawn Armstrong (2.70 ERA since joining the Orioles from Seattle), Paul Fry (fairly effective lefty), or Branden Kline (9.2 K/9). If you want to take a chance on someone who — best-case! — could pick up a save twice a week, those are your prospects.

Updated hierarchy: *Armstrong | Fry | Kline.
* = closer-by-committee