Red Sox continue to mix and match in late innings

May 27, 2019

Toronto Blue Jays – Tim Mayza was placed on the IL on Sunday with left ulnar neuritis, which the team believes will be a short-term issue. Look for Daniel Hudson to get a few more chances for holds while he’s out.

Updated hierarchy: Giles | Biagini | Hudson.

Boston Red Sox – Marcus Walden became the latest member of the Red Sox to earn a save, pitching a clean 9th inning to lower his ERA to 1.48. Matt Barnes pitched the 8th, and after the game, Alex Cora gave this quote to the Boston Globe: “[Barnes] needs to face some guys that they’re not the three, four, five all the time. It’s a grind for him. We’ve got to make sure that the other guys do the same thing. You saw Waldy today, he goes up there against three pretty good hitters, he got the save. But we’ve got to take care of him too. Facing three, four, five every day, it’s not going to help him out.” Look for Cora to continue mixing and matching with his best relievers, which means save opportunities will continue to be spread around.

Updated hierarchy: *Barnes | Workman | Walden.
* = closer-by-committee

Los Angeles Angels – Score another for the Vulture Save Watch, as Justin Anderson picked up his first save of the year on Sunday with Hansel Robles and Ty Buttrey both getting the day off.

Hierarchy remains: *Robles | Buttrey | Anderson.
* = closer-by-committee


1. Robert Gsellman – Edwin Diaz has pitched back to back, three of four, and five of seven, and threw 32 pitches yesterday.
2. Archie Bradley – Greg Holland has gone in back to back games and has yet to pitch three straight this season. If Holland does go tonight, he’ll definitely be off tomorrow.

1. Bryan Shaw – If Scott Oberg goes today, it’ll be back to back and three of four.

Tyler Chatwood records save for Cubs

May 26, 2019

Chicago Cubs — Tyler Chatwood pitched a scoreless ninth yesterday for his first save with the Cubs.  Manager Joe Maddon recently said that Chatwood was not the answer in the ninth inning, but that he would give him a chance if other guys were unavailable.  Steve Cishek had pitched in two of three so Maddon stayed true to his word and sent Chatwood out there because he was available.  Chatwood gave up a couple of hits but benefited from a double play in locking down the save.  Chatwood has mostly been used as a multi-inning reliever so we will wait and see if he starts to see more time as a more traditional back end of the bullpen reliever.

Hierarchy remains: *Cishek | Kintzler | Brach.
* = closer-by-committee

Baltimore Orioles — Josh Lucas (not this Josh Lucas) pitched the final three innings in an Orioles’ win to pick up his first career save.  Although Lucas would have been credited with a save regardless of the score since he pitched the last three innings, it was a 3-run game and a regular save chance in the 9th.  Lucas has been the long relief man so he won’t crack the hierarchy yet but anybody who has success in the Orioles’ bullpen has a chance to move up quickly.

Hierarchy remains: Givens | Fry | Armstrong.

Texas Rangers — The Rangers again went with Shawn Kelley in a save opportunity yesterday, but unfortunately, he could not get the job done.   The blown save probably won’t change the Ranger’s ninth-inning plans right away, but Jose Leclerc struck out the side yesterday in another impressive outing and could see a save chance on Sunday with Kelley likely unavailable.  Kelley has done a good job closing for the Rangers even with yesterday’s blown save but Leclerc is still the best long term option.

Updated hierarchy: *Kelley | Leclerc | Martin.
* = closer-by-committee

1. Hector Rondon – Roberto Osuna and Ryan Pressly have both pitched in two straight and each has thrown over 35 pitches in those two outings.
2. Justin Anderson – Hansel Robles and Ty Buttrey have both pitched in back-to-back games and both went more than one inning yesterday.
3. Joakim Soria – Blake Treinen has pitched in two straight, throwing 43 pitches, and Lou Trivino has pitched in two straight and three of four.
4. Jose Leclerc – Shawn Kelley has pitched in two straight and four of five.

1. Jared Hughes – If Raisel Iglesias pitches today, it would be two of three and the Reds have a doubleheader on Monday.
2. Robert Gsellman/Jeurys Familia – If Edwin Diaz pitches today, it would be two straight games, three of the last four, and six of the last eight.
3. Kyle Crick – The Pirates have a doubleheader on Monday so if Felipe Vazquez pitches on Sunday, he would be unlikely to pitch in both games even if both were save chances.

Shawn Kelley secures third straight save since returning from injured list

May 25, 2019

Texas Rangers — For the third straight game, it was Shawn Kelley and not Jose Leclerc who got the ninth inning for the Rangers. Chris Martin pitched a clean eighth inning ahead of Kelley. Manager Chris Woodward had recently said that he wanted Leclerc to take over the closer role again, and we still think the Rangers’ long-term plan is to use have Leclerc close, but Kelley’s usage the past four days has been enough to move him up to the top of the hierarchy.

Updated hierarchy: *Kelley | Martin | Leclerc.
* = closer-by-committee

Philadelphia Phillies – Pat Neshek will go on the IL today because of a sore shoulder. The Phillies got an impressive effort from their bullpen last night, including lefty Adam Morgan, who pitched the eighth inning ahead of Hector Neris.

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

San Diego Padres – As was predicted in the Vulture Save Watch, Craig Stammen got the call to protect a two-run lead in the ninth inning. He closed out the Blue Jays to earn his second save of the year. Kirby Yates should be available now after two days of rest.

Hierarchy remains: Yates | Stammen | Warren.

Baltimore Orioles — Mychal Givens entered a 6-6 game in the ninth inning and promptly gave up a two-run walk-off bomb. This is Givens’ third straight appearance where he took the loss, ballooning his ERA to 5.64. Givens still has some job security mostly due to how bad the rest of Baltimore’s bullpen is, but three losses in a row is cause for concern. 

Hierarchy remains: Givens | Fry | Armstrong.

Arizona Diamondbacks — Arizona cruised to a large lead last night and turned to Zack Godley to pitch the final three innings. Godley didn’t give up a run to secure his second save of the year. Godley’s only other save came in the 13th inning, and he is more of a long reliever than a high-leverage option.

Hierarchy remains: Holland | Bradley | Lopez.

Houston Astros — The scoreless streak is over. Ryan Pressly gave up a leadoff homer to stop his record streak at 40 consecutive appearances. Pressly still earned his 11th hold on the year, while Roberto Osuna closed it out for his 13th save. There isn’t a better 1-2 punch in the majors right now than Pressly and Osuna. 

Hierarchy remains: Osuna | Pressly | Rondon.

1. Shawn Armstrong — The struggling Mychal Givens has pitched in back-to-back games, throwing 44 pitches in that time. Meanwhile, Paul Fry has gone in three straight. 
2. Victor Alcantara — Both Shane Greene and Joe Jimenez have pitched in two straight and three of four. 
3. Seranthony Dominguez — Hector Neris has thrown 45 pitches over the past two days. 

1. Sean Newcomb — Luke Jackson was rested last night, but he had pitched in two of three prior to that throwing 62(!!) pitches in that span. 
2. Brandon Kintzler — Today would be back-to-back and three of four for Steve Cishek.
3. Nick Wittgren — Although he has kept his pitch count low, today would be three straight for Brad Hand. 
4. Lou Trivino — Blake Treinen threw 27 pitches last night, so a long outing today would make him unavailable on Sunday.

The NL East is where bullpens go to die

May 24, 2019

New York Mets — One day after saying the “three-out rule” would no longer apply to Edwin Diaz, Diaz wasn’t even warming up as Robert Gsellman turned a 3-1 lead into a 4-3 deficit in the eighth inning. The Mets then scored three of their own, giving Diaz the save and Gsellman a very cheap win. After the game, manager Mickey Callaway explained that the decision to not use Diaz early “was an easy one,” arguing that Diaz had warmed up frequently over the last few days. Diaz did warm up before heading in for the ninth, of course. Ahead of Gsellman and Diaz, the much-maligned Jeurys Familia tossed a perfect seventh inning as he works to fully regain Callaway’s trust.

Hierarchy remains: Diaz | Gsellman | Familia.

Washington Nationals — The good news: gifted a one-run lead in the eighth, Wander Suero struck out the side! The bad news: he also gave up a double, an intentional walk, and a home run! Oops! You win some, you lose some — but if you’re Washington’s league-worst bullpen, you mostly just lose some. Fun fact: Sean Doolittle has saved as many bookstores (8) as he has baseball games this season.

Hierarchy remains: Doolittle | Barraclough | Suero.

New York Yankees — Zach Britton preserved a one-run lead with a scoreless ninth inning on Thursday to record his second save. As the Vulture Save Watch predicted, Aroldis Chapman had pitched on three of the previous five days and got some rest.

Hierarchy remains: Chapman | Britton | Ottavino.

1. Adam Conley/Tayron Guerrero — Sergio Romo has pitched in three straight. 
2. Jeurys Familia/Drew Gagnon — Edwin Diaz, Robert Gsellman, and Familia have all pitched in three of four and four of six. Familia has thrown the fewest pitches of the group, but has also struggled lately. Gagnon could get a shot to close.
3. Sean Newcomb — Luke Jackson threw two innings Thursday and has pitched in three of five, throwing 83 pitches!
4. Craig Stammen — Even with the off-day Thursday, Kirby Yates has gone in three of four. 
5. Paul Fry — Mychal Givens has only gone in two of four, but he threw 34 pitches last night.

1. Robert Gsellman — If Diaz pitches Friday, that would be four appearances in five days.
2. Joe Jimenez — A Friday outing would be three of four for Shane Greene, who allowed five unearned runs in a loss on Thursday (25 pitches). 
3. Kelvin Herrera — Alex Colome was off Thursday, but a Friday outing would be three of four for him.

Scott Oberg is your fill-in Rockies closer

May 23, 2019

Colorado Rockies — As we told you yesterday, Scott Oberg will fill in as the Rockies’ closer while Wade Davis recovers from an oblique injury. Davis’s injury is not believed to be severe.

Updated hierarchy: Oberg | Shaw | Estevez.

New York Mets — New York is reconsidering its hardline stance toward saving Edwin Diaz for conventional save opportunities, with Mickey Callaway announcing that the team’s dire need “to win some games” would trump its wish to save the closer some wear and tear. The move is partly a response to Jeurys Familia’s lousy season; Callaway added that Robert Gsellman, Drew Gagnon, and Tyler Bashlor would be seeing more late-inning work as Familia tries to get back on track.

Updated hierarchy: Diaz | Gsellman | Familia.

Texas Rangers — In his first two games back since throat surgery, Shawn Kelley has two saves. The next chance will likely go to Chris Martin or Jose Leclerc.

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

Los Angeles Dodgers — Good news for the Dodgers, as Pedro Baez is doing better and could pitch again as early as this Friday.

Updated hierarchy: Jansen | Baez | Urias.

1. Adam Conley — Both Sergio Romo and Tayron Guerrero have appeared in two straight, while Conley is well-rested.
2. Zack Britton — Aroldis Chapman has gone in two of three and three of five.

1. Brandon Kintzler — Steve Cishek threw 25 pitches on Wednesday.
2. Kelvin Herrera — Alex Colome has appeared on two straight days (12 pitches).
3. Robert Gsellman — If Edwin Diaz pitches today, it’ll be three of four and four of six.
4. Craig Stammen — Kirby Yates initially got Wednesday off as we predicted, but when Adam Warren struggled, Yates had to finish off the save. Yates might get the next two days to rest after appearing in three straight.