Nate Jones latest to grab White Sox save, but who’s next?

May 18, 2018

Los Angeles Angels — There’s unfortunate news for Keynan Middleton, who will undergo Tommy John surgery, ending his season. Meanwhile, the healthy members of the Angels bullpen continue to falter. Jim Johnson entered Thursday night’s game in the seventh inning with a 1-0 deficit and ran into trouble — single, flyout, homer, single, single — before departing. He was charged with four runs (three earned) while recording just one out. We like Justin Anderson more and more to get the next save chance after Johnson’s performance Thursday.

Hierarchy remains: *Anderson | Johnson | Bedrosian.
* = closer-by-committee

Chicago White Sox — In true committee fashion, Nate Jones picked up a clean save for the White Sox on Thursday night, with Joakim Soria presumably available. Soria, who took a loss in his last outing, blew his most recent save chance, and since then, Jones and Bruce Rondon have picked up saves. With chances so rare for the 11-win White Sox, it’s tough for any potential closer to establish himself. Our guess is that Soria gets the next shot.

Hierarchy remains: *Soria | Rondon | Jones. 
* = closer-by-committee

Oakland A’s — The A’s bullpen continues to be . . . intriguing? Frustrating? Last night, Santiago Casilla came into the game in the third inning and allowed three runs over two innings — strange usage for a man who looks like the first in line for saves if Blake Treinen gets hurt. He has the team’s only vulture save this season (and zero holds), so for now that’s the only evidence keeping him in the hierarchy. If you’re hunting for holds, Yusmeiro Petit and Lou Trivino (0.59 ERA in 15.1 IP) are better bets.

Hierarchy remains: Treinen | Casilla | Petit.

San Francisco Giants — Mark Melancon is getting closer to returning. He tossed live batting practice Thursday and looked good. He’ll begin a minor league assignment this Sunday and, if all goes well, he should return to the majors in two weeks.

Hierarchy remains: Strickland | Watson | Dyson.

1. Joe Jimenez — Shane Greene pitched Thursday night — his fifth(!) appearance in six days.

1. Michael Feliz/Richard Rodriguez — Both Felipe Vazquez and Feliz have pitched in two straight. A Friday appearance for either would likely lead to an off day on Saturday.
2. Tony Watson — Hunter Strickland has pitched in two of three and three of five.

Gabe Kapler just wants to watch the world burn

May 17, 2018

Philadelphia Phillies — Gabe Kapler has declared war on your fantasy team and by-the-book bullpen management, treating the ninth inning of a three-run May matinee like the wild card playoff. Tommy Hunter and Luis Garcia split up the eighth, and after Edubray Ramos struck out the first two guys in the ninth on six pitches, it sure looked like he’d be in line for a second straight save. But Kapler liked Hector Neris’s splitter against lefty Chris Davis, so one groundout later, the Phillies had their win and nobody got the save. For as long as Kapler keeps this up, Phillies relievers will be trading at a discount.

Hierarchy remains: *Neris | Ramos | Dominguez.
* = closer-by-committee

St. Louis Cardinals — Greg Holland was ineffective in the eighth with a four-run lead, requiring Bud Norris, who makes $10 million less than Holland, to come in and lock down a five-out save. With a 6.17 ERA in 15 games, and only three appearances where he hasn’t allowed a baserunner, Holland might be falling behind 21-year-old fireballer Jordan Hicks (0.92 ERA, but 14 BB in 19.2 IP) in the Cardinal pecking order.

Hierarchy remains: *Norris | Holland | Hicks.
* = closer-by-committee

Pittsburgh Pirates — George Kontos’s struggles have earned him a demotion from high-leverage spots, but Clint Hurdle is happy with the many strikeout-heavy options he has in setup. We think former seventh-inning guy Michael Feliz, who grabbed an eighth-inning hold on Wednesday, is most likely to move up, followed by rookie Richard Rodriguez (27 K in 15.2 IP) and 25-year-old Kyle Crick.

Updated hierarchy: Vazquez | Feliz | Rodriguez. 

1. Sergio Romo/Jose Alvarado — Alex Colome has pitched in three straight and four of five. Time to see who the Rays have in column B.
2. AJ Minter/Dan Winkler — Brian Snitker is always talking about getting these guys save chances, and with Arodys Vizcaino coming off four appearances in five days, now’s a great opportunity.

1. Greg Holland/Jordan Hicks — Norris won’t go in three straight, especially when the first was a five-out save.
2. Kyle Barraclough — If Brad Zeigler pitches tomorrow, it’ll be his third straight appearance.

It’s committee time again in Atlanta

May 16, 2018

Atlanta Braves – Arodys Vizcaino allowed two runs in Tuesday’s ninth inning to blow a 2-1 lead for the Braves. After the game, Brian Snitker said that he has a few options for the ninth inning if he wants to keep everyone healthy and fresh. Vizcaino is still the favorite for saves, but with Snitker once again hinting at using AJ Minter or Dan Winkler in the ninth inning, we’re bringing back the asterisk.

Hierarchy remains: *Vizcaino | Minter | Winkler.
* = closer-by-committee

Los Angeles Angels – With two lefties leading off the eighth inning, Mike Scioscia called on Jose Alvarez to protect a 3-1 lead. Alvarez quickly loaded the bases for right-handed Jose Altuve. Instead of going to Cam Bedrosian, who was warming up, Scioscia stuck with Alvarez and Altuve cleared the bases with a double. After the game, Scioscia chalked it up to the Astros doing a good job in the batter’s box, and thought that Alvarez has good stuff against both lefties and righties. The other thing to note is that Jim Johnson pitched the ninth, and that was likely the plan if the Angels kept their lead as well. What is clear is that the path to the ninth inning is still full of intrigue, and that won’t be changing any time soon.

Hierarchy remains: *Anderson | Johnson | Bedrosian.
* = closer-by-committee

Cleveland Indians — Andrew Miller has not been great in his three appearances since returning from the DL. On Tuesday, he combined with Dan Otero to give up five runs and blow an 8-4 lead in the seventh inning. The Cleveland bullpen is a mess right now, but the club has no plans in the near future to fix that problem via trade. Cleveland will surely be in the market for another reliever at the trade deadline in July, but until then, it will have to hope that Miller regains his All-Star form and that he and his bullpen mates don’t get too overworked in the process.

Hierarchy remains: Allen | Miller | Olson.

Seattle Mariners – Lefty James Pazos continued his strong 2018 on Tuesday with 13th straight scoreless outing, lowering his ERA to 1.13. He’s pitched the seventh inning in each of the last two games and is someone who should continue to get high-leverage opportunities. Pazos has 16 strikeouts and just one walk through 16 IP this year, and he has allowed just five hits over his last 13 appearances. The one person who should be worried is Juan Nicasio, who has been dreadful lately.

Hierarchy remains: Diaz | Nicasio | Vincent.

Detroit Tigers – Yesterday we listed Buck Farmer on our Vulture Save Watch. While he didn’t end up getting the save chance, he did play an important role in the Tigers’ 9-8 win. Ron Gardenhire made sure Farmer was warming up in the eighth as a ploy to make Cleveland think a righty was available, when in reality, the inning belong solely to lefty Daniel Stumpf. Chalk one up for the Vulture Decoy Watch!

Hierarchy remains: Greene | Jimenez | Farmer. 

1. Joe Jimenez – Shane Greene has pitched in four straight games. He’s probably earned a night off.
2. Santiago Casilla – Blake Treinen has pitched in two straight and four of five, though the A’s do have Thursday off.
3. Nick Vincent – Edwin Diaz has pitched each of the last two days while Juan Nicasio has gone in three of four. Vincent had Tuesday off and is the most rested arm of the group.

1. Juan Nicasio/Nick Vincent – If Diaz pitches today, that will be three straight. Nicasio, Vincent or even James Pazos could get a look depending on Wednesday’s usage.


Justin Anderson gets first save chance after Middleton injury

May 15, 2018

Los Angeles Angels – Following the bad news from Keynan Middleton’s MRI, Justin Anderson got the first save chance for the Angels and converted, successfully protecting a 1-run lead against the Astros. Jim Johnson, Cam Bedrosian, and Blake Parker had all been worked pretty heavily going into last night’s game, which likely led to Anderson’s usage, but since he converted, we’re compelled to move him to the top. This feels like a committee going forward, but when it comes to the 9th inning, success usually leads to more opportunity.

Updated hierarchy: *Anderson | Johnson | Bedrosian.
* = closer-by-committee

Atlanta Braves – The Vulture Save Watch struck again, with AJ Minter picking up his second save of the season last night. Arodys Vizcaino was likely unavailable after pitching in two straight, but Minter could see occasional match-up related chances even on nights when everyone is rested.

Hierarchy remains: Vizcaino | Minter | Winkler. 

Oakland A’s – Yusmeiro Petit pitched the 7th and 8th innings ahead of Blake Treinen to earn his third hold of the season. We still think Santiago Casilla is the best bet for a save on nights that Treinen isn’t available, but the veteran has been used all over the place lately, and Petit is probably a better player to own at this point for those looking to score some holds.

Updated hierarchy: Treinen | Casilla | Petit.

1. Buck Farmer – Shane Greene and Joe Jimenez have pitched in three straight.

1. Adam Ottavino/Jake McGee – Wade Davis and Ottavino have pitched in three of four; usage tonight will determine who is available tomorrow.
2. Santiago Casilla – If Blake Treinen goes today, it’ll be four of five.


Keynan Middleton heads back to the DL

May 14, 2018

Los Angeles Angels – Keynan Middleton is not on the active roster tonight and appears to be headed to the DL after he injured his right elbow on Sunday. The Angels will continue to rely on a committee of arms to close out games, with Jim Johnson the likely leader of a group that includes Justin Anderson, Cam Bedrosian, Noe Ramirez and even Blake Parker.

Updated hierarchy: *Johnson | Anderson | Bedrosian.
* = closer-by-committee