2020 AL Central Preview

February 24, 2020

Chicago White Sox – The White Sox bring back closer Alex Colome and set-up man Aaron Bummer, who are both coming off great seasons in 2019.  They also signed veteran Steve Cishek and he should join Colome and Bummer at the back end of the White Sox bullpen.  Kelvin Herrera and Jace Fry are a couple of guys who will be looking to bounce back in 2020 after struggling in 2019.

Starting 2020 hierarchy: Colome | Bummer | Cishek.
Holds candidates: Bummer, Cishek, Jace Fry.

Cleveland Indians – Brad Hand is the unquestioned closer for the Indians to start 2020 and they will look to keep him strong for the entire season after they had to shut him down in September last year.  Behind Hand, the Indians have a mix of veterans and some very exciting young arms.  Nick Wittgren and specialists Oliver Perez and Adam Cimber are back, and it will be interesting to see how the Indians use Perez and Cimber with the new three batter rule.  Flamethrowers James Karinchak and Emmanuel Clase, the centerpiece of the Corey Kluber trade, are the two most interesting relievers behind Hand.  Francona typically likes to rely on veterans, so we will put Wittgren as the set-up man to start the season and slot Karinchak second in line, but if Karinchak can harness his nasty stuff, he could give the Indians a great 1-2 punch with Hand at the back end of the bullpen.

Starting 2020 hierarchy: Hand | Wittgren | Karinchak.
Holds candidates: Wittgren, Karinchak, Adam Cimber, Oliver Perez.

Detroit Tigers — Joe Jimenez struggled out of the gate last season but settled in pretty nicely to the closer’s role after Shane Greene was dealt mid-season.  Jimenez will return to the ninth in 2020, and Buck Farmer and Jose Cisnero, who were working the seventh and eighth ahead of Jimenez to finish 2019, should round out the back end of the Tigers’ bullpen.  Gregory Soto is a name to keep an eye on as he has impressed with his upper-90s fastball so far in spring training.

Starting 2020 hierarchy: Jimenez | Farmer | Cisnero.
Holds candidates: Farmer, Cisnero, Gregory Soto.

Kansas City Royals — Ian Kennedy saved 30 games for the Royals last season and will return as the closer to start the 2020 season.   Scott Barlow pitched very well as Kennedy’s set-up man at the end of the season, posting an ERA of about 2.00 over the last two months of the season.  The Royals also signed a familiar face in free agency, bringing back former closer Greg Holland.  Lefty Tim Hill could see some time in the later innings and it looks like Glenn Sparkman may be moved to the bullpen.

Starting 2020 hierarchy: Kennedy | Barlow | Holland.
Holds candidates: Barlow, Holland, Tim Hill.

Minnesota Twins — Taylor Rogers was incredible for the Twins last season, recording 30 saves and 90 strikeouts in 69 innings.  He will start 2020 as the closer and the Twins have a very deep bullpen behind him.  They brought back Sergio Romo and added veteran Tyler Clippard.  Tyler Duffey and Trevor May also return and all four guys could see time in the seventh and eighth innings ahead of Rogers.

Starting 2020 hierarchy: Rogers | Romo | Clippard.
Holds candidates: Romo, Clippard, Tyler Duffey, Trevor May.


2020 AL West Preview

February 24, 2020

Houston Astros — It’s been a nice, quiet offseason in Houston, and not much has changed at the back of the bullpen. The ninth belongs to Roberto Osuna, and Ryan Pressly is likely to own the eighth if he can overcome his knee troubles and revert to the amazing form he showed early last season. It’s not yet clear who will be second in line, with Brad Peacock, Joe Smith, and Chris Devenski all in the mix. Josh James could bring his 100 mph stuff to a setup role if he doesn’t get the nod as the team’s fifth starter. Another future starter who could get high-leverage work this season is 22-year-old Bryan Abreu.

Starting 2020 hierarchy: Osuna | Pressly | Smith.
Holds candidates: Pressly, Peacock, Smith, Devenski.

Los Angeles Angels — Hansel Robles should return to the closer role for LA, with Ty Buttrey recovering from an intercostal strain and expected to be healthy and in the setup role by Opening Day. The rest of the Angels bullpen will look familiar too, with perennial “future closers” Cam Bedrosian and Keynan Middleton the top two options for the seventh inning.

Starting 2020 hierarchy: Robles | Buttrey | Middleton.
Holds candidates: Buttrey, Bedrosian, Middleton, Noe Ramirez.

Oakland A’s —  Breakout star Liam Hendriks will try to keep things rolling the same way in 2020, backed up by the same pair of 35-year-olds: Yusmeiro Petit and Joakim Soria. Jake Diekman and Lou Trivino round out the A-team.

Starting 2020 hierarchy: Hendriks | Petit | Soria.
Holds candidates: Petit, Soria, Diekman.

Seattle Mariners — The Mariners have a ton of young arms filling out their bullpen, but the closer role is a two-man race between last year’s top dog, Matt Magill, and free agent signee Yoshihisa Hirano, who has several years of closing experience in Japan. Magill is dealing with shoulder tenderness, which probably gives Hirano the edge. Carl Edwards, Jr. and Sam Tuivailala are also in the high-leverage mix. One impressive rookie this spring has been Yohan Ramirez.

Starting 2020 hierarchy: Hirano| Magill | Edwards.
Holds candidates: Magill, Edwards, Tuivailala, Brandon Brennan.

Texas Rangers — Jose Leclerc will be back to close out games for the Rangers this year, with Rafael Montero reprising his setup role. There are a lot of options for middle relief, but no really good ones, so it’s worth noting that Cody Allen is at training camp as a non-roster invitee. For now, Jesse Chavez and Nick Goody are better bets.

Starting 2020 hierarchy: Leclerc | Montero | Chavez.
Holds candidates: Montero, Chavez, Goody.

To us, you are all The Man with the Yellow Hat

Closer Monkey is going into hibernation for the winter, but we wanted to take a moment to thank all of you for continuing to visit. We hope we’ve helped you beat your league to the waiver wire a few times and that our daily updates helped to guide your bullpen management in some fashion.
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Craig Kimbrel officially shut down for the season

September 29, 2019

Chicago Cubs — Brandon Kintzler picked up his first save of the season and wagged his finger at the Cardinals after getting the final out.  The Cubs have shut Craig Kimbrel down for the season.  If you are desperate for a save on the last day of the season you could take a chance on Rowan Wick.

Updated hierarchy: Wick | Kintzler | Strop.

New York Mets — Manager Mickey Callaway said that he wanted to get another save situation for Edwin Diaz before the end of the season and last night provided him with that opportunity.  Diaz responded with a perfect ninth inning for his first save in over a month.  

Hierarchy remains: *Diaz | Familia | Avilan.
* = closer-by-committee

Arizona Diamondbacks – As predicted in the Vulture Save Watch yesterday, Archie Bradley got the night off and Kevin Ginkel got the call in the ninth inning.  Ginkel pitched a scoreless inning for his second save.  He was excellent in September, giving up only one earned run, and should be a candidate for the back end of the Diamondbacks bullpen heading into next season.

Hierarchy remains: Bradley | Ginkel | Lopez.

Oakland A’s – Jesus Luzardo nailed down his second save of the season yesterday, striking out three over two scoreless innings to finish off a 1-0 victory for the A’s.  Luzardo has been fantastic out of the bullpen in September but will likely move to the starting rotation next season.

Hierarchy remains: Hendriks | Soria | Petit.

VULTURE SAVE WATCH
Today
1. Carlos Estevez – Jairo Diaz has pitched it two straight, including 1.2 innings on Friday
2. Joe Kelly – Kelly has missed time recently but is expected to pitch on Sunday and it could be in a save situation.
3. Fernando Rodney – The Nationals clinched the first wild card spot yesterday and may choose to rest their entire hierarchy on Sunday.
4. Luke Jackson – With the Braves locked into a playoff spot, they could choose to rest Mark Melancon and Shane Greene

Monday
1. Andrew Miller/Giovanny Gallegos – Check your league to see if game 163 counts. If it does and the Cardinals and Brewers are tied after today you could take a long shot on one of these Cardinals’ relievers.
2. Junior Guerra/Drew Pomeranz – or one of these Brewers’ relievers.

Seth Lugo is done for the year

September 28, 2019

New York Mets — Seth Lugo pitched the last two innings of his season yesterday, throwing 41 pitches to earn his sixth save of the year. After the game manager Mickey Callaway said that Lugo will be shut down for the final two games of the year. Lugo was excellent for the Mets, posting a 0.90 WHIP over 80 innings, but with him shut down, and with Justin Wilson and Robert Gsellman also likely done for the year, look for Edwin Diaz to get any save chances this weekend. 

Updated hierarchy: *Diaz | Familia | Avilan.
* = closer-by-committee

VULTURE SAVE WATCH
Today:
1. Joakim Soria/Yusmeiro Petit – Liam Hendriks has pitched in three straight games; Soria has gone in three of four. 
2. Kevin Ginkel – Archie Bradley has pitched in three of four. 
3. Luke Jackson – Atlanta has locked in its playoff position, and may choose to rest Mark Melancon and Shane Greene, both of whom have pitched in two of the last three. 
4. Carlos Estevez – Jairo Diaz threw 28 pitches last night, and with Colorado playing for nothing, they may choose to rest him. 
5. Ryne Stanek – Jose Urena has pitched in back-to-back and three of four. 

Tomorrow:
1. Nick Anderson – Today would be back-to-back for Emilio Pagan. The Rays are tied with Oakland for the top wild card spot, so two wins are important, but Pagan’s postseason health is also important.
2. Zack Britton – With the Yankees locked in their playoff spot, if Aroldis Chapman pitches today they probably will not send him out tomorrow. 
3. Daniel Hudson/Hunter Strickland/FERNANDO RODNEY – If Washington wins today (or Milwaukee loses), the Nationals will be locked into the top wild card spot and probably will save their hierarchy for the wild card game. That means we could see old friend Fernando Rodney get one more save chance.