Jim Johnson grabs a save and Ty Buttrey won’t pitch again this year

September 27, 2018

Los Angeles Angels — Jim Johnson, who had given up nine hits in his last two appearances, was Mike Scioscia’s first choice to pitch the ninth inning in a save situation on Wednesday night. And although it’s no longer 2013, Johnson made it work. After the game, we learned that Ty Buttrey would be shut down for the rest of the season with bursitis in his right knee.

Updated hierarchy: *Parker | Robles | Johnson.
* = closer-by-committee

Chicago Cubs — The Cubs ultimately won last night, clinching a playoff spot and hopefully saving this poor sap from needing police protection — but the real story was the team’s top three relievers combining to blow a four-run lead over the last two innings. Joe Maddon went with CJ Edwards, Steve Cishek, and Justin Wilson in that order — but with Wilson blowing the save through a single and two doubles, we can’t be sure he’ll get the next shot.

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

Tampa Bay Rays — Every save is beautiful in its own way, but last night Sergio Romo earned one that only a Monkey could love. Romo got out of a light inherited jam in the eighth with the Rays up one, and then the team scored four runs to put things out of reach. Or so we thought. With a walk and five straight singles, the Yankees put the go-ahead run on first, and Romo — the eighth Rays pitcher of the game — still had two outs to get. He managed, somehow, and the coveted four-run, four-out save was all his.

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

New York Mets — As we forecast Wednesday morning, Robert Gsellman got the gnight off and Seth Lugo picked up his third save of the year.

Hierarchy remains: Gsellman | Lugo | Swarzak.

Baltimore Orioles — The Orioles went into the ninth up three, but after they beat up on Craig Kimbrel for four runs, they sent Paul Fry back out for the bottom of the ninth where he earned an interesting three-inning save.

Hierarchy remains: Givens | Fry | Wright Jr.

VULTURE SAVE WATCH
Today:
1. Jose Alvarado — Romo needed 41 pitches last night.
2. Dellin Betances — Aroldis Chapman might not be quite there yet.

Friday:
1, Hector Rondon — If Roberto Osuna pitches today, it’ll be three out of four.

Arodys Vizcaino is closing games again for Atlanta

September 26, 2018

Atlanta Braves – Prior to Tuesday’s game, Brian Snitker said that Arodys Vizcaino would pitch the ninth if the Braves had a lead. Sure enough, Vizcaino closed out a 7-3 win over the Mets with an efficient eight-pitch ninth inning. Meanwhile, AJ Minter is trying to work through some mechanical flaws prior to the postseason. We think Vizcaino is the best bet for saves over the final week, but Snitker also said that he doesn’t want to push Vizcaino too hard, so we’ll leave it as a committee for the rest of the year. Snitker also said after Tuesday’s win that Chad Sobotka, who struck out two in a four-out eighth inning, will get more high-leverage looks.

Updated hierarchy: *Vizcaino | Sobotka | Minter.
* = closer-by-committee

Minnesota Twins – Trevor Hildenberger’s rough September continued on Tuesday when he gave up three hits and four earned runs in the eighth inning en route to a blown save. Manager Paul Molitor said he’s going to try different guys in different roles this week, which explains Hildenberger’s turn in the eighth inning. Given Hildenberger’s struggles and Molitor’s plan to use a committee, expect either Taylor Rogers or Trevor May to get the next save chance.

Hierarchy remains: *Hildenberger | Rogers | May.
* = closer-by-committee

Los Angeles Angels – Blake Parker completed Tuesday’s eighth inning, but it was Hansel Robles, not Ty Buttrey, who earned last night’s save. Buttrey, who was coming off a second straight blown save on Monday,  was reportedly unavailable after working two of the previous three days. We’ll keep an eye on how Mike Scioscia handles his bullpen over the final five days of the season.

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

Chicago White Sox — Jace Fry will start Wednesday’s game, which means Nate Jones may vulture a save if the opportunity arises. The White Sox are off on Thursday, so Fry should be available out of the bullpen for the team’s next game even if he pitches two innings tonight.

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

Arizona Diamondbacks – Yoshihisa Hirano threw 27 pitches yesterday and Brad Ziegler had already worked, so the Diamondbacks called upon old friend Brad Boxberger to try and close out a 3-2 win. The Dodgers took advantage of their sudden good fortune and tied the game thanks to a single, a stolen base, a throwing error and a double. Boxberger did earn the win after a walk-off home run in the bottom half of the ninth, so he’s got that going for him. Which is nice.

Hierarchy remains: *Hirano | Ziegler | Bradley.
* = closer-by-committee

VULTURE SAVE WATCH
Today
1. Jeurys Familia – Blake Treinen has pitched in two straight and four of five. Familia was held out last night.
2. Nate Jones – As we mentioned above, Jace Fry is starting today.
3. Hector Rondon – Roberto Osuna has pitched in two straight and three of four, though last night’s outing consisted of just six pitches.
4. Steven Wright – The Red Sox have a doubleheader today and it’s highly unlikely Craig Kimbrel pitches in both games.
5. Seth Lugo/Anthony Swarzak – Robert Gsellman had a rough seventh inning last night, throwing 24 pitches.

Tomorrow
1. Kevin McCarthy – An appearance today would be two straight and three of four for Wily Peralta.

Jeremy Jeffress day-to-day with neck spasms

September 25, 2018

New York Yankees – Aroldis Chapman pitched a clean 7th inning on Monday night, earning his first hold of the season; Dellin Betances pitched the 8th and Zach Britton pitched the 9th for the save. After a rough first outing back, Chapman has now thrown two scoreless innings. Aaron Boone has said that he hopes to have the lefty closing games come playoff time, so it seems possible-to-probable that he gets a save chance the next time one arises.

Hierarchy remains: Chapman | Betances | Robertson. 

Milwaukee Brewers – Just yesterday we opined that, despite his otherworldly September, it was unlikely that Corey Knebel would see a save chance again by year’s end. But a bout of neck spasms hit Jeremy Jeffress yesterday, and sure enough, Knebel was summoned for the 9th, whereupon he earned just his second save since July. Jeffress is day-to-day.

Hierarchy remains: Jeffress | Hader | Knebel.

VULTURE SAVE WATCH
Today
1. Fernando Rodney – Blake Treinen and Jeurys Familia have gone three of four, and with the A’s having clinched a playoff spot, they might give their top two relievers the day off today.
2. Hector Rondon – Roberto Osuna threw 20 pitches last night, and tonight would make three of four, so the Astros may just rest him to prep for the playoffs.

Tomorrow
1. Greg Holland – If Sean Doolittle goes today, it’ll be back to back; we figure the Nats might not risk throwing him three in a row at this point.
2. Chris Martin – If Jose LeClerc goes today, it’ll be three straight.
3. Kyle Crick – If Felipe Vazquez goes today, it’ll be back to back and three of four.
4. Kenta Maeda – If Kenley Jansen goes today, it’ll be back to back and three of four.

 

Could Anthony Swarzak eke out one or two more saves?

September 24, 2018

New York Mets – Both Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo pitched on Thursday and Friday, and with the Mets looking to protect both of them from injury, they both got a second straight day off on Sunday. Anthony Swarzak got the final five outs in their place for his fourth save of the season. If you’re in a deep league and are desperate for saves in the final week, you could do worse than Swarzak, who has an outside shot at another save chance in the season’s final week.

Hierarchy remains: Gsellman | Lugo | Swarzak.

Milwaukee Brewers – He’s not likely to get a save chance again, as Jeremy Jeffress has that role nailed down for the remainder of the year, but Corey Knebel has put together an absurd final month of the season: 11.1 IP, 0 ER, 2 H, 2 BB, 21 Ks. Those in dynasty leagues should look to hang on to him going into next year, as he seems to have found the form that made him a top tier closer in 2017.

Hierarchy remains: Jeffress | Hader | Knebel.

Atlanta Braves – A day after clinching the division, the Braves gave all their top relievers the day off, and Shane Carle locked down a 1-run victory. Carle has had a fine rookie season, but he’s still probably the fifth choice, at best, in this hierarchy.

Hierarchy remains: Minter | Vizcaino | Venters.

Minnesota Twins – Trevor May came into the game with the tying run on deck in the 8th, and recorded the game’s final four outs to pick up his first save of the year. He should return to his usual role of setting up for Trevor Hildenberger in the season’s final week.

Hierarchy remains: Hildenberger | Rogers | May.

VULTURE SAVE WATCH
Today
1. Seung-Hwan Oh – Wade Davis and Adam Ottavino have gone three straight.
2. Paul Fry – Mychal Givens has pitched 3 innings over the past two days.

Tomorrow
None.

Arodys Vizcaino earns first save since June

September 23, 2018

Atlanta Braves – Arodys Vizcaino earned his first save since June 17 when he closed out an NL East title for the Braves on Saturday. Vizcaino still needs to work towards back-to-back appearances, which should start this week. As the Braves prepare for the postseason, it would make sense for them to give Vizcaino another save chance or two to see if he’s capable of once again being a closer, even if it’s a shared role with AJ Minter.

Updated hierarchy: Minter | Vizcaino | Venters.

Oakland A’s — Jeurys Familia pitched Saturday and allowed an earned run for the third time in four appearances. Meanwhile, Fernando Rodney has overcome a rough stretch of his own to string together four straight scoreless outings. We’ll keep an eye on where both of these former closers are trending in case Blake Treinen needs a night off prior to the postseason.

Hierarchy remains: Treinen | Familia | Rodney.

VULTURE SAVE WATCH
Today:
1. Jordan Hicks — Carlos Martinez threw 38 pitches last night in his second straight day of work.
2. Mike Wright Jr. — Mychal Givens threw 24 pitches over two innings on Saturday and Paul Fry has thrown 31 pitches over the last two days.
3. Adam Ottavino/Seung Hwan Oh — Both Wade Davis (28 pitches) and Ottavino (22 pitches) have gone on back-to-back days, but Ottavino only threw five pitches last night.
4. David Robertson — Aroldis Chapman may not see a save chance just yet, and both Zach Britton and Dellin Betances have seen heavy usage over the past three days.

Monday:
1. Steven Wright — If Craig Kimbrel goes today that will be three of four.
2. Adam Ottavino/Seung Hwan Oh — If either Davis or Ottavino goes today, it will be three straight for them.
3. Adam Conley/Kyle Barraclough — Same goes for Drew Steckenrider and Adam Conley.
4. Jeurys Familia/Fernando Rodney — And for Blake Treinen and Jeurys Familia.
5. Kyle Crick — Felipe Vazquez threw 23 pitches last night and another lengthy outing could mean an off day Monday.