Keone Kela likely to take over as Pirates closer

September 18, 2019

Pittsburgh Pirates – As we told you yesterday, authorities arrested Pirates closer Felipe Vazquez on charges of computer pornography – solicitation of a child and providing obscene material to minors. The Pirates were blown out last night, but before the game Clint Hurdle indicated that Keone Kela will be his first option as closer. Kela has been terrific lately, allowing just one earned run over his last 19.0 IP. Hurdle did also mention that Kela could face the heart of the order earlier in the game, so Richard Rodriguez and Francisco Liriano may also be in line for a rare save chance.

Updated hierarchy: *Kela | Rodriguez | Liriano.
* = closer-by-committee

Milwaukee Brewers – With Josh Hader unavailable, Drew Pomeranz pitched the final two innings of the Brewers’ 3-1 win last night. After the game, Craig Counsell said that Pomeranz pitched so well that he didn’t need to turn to Junior Guerra at any point. Pomeranz has been outstanding as a reliever and will join Guerra as someone in line for vulture saves whenever Hader is rested.

Updated hierarchy: Hader | Guerra | Pomeranz.

Chicago Cubs — The Cubs are encouraged by Craig Kimbrel’s progress as he recovers from a sore right elbow. Kimbrel will be evaluated today and has a chance to return from the IL in time for this weekend’s series with the Cardinals. Meanwhile, Brandon Kintzler has not pitched since Sept. 10 and is hoping to be ready to throw a bullpen session in a few days. Rowan Wick, Steve Cishek, Alec Mills, Kyle Ryan and David Phelps will be the arms Joe Maddon trusts most to close out games until Kimbrel and Kintzler return.

Hierarchy remains: Wick | Kintzler | Cishek.

Minnesota Twins — It’s looking quite unlikely that Sam Dyson will pitch again this season, which means Tyler Duffey will get more high-leverage looks as the Twins look to clinch a division title.

Updated hierarchy: *Rogers | Romo | Duffey.
* = closer-by-committee

San Francisco Giants — Will Smith has now made two appearances since recovering from a back injury, scattering one hit across 2.1 IP. The Giants have no need to run Smith ragged over the final days of the season, so Shaun Anderson may be in line for another vulture save depending on Smith’s usage.

Hierarchy remains: Smith | Anderson | Gustave.

VULTURE SAVE WATCH
Today
1. Shawn Armstrong/Hunter Harvey – Mychal Givens threw 28 uninspiring pitches last night and may get a night off. Shawn Armstrong tossed 23 pitches yesterday but should still be available today.
2. Josh Taylor – Brandon Workman and Matt Barnes have both pitched in three of the last four days.
3. Sergio Romo – Taylor Rogers actually pitched well on a second straight day of work last night, but it seems unlikely he’d pitch in a third straight game tonight. Both Romo and Tyler Duffey have also gone in two straight and three of four.
4. Joe Kelly – Kenley Jansen recorded a four-out save yesterday and has pitched in two of the last three days.
5. Joakim Soria/Yusmeiro Petit – Liam Hendriks has pitched in two straight and three of four, though he only needed nine pitches last night. Soria has gone in two straight as well, so the A’s may turn to Petit for a save tonight.
6. Jandel Gustave – Will Smith has pitched in two of three and may not be ready to throw back-to-back days yet. Shaun Anderson tossed 38 pitches last night.
7. Hunter Strickland – Daniel Hudson threw 26 pitches in two innings of work last night.

Tomorrow

1. Kapler’s Choice – Hector Neris tossed 25 pitches last night and may get Thursday off if he goes again today.
2. Shaun Anderson/Jandel Gustave – If Will Smith does appear today, that would be two straight and three of four.
3. Derek Law/Jason Adam – It will be two straight and three of four for both Ken Giles and Derek Law if they appear today.

Felipe Vazquez arrested

September 17, 2019

Pittsburgh Pirates – Authorities arrested Pirates closer Felipe Vazquez on charges of computer pornography – solicitation of a child and providing obscene material to minors. We expect Richard Rodriguez, Francisco Liriano and Keone Kela (one earned run in his last 19.0 IP) to handle the late innings for the Pirates.

Updated hierarchy: *Rodriguez | Liriano | Kela
* = closer-by-committee

Kevin Ginkel picks up first career save

September 17, 2019

Arizona Diamondbacks – Archie Bradley was unavailable last night due to back spasms, so Kevin Ginkel came on for the 9th and notched his first career save. Bradley should be fine and expects to be available today.

Hierarchy remains: Bradley | Ginkel | Lopez.

VULTURE SAVE WATCH
Tomorrow

1. Scott Barlow – Ian Kennedy threw 21 pitches last night; another long outing and he could be off Wednesday.
2. Joakim Soria – If Liam Hendriks goes tonight, it’ll be back to back and three of four.

Kenley Jansen is pitching well again for the Dodgers

September 16, 2019

Los Angeles Dodgers – Dave Roberts told Kenley Jansen that he would pitch the eighth inning on Sunday, and Jansen came through with a solid 1-2-3 frame to keep the game tied at 2-2. After the Dodgers took the lead in the top of the ninth, Adam Kolarek got the first out of the bottom of the frame before Kenta Maeda notched the final two outs to pick up the save. Pedro Baez had already faced the top of the order in the sixth inning and Joe Kelly was presumably off following two straight days of work. The Dodgers have the luxury of only needing to clinch home field advantage for the playoffs at this point, so you could see a lot of different names get save chances over the next two weeks. The good news for Jansen owners is that the embattled closer has put together two straight strong outings.

Hierarchy remains: Jansen | Kelly | Baez.

Cleveland Indians – With Brad Hand still unavailable and the rest of the bullpen either tired or struggling, Cleveland turned to James Hoyt for five of the final six outs of its win over Minnesota. Hoyt, a September call-up, rewarded Terry Francona’s faith by holding the Twins hitless, striking out two and issuing just one walk. Francona went to lefty Oliver Perez for the final out, which Perez recorded to earn his first save of the season. Hand played catch yesterday and we’ll see if the team offers any updates prior to Tuesday’s tilt. Meanwhile, we’ll also keep an eye on which setup men Francona trusts the most in the final two weeks.

Hierarchy remains: Hand | Goody | Clippard.

Oakland A’s – Pitching in just his second big-league game, Jesus Luzardo tossed the final three innings of Oakland’s 6-1 win to pick up his first career save. Luzardo, who notched a three-inning hold in his MLB debut on Sept. 11, has impressed the A’s but won’t factor into their usual late-inning plans.

Hierarchy remains: Hendriks | Soria | Petit.

VULTURE SAVE WATCH
Today
1. Junior Guerra – Josh Hader has pitched two straight and four of five.
2. Aaron Bummer/Evan Marshall – Alex Colome, Bummer and Marshall all got a day off yesterday. Colome may get a second straight day of rest after three straight appearances, while the same could be true for the busy Bummer. Marshall, like Bummer, had pitched in two straight entering Sunday but had thrown fewer pitches.
3. Edwin Diaz – Seth Lugo (37 pitches) and Justin Wilson (35 pitches) have both pitched in two straight. Mickey Callaway claims to still have faith in Diaz. Monday may be a test of that faith.

Tuesday
1. Michael Lorenzen – If Raisel Iglesias pitches today that will be two straight and three of four.

James Karinchak debuts and keeps racking up strikeouts

September 15, 2019

Cleveland Indians – James Karinchak made his debut yesterday and did not disappoint.   He recorded three strikeouts in 1.1 innings of work (although he actually recorded five outs since one of his strikeouts reached on a wild pitch).  With Brad Hand out at least through today and Nick Goody (at least 1 ER in 3 of his past 5 outings) and Tyler Clippard (at least 1 ER in his last two appearances) scuffling a little bit, Karinchak could be thrown into the fire with some high leverage situations in the last couple weeks of the season.

Hierarchy remains: Hand | Goody | Clippard.

New York Mets – Seth Lugo struck out the side in the top of the 8th inning of a tie game.  In the bottom of the 8th inning Lugo was due up with the bases loaded and the game still tied so the Mets called on Rajai Davis to pinch hit.  Davis came through and that left Justin Wilson for the 9th inning.  Wilson pitched a perfect ninth inning for his third save of the season.

Hierarchy remains: Lugo | Wilson | Diaz.

Colorado Rockies – Jesus Tinoco recorded his first career save yesterday as the Rockies rested both Jairo Diaz and Carlos Estevez.  This was extrmely surprising as Tinoco has only one hold this season and before yesterday had given up at least one earned run in 5 straight appearances and and 7 of his last 8.

Hierarchy remains: Diaz | Estevez | Shaw.

Miami Marlins — Jose Urena picked up his second save of the season yesterday with a scoreless ninth inning.  Urena hasn’t been great since moving to the bullpen in September (5 ER in 5 IP) but he has recorded both Marlins saves and should continue to be the first choice for saves down the stretch.

Hierarchy remains: Urena | Stanek | Garcia.

VULTURE SAVE WATCH
Today
1. Hunter Harvey – Mychal Givens and Shawn Armstrong have pitched in two straight and three of four.
2. Evan Marshall/Kelvin Herrera – Alex Colome has pitched in three straight.  Aaron Bummer has gone in two straight, throwing 45 pitches over 2.1 innings.  Evan Marshall has also pitched in two straight but thrown less pitches.
3. Nick Goody/James Karinchak – Brad Hand will not pitch Sunday and Tyler Clippard threw two innings yesterday.
4. Joakim Soria/Yusmeiro Petit – Liam Hendriks has pitched in three of four.  Soria has missed the last week with elbow soreness and if he is still out today, Yusmeiro Petit could get a shot.

Monday
1. Kevin Ginkel/Yoan Lopez – If Archie Bradley pitches on Sunday, it will be two straight and three of four.  Same goes for Kevin Ginkel.
2. Junior Guerra – If Josh Hader pitches on Sunday, it will be two straight and four of five.