Wade Davis and Kyle Barraclough will remain closers

August 4, 2018

Colorado Rockies — Wade Davis was given a lead for the second night in a row, and for the second night in a row he blew the save and took the loss in walk-off fashion. Last night it was a three-run homer by Eric Thames that handed Davis his 6th blown save of the year. It may not be his last blown save, though, as after the game Bud Black said that Davis will remain closer and that he will be fine. We’ll see just how long Black keeps his faith in Davis and his 5.09 ERA though, as Adam Ottavino pitched a clean 8th and has a sparkling 1.35 ERA. With the Rockies trying desperately to hang in the playoff race, Davis should be on a short leash.

Hierarchy remains: Davis | Ottavino | Oh.

Miami Marlins — We thought Kyle Barraclough would lose his job as closer, but Don Mattingly has other ideas. Mattingly said before yesterday’s game that Barraclough will remain the closer, but that he will be “top-stepping” it in the dugout when Barraclough pitches until further notice. It’s still worth holding on to Drew Steckenrider, as it looks like another bad outing will seal Barraclough’s fate.

Hierarchy remains: Barraclough | Steckenrider | Conley.

Chicago White Sox — It’s looking more like names from a hat than a committee on the South Side of Chicago. Last night featured Jace Fry, Juan Minaya, Luis Avilan pitching in the 8th and 9th, failing to preserve a lead, then holding on to the tie to take it into extra innings. When the White Sox took the lead in the 10th, they turned to Hector Santiago (no holds and no saves before yesterday) to close the game out. He walked a batter but secured the win. This continues to be a committee, and it continues to be chaotic. If you need the saves that badly, you may as well pick some names out of a hat as well.

Hierarchy remains: ^Fry | Cedeno | Avilan. 
^ = closer by random selection

Cleveland Indians — Cleveland activated Andrew Miller from the 60-day DL on Friday. Miller went right to work, walking one and striking out one in a scoreless 7th inning that kept the game tied. Miller gives Cleveland three legitimate options at closer, so we’ll keep a close eye on how Terry Francona uses the trio.

Updated hierarchy: *Allen | Hand | Miller.
* = closer-by-committee

Los Angeles Dodgers – Erik Goeddel was placed on the 10-day DL with right lat inflammation and newly acquired John Axford was activated. We’ll slide Axford into the hierarchy for now and see if the Dodgers use him in any high-leverage spots during Goeddel’s absence.

Updated hierarchy: Jansen | Alexander | Axford.

Toronto Blue Jays – Ken Giles made his debut with the Blue Jays on Friday, allowing two hits, one earned run and striking out three in the 9th inning of a 7-2 victory. John Gibbons said that Giles will eventually close for the Jays, but not before getting his feet wet in a low-leverage situation first. Giles is worth grabbing if he’s still available, as Ryan Tepera’s days leading the Jays’ committee seem to be numbered.

Hierarchy remains: *Tepera | Giles | Clippard.
* = closer-by-committee

Chicago Cubs — Pedro Strop got the 9th yesterday in a three-run game. He struggled, letting a pair of runs score, but he did record his sixth save of the year and fourth in a row since Brandon Morrow hit the DL. Strop is the only Cub that has seen a save opportunity since Morrow’s injury, and CJ Edwards, Steve Cishek and Brandon Kintzler all pitched ahead of him last night. It’s safe to say that Strop is the lead arm in the bullpen and we will kick the asterisk while Morrow is sidelined.

Hierarchy remains: Strop | Edwards | Cishek.

VULTURE SAVE WATCH
Today:
1. Adam Ottavino — Wade Davis has pitched in two straight, three of four, and five of seven, including 28 pitches last night. Adam Ottavino has also pitched in back-to-back games, but has limited his pitch count.
2. Jose Alvarado/Ryne Stanek — Sergio Romo has pitched four in a row, while Alvarado has pitched in three of four.
3. Jeurys Familia — Blake Treinen threw 30 pitches over two innings in a tie game last night and may get the day off.

Sunday:
1. Brad Brach –Today would be three in a row for A.J. Minter, although he’s kept his pitch count low.
2. Trevor Hildenberger/Addison Reed — Today would be two straight and three of four for both Fernando Rodney and Trevor Hildenberger. We expect that either one would be unavailable if they pitch today.

Who’s the White Sox closer? We don’t know.

August 3, 2018

Miami Marlins — Things have not gone smoothly for Kyle Barraclough lately. Thursday marked his third consecutive blown save and second walk-off homer in two weeks. After the game, Don Mattingly didn’t want to make any knee-jerk decisions, but he promised to “talk about” changing things in the ninth. You’ve been warned. Handcuff yourself with Drew Steckenrider before it’s too late.

Hierarchy remains: Barraclough | Steckenrider | Conley.

Chicago White Sox — We finally have a White Sox save after the Joakim Soria trade. Did it offer any clarity on their bullpen situation? No. Five relievers combined for the final six outs! After Jace Fry and Juan Minaya recorded strikeouts with two men in scoring position in the eighth inning, Xavier Cedeno cleared the bases by allowing a three-run shot, putting him in line to take the loss. After the Sox retook the lead, he came back on and allowed a double before he was pulled. In came Jeanmar Gomez . . . who recorded one out, then got pulled. Luis Avilan was the last quality arm left, and he nailed down the final two outs for his first save. The usage suggests manager Rick Renteria was playing matchups (or picking names out of a hat), but we can’t ignore the save for Avilan. In the messy hierarchy he goes.

Updated hierarchy: *Fry | Cedeno | Avilan. 
* = closer-by-committee

Atlanta Braves — Brad Brach pitched a clean eighth inning ahead of AJ Minter again Thursday, which is enough for us to drop the committee tag. Minter should hold onto the job until Arodys Vizcaino gets back, which could be a while.

Updated hierarchy: Minter | Brach | Winkler.

Texas Rangers — The Rangers’ 17-8 win over the Orioles was one of many lopsided scores Thursday, but it didn’t prevent a vulture save from being doled out. If you had bets on Eddie Butler (3.2 IP, 5 H, 3 ER to end Thursday’s win) picking up the first Rangers save since the Keone Kela trade, you should play the lottery.

Hierarchy remains: Leclerc | Claudio | Gearrin.

VULTURE SAVE WATCH
Today:
1. Jose Alvarado — Sergio Romo has pitched in three straight games.
2. Drew Steckenrider — See above. At the very least, Barraclough may need some mental rest.
3. Adam Ottavino — Wade Davis has a low pitch count, but he’s gone in two of three and four of six, including a blown save on Thursday.

Saturday:
1. Ken Giles — Ryan Tepera has gone in two straight, so we might get a first peek at how the Blue Jays plan to use Giles.

Dakota Hudson rising in the St. Louis bullpen

August 2, 2018

Cleveland Indians — The Indians have two legitimate closers at the moment, with a third (Andrew Miller) about to return after consecutive scoreless outings for the Columbus Clippers. Wednesday it was Brad Hand with the five-out save.

Hierarchy remains: *Allen | Hand | Cimber.
* = closer-by-committee

St. Louis Cardinals — 23-year-old Dakota Hudson got the seventh inning in a one-run game, claiming third chair in the Cardinals bullpen.

Updated hierarchy: Norris | Hicks | Hudson. 

Washington Nationals — Kelvin Herrera allowed a run in the ninth, but hung on to earn his second save as a National. The team will fight for a playoff spot without veteran reliever Shawn Kelley, who was designated for assignment after throwing his glove in frustration when the Mets got within three touchdowns on Tuesday. Kelley’s tantrum was one of the mildest on this fun list of epic sports meltdowns.

Hierarchy remains: *Herrera | Madson | Miller.
* = closer-by-committee

Baltimore Orioles — Mychal Givens has allowed runs in five of his last six appearances, including Tuesday afternoon, where he was summoned in the eighth with a six-run lead but left after giving up two hits and two walks. The Orioles are on pace to pick up nine more saves this year, but are they really worth what they’ll cost your fantasy team?

Hierarchy remains: Givens | Fry | Wright Jr.

VULTURE SAVE WATCH
Today:
None.

Friday:
1. Jose Alvarado — Sergio Romo has gone in two straight.
2. Josh Hader — Corey Knebel has gone in two of three.

Jeremy Jeffress vultures save for Brewers

August 1, 2018

Milwaukee Brewers – After Joakim Soria pitched a clean eighth inning, Jeremy Jeffress closed out a 1-0 win in the ninth to collect his fourth save of the season. Craig Counsell said after the game that Jeffress got the ninth instead of Corey Knebel because of the righties that were coming to the plate. Had there been at least a couple lefties due up in the ninth, it would have been Knebel’s inning. That’s not exactly what Knebel owners want to hear, as this effectively puts the Brewers into a committee for as long as Counsell decides to worry about matchups in the ninth inning.

Updated hierarchy: *Knebel | Hader | Jeffress.
* = closer-by-committee

Arizona Diamondbacks – The Diamondbacks were busy on Tuesday, as they not only acquired Jake Diekman from across the stadium, but brought back a familiar face in Brad Ziegler from the Marlins. Arizona now has an extremely deep bullpen, as Ziegler and Diekman will nicely complement Yoshihisa Hirano, Archie Bradley and closer Brad Boxberger. While Torey Lovullo wants to keep Boxberger, Bradley and Hirano in their respective roles, we think that the experienced Ziegler will be the most likely person to vulture a save should both Boxberger and Bradley be unavailable.

Updated hierarchy: Boxberger | Bradley | Ziegler.

Texas Rangers – Jake Diekman was the final Rangers reliever to find a new home, as Texas sent Jake Diekman to Arizona on Tuesday. Jose Leclerc should take over the ninth inning, while Alex Claudio and Cory Gearrin will be the Rangers’ other late-inning options. Don’t forget about Chris Martin as well, who was just activated from the DL and may eventually challenge for the ninth inning.

Updated hierarchy: Leclerc | Claudio | Gearrin.

Chicago Cubs — The Cubs added former National Brandon Kintzler at the deadline, giving them another late-inning option. Joe Maddon said that his bullpen has a lot of guys who can finish a game, and Kintzler very well might be one of those guys. We’ll hold him out of the hierarchy for now, but don’t be too surprised if Kintzler pitches in a few different scenarios for the Cubs.

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

Washington Nationals — The Nationals traded Brandon Kintzler to the Cubs on Tuesday. Justin Miller (3.66 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 11.81 K/9) could benefit from Kintzler’s absence, especially with Sean Doolittle still on the DL.

Updated hierarchy: *Herrera | Madson | Miller.
* = closer-by-committee

Los Angeles Dodgers – John Axford, acquired by the Dodgers on Tuesday, is expected to join the squad on Friday. Dodgers GM Farhan Zaidi said that he doesn’t see the club having a set eighth-inning guy and expects Axford to get outs wherever needed, though that may include the seventh or eighth innings depending on matchups.

Hierarchy remains: Jansen | Goeddel | Alexander.

Toronto Blue Jays – The Blue Jays were busy on Tuesday, dealing Aaron Loup to the Phillies and John Axford to the Dodgers. Expect Ryan Tepera, Ken Giles and Tyler Clippard to be the three main relievers for Toronto during the rest of the season, with Giles to join the squad on Thursday.

Hierarchy remains: *Tepera | Giles | Clippard.
* = closer-by-committee

Cleveland Indians — Cody Allen took over for Brad Hand with two outs in the eighth and retired the lone batter he faced in the frame. Allen then stayed out there after Cleveland tacked on another run in the ninth to close out a 6-2 win. Hand faced the 3-4-5 hitters, two of which were lefties. More relevant than the save for Allen has not allowed an earned run over his last five appearances, though he does only have one strikeout during that span. Expect Terry Francona to continue to deploy Hand and Allen in this fashion, with Hand more likely to face a lefty-heavy part of the order.

Hierarchy remains: *Allen | Hand | Cimber.
* = closer-by-committee

Miami Marlins — Adam Conley heads into the hierarchy after Brad Ziegler’s move to Arizona.

Updated hierarchy: Barraclough | Steckenrider | Conley.

VULTURE POSITION PLAYER PITCHING WATCH
Today
1. Jose Bautista – Jose Reyes held the Nationals to six runs on just five hits in Tuesday’s ninth inning, but he needed 48 pitches in the process. Should the Mets fall behind by 18 for a second straight night, Reyes will be unavailable.

VULTURE SAVE WATCH
Today
1. Adam Ottavino – Wade Davis has gone in three of the last four while Ottavino was held out of last night’s contest.
2. Dellin Betances/Zach Britton – Aroldis Chapman has pitched in three of the last four. The Yankees have a four-game series with the Red Sox starting on Thursday, so they may take an opportunity to rest both Chapman and Dellin Betances tonight.
3. Keone Kela/Kyle Crick – Felipe Vazquez has throw 41 pitches over the last three days. The Pirates have Thursday off, but if new addition Keone Kela is available tonight, this might be a good time to use him.

Tomorrow
1. Xavier Cedeno – If Jace Fry pitches today, that will be two straight and four of five.
2. Kevin McCarthy/Brandon Maurer – Wily Peralta threw 21 pitches yesterday. Kevin McCarthy also pitched yesterday, so if both he and Peralta are taxed on Wednesday, that could pave the way for a Brandon Maurer save chance.

Jose Leclerc now the reliever to own in Texas after Jake Diekman traded

July 31, 2018

Texas Rangers – The Rangers aren’t done dealing away relievers, as they sent Jake Diekman to Arizona. If Jose Leclerc is still available, now’s the time to pick him up as he should take over the ninth inning. Alex Claudio and Cory Gearrin will be the Rangers’ other late-inning options. Don’t forget about Chris Martin as well, who may challenge for the ninth inning once he returns from the DL.

Updated hierarchy: Leclerc | Claudio | Gearrin.

Arizona Diamondbacks – The Diamondbacks have been busy today, as they not only acquired Diekman but brought back a familiar face in Brad Ziegler from the Marlins. Arizona now has an extremely deep bullpen, as Ziegler and Diekman will nicely complement Yoshihisa Hirano, Archie Bradley and closer Brad Boxberger.

Updated hierarchy: Boxberger | Bradley | Ziegler.