Monkey Bytes, April 23: It’s Miller time (again), Bednar secures his third, Kimbrel hangs on for his sixth, Game Recaps, and more

Although Monday only provided 11 contests on the slate, it yielded seven saves and a win for high-leverage relievers. These will be covered in today’s post, in order of occurrence. However, the biggest news of the day happened when Tampa Bay placed Pete Fairbanks on the 15-day injured list with a “nerve issue“. With no reports of a timeline or the severity, it’s difficult placing a potential return date for the closer, and Kevin Cash hinted at a match-up-based approach moving forward. As shared, the updated hierarchy for the Rays:

Updated hierarchy: *Jason Adam | *Colin Poche | Phil Maton

*= closer-by-committee

Oakland A’s – Taking over in the bottom of the ninth, Mason Miller locked down his fifth save, preserving a combined shutout while striking out the side against the top of the Yankees lineup. He threw 14 pitches (11 strikes – 78.6 Strike%) and generated six whiffs (42.9 SwStr%). He owns a 20:4 K:BB through his first 10 innings with a 1.00 WHIP. It’s a small sample, but he’s retired 20 of 40 batters faced via strikeout (50 strikeout percentage), are you still concerned about his team concept? Lucas Erceg collected his first win,  logging two scoreless frames, walking one, and striking out one.

Hierarchy remains: Mason Miller | Lucas Erceg | Dany Jiménez

Pittsburgh Pirates – Snapping a six-game losing streak, David Bednar closed out his first save since April 12, and third of the season, tossing a scoreless ninth. He allowed a one-out single by Jackson Chourio but retired the next two hitters, including a game-ending strikeout facing Oliver Dunn. Bednar threw 20 pitches (60 Strike%) and induced one whiff. Hunter Stratton recorded his first hold, stranding two of three inherited runners, retiring both batters faced while giving up an RBI fielder’s choice groundout over two-thirds of the eighth. Aroldis Chapman was credited with his sixth hold despite allowing three walks resulting in an earned run, and striking out one in one-third of the eighth. He’s issued 10 walks over his last seven appearances (4.1 innings). Colin Holderman fired a clean seventh, striking out one for his first hold.

Hierarchy remains: David Bednar | Aroldis Chapman | Colin Holderman

Atlanta Braves – Nailing down his seventh save, and seventh in his last seven appearances, Raisel Iglesias fired a clean ninth, striking out one during a combined shutout of Miami. He threw 11 pitches (54.5 Strike%) and induced one whiff. He’s posted a 0.72 WHIP with six strikeouts against one walk over 8.1 innings. A.J. Minter recorded his third hold, tossing a clean eighth and striking out one. He owns a six-game scoreless streak with a 0.33 WHIP and six strikeouts over his last six innings.

Hierarchy remains: Raisel Iglesias | A.J. Minter | Joe Jiménez

Toronto Blue Jays – Securing his third save, Jordan Romano served up a solo home run (Kyle Isbel) and recorded a strikeout while closing out a 5-3 win in Kansas City. He threw 15 pitches (11 strikes – 73.3 Strike%) and produced two whiffs (13.3 SwStr%). He’s converted all three save chances this season but allowed a run in two of four outings. Yimi García has his clean innings streak snapped, giving up a one-out single by Bobby Witt Jr., but extended his scoreless streak to 7.2 innings, recording 11 strikeouts against zero walks in them (0.13 WHIP). Erik Swanson notched his third hold, allowing a hit and striking out one during a scoreless seventh.

Hierarchy remains: Jordan Romano | Yimi García (HLR) | Erik Swanson

St. Louis Cardinals – Benefiting from a walk-off in the bottom of the ninth, Ryan Helsley collected his second win, allowing a hit and striking out one in a scoreless top of the inning. He threw 17 pitches (11 strikes – 64.7 Strike%) and produced one whiff. He’s now appeared in 12 of the Cardinals’ 23 games this season but has only issued one walk through his first 47 batters faced (2.1 BB%). JoJo Romero recorded two outs in the eighth and gave up a hit. Andrew Kittredge tossed 1.1 scoreless frames, walking one and striking out one.

Hierarchy remains: Ryan Helsley | Andrew Kittredge | JoJo Romero

San Diego Padres – Hanging on for his eighth save, in as many chances, Robert Suarez worked a scoreless ninth, navigating around a lead-off double and a one-out single by inducing a game-ending double play groundout, closing out a 3-1 win in Coors Field. He threw 15 pitches (13 strikes – 86.7 Strike%) and produced three whiffs (20 SwStr%). He owns a 1.03 WHIP with nine strikeouts against four walks through his first 10.2 innings.

Hierarchy remains: Robert Suarez | Yuki Matsui | Wandy Peralta

Baltimore Orioles – Although he dealt with traffic on the bases, Craig Kimbrel secured his sixth save, capping a 4-2 win over the Angels. His outing began with a hit batter (Jo Adell) and a single by Logan O’Hoppe, with runners on the corners following a stolen base, Kimbrel recorded a strikeout, issued a walk loading the bases, induced a pop-out, and ended the game on a Mike Trout strikeout. He threw 23 pitches (14 strikes – 60.9 Strike%) while inducing two whiffs. He owns a 0.50 WHIP with 16 strikeouts against one walk over 10 innings. Jacob Webb retired his only batter faced for his first hold in the eighth. Yennier Cano let one of two inherited runners score in the seventh while logging 1.2 scoreless frames, giving up a hit.

Hierarchy remains: Craig Kimbrel | Yennier Cano | Danny Coulombe

San Francisco Giants – Making a non-save appearance, with a four-run lead, Camilo Doval turned in a bumpy outing. It began with a walk (Brandon Nimmo), a leverage no-no, followed by a ground out, and a fielding error by Doval. With runners on the corners, he uncorked a wild pitch, scoring Nimmo, induced a groundout by Pete Alonso, walked Brett Baty, and ended the game on a DJ Stewart groundout. He threw 27 pitches (17 strikes – 63 Strike%) and produced two whiffs while giving up an earned run on two walks. Over his first seven outings, he owns a 1.14 WHIP with 11 strikeouts versus four walks. Tyler Rogers fired a clean eighth, striking out one.

Hierarchy remains: Camilo Doval | Tyler Rogers | Taylor Rogers

Quick Hits (April 22)

Arizona DiamondbacksRyan Thompson suffered his first loss, giving up a single in the ninth, before being removed. His final line, was a hit allowed and an earned run while striking out one over a combined inning of relief. Kyle Nelson took over in the ninth and served up a walk-off, two-run home run by Nolan Gorman.

Hierarchy remains: Kevin Ginkel | Ryan Thompson | Kyle Nelson

Detroit Tigers – Putting the bow on a six-run win, Joey Wentz allowed a hit and recorded two strikeouts in the bottom of the ninth. Shelby Miller gave up two hits, including a solo home run (José Caballero), and a walk while striking out one in the eighth. Will Vest fired a clean seventh.

Hierarchy remains: Jason Foley | Shelby Miller | Andrew Chafin

New York Yankees – Suffering his first loss, Victor González allowed two hits, including a go-ahead two-run home run by Zach Gelof, and walked one without recording an out during the top of the ninth. Ron Marinaccio took over with a runner on, stranding him and retiring all three batters he faced, striking out one. Ian Hamilton navigated around a hit and a walk while striking out two in a scoreless eighth, keeping the game tied at zero.

Hierarchy remains: Clay Holmes | Ian Hamilton | Victor González

Philadelphia Phillies -Wrapping up a combined shutout, Jeff Hoffman fired a clean bottom of the ninth, striking out two on 12 pitches (7 strikes – 58.3 Strike%) and producing two whiffs (16.7 SwStr%). He last appeared on April 17 but owns a 1.20 WHIP with 11 strikeouts versus five walks over 10 innings. Gregory Soto turned in a clean eighth, recording two strikeouts. He threw 11 pitches (81.8 Strike%) and generated four whiffs (36.4 SwStr%).

Updated Hierarchy: *José Alvarado | *Jeff Hoffman | Seranthony Domínguez

Injury Update

Minnesota Twins – Closer, Jhoan Durán, will begin his rehab stint at Triple-A later today per Do-Hyoung Kim of MLB.com.

Vulture Saves for Tuesday, April 23

OAK: The team prefers not using Miller on consecutive days, and Erceg logged two innings on Monday putting Dany Jiménez on the radar for a vulture save chance this evening.

PIT: Bednar and Chapman have pitched on consecutive days, which opens the door for a potential Colin Holderman save opportunity tonight.

SDP: Suarez has pitched in two straight, so the save chance may depend on lineup pockets with Yuki Matsui matching up with left-handed batters and Wandy Peralta versus a right-handed pocket.

TOR: Romano and García have appeared in three of the last four days, plus Swanson in two of the last three, leaving Trevor Richards as the likely recipient of a save chance, if provided this evening

Vulture Save Stashes for Wednesday, April 24

ATL: If Iglesias pitches on Tuesday, he and Minter will need Wednesday off, putting Joe Jiménez in line for the ancillary save chance.

BAL: Kimbrel’s pitched in two of the last three, and if he’s used again on Tuesday, will need a day off, putting the two southpaws in the spotlight, Keegan Akin and Danny Coulombe, though Jacob Webb could be used versus the Angels if Trout hits in the ninth.

SFG: Doval has worked in two of the last three, opening the door for a potential Taylor Rogers save chance on Wednesday.

Closer Monkey’s filthy outing of the day goes to Mason Miller, striking out the side against the Yankees, courtesy of MLB Pipeline.

Thanks for being a part of the Closer Monkey community. Stay safe and be well.

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Under the Hood: Alzolay and Hader outlooks moving forward

This week’s under the hood sets its sights on the early struggles by Adbert Alzolay, removing him from the closer role in Chicago in the near-term, and Josh Hader suffering from some bad luck in his results.

Adbert Alzolay, Chicago Cubs

Not much has gone right for Alzolay, he’s already suffered more blown saves (four) in 2024 through 11 games than he did last year (three) over 58 appearances. He’s given up four home runs in only 31 batted ball events and gave up five all last year across 168 batted ball events. He’s matched last season’s home run total with his slider (three) in only 14 batted balls in play.

He’s not throwing with a drastic reduction in velocity and increased his first-strike percent rate. However, when diving into his results on Statcast, one notices an increase in sweet spot percentage by over five percentage points, a boost in his expected batting average (.278), and a 5.02 expected ERA (xERA).

In terms of quality of contact, he’s struggling:

  • 3.2 solid percentage allowed plus 12.9 percent barrel rate = 16.1 good contact allowed
  • 0 percent weak contact and 0 percent pop-ups = 0 percent poor contact-induced

Taking this a step further, here’s his 10-game rolling chart from beginning of last year through his last outing, using strikeout percentage, walk rate, swinging strike percentage, and contact rate allowed:

One notices some shifts in his outcomes during the second half before he landed on the injured list and at the start of this season. With this in mind, here are his splits in some key leverage categories:

Link: https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/R2jww/1/

If he retakes the ninth inning for Cubs relies on his slider. Comparing his outcomes by pitch, the lack of whiffs, and increased expected results against his most used pitch accounts for his early struggles:

Link: https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/vUjx0/2/

Focus on his slider over the next two weeks, and his usage patterns. It’s tough being patient with a struggling closer, but if he finds his past production with the pitch, better days may happen. However, it’s a tough needle for a reliever to thread during the season.

Josh Hader, Houston Astros

Expecting a repeat of his 1.28 ERA from 2023 would not be realistic, but seeing Hader’s 8.38 ERA entering game play on Monday, April 22 seems like some sort of cruel joke. While sorting out qualified relievers by ERA minus SIERA, he ranks eighth in bad luck with a 5.95 run difference between the metrics. He owns a 2.43 SIERA, almost in line with his 2.34 expected ERA (xERA) from last year.

In fact, his SIERA and 2024 xERA (3.35) set a nice baseline of expectations for his results going forward. Despite his inflated ERA, he owns a 25.6 K-BB percentage, a 14.9 percent swinging strike rate, and a 64.1 strike percentage through his first 11 appearances.

As upsetting as his ERA may be, his usage patterns under first year manager Joe Espada proves more confusing. Hader’s appeared in four games with a lead, in three tied games, and worked in four games with his team trailing. Using Baseball Reference’s leverage ratings, he’s turned in four high-leverage outings, two medium leverage appearances, and pitched in five low leverage contests. Not ideal.

Viewing his underlying data from Statcast, his barrel rate remains in line with last year but he’s allowed a spike in hard hit percentage (45.5 percent) versus his career 32.9 percent barrel rate allowed. Hope lies in his .223 xBA with the sinker against his current .375 batting average against with the pitch, and a .278 expected slugging (xSLG) versus a .458 slugging percent allowed by the pitch. Things migrate toward the mean, and his results will even out.

It’s tough seeing a closer with such a high price point struggle, but focus on his past production with his pitches, and know things will improve:

Link: https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/SoiKP/1/

Houston gets a break with the schedule over the next two weeks, here’s hoping Hader and his leverage teammates turn the tide with regression working in their favor.

Thanks for being a part of the Closer Monkey community, until next time, stay safe and be well.

Updated MLB Closer Depth Chart

Closer1st in line2nd in lineUpdatedCloser1st in line2nd in lineUpdated
BALKimbrelCanoCoulombe4/22/24ATLIglesiasMinterJiménez4/22/24
BOSJansenMartinSlaten4/22/24MIAScottNardiFaucher4/22/24
NYYHolmesHamiltonV González4/22/24NYME.DíazOttavinoGarrett4/22/24
TB*AdamPocheMaton4/22/24PHI*Alvarado*HoffmanDomínguez4/22/24
TORRomanoY GarcíaSwanson4/22/24WASFinneganHarveyWeems4/22/24
        
CHWKopechWilsonLeasure4/22/24CHC*Neris*Leiter Jr.Alzolay.4/22/24
CLEClaseGaddisBarlow4/22/24CINAl.DíazSimsCruz4/22/24
DETFoleyMillerChafin4/22/24MIL*Payamps*MegillUribe4/22/24
KCMcArthurSchreiberC Stratton4/22/24PITBednarChapmanHolderman4/22/24
MIN*Jax*Stewart*Okert4/22/24STLHelsleyKittredgeRomero4/22/24
        
HOUHaderPresslyAbreu4/22/24ARIGinkelThompsonK Nelson4/22/24
LAAEstévezMooreGarcía4/22/24COL*Mears*Lawrence*Bird4/22/24
OAKMillerErcegJiménez4/22/24LADPhillipsHudsonKelly4/22/24
SEA*Muñoz*StanekSpeier4/22/24SDSuarezMatsuiPeralta4/22/24
TEXYatesRobertsonLeclerc4/22/24SFDovalTy.RogersTa.Rogers4/22/24

* = closer-by-committee

Monkey Bytes, April 22: Great Scott it’s a clean save, Alexis Díaz was effectively wild, Game Recaps, and more

Sunday featured another bonus slate featuring a doubleheader in Colorado on top of all 30 teams playing. There were seven saves among the 16 contests, covered next, along with outings of interest in our quick hits.

Miami Marlins – Perhaps turning a corner, Tanner Scott nailed down his fourth save, and second in as many days, firing a clean bottom of the ninth, and striking out one. He threw 11 pitches (72.7 Strike%) and induced one whiff. He owns a modest three-game scoreless streak with three strikeouts versus two walks over his last three innings. Calvin Faucher secured his second hold, tossing a clean eighth and striking out one. Andrew Nardi turned in a clean seventh, striking out one for his fourth hold. Bryan Hoeing gave up a hit and recorded a strikeout in a scoreless sixth for his first hold.

During his two saves this weekend, Scott threw 21 of 27 pitches in the strike zone (77.8 Strike%). Command has been his main problem since early spring outings, here’s hoping he’s trending in the right direction.

Hierarchy remains: Tanner Scott | Andrew Nardi | Calvin Faucher

Cincinnati Reds – Securing his fourth save, Alexis Díaz tossed a scoreless ninth, walking one, and striking out one. He threw 19 pitches (9 strikes – 47.4 Strike%) without recording a whiff. He owns a 1.18 WHIP with 11 strikeouts versus six walks through 9.1 innings, and he’s posted five straight scoreless outings. Lucas Sims tossed a scoreless eighth, walking one and striking out one for his fifth hold. Fernando Cruz notched his fifth hold, working around a hit and a walk while striking out one during a scoreless seventh. Emilio Pagán collected his second win, logging two scoreless frames, yielding a hit, and striking out one.

Adjusted Hierarchy: Alexis Díaz | Lucas Sims / Fernando Cruz

Milwaukee Brewers – Locking down his third save, Joel Payamps fired a clean ninth, preserving a shutout, and striking out one in St. Louis. He threw nine pitches (77.8 Strike%) and generated two whiffs (22.2 SwStr%). He’s turned in six straight scoreless outings, converting two of three save chances with four strikeouts against one walk over 5.1 innings. Elvis Peguero notched his third hold, giving up a hit and a walk over two-thirds scoreless in the eighth. Bryan Hudson collected his first win, logging 2.1 scoreless frames, recording four strikeouts on 35 pitches (23 strikes – 65.7 Strike%) with four whiffs.

Updated hierarchy: *Joel Payamps | *Trevor Megill | Abner Uribe

Arizona Diamondbacks – Hanging on for his fourth save, Kevin Ginkel allowed a one-out double by Matt Chapman, and a two-out, RBI double by Thairo Estrada before a game-ending strikeout of Mike Yastrzemski, closing out a 5-3 win. He threw 21 pitches (12 strikes – 57.1 Strike%) and produced two whiffs. He’s converted four of six save opportunities this season with a 1.16 WHIP, and 11 strikeouts against two walks over 10.1 innings. Ryan Thompson notched his fourth hold, walking one during a scoreless eighth.

Hierarchy remains: Kevin Ginkel | Ryan Thompson | Kyle Nelson

San Diego Padres – Finishing off his seventh save, Robert Suarez worked around a one-out single by Bo Bichette by inducing a game-ending groundout double play by Justin Turner. Suarez threw nine pitches (88.9 Strike%) while inducing two whiffs (22.2 SwStr%). He owns a 0.93 WHIP with nine strikeouts against four walks through 9.2 innings. Wandy Peralta fired a clean eighth, securing his fourth hold.

Hierarchy remains: Robert Suarez | Yuki Matsui | Wandy Peralta

Texas Rangers – Slamming the door on his former teammates, Kirby Yates retired all four batters faced, one via strikeout, and stranded two runners in the eighth for his third save. He threw 15 pitches (66.7 Strike%) and induced two whiffs (13.3 SwStr%). He owns a minuscule 0.40 WHIP with 11 strikeouts against two walks over 10 innings. David Robertson received credit for his seventh hold, allowing two hits and an unearned run while striking out one during his 1.2 innings.

Hierarchy remains: Kirby Yates | David Robertson | José Leclerc

Ancillary Save Alert

New York Yankees – Capping a one-run win, Victor González worked a scoreless ninth, walking one, and striking out one, with this web gem ending the contest for his second save. He threw 23 pitches (17 strikes – 73.9 Strike%) and induced three whiffs (13 SwStr%).

Hierarchy remains: Clay Holmes | Ian Hamilton | Victor González

Quick Hits from April 21

Boston Red Sox Logging two clean frames, Chase Anderson capped a five-run victory in Pittsburgh. Justin Slaten collected his first win, tossing two scoreless innings, allowing two hits and a walk while striking out two. He threw 34 pitches (19 strikes – 55.9 Strike%) and induced two whiffs.

Hierarchy remains: Kenley Jansen | Chris Martin | Justin Slaten

Chicago Cubs – With leverage roles in flux, Keegan Thompson worked a scoreless top of the ninth, giving up a hit and striking out one during a loss. Adbert Alzolay fired a clean eighth, striking out one on 21 pitches (13 strikes – 61.9 Strike%) and produced three whiffs (16.7 SwStr%) in a low leveraged outing.

Updated hierarchy (for now): *Hector Neris | *Mark Leiter Jr. (HLR) | *Adbert Alzolay 

Chicago White Sox – It’s tough closing out games with three wins on the season, but Michael Kopech fired a clean bottom of the eighth, striking out two versus the Phillies 3-4-5 batters. He threw 13 pitches (10 strikes – 76.9 Strike%) and produced three whiffs (23.1 SwStr%). He’s posted a 1.15 WHIP with 17 strikeouts versus six walks through 11.1 innings.

Hierarchy remains: Michael Kopech | Steven Wilson | Jordan Leasure

Cleveland GuardiansWrapping up a four-run win, Emmanuel Clase tossed a scoreless ninth, walking one and striking out one, his third outing over four days. He threw 11 pitches (45.5 Strike%) without recording a whiff. He’s posted a 1.00 WHIP with a 10:1 K:BB over 11 innings.

Hierarchy remains: Emmanuel Clase | Hunter Gaddis | Scott Barlow

Colorado Rockies – (Game 1): Benefiting from a walk-off rally in the bottom of the tenth, Justin Lawrence collected his first win despite giving up an RBI single in the top of the inning by J.P. Crawford, scoring the “place” runner. Lawrence also recorded two strikeouts while throwing 18 pitches (66.7 Strike%) and producing four whiffs (22.2 SwStr%). Nick Mears tossed a scoreless ninth, allowing a hit and striking out one, keeping the game tied. Jake Bird logged two scoreless frames, yielding a hit and a walk while striking out three.

Hierarchy remains: *Nick Mears | *Justin Lawrence (HLR) | Jake Bird

*= closer-by-committee

Pittsburgh Pirates – Appearing for the first time since April 17, David Bednar fired a clean top of the ninth during a loss, striking out one while throwing 10 pitches (70 Strike%) and producing one whiff. He owns a 1.43 WHIP with 10 strikeouts against two walks over seven innings.

Hierarchy remains: David Bednar | Aroldis Chapman | Colin Holderman

Seattle Mariners – (Game 1): Suffering his second loss, and first blown save, Andrés Muñoz did not record an out, giving up three hits, including a walk-off RBI infield single by Ryan McMahon, and two runs (one earned), in the bottom of the tenth in Colorado. Ryne Stanek worked two scoreless frames, yielding a hit and striking out one, keeping the game tied. Gabe Speier fired a clean seventh, striking out two.

Updated hierarchy: *Andrés Muñoz | *Ryne Stanek | Gabe Speier

*= closer-by-committee

Vulture Saves for Monday, April 22

CIN: Since Díaz has appeared in two straight, hierarchy trends toward Lucas Sims receiving the save chance if provided today. Fernando Cruz remains a sleeper, but he worked the seventh on Sunday with Simx in the eighth.

MIA: Scott has worked on consecutive days, along with his set-up relievers (Faucher and Nardi), which may create a save chance for Anthony Bender, but he’s been struggling lately, tread lightly.

MIL: Although he’s been a workhorse, Payamps may get tonight off. He’s pitched in two of the last three and four of the last six days. Trevor Megill could record the first save of his career, so why not bet on being a part of his history?

Vulture Saves for Tuesday, April 23

ARI: If Ginkel pitches today, it will be two-in-a-row, so Scott McGough could get an ancillary save chance as a result.

PIT: Bednar made a non-save appearance on Sunday. If he pitches again on Monday, it may yield a vulture save for Colin Holderman on Tuesday.

SDP: If Suarez logs another save chance on Monday, Yuki Matsui could receive his first save opportunity on Tuesday.

Closer Monkey’s filthy pitch of the day goes to this called third strike fastball by Michael Kopech against Bryce Harper on Sunday, courtesy of the Pitching Ninja.

Thanks for being a part of the Closer Monkey community. Until next time, stay safe and be well.

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Monkey Bytes, April 20: Megill tries for a two-inning save, Hader struggles but hangs on, Game Recaps, and more

Friday’s slate featured another postponement and only four saves among the 14 games played. Colorado and Seattle will play a doubleheader on Sunday, a less-than-ideal getaway day for the Mariners bullpen. Because of the limited amount of saves, they will take precedence in today’s Monkey Bytes with a bevy of quick hit recaps in the remaining games from last night.

Milwaukee Brewers – Notching his first major league save, Hoby Milner worked a scoreless bottom of the tenth, issuing an intentional walk (Willson Contreras) and recording two strikeouts. Joel Payamps collected his first win and suffered his second blown save, letting one of two inherited runners score on a hit batter and a walk in the bottom of the ninth. He was not fully warmed up and pressed into action early, which affected his command. Trevor Megill was credited with his second hold, logging 1.2 innings, giving up a hit, an earned run, and two walks while striking out one. He was one out away from his first career save. Elvis Peguero fired a clean seventh, striking out one for his second hold.

There were so many talking points about this usage pattern. Beginning with Megill attempting a two-inning save, a center-cut fastball against Alec Burleson knocked him from the game with his pitch count reaching 30 and runners on the corners. However, he’s firmly in the mix for save chances moving forward for a team working without a closer. Payamps outing cannot be fully placed on the reliever, he started warming up during the Burleson at-bat and entered the game abruptly, working with limited command of his secondary pitches. Pat Murphy played the match-ups game in the tenth, opting for Milner against Lars Nootbar leading off the inning, and with Nolan Gorman lurking behind Willson Contreras, who was rightfully issued an intentional walk with two outs.

Many will wonder why Abner Uribe was not used with a one-run lead, but he’s allowed 11 hits, four earned runs, and three walks over his last six outings, spanning 5.2 innings (2.46 WHIP). Roles may remain in flux moving forward, and there’s no clear-cut closer at the moment.

Updated hierarchy: *Joel Payamps | *Abner Uribe | *Trevor Megill

*= closer-by-committee

St. Louis Cardinals – Taking over in the top of the tenth, Ryan Helsley suffered his second loss, allowing a go-ahead, two-out RBI single by William Contreras, providing the difference in the contest. He threw 19 pitches (12 strikes – 63.2 Strike%) without recording a whiff. He owns a 0.91 WHIP with 12 strikeouts versus one walk through his first 11 innings. Ryan Fernandez logged 1.1 scoreless frames, walking one and striking out two. Matthew Liberatore tossed a scoreless combined inning, walking one and striking out two. Giovanny Gallegos gave up a hit and recorded two strikeouts over two-thirds scoreless in the seventh.

Hierarchy remains: Ryan Helsley | Andrew Kittredge | JoJo Romero

Houston Astros – Hanging on for his second save, Josh Hader labored through the ninth, giving up a lead-off triple by CJ Abrams, a sacrifice fly, an infield single, and a walk before inducing consecutive, game-ending strikeouts. He threw 30 pitches (19 strikes – 63.3 Strike%) and produced five whiffs (16.7 SwStr%). He owns a 1.66 WHIP with 16 strikeouts versus five walks through his first 9.2 innings. Ryan Pressly notched his third hold, allowing a hit and striking out one in a scoreless eighth. Bryan Abreu worked a scoreless seventh, yielding a hit and striking out one for his second hold.

As for Hader, whether he’s pressing, or just going through some bad luck, he’s recorded a 2.47 SIERA versus his current 8.38 ERA. He owns a 25.6 K-BB percentage through his first 9.2 innings and his .476 batting average on balls in play (BAbip) sits over two hundred points above his career rate (.255) in the category. Better days lie ahead, remain patient.

Hierarchy remains: Josh Hader | Ryan Pressly | Bryan Abreu

Detroit Tigers – Securing his sixth save, Jason Foley worked around a two-out walk of Willi Castro with a game-ending flyout, preserving a one-run win over the Twins. He threw 20 pitches (60 Strike%), induced two whiffs, and recorded one strikeout in his outing. He owns a 1.14 WHIP with nine strikeouts versus five walks over nine innings. Andrew Chafin collected his second win, retiring all four batters faced, and stranding a runner in the bottom of the seventh.

Hierarchy remains: Jason Foley | Shelby Miller | Andrew Chafin

New York Yankees – Navigating around consecutive singles during the top of the ninth, Clay Holmes induced a fly-out by Randy Arozarena, followed by a game-ending double play lineout by Richie Palacios, securing his MLB-leading eighth save. He threw 22 pitches (14 strikes – 63.6 Strike%) without a whiff. He’s converted eight of nine save chances while posting a 1.20 WHIP with six strikeouts versus one walk through 10 innings. Ian Hamilton gave up three hits, two earned runs, and a walk in the eighth, creating the save opportunity. Dennis Santana collected his first win, tossing 1.2 scoreless innings, giving up two hits and striking out one.

Hierarchy remains: Clay Holmes | Ian Hamilton | Victor González

Quick Hits from April 19

Chicago Cubs – Taking over in the sixth, Keegan Thompson worked two scoreless frames, walking one and striking out four. He threw 36 pitches (22 strikes – 61 Strike%) and induced eight whiffs (22.2 SwStr%). He’s posted a 0.33 WHIP over six innings with nine strikeouts versus two walks in three appearances this season.

Hierarchy remains: Adbert Alzolay | Hector Neris | Mark Leiter Jr. 

Cincinnati Reds – With a one-run lead and two runners on, Fernando Cruz took over in the top of the seventh, retiring both batters via strikeout, including his first this year on a pitch other than his split-fingered fastball. He secured his fourth hold throwing 12 pitches (7 strikes – 58.3 Strike%) without a whiff. He owns a 0.75 WHIP with 17 strikeouts through his first eight innings. Lucas Sims tossed a scoreless eighth, walking one for his fourth hold.

Hierarchy remains: Alexis Díaz | Fernando Cruz / Lucas Sims

Kansas City Royals – Taking over in the sixth, John Schreiber stranded a runner while retiring his only batter faced, securing his fourth hold. Will Smith took over in the seventh, allowing four hits, including a grand slam by Adley Rutschman, and striking out one, drifting further from leverage relevance.

Hierarchy remains: James McArthur | John Schreiber | Chris Stratton

Los Angeles Dodgers – Representing one of the few weaknesses on this team, the bullpen struggled during this loss against the Mets. Taking over a tied game in the top of the seventh, Daniel Hudson allowed two runs (one earned), on a two-run, go-ahead home run by Francisco Lindor, and recorded two strikeouts, resulting in his first loss. Joe Kelly gave up three hits, two earned runs, and a walk while striking out one in the eighth. Ryan Brasier also allowed a run in the ninth, giving up three hits and striking out one. Combined, they yielded seven hits, five runs (four earned), and a walk with four strikeouts over three innings in this contest.

Hierarchy remains: Evan Phillips | Daniel Hudson | Joe Kelly

Minnesota Twins – Suffering his first loss, Caleb Thielbar allowed two hits, including a go-ahead RBI single by Wenceel Pérez resulting in an earned run, and issued a walk while striking out two in the top of the ninth. Griffin Jax navigated around two hits for a scoreless eighth, recording two strikeouts. He threw 21 pitches (71.4 Strike%) and induced four whiffs (19 SwStr%). Brock Stewart tossed a scoreless seventh, yielding a hit and striking out one.

Before the game, Jhoan Durán threw a live batting practice session and may begin a rehab assignment soon, with eyes on a return next week.

Hierarchy remains: *Griffin Jax | *Brock Stewart | *Steven Okert

* =closer-by-committee

New York Mets – In an unlikely sixth inning, caused by two separate errors by Joey Wendle and a hit batter, Reed Garrett suffered his first blown save, giving up a game-tying two-out, two-RBI single by Chris Taylor, but collected his third win after a rally in the top of the seventh. Brooks Raley recorded his fourth hold, yielding a hit and striking out one in two-thirds of the seventh. Adam Ottavino notched his third hold, firing 1.1 clean frames and striking out two. He also stranded a runner in the seventh.

Hierarchy remains: Edwin Díaz | Adam Ottavino | Brooks Raley

Philadelphia Phillies – Preserving a combined shutout, Orion Kerkering fired a clean top of the ninth, striking out one against the 3-4-5 hitters of the White Sox. He threw 18 pitches (13 strikes – 72.2 Strike%) and induced two whiffs (11.1 SwStr%). Matt Strahm worked a scoreless eighth, allowing a hit and a walk while striking out one.

Updated Hierarchy: *José Alvarado | *Jeff Hoffman | Seranthony Domínguez

* = closer-by-committee

Toronto Blue Jays – Operating as the “bulk follower”, Bowden Francis collected his second win, tossing two scoreless frames, allowing a hit and a walk while striking out two in San Diego. Tim Mayza turned in a clean seventh, striking out one. Yimi García fired a clean eighth, striking out the side on 19 pitches (68.4 Strike%) and generating three whiffs (15.8 SwStr%) facing the top of the Padres lineup. Jordan Romano closed out the four-run win with a scoreless ninth, giving up a two-out single by Ha-Seong Kim before a game-ending strikeout. He threw 17 pitches (11 strikes – 64.7 Strike%) and produced three whiffs (17.6 SwStr%).

Updated Hierarchy: Jordan Romano | Yimi García | Erik Swanson

Vulture Saves for Saturday, April 20

CHC: If the Cubs can produce a sweep, and the high-leverage triumvirate appears in Game 1, Yency Almonte could be a sneaky play for a vulture save in Game 2. Mark Leiter Jr. could also be a sneaky play for an ancillary save.

HOU: Hader threw 30 pitches during his save on Friday, which places Ryan Pressly potentially in line for a save on Saturday.

Unfortunately, based on recent usage patterns and weather, there are no real vulture save options for Sunday yet, it will all depend on Saturday’s slate. Colorado and Seattle will play a doubleheader on Sunday, which places Ryne Stanek, Gabe Speier, and Tayler Saucedo in contention for a vulture save if searching for a desperation play.

Closer Monkey’s filthy pitch of the day features the first strikeout by Fernando Cruz this season, not by his split-fingered fastball. He quelled a threat in the seventh by dotting this fastball against Zach Neto, courtesy of the Pitching Ninja.

Thanks for being a part of the Closer Monkey community, until next time, stay safe and be well.

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Tiered Rankings for SOLDS, April 5

Once again, noting these rankings remain fluid, here’s an updated tiered look at relievers in SOLDS formats. Those in leagues with holds as a separate category can use this list as well.

Tier One

  • Emmanuel Clase (CLE)
  • Evan Phillips (LAD)
  • Edwin Díaz (NYM)
  • Andrés Muñoz (SEA)
  • David Bednar (PIT)
  • Raisel Iglesias (ATL)
  • Pete Fairbanks (TBR)
  • Ryan Helsley (STL)
  • Josh Hader (HOU)
  • Griffin Jax (MIN)

Tier Two

  • Craig Kimbrel (BAL)
  • Adbert Alzolay (CHC)
  • Robert Suarez (SDP)
  • Jason Foley (DET)
  • Carlos Estévez (LAA)
  • Clay Holmes (NYY)
  • Abner Uribe (MIL)
  • Kyle Finnegan (WSH)
  • Alexis Díaz (CIN)
  • Camilo Doval (SFG)
  • Kenley Jansen (BOS)
  • Kevin Ginkel (ARI)

Tier Three

  • José Alvarado (PHI)
  • Aroldis Chapman (PIT)
  • Chris Martin (BOS)
  • Tanner Scott (MIA)
  • A.J. Minter (ATL)
  • Giovanny Gallegos (STL)
  • Jason Adam (TBR)
  • Joel Payamps (MIL)
  • Jeff Hoffman (PHI)
  • Hunter Harvey (WSH)
  • Hector Neris (CHC)
  • Ryan Pressly (HOU)
  • Ian Hamilton (NYY)
  • Yennier Cano (BAL)
  • Bryan Abreu (HOU)
  • Mason Miller (OAK)

Tier Four

  • Pierce Johnson (ATL)
  • Lucas Sims (CIN)
  • Fernando Cruz (CIN)
  • Scott Barlow (CLE)
  • Daniel Hudson (LAD)
  • Justin Lawrence (COL)
  • Kirby Yates (TEX)
  • David Robertson (TEX)
  • José Leclerc (TEX)
  • Brock Stewart (MIN)
  • Tyler Rogers (SFG)
  • Shelby Miller (DET)
  • JoJo Romero (STL)
  • Andrew Chafin (DET)
  • Ryne Stanek (SEA)
  • Yimi García (TOR)
  • Taylor Rogers (SFG)

Tier Five

  • Michael Kopech (CWS)
  • Gabe Speier (SEA)
  • John Schreiber (KCR)
  • Ryan Borucki (PIT)
  • Will Smith (KCR)
  • Chad Green (TOR)
  • James McArthur (KCR)
  • Matt Moore (LAA)
  • Ryan Thompson (ARI)
  • Julian Merryweather (CHC)
  • Emilio Pagán (CIN)
  • Joe Kelly (LAD)
  • Josh Sborz (TEX)
  • Gregory Soto (PHI)

Tiered Rankings for Saves, April 5

Noting these rankings remain fluid, here’s an updated tiered look at relievers for saves-only formats entering the weekend.

Tier One

  • Emmanuel Clase (CLE)
  • Edwin Díaz (NYM)
  • Evan Phillips (LAD)
  • David Bednar (PIT)
  • Raisel Iglesias (ATL)
  • Pete Fairbanks (TBR)
  • Ryan Helsley (STL)
  • Josh Hader (HOU)

Tier Two

  • Craig Kimbrel (BAL)
  • Andrés Muñoz (SEA)
  • Adbert Alzolay (CHC)
  • Robert Suarez (SDP)
  • Carlos Estévez (LAA)
  • Clay Holmes (NYY)
  • Abner Uribe (MIL)
  • Jason Foley (DET)
  • Kyle Finnegan (WSH)
  • Alexis Díaz (CIN)
  • Camilo Doval (SFG)
  • Kenley Jansen (BOS)
  • Kevin Ginkel (ARI)

Tier Three

  • Griffin Jax (MIN)
  • José Alvarado (PHI)
  • Tanner Scott (MIA)
  • Mason Miller (OAK)
  • José Leclerc (TEX)
  • Michael Kopech (CWS)
  • Justin Lawrence (COL)
  • Aroldis Chapman (PIT)
  • Brock Stewart (MIN)
  • Joel Payamps (MIL)
  • Giovanny Gallegos (STL)
  • Daniel Hudson (LAD)
  • Will Smith (KCR)

Tier Four

  • Hunter Harvey (WSH)
  • Ian Hamilton (NYY)
  • Ryan Pressly (HOU)
  • Chris Martin (BOS)
  • Jason Adam (TBR)
  • Shelby Miller (DET)
  • David Robertson (TEX)
  • Kirby Yates (TEX)
  • Bryan Abreu (HOU)
  • Yennier Cano (BAL)
  • Chad Green (TOR)
  • Yimi García (TOR)
  • John Schreiber (KCR)
  • James McArthur (KCR)
  • Jeff Hoffman (PHI)
  • Scott Barlow (CLE)
  • Dany Jiménez (OAK)

Tier Five

  • A.J. Minter (ATL)
  • Lucas Sims (CIN)
  • Fernando Cruz (CIN)
  • Hector Neris (CHC)
  • José Soriano (LAA)
  • John Brebbia (CWS)
  • Anthony Bender (MIA)
  • Yuki Matsui (SDP)
  • Josh Sborz (TEX)

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American League Central 2024 Preview

Chicago White Sox: Way more questions than answers for the White Sox bullpen coming into 2024. If looking for the most likely reliever to land 10 or more saves, you may consider Michael Kopech. The once highly-touted starter turned emergency reliever is as good a bet as anyone to hit the double-digit mark. Other potential SV leaders include John Brebbia, although the veteran is ailing this spring. Young Jordan Leasure is a deep roster name to monitor too. This situation is best avoided as currently constructed.

Here are the three-year high-leverage results for Chicago:

Projected 2024 Hierarchy: Michael Kopech | John Brebbia | Steven Wilson | Jordan Leasure

Primary hold candidates: Brebbia, Wilson, Leasure, Tim Hill, Prelander Berroa

Cleveland Guardians: Lock Emmanuel Clase in as a top fantasy option once in 2024. He sits atop the Cleveland depth chart and was the top SV getter in baseball in 2023, with 44. The depth behind Clase, however, will be tested. Veteran Scott Barlow is in the fray, while Sam Hentges‘ finger must remain calm throughout the year. Carlos Carrasco may end up providing high-leverage outings for Cleveland, as well.

Here is how the Guardians high-leverage relievers have fared over the past three seasons:

Projected 2024 Hierarchy: Emmanuel Clase | Scott Barlow | Nick Sandlin

Primary holds candidates: Barlow, Hentges, Sandlin, Eli Morgan

Detroit Tigers: Command, command, command are the three keys to Alex Lange remaining as the Detroit closer in 2024. Gone are the days when he was the only option in town, as Jason Foley, Beau Briske, and Shelby Miller all pose threats to Lange’s hold on the ninth.

Projected 2024 Hierarchy: Alex Lange | Jason Foley | Shelby Miller | Andrew Chafin

Primary holds candidates: Chafin, Foley, Miller, Briske

Kansas City Royals: It’s not sexy, but Will Smith again finds himself in a fantasy-friendly position within the Royals bullpen. Now, it may not last all season, as his fastball is god-awful and James McArthur lurks, but Smith is a near certainty to get the role and a leash pre-trade deadline for KC. There are a few other names of interest including John Schreiber, Nick Anderson, and Chris Stratton.

High leverage results for the past three seasons in Kansas City:

Projected 2024 Hierarchy: Will Smith | James McArthur(HLR) | John Schreiber | Chris Stratton

Primary holds candidates: Schreiber, Anderson, Stratton, McArthur, John McMillon

Minnesota Twins: A repeat performance in 2024 from Jhoan Durán would make the Twins’ closer a Top 5 relief pitching option. Any progression could have Durán landing as the overall best fantasy reliever this year. The Minnesota bullpen is a collection of powerful arms behind their closer too. Griffin Jax led the team in appearance over the past two seasons, posting a 68:19 K:BB ratio in 2023. While Brock Stewart was unscored upon in 27 of 28 relief appearances.

Below is a look at the Twins high-leverage results over the last three seasons:

Projected 2024 Hierachy: Jhoan Durán | Griffin Jax | Brock Stewart

Primary holds candidates: Jax, Stewart, Caleb Thielbar

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Spring Vibes, March 17: White Sox Leverage Updates, Colorado closer choice emerging, Kimbrel improving, and Game Recaps

Chicago White Sox – Making his first spring relief appearance, Michael Kopech retired the side in order, and in the recap by Scott Merkin of MLB.com, the reliever hit 100 m.p.h. on the stadium radar. Although he’s not focused on being the “closer“, he would welcome it but remains focused on doing the “best job he can”. Stay tuned.

In a separate post for the Chicago Sun-Times, Daryl Van Schouwen featured quotes about Jordan Leasure being a potential ninth-inning option by Pedro Grifol as well. Until the lights go on, it appears the manager will keep his high-leverage plans close to the vest. Also in the mix is John Brebbia, though he’s not appeared in a Cactus League game yet.

Projected Hierarchy: *Michael Kopech | *Jordan Leasure | *John Brebbia

Colorado Rockies – Perhaps a pivotal day in the “closer” competition. During Saturday’s contest, Tyler Kinley retired the side in order in the sixth inning. He owns a 0.50 WHIP with seven strikeouts against two walks over six innings. Justin Lawrence went nuclear in one-third of the eighth. He allowed five hits, six runs (five earned), and a walk while striking out one. This spiked his WHIP to 2.05 with 10 strikeouts versus two walks through 6.1 innings this spring. Patrick Saunders, of the Denver Post, penned in his game recap, Kinley “continues to show why he’s likely to begin the season as the closer“.  Once Bud Black echoes this sentiment, the committee designation will be removed. Our bullpen depth chart leaned Kinley from the jump, hopefully he fares well in the role this season, or until Daniel Bard returns.

Hierarchy remains: *Tyler Kinley | *Justin Lawrence | Jake Bird

Baltimore Orioles –  Appearing in the sixth inning, Craig Kimbrel issued a walk and recorded two strikeouts during a scoreless outing. Following his rough start this spring, he’s scoreless in his last three contests with three strikeouts. He’s on schedule for Opening Day, and his manager agrees in this column by Jake Rill for MLB.com. As for his last hurdle, working on consecutive days will be the last test for the veteran reliever. He enters this season eighth in MLB history with 417 saves. 

Hierarchy: Craig Kimbrel | Yennier Cano | Dillon Tate

Boston Red Sox –  Veteran reliever Chris Martin successfully completed his live batting practice throwing session and will move forward in his preparations for the season. His next step will be another live batting practice or his Grapefruit League debut per the injuries and roster moves page on MLB.com. He’s a key component in the leverage ladder recording four wins, three saves, and 23 holds last year with a 1.03 WHIP and 19.1 K-BB percentage. 

Hierarchy remains: Kenley Jansen | Chris Martin | Josh Winckowski

Seattle Mariners – Multiple updates about the Mariners bullpen were posted on “X”. First, Ryan Divish shared Ryne Stanek will appear in a Cactus League game in the coming days. He also reported Matt Brash will long toss at max effort then progress to a mound in the next few days if there’s no lingering soreness. Last, but not least, Gregory Santos is rehabbing and resting, but not throwing. No timetable for his return until he commences a throwing program. 

Hierarchy for Opening Day remains: Andrés Muñoz | Ryne Stanek | Gabe Speier

Quick Hits (Game Recaps from March 16)

Atlanta Braves – A traffic-laden outing by Raisel Iglesias did not result in any runs despite allowing a hit and two walks during his two-thirds of the sixth. He did record one strikeout in this outing but owns a 1.93 WHIP with six strikeouts against four walks through 4.2 innings this spring.

Chicago CubsHector Neris notched his first spring hold, allowing two hits and an earned run while striking out one. Adbert Alzolay fired a clean eighth, striking out two for his first hold. He owns a 0.50 WHIP with six strikeouts against one walk over six innings. Julian Merryweather recorded his first spring save with a clean ninth, striking out the side.

Cincinnati Reds – Suffering his first blown save this spring, Alexis Díaz allowed two hits, including a two-run home run, and recorded two strikeouts. This marked his fourth outing and he owns a 1.50 WHIP with seven strikeouts versus two walks.

Houston Astros – In an eventual loss, Ryan Pressly fired a clean fifth, striking out one. He’s posted a 1.00 WHIP with three strikeouts over four innings. Bryan Abreu gave up two hits, four earned runs, and two walks during two-thirds of the sixth. He’s struggled this spring and owns a 2.73 WHIP with five strikeouts against six walks through 3.2 innings.

Miami Marlins –  In an eventual tie, George Soriano worked a scoreless fifth, giving up a hit. Tanner Scott completed an inning, this is not a test. He allowed a hit and recorded a strikeout during a scoreless sixth. He threw 17 pitches (12 strikes – 70.6 Strike%) and induced three whiffs (17.6 SwStr%). Hopefully, this will be an outing he can build on moving forward:

Milwaukee Brewers –  Collecting his first win, Hoby Milner fired 1.1 clean innings. Trevor Megill took the baton in the seventh, facing two hitters, and retired both for his second hold. Suddenly on fantasy players’ radars, he owns a 1.33 WHIIP with five strikeouts against one walk over six innings.

Oakland A’s – In a split-squad game against Milwaukee,  a rough outing alert by Trevor Gott. He was tagged with his first loss, giving up four hits, five earned runs, and two walks without recording an out in the fifth inning. Lucas Erceg also struggled, allowing two hits, three earned runs, and two walks in the sixth.

Seattle Mariners – For a second straight outing, Andrés Muñoz struggled, giving up two hits and an earned run in two-thirds of the sixth. He’s made five appearances this spring, posting a 1.07 WHIP with five strikeouts and zero walks over 4.2 innings.

Texas Rangers – During a split-squad game against Arizona, Kirby Yates fired a clean sixth, striking out one. Through five appearances this spring, he owns a 0.80 WHIP with eight strikeouts versus one walk. 

Closer Monkey’s filthy sequence of the day winner goes to Luis Gil, featuring his change-up and slider.

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American League East 2024 Preview

March 13, 2024

Baltimore Orioles – As a team last year, the Orioles finished second in the American League in saves, fueled by the breakout season turned in by Félix Bautista. He will miss the season after undergoing elbow surgery, but all will not be lost for the franchise. Craig Kimbrel signed as a free agent and will take over as the primary save share. He finished third in strikeouts among qualified relievers in the National League in 2023 and converted 23 of 28 save chances for the Phillies. Yennier Cano will operate as the eighth inning option, and will often take on the toughest lineup pockets on opposing teams. He logged 72 appearances last year and tied for the major-league lead in holds (31). Getting Dillon Tate back and using Danny Coulombe versus left-handed pockets will enhance the bridge options for the upcoming season.

With this in mind, here’s the team’s high-leverage results over the last three years:

Projected 2024 Hierarchy: Craig Kimbrel | Yennier Cano | Dillon Tate

Primary Holds Candidates: Cano, Coulombe, Mike Baumann, Keegan Akin

Boston Red Sox After tipping their hand about potentially trading Kenley Jansen, he remains a Red Sox as of this writing. He will open the season as their “closer” unless a last-minute deal occurs. Even though he missed time down the stretch, he went 29-for-33 in save opportunities last year (87.9 save percentage) and he’s tied for ninth all-time with nine seasons with 30 or more saves. How he performs early on may set his trade market. He’s an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. Chris Martin played Robin to Jansen’s Batman well last year, recording a team-high 23 holds along with three saves, and 46 strikeouts against eight walks over 51.1 innings. His 1.03 WHIP makes him an alluring target in leagues with holds or SOLDS categories. With eyes on the future, the team signed Liam Hendriks. He plans on returning near the Trade Deadline (August 2), but how much and in what situations Boston deploys him in will be determined as the season progresses.

Here’s Boston’s high-leverage results since 2021:

Projected 2024 Hierarchy: Kenley Jansen | Chris Martin | Josh Winckowski

Primary Holds Candidates: Martin, Winckowski, Isaiah Campbell, Brennan Bernardino, Justin Slaten, Greg Weissert

New York Yankees – This bullpen may lean heavily on Clay Holmes early on this year. He turned in a career-high 24 saves last season and finished strong being scoreless in 12 of his last 13 outings. His 66 appearances in 2023 represent the second most in his career and he will utilize his 64.8 ground ball percentage in leverage events. However, getting him to save situations may be a weak link for this bullpen. Tommy Kahnle will open the season on the injured list and oft injured Jonathan Loáisiga projects as the main set-up option early on. One bright spot will be Ian Hamilton. He will take over the vacated multi-inning role filled by Michael King last year, and has shoved so far this spring. In deeper formats, he will retain value by providing vulture wins, ancillary saves, and strikeout upside.

Since 2021, here’s how this leverage ladder has performed in high-leverage events:

Projected 2024 Hierarchy: Clay Holmes | Jonathan Loáisiga | Ian Hamilton

Primary Holds Candidates: Loáisiga, Caleb Ferguson, Nick Burdi

Tampa Bay Rays – It happened, the Rays stopped spreading the wealth in the bullpen and relied upon Pete Fairbanks as their “closer” when he was not on the injured list. He set career highs in appearances (49), innings (45.1), strikeouts (68), and saves (25). He also ranked seventh among American League relievers with an 86.2 save percentage. His save total represented the most by a Tampa Bay reliever since Sergio Romo recorded 25 in 2018. Setting him up affably, and filling in as the “closer” when necessary, Jason Adam remains a rock in this leverage ladder. Through 117.2 innings with the Rays, he ons a 0.875 WHIP with 144 strikeouts versus 37 walks, and secured 20 saves. Colin Poche led all relievers with 12 wins last season, but it’s a tough feat to repeat. He’s only the sixth reliever in team history with consecutive 65-plus game seasons.

Taking all of this in, here’s the teams high-leverage results since 2021:

Projected 2024 Hierarchy: Pete Fairbanks | Jason Adam | Colin Poche

Primary Holds Candidates: Adam, Poche, Shawn Armstrong, Garrett Cleavinger

Toronto Blue Jays – Anchoring a deep, and pliable leverage ladder, Jordan Romano has recorded 36 saves in back-to-back seasons. He accomplished this total despite missing 18 days with back inflammation during the second half. His durability will determine his ceiling for 2024, along with how he handles left-handed hitters, but from a saves standpoint, he remains a reliable source. Erik Swanson set career-bests in games (69), innings (66.2), and strikeouts (75) in his first season with Toronto. He also finished third in the American League with 29 holds. Tim Mayza, Yimi García, Chad Green, and Trevor Richards will also factor as bridge relievers this year.

Here’s the Blue Jays high-leverage trends since 2021:

Projected 2024 Hierarchy: Jordan Romano | Erik Swanson | Yimi García

Primary Holds Candidates: Swanson, García, Tim Mayza, Chad Green, Trevor Richards

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Spring Vibes, March 13: Injury Updates, Colorado’s Closer Competition, Game Recaps and more

With Opening Day (stateside) just over two weeks away, injury news may determine a player’s availability when the season begins. Results in games will vary as well with relievers experiencing a “dead arm” phase in their buildups. Here are the notes of interest from a fantasy perspective.

Milwaukee Brewers – Per Sophia Minnaert of Bally Sport Wisconsin, Devin Williams will see a spine specialist on Wednesday, while the fantasy community holds its collective breath about the severity of his back issues. He will undergo further imaging at his appointment.

Chicago White Sox – For a bullpen already stretched thin on talent, updates on Wednesday did not go well for the leverage ladder. Jimmy Lambert has been experiencing lingering shoulder issues and will see Dr. ElAttrache in Los Angeles for a second opinion. Later on, Daryl Van Schouwen reported Prelander Berroa will be sidelined with an arm/shoulder area issue, with an update pending clarification. On MLB.com’s injuries and roster moves page, manager Pedro Grifol said Berroa pitched with reduced velocity in his last outing against Colorado and will see the team doctors. Less than optimal, unless one prefers taking a “Leasure“-ly approach for targeting saves in this bullpen.

Updated hierarchy for the White Sox: John Brebbia | Jordan Leasure | Tim Hill

Seattle Mariners – In the never ending injury saga for the this leverage ladder, Gregory Santos felt a pinch” in his lat, and will be shut down for a few days, which will keep him sidelined on Opening Day. Daniel Kramer and Ryan Divish broke the news on “X”. 

In a separate column by Daniel Kramer of MLB.com about how Seattle’s bullpen will take shape after Santos’ injury, he speculated Andrés Muñoz will work almost exclusively in the save situations. Because of this, Ryne Stanek will open the season as the primary set-up reliever. However, two relievers may be selected from the “Steckenrider” bucket. 

Updated hierarchy for Seattle: Andrés Muñoz | Ryne Stanek | Gabe Speier

These next two teams feature a camp battle for the “closer” role.

Colorado Rockies – As each game passes, the “closer” competition heats up. On Tuesday, Tyler Kinley notched his first hold this spring, firing a clean seventh, striking out one. He threw 11 pitches (54.5 Strike%) and induced two whiffs (18.2 SwStr%). He owns a 0.60 WHIP with seven strikeouts versus two walks over five innings. Justin Lawrence also worked a clean outing in the eighth, recording a strikeout for his second hold on 12 pitches (50 Strike%) with one whiff. He’s made six appearances this spring, posting a 1.17 WHIP with nine strikeouts against one walk through six innings. 

Oakland A’s –  In his latest roster projection for MLB.com, Martín Gallegos wrote Mason Millerlines up as the closer“, with Lucas Erceg, Dany Jiménez, and Trevor Gott all in the mix for high-leverage situations. Until Mark Kotsay confirms Miller’s role, it’s purely speculation. However, the talented pitcher’s outings and eye-popping velocities may result in a reliable reliever in save opportunities. 

Quick Hits (Game Recaps from March 12)

Baltimore Orioles – Making his third appearance this spring, Yennier Cano retired the side in order, recording two strikeouts. He owns a 0.33 WHIP with five strikeouts against zero walks over three innings. Cionel Pérez navigated around two hits and a walk for a scoreless sixth.

Los Angeles DodgersEvan Phillips worked a scoreless eighth inning, walking one and striking out one. He’s made five appearances this spring, recording a 0.40 WHIP with six strikeouts versus one walk over five innings.

Oakland A’s –  Although he let his only inherited runner score, Dany Jiménez collected his first spring win, giving up a hit and a walk while retiring two batters in the fifth. After five outings this spring, he owns a 1.07 WHIP with five strikeouts against two walks through 4.2 innings.

San Francisco Giants – Getting in work during the fourth inning, Camilo Doval navigated around two hits for a scoreless outing. This marked his fourth outing this spring, he owns a 1.25 WHIP with five strikeouts against two walks over four innings.

Washington NationalsHunter Harvey fired 1.1 clean frames while striking out two. He’s made five spring outings and owns a 1.13 WHIP with a 9:1 K:BB over 5.1 innings. Kyle Finnegan faced two batters, striking both out, in the top of the ninth. He’s logged five appearances and posed a 0.43 WHIP with nine strikeouts against one walk.

Closer Monkey’s filthy outing of the day goes to prospect, Jackson Jobe. He will be a starting pitcher, but recorded his first spring save, turning in a clean ninth, and striking out two while hitting triple digits on the radar.

Until next time, stay safe and be well.

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Tiered Rankings (March 1, 2024)

With March upon us and draft season on the horizon, it’s time for the first run of tiered rankings. It’s difficult to choose which reliever will be the “closer” for a few teams, and many may prefer avoiding certain situations, like these three:

At present, there are three writers ready at the wheel for Closer Monkey fueled by Reliever Recon. Myself (Greg Jewett), Nate Marcum, and Aaron Pags. Being three individuals, there will be different relievers in each of our tiers, but they will be shared at the same time with quick thoughts or explanations of why our tier differs from the perceived consensus. As with any rankings, they are our own, not gospel. If anyone feels differently about a reliever, then it’s clear how they should handle him during their draft or auction. Enjoy.

Tier One

Greg

  • Edwin Díaz (NYM)
  • Jhoan Durán (MIN)
  • Devin Williams (MIL)
  • Emmanuel Clase (CLE)

Nothing crazy here. Strong “closer” candidates with ratio insulation, and three with strikeout upside. Many remain wary of Emmanuel Clase but he’s entering his Age-26 season coming off a career-worst WHIP courtesy of an inflated batting average on balls in play (BAbip). His team construct helps save chances accumulate. If he cuts his blown saves in half last year, he would have made a run at 50. Jhoan Durán remains the reliever I believe will turn in the breakout performance of the year. He could record 100 strikeouts, last year 473 of his 1,017 pitches were 100 m.p.h. or faster in 2023, most among MLB pitchers. He’s thrown 865 100-plus pitches since 2022, also the most among major-league pitchers.

Nate

  • Edwin Díaz (NYM)
  • Raisel Iglesias (ATL)
  • Emmanuel Clase (CLE)
  • Jhoan Durán (MIN)

The common names atop most draft boards when it’s time for RP.  A notable exception is Devin Williams, which is not a slight on his potential, but based on the potential for a trade when the Brewers are no longer contenders.  While the fire has supposedly been extinguished, I still have my reservations.  The name I have in my 1st Tier that could seem out of place to some is Raisel Iglesias.  Iglesias’ strikeout percentage was a tick down, but his ground ball rate was supported by a solid Braves infield.  As good a chance as there is in baseball for 30 saves, that is if the Braves don’t win every game by 10.

Aaron

  • Josh Hader (HOU)
  • Devin Williams (MIL)
  • Emmanuel Clase (CLE)
  • Camilo Doval (SFG)
  • Edwin Díaz (NYM)

The Doval Guy

So, I am the Doval guy! And it has nothing to do with his ability but is 100 percent about his stability. For me, he is one of five relievers with a less than one percent chance of losing their job to anyone on their team’s roster. That makes him a tier-one closer.
But also, Camilo Doval‘s 2023 season showcased him as a vital force for the San Francisco Giants, marked by impressive stats, including a 2.93 ERA over 67.2 innings and 87 strikeouts. Despite a rocky start and a notable streak of four consecutive blown saves, a first for a Giants closer, Doval demonstrated resilience and excellence, especially from May onwards, significantly contributing to the team’s midseason turnaround. His stellar performance, underscored by his All-Star selection, solidified his status as a key player, despite a late-season slump that raised questions about overuse.

Tier Two

Greg:

  • Raisel Iglesias (ATL)
  • Josh Hader (HOU)
  • Andrés Muñoz (SEA)
  • Camilo Doval (SFG)
  • Pete Fairbanks (TBR)
  • Jordan Romano (TOR)
  • David Bednar (PIT)

Some veterans mixed in with a little bit of upside. Recent news about Matt Brash means Andrés Muñoz could gain the primary save share like Paul Sewald held last year. If he notches 30 or more saves and remains healthy, he’s a top-five reliever in fantasy. There may be some migration toward the mean for David Bednar and Camilo Doval, but they each secured 39 saves last year. For Pete Fairbanks, it’s all about health. More innings yield more fantasy goodness. I’m likely the low man on Josh Hader. He’s seen his K-BB percentage decline in each of the last two years, he’s in a deep bullpen, and not recorded more than 60 innings since 2019.

**With the recent injury news about Bednar, he’s been moved to the end of this tier.**

Nate:

  • Devin Williams (MIL)
  • Josh Hader (HOU)
  • Pete Fairbanks (TBR)
  • David Bednar (PIT)
  • Evan Phillips (LAD)
  • Camilo Doval (SFG)
  • Andrés Muñoz (SEA)

This tier is where I will most likely do most of my RP fishing during drafts.  The concerns I have for Williams’ team security are minimal.  Hader may have his hiccups, but with a track record as long as his, the double-digit walk percentage in three of the last four years is a wart worth looking past.  The fact that he hasn’t had 60-plus innings means the days of 100 strikeouts are gone.  If I could get a full season out of Fairbanks guaranteed, he may appear in the first tier in 2025. The Rays’ neglect for a true closer may be over.  Evan Phillips may be the “outlier” in this tier for me.  Similar to Iglesias and others, his team construct is set to build up his save total “floor”, but may limit his “ceiling” with their offensive output.  Over the past two seasons, Phillips has a combined 1.59 ERA and 0.80 WHIP.  Andrés Muñoz’s value remains intact with the news of Matt Brash’s injury.  Both Camilo Doval and David Bednar are convenient RP1 anchors for those who want to cast their line into the second tier.

Aaron:

  • Jordan Romano (TOR)
  • Raisel Iglesias (ATL)
  • Alexis Díaz (CIN)
  • Jhoan Durán (MIN)
  • David Bednar (PIT)
  • Paul Sewald (ARI)
  • Evan Phillips (LAD)
  • Andrés Muñoz (SEA)

Durán’s Health


I know you can say, “But health…” for anyone, however, Jhoan Durán has a history that shouldn’t be dismissed quickly. He missed the 2020 season due to COVID-19 and experienced arm issues in 2021. Despite a strong start post-recovery, he struggled in June and was shut down for the season without undergoing surgery. In 2022, he showed promise in spring training, secured a spot on the Opening Day roster, and became a key bullpen arm, cautiously managing to avoid overuse. His performance in 2023 was strong, marked by a slight increase in ERA and WHIP but maintained a high strikeout rate, despite not being selected as an All-Star. But, he was unleashed more often than last year. His powerful pitching arm also raises concerns about potential injury risks, as has been noted in many studies of the past.

Tier Three

Greg

  • Alexis Díaz (CIN)
  • Evan Phillips (LAD)
  • Tanner Scott (MIA)
  • Ryan Helsley (STL)
  • Paul Sewald (ARI)
  • Craig Kimbrel (BAL)
  • Clay Holmes (NYY)
  • Adbert Alzolay (CHC)

If the Reds can keep Alexis Díaz fresh, he may finish the season strong, but it’s still an if. When viewing his end-of-year statistics, do not forget he owned a 2.10 ERA and 36 saves through his first 66 games (until September 15). Tanner Scott provides strikeout upside if the command gains hold. Evan Phillips represents the only qualified reliever to do this over the last two years. Ryan Helsley could be the steal in this tier if he’s healthy all season. Steady and unsexy options also lie in this tier like Craig Kimbrel, Paul Sewald, Clay Holmes, and Adbert Alzolay.

Nate

  • Paul Sewald (ARI)
  • Tanner Scott (MIA)
  • Ryan Helsley (STL)
  • Alexis Díaz (CIN)
  • Jordan Romano (TOR)
  • Clay Holmes (NYY)

The best “values” could be in my third tier.  Alexis Diaz flashed in his first season as “the guy” in Cincy.  Diaz’s 37 saves still only accounted for 70 percent of the Reds’ total saves.  Seeing how his second half compared to his first, it wouldn’t surprise me to see him with a similar team save percentage. Oliver Marmol turned to Ryan Helsley down the stretch of 2023 and was rewarded with a 0.77 ERA, a .108 batting average against, and a 0.86 WHIP.  There will be many who don’t trust the Cardinals’ to stick with Helsley, but I think they will. 

Aaron

  • Tanner Scott (MIA)
  • Clay Holmes (NYY)
  • Pete Fairbanks (TBR)
  • Craig Kimbrel (BAL)
  • José Alvarado (PHI)
  • Ryan Helsley (STL)
  • Kenley Jansen (BOS)

Tier Four

Greg:

  • Kenley Jansen (BOS)
  • José Alvarado (PHI)
  • Hunter Harvey (WSH)
  • Carlos Estévez (LAA)
  • Robert Suarez (SDP)
  • Alex Lange (DET)

Welcome into the volatile tier of relievers. This could be where many see a cliff during their drafts. Kenley Jansen could be a fallback option for many, but where he pitches will make a difference. A trade could move him up, or down in this process. José Alvarado has the velocity and skillset, but his pre-and-post-injury splits last year cannot be ignored. Carlos Estévez and Alex Lange may open the year as the preferred save option for their respective teams, but can they stay there?

Nate

  • Craig Kimbrel (BAL)
  • Adbert Alzolay (CHC)
  • Kenley Jansen (BOS)
  • José Alvarado (PHI)

If you don’t have your first reliever by now, let’s hold hands and say a prayer.  While there are many household names (Craig Kimbrel, Kenley Jansen), it will require some guts to trust as your RP anchor.  Both of those two are in situations that are conducive to plenty of opportunities, but what they do with those opportunities is yet to be seen.   Jansen is also “most likely to screw up a good closer situation for another team” in 2024.

Alvarado will get the first crack this season, but injuries were rough last year, and we have Pags along with my favorite “closer in waiting”, Orion Kerkering lurking.  Say that five times fast.

Aaron

  • Robert Suarez (SDP)
  • Kyle Finnegan (WSH)
  • Mason Miller (OAK)
  • Alex Lange (DET)
  • Will Smith (KCR)
  • Adbert Alzolay (CHC)
  • Robert Stephenson (LAA)

Wild for Will

If you told me that I would ever be the high-man on Will Smith in reliever rankings, I would have laughed in your face. His fastball STINKS ON ICE! However, he always seems to wriggle his way into promising fantasy baseball situations. Kansas City is no different. Veteran presence during a rebuild is a must, especially in high leverage spots. Sure, a trade is always likely with the Royals and their relievers, but saves in April, May, June, and July can equate to value. Just jump off the bucking horse before it’s too late.

Tier Five

Greg

  • José Leclerc (TEX)
  • Kyle Finnegan (WSH)
  • Will Smith (KCR)
  • Yuki Matsui (SDP)
  • Mason Miller (OAK)
  • Tyler Kinley (COL)
  • John Brebbia (CWS)

Pick your poison in this tier. It’s sort of wide open and should be used as an end-game option during a build. For the “never pay for saves” crowd, this will be what it looks like at the end of your draft. Feeling lucky? From purely a skills perspective, Miller could be a steal in this tier if the A’s make him their primary save share. But it’s speculative until his manager anoints him.

Nate:

  • José Leclerc (TEX)
  • Alex Lange (DET)
  • Yuki Matsui (SDP)
  • Kyle Finnegan (WSH)

I would love to have one of these relievers as my third RP, but grabbing three RPs in a draft and still having balance is nearly impossible.  That being said, each of these as your RP2 could result in a full season of production, but most likely indigestion.  Alex Lange gets mentioned in the same breath as Mark Melancon, which is gross.  I can’t quit José Leclerc, but I acknowledge that he needs to throw strikes to keep his job.  Yuki Matsui could see his draft stock rise during the Spring, but I still think it could be an uphill battle to overtake Suarez.  I have Matsui here and not Suarez because I think Matsui will eventually take the job.  In Washington, it’s choose your stance.  Harvey is the better pitcher.  Finnegan has a “proven” track record of saves.

Aaron:

  • Hunter Harvey (WSH)
  • José Leclerc (TEX)
  • Jason Adam (TBR)
  • Ryan Pressly (HOU)
  • Hector Neris (CHC)
  • David Robertson (TEX)

Thanks for checking out our reliever tiers. If interested, check out Closer Monkey’s updated bullpen depth charts.

Monkey Bytes, April 21: Alzolay’s fourth blown save, Fairbanks MIA, Edwin Díaz pitches in the eighth inning, Historic Saves, Game Recaps, and more

Noting Friday’s slate only yielded four saves, Saturday not only provided a multitude of high-leverage events, it was pure chaos. It started with the Rays not using Pete Fairbanks against the Yankees during a save situation, followed by a blown save in Game 1 by Adbert Alzolay, two saves by relievers moving up the all-time lists, and much, much more. All covered in today’s Monkey Bytes.

Chicago Cubs – (Game 1): Forced into action with two runners on and two outs in the top of the eighth, Adbert Alzolay issued a walk and recorded an out, ending the threat. In the ninth, he allowed a one-out single by Luis Arraez, and a go-ahead two-run home run by Bryan De La Cruz, resulting in his second loss and fourth blown save this season. He worked 1.1 innings, giving up two hits, two earned runs, and a walk. He owns a 1.40 WHIP with nine strikeouts against four walks over his first 10 innings. Mark Leiter Jr. was credited with his fourth hold, allowing two hits and striking out one in two-thirds of the eighth. Yency Almonte fired 1.1 clean frames, striking out one for his fifth hold.

(Game 2): Despite early season struggles, Hector Neris closed out a split, tossing a scoreless top of the ninth, allowing a one-out single by Avisail García before inducing a flyout and a game-ending strikeout of Nick Gordon. Neris threw 16 pitches (62.5 Strike%) and produced three whiffs (18.8 SwStr%). This marked his fifth consecutive scoreless outing, but he’s issued four walks in it. Ben Brown tossed two scoreless, giving up two hits and striking out three.

There’s no confirmation about a change at closer for the Cubs, but comments by Craig Counsell suggested the team will be seeking consistency in performances by the team’s relievers, and with this in mind, noting Leiter Jr. may be deployed as the HLR, the hierarchy has been adjusted.

Updated hierarchy (for now): *Adbert Alzolay | *Hector Neris | *Mark Leiter Jr. 

*= closer-by-committee

Tampa Bay Rays – With a left-handed leaning lineup pocket in the bottom of the tenth, Garrett Cleavinger took over with a two-run lead, and closed out his first career save, retiring the side in order and recording a strikeout. After the game it was reported Pete Fairbanks had a stomach issue and was not at the stadium. Jason Adam collected his first win, firing a clean bottom of the ninth and striking out one versus the Yankees’ 2-3-4 hitters. He threw 11 pitches (54.5 Strike%) and produced three whiffs (27.3 SwStr%). Phil Maton worked a scoreless eighth, walking one and striking out one. Colin Poche tossed a scoreless seventh, yielding a hit.

As noted by Marc Topkin in his postgame recap, Fairbanks has missed games because of baseballs in Coors Field, Friday and Saturday with an illness, and turned in a viral press conference about levels of “suck”. Which does not help fantasy players seeking saves. Patience will be required, especially for a reliever with a 2.29 WHIP and two saves in only three opportunities.

Hierarchy remains (for now): Pete Fairbanks | Jason Adam | Colin Poche

New York Mets – Pressed into action in the eighth with the game in the balance, Edwin Díaz took over against the Dodgers’ 2-3-4 lineup pocket, protecting a two-run lead with an inherited runner on the bases and one out. His outing began with consecutive walks (Shohei Ohtani and Freddie Freeman) loading the bases, followed by strikeouts against Teoscar Hernández and Max Muncy, ending the threat. He threw 20 pitches (45 Strike%) and produced four whiffs (20 SwStr%) during his first hold. Reed Garrett received the ninth and converted his first major league save, striking out the side versus the 6-7-8 hitters, throwing 13 pitches (9 strikes – 69.2 Strike%) with three whiffs (23.1 SwStr%).

Manager Carlos Mendoza explained after the game he planned on using Díaz against the heart of the order, which occurred in the eighth, and after throwing 20 pitches, he preferred not to extend his closer into the ninth inning. This may be a foretelling of future save events by other teams facing Los Angeles, especially with the lineup being stacked from one-through-four, but weaker near the bottom.

Updated Hierarchy: Edwin Díaz | Adam Ottavino | Reed Garrett

Boston Red Sox Nailing down his fifth save, Kenley Jansen fired a clean ninth, striking out the side during a two-run win in Pittsburgh. He threw 14 pitches (9 strikes – 64.3 Strike%) and produced two whiffs (13.3 SwStr%). He owns a 1.57 WHIP with 12 strikeouts versus eight walks through 7.2 innings. This save also moved him into fifth all-time, marking his 425th of his career. Greg Weissert retired his only batter for his first hold in the eighth. Joely Rodríguez received credit for his fourth hold despite giving up a solo home run over his two-thirds of the eighth. Chris Martin turned in a scoreless seventh, yielding a hit while posting his fourth hold.

Hierarchy remains: Kenley Jansen | Chris Martin | Justin Slaten

Baltimore Orioles – Benefiting from two strong plays by his defense, Craig Kimbrel retired the side for his fifth save, and moved into a tie for seventh all-time, with Billy Wagner at 422 each. He threw nine pitches (66.7 Strike%) and induced one whiff. He owns a 0.33 WHIP with 14 strikeouts versus zero walks over nine innings. Mike Baumann notched his first hold, retiring one batter and stranding a runner in the eighth. Keegan Akin gave up a hit and struck out one over two-thirds of the eighth for his third hold. Yennier Cano was credited with his second hold, allowing two hits, an earned run, and a walk while striking out one during one-third of the seventh. He also let an inherited runner score.

Hierarchy remains: Craig Kimbrel | Yennier Cano | Danny Coulombe

Our remaining recaps will be split by their respective league.

American League – Game Recaps from April 20

Cleveland GuardiansShutting the door for his sixth save, Emmanuel Clase navigated around a lead-off double by Ryan Noda with a strikeout, a groundout, and a game-ending strikeout. He threw 14 pitches (71.4 Strike%) and generated five whiffs (35.7 Strike%). He owns a 1.00 WHIP with nine strikeouts against zero walks through his first 10 innings. Hunter Gaddis notched his fifth hold, tossing a scoreless eighth, walking one and striking out two. Scott Barlow secured his fifth hold, walking one and striking out three during a scoreless seventh.

Hierarchy remains: Emmanuel Clase | Hunter Gaddis | Scott Barlow

Houston Astros – Another frustrating loss, culminated by a walk-off single by Joey Meneses, allowed by Seth Martinez, handing him his second loss in the bottom of the tenth. Ryan Pressly suffered his second blown save in the ninth. His outing started with a runner reaching via catcher interference followed by a CJ Abrams double, and a game-tying two-RBI single by Jesse Winker. Pressly’s final line was two hits against, two runs (one earned), and a strikeout in his outing. Bryan Abreu secured his third hold, navigating around a hit and a walk while striking out two in a scoreless eighth.

Houston has led after six innings in half of its 22 games but owns a 7-15 record. Its high-leverage triumvirate must improve moving forward.

Hierarchy remains: Josh Hader | Ryan Pressly | Bryan Abreu

Minnesota Twins – Securing his second save, Griffin Jax fired a clean ninth, striking out two on 12 pitches (75 Strike%) with one whiff. He’s been frustrating from a fantasy perspective but he owns a 1.11 WHIP with 13 strikeouts over his first nine innings as his team’s HLR. Cole Sands let one of two inherited runners score during his two-thirds of the seventh, yielding a hit and striking out one for his first hold. Steven Okert gave up a hit, an earned run, and a walk over one-third of the seventh, getting credit for his first hold.

Hierarchy remains: *Griffin Jax | *Brock Stewart | *Steven Okert

* =closer-by-committee

New York Yankees – Suffering his third loss, Caleb Ferguson gave up two hits and two runs (one earned) while striking out two in the top of the tenth against the Rays. Clay Holmes worked a scoreless ninth, giving up a hit and striking out two. He threw 21 pitches (66.7 Strike%) and produced four whiffs (19 SwStr%). He’s not allowed an earned run through 11 innings this season while recording eight strikeouts versus one walk.

Hierarchy remains: Clay Holmes | Ian Hamilton | Victor González

Toronto Blue Jays – Save number two for Jordan Romano. He closed out a three-run win in San Diego, firing a clean ninth and striking out one. He threw 11 pitches (63.6 Strike%). Through his first three games, he owns a 0.67 WHIP with two strikeouts and no walks over three innings. Erik Swanson had another outing filled with traffic. He allowed three hits, and an earned run while recording a strikeout in the eighth for his second hold. Yimi García stranded a runner and retired both batters he faced, notching his second hold. He’s retired 21 consecutive hitters since April 10 with 11 strikeouts over his last six appearances.

Hierarchy remains: Jordan Romano | Yimi García (HLR) | Erik Swanson

National League – Game Recaps from April 20

Atlanta Braves – Securing his sixth save, Raisel Iglesias fired a clean top of the ninth, recording two strikeouts. He threw 13 pitches (8 strikes – 61.5 Strike%) and produced two whiffs (15.4 SwStr%). He lowered his WHIP to 0.82 and has posted a 5:1 K:BB through his first 7.1 innings. A.J. Minter worked a scoreless eighth, giving up a hit and striking out one, notching his second hold. Joe Jiménez turned in a clean seventh, striking out two for his fifth hold.

Updated hierarchy: Raisel Iglesias | A.J. Minter | Joe Jiménez

Cincinnati Reds – Locking down his third save, Alexis Díaz fired a clean ninth, striking out one versus the Angels’ 8-9-1 batters. He threw 13 pitches (11 strikes – 84.6 Strike%) and generated four whiffs (30.8 SwStr%). He’s posted a 1.20 WHIP with 10 strikeouts against five walks through 8.1 innings. Nick Martinez logged three scoreless frames, scattering two hits and striking out two for his first hold on 42 pitches (28 strikes – 66.7 Strike%) with seven whiffs (16.7 SwStr%).

Hierarchy remains: Alexis Díaz | Fernando Cruz / Lucas Sims

Miami Marlins – (Game 1): The good news is Tanner Scott threw strikes, landing 13 of his 16 pitches (81.3 Strike%) in the strike zone and he produced three whiffs (18.8 SwStr%). However, he did give up two hits leading off the ninth before recording an out on a sacrifice bunt, a strikeout, and then a game-ending ground-out by Nico Hoerner for his third save. It’s been a rough start to the season here’s hoping he’s turning a corner. Calvin Faucher logged two scoreless innings, scattering two hits and striking out four while collecting his first win.

(Game 2): Taking over in the sixth, Anthony Bender suffered his first loss and first blown save, allowing four hits, three earned runs, and a walk over two-thirds of an inning.

Updated hierarchy: Tanner Scott | Andrew Nardi | Calvin Faucher

Milwaukee Brewers – Collecting his second win, Bryse Wilson logged 1.1 clean frames, taking over in the fourth inning. Hoby Milner retired all four batters faced, recording one strikeout. Abner Uribe tossed 1.2 scoreless frames, walking two and striking out two. He threw 30 pitches (14 strikes – 46.7 Strike%) and produced one whiff. He owns a 1.74 WHIP with 10 strikeouts against six walks through 10.1 innings. Thyago Vieira gave up a hit, an earned run, and a walk in the bottom of the ninth, closing out the 12-5 win.

Updated hierarchy: *Joel Payamps | *Trevor Megill | Abner Uribe

Philadelphia Phillies – A fantasy favorite, and rare occasion, José Alvarado took over a bases-loaded situation in the top of the ninth and induced a game-ending groundout to first base for a one-pitch save. This marked his fourth save of the season and he’s been scoreless this month with seven strikeouts versus four walks over seven innings. Ricardo Pinto gave up five hits, five earned runs, and two walks while striking out one in two-thirds of the ninth. Seranthony Domínguez stranded an inherited runner while allowing a hit and a walk over two-thirds of the eighth.

Updated Hierarchy: *José Alvarado | *Jeff Hoffman | Seranthony Domínguez

San Francisco Giants – During a non-save outing, Camilo Doval closed out a four-run by striking out the side against the 7-8-9 lineup pocket for Arizona. He threw 16 pitches (62.5 Strike%) and generated five whiffs (31.3 SwStr%). He’s posted a 1.00 WHIP with 11 strikeouts versus two walks over six innings. Tyler Rogers worked a scoreless eighth, yielding a hit and striking out one. Taylor Rogers notched his second hold, firing a clean seventh.

Hierarchy remains: Camilo Doval | Tyler Rogers | Taylor Rogers

Washington Nationals – After tossing a clean top of the tenth, stranding the “place” runner, Kyle Finnegan collected his first win courtesy of a walk-off in the bottom of the inning. He threw seven pitches (71.4 Strike%) and induced one whiff. Tanner Rainey worked a scoreless ninth, yielding a hit. Jordan Weems gave up two hits, an earned run, and a walk while striking out one in the eighth. Hunter Harvey appeared in the seventh, letting one of two inherited runners score, giving up a hit and striking out one in a scoreless outing. Robert Garcia suffered his first blown save, allowing two hits, two earned runs, and a walk without recording an out before his removal.

Hierarchy remains: Kyle Finnegan | Hunter Harvey | Jordan Weems

Vulture Saves for Sunday, April 21

MIN: Jax has appeared on consecutive days, placing Brock Stewart or Caleb Thielbar in line for a vulture save later today, based on lineup pockets.

NYY: Holmes has pitched in two straight days, so Ian Hamilton should be the beneficiary, though Victor González does have an ancillary save this year.

TOR: Romano worked on Friday and Saturday, so going off the board a bit and calling Nate Pearson for the save chance, if provided, in San Diego today.

Vulture Saves for Monday, April 22

ATL: If Iglesias and Minter pitch on Sunday, Pierce Johnson could be in line for the save chance on Monday.

BAL: Kimbrel’s been active often lately, and if he pitches Sunday, it will be consecutive days putting Jacob Webb on the radar for Monday.

CIN: If the team uses Díaz today, it may open the door for a save chance for Fernando Cruz or Lucas Sims on Monday.

MIA: After securing a save on Saturday, if Tanner Scott pitches on Sunday, Calvin Faucher or Andrew Nardi could record the save chance on Monday.

NYM: If Díaz pitches on Sunday, Adam Ottavino should be the beneficiary of a save opportunity on Monday.

Closer Monkey’s filthy pitch of the day was awarded to Raisel Iglesias, throwing this game-ending change-up, courtesy of the Pitching Ninja.

Thanks for being a part of the Closer Monkey community, until next time, stay safe and be well.

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