Monkey Bytes: June 17

Sunday featured a full slate and a bonus contest with a doubleheader in Minnesota for a total of 16 games. There were four wins by relievers, two of the “bulk follower” variety, and nine saves, including two by Twins relievers during a sweep.

However, the injury front was not quiet. Yimi García was pulled during a save chance in Cleveland. After the game, it was reported as “elbow soreness,” but nothing further was known this morning. Which segues well into our next segment:

Three Takeaways

  • Toronto’s depleted leverage ladder: There have been no reports indicating García has been pitching through an injury, though when looking at his splits, he’s allowed more contact in June. Through the end of May, he logged 21 appearances spanning 22 innings with two saves, nine holds, a 26:7 K:BB, and 0.68 WHIP. He had one game with multiple hits allowed and gave up one home run. Through six games this month, he’s won two games and save three with 11 strikeouts versus zero walks. However, he’s had two games with multiple hits allowed, including Sunday’s, with a 1.17 WHIP and served up two home runs. Until more information emerges, there’s a chance he lands on the injured list and there should be some imaging performed. Jordan Romano has been throwing at 90 feet, but his return is not imminent. Leaving Chad Green atop the hierarchy in our projected run.
  • Camilo’s meltdown: Closers appearing in lopsided contests do not usually end well, and things took a turn for Camilo Doval on Sunday against the Angels. Not only did he allow four earned runs, his emotions got the better of him on camera. Since the onset of May, he’s made 18 appearances, with six clean outings. However, he’s struggling with his command. He’s converted seven of nine save chances with a 1.94 WHIP, 4.70 SIERA, and 60.3 strike percentage over his last 17 innings with 21 strikeouts versus 15 walks. His in-and-out-of-zone chart from Brooks Baseball does not paint a pretty picture right now and if the walk rate spike continues, it could cost him save chances soon:
  • Helsley tied the team record despite two walks again: First, the good news is that Helsley tied the Cardinals’ team record by converting his 24th consecutive save. However, through his first 24 appearances this season, he did not have an outing with more than one walk. He posted a 25:4 K:BB through these games with a 72 strike percentage and 66.7 first-pitch strike percentage. Over his last eight contests, since May 29, he’s produced four games with multiple walks, including yesterday’s resulting in an 11:8 K:BB. In this sample, he owns a 57.9 strike percentage with a 52.8 first-strike percentage, a 1.38 WHIP, and a 4.91 SIERA. It could be nothing more than fatigue, but one should note his velocity trends by game this season:

These takeaways are not intended to cause panic but trends one should note moving forward.

As for Sunday’s contests, our condensed and full-game recaps cover the high-leverage events of interest for relievers.

Closer CliffsNotes

American League

(RP | BAL): Forced into duty with the bases loaded and two outs, Yennier Cano induced a game-ending strikeout for his third save. 

(RP | HOU): Josh Hader could not preserve the combined shutout during a non-save appearance. He gave up two hits, including an RBI double by Andy Ibáñez, and struck out one in the top of the ninth. He threw 26 pitches (17 strikes—65.4 Strike%) and produced four whiffs (15.4 SwStr%). He’s allowed multiple hits and at least a run in two of his last four outings.

Hierarchy remains: Josh Hader | Ryan Pressly | Bryan Abreu

(RP | MIN): A fantasy favorite, Jhoan Durán faced one batter, retiring him on a game-ending groundout while recording his 11th save in Game 1 against Oakland. 

(RP | MIN): Finishing a sweep, Griffin Jax secured his sixth save, closing out a one-run win in Game 2. He allowed a hit and recorded a strikeout during a scoreless ninth. 

(RP | OAK): Taking over a tied game in the bottom of the eighth during Game 2, Dany Jiménez gave up two hits, including a go-ahead solo home run by Jose Miranda, resulting in his second loss. Austin Adams logged 1.1 scoreless innings, allowing a hit and striking out one.

Hierarchy remains: Mason Miller | Lucas Erceg | Dany Jiménez

(RP | TBR)Despite allowing a lead-off walk, Pete Fairbanks worked a scoreless ninth while striking out two, recording his tenth save while closing out a win over Atlanta. 

(RP | TOR): Pressed into action with two runners on and two outs, Nate Pearson recorded his second save, inducing a game-ending lineout while preserving a one-run win in Cleveland. 

National League

(RP | ATL): After his teammates tied the game in the bottom of the eighth, Raisel Iglesias suffered his first loss. He allowed a lead-off walk and a two-run home run in the top of the ninth. 

(RP | LAD)Matched up with the top of the Royals’ lineup, Evan Phillips navigated around a one-out walk of Bobby Witt Jr. for a scoreless ninth and his tenth save.

(RP | MIL): After issuing an intentional walk (Elly De La Cruz), Trevor Megill recorded his 13th save on a game-ending play at the plate after a single. He worked around a runner reaching on an error and struck out one during his scoreless outing in the ninth. 

(RP | PIT): Entering the fifth with a one-run lead, Carmen Mlodzinski collected his first win after tossing two clean frames in Colorado. He threw 18 pitches (13 strikes – 72.2 Strike%) with three whiffs (16.7 SwStr%).

Hierarchy remains: David Bednar | Colin Holderman | Aroldis Chapman

(RP | SDP)Migration toward the mean hits hard for fantasy managers. In this case, Jeremiah Estrada allowed five hits, including a solo home run, four earned runs, and a walk, while striking out one in one-third of the eighth against the Mets. As a result, his ERA rose from 1.23 to 2.82.

Hierarchy remains: Robert Suarez | Jeremiah Estrada | Yuki Matsui

(RP | SFG): During his major league debut, Spencer Bivens collected his first win operating as the “bulk follower,” tossing three innings, giving up a solo home run, and striking out four. 

(RP | STL): Navigating around a lead-off walk, and a second with two outs, Ryan Helsley tied a team record with his 24th consecutive save. He tossed a scoreless bottom of the ninth, issuing two walks and striking out two while preserving a one-run win over the Cubs. 

(RP | WSH): Closing out a two-run win against Miami, Kyle Finnegan secured his 20th save, allowing a hit and striking out one in a scoreless ninth. 

Vulture Save Option for Monday, June 17

  • Joel Payamps (MIL): Megill has appeared in two straight, and Payamps has retaken the second spot in the hierarchy.
  • Chad Green (TOR): With Jordan Romano on the injured list and García pitching with elbow soreness, Green could benefit from save chances in the interim.

Vulture Save Options for Tuesday, June 18

  • Joe Jiménez (ATL): If Iglesias pitches today, it will be consecutive outings and a day off for Tuesday.
  • JoJo Romero (STL): Although the team has managed his workload recently, if Helsley and Kittredge pitch again today, Romero will have the save chance on Tuesday.

American League – Full Recaps

Baltimore Orioles – In a game that took an unexpected turn, Yennier Cano secured his third save during a five-run win over the Phillies. He inherited a bases-loaded situation with two outs and struck out Edmundo Sosa, securing the win for his team. He’s allowed one unearned run over his last 11 appearances. Jacob Webb recorded two outs, but two players reached via error, and he was removed from his outing with the game hanging in the balance. Nick Vespi allowed a hit and a walk with two strikeouts during his combined inning; he faced one batter in the ninth. Cionel Pérez gave up two hits and an earned run while striking out one in the seventh.

Hierarchy remains: Craig Kimbrel | Yennier Cano | Cionel Pérez

Game 1

Minnesota Twins – Using the “B” side of the leverage ladder in Game 1 until the ninth, Jorge Alcala logged 1.2 scoreless innings, allowing a hit and striking out one. Cole Sands took over in the ninth with a five-run lead and gave up two hits, an earned run, and a walk with one strikeout over two-thirds before his removal. Jhoan Durán entered with two runners on and two outs. He secured his 11th save, inducing a game-ending groundout during a nine-pitch at-bat.

Game 2

Minnesota Twins – Handed a one-run lead in Game 2, Griffin Jax secured his sixth save, giving up a hit and striking out one in a scoreless ninth, preserving a one-run win and a sweep. He threw 12 pitches (91.7 Strike%) with two whiffs (16.7 SwStr%). Josh Staumont fired 1.1 clean frames and struck out the side in the top of the eighth. He collected his first win courtesy of a go-ahead home run in the bottom of the inning.

Updated Hierarchy: Jhoan Durán | Griffin Jax | Josh Staumont

Tampa Bay Rays – Bouncing back in a save situation, Pete Fairbanks secured his tenth, tossing a scoreless bottom of the ninth. He allowed a lead-off walk but recorded two strikeouts, including a game-ending one from Ozzie Albies. He’s converted his last six save opportunities and been scoreless in 10 of his last 12 games. Jason Adam gave up two hits, including a two-run home run by Austin Riley, and struck out two in the bottom of the eighth. He collected his third win and suffered his third blown save. Colin Poche retired the side in the seventh for his sixth hold. Kevin Kelly stranded two runners while retiring his only batter via strikeout in the sixth. 

Updated Hierarchy: Pete Fairbanks | Jason Adam | Colin Poche

Toronto Blue Jays – Following an injury delay, Nate Pearson was summoned with runners on the corners, two outs, and his team clinging to a one-run lead. He recorded his second save, inducing a game-ending lineout by Andrés Giménez. Yimi García entered with a three-run lead and allowed four hits, including a two-run home run by Brayan Rocchio. He left with “elbow soreness.” He received credit for his tenth hold, but the fantasy community awaits word on the severity of his injury. Brendan Little notched his first hold, retiring the side and striking out one in the eighth. Chad Green gave up a one-out single and recorded a strikeout in a scoreless sixth for his sixth hold.

If García requires an injured-list stint: 

Projected Hierarchy: Chad Green | Nate Pearson | Brendan Little

National League – Full Recaps

Atlanta Braves – Taking over a tied game in the top of the ninth, Raisel Iglesias issued Randy Arozarena a lead-off walk, a leverage no-no, and allowed a go-ahead, two-run home run by Jose Siri. Although he recorded all three outs via strikeout, he suffered his first loss. He threw 22 pitches (17 strikes – 77.3 Strike%) and produced three whiffs (13.6 SwStr%). Making his major league debut, Grant Holmes logged three scoreless frames, giving up two hits and striking out two. Dylan Lee stranded a runner in the fourth and tossed 1.2 clean frames while striking out three. 

Hierarchy remains: Raisel Iglesias | Joe Jiménez | Pierce Johnson

Los Angeles Dodgers – Preserving a combined shoutout, Evan Phillips recorded his tenth save, allowing a walk in a scoreless top of the ninth against the Royals. He faced the top of the lineup and worked around the Bobby Witt Jr. walk with a pop-out and a game-ending lineout by Salvador Perez. Phillips threw 18 pitches (11 strikes – 61.1 Strike%) and induced two whiffs. He’s been scoreless in four of five games off the injured list with two saves. Daniel Hudson notched his tenth hold, retiring the side and striking out two in the eighth. 

Hierarchy remains: Evan Phillips | Blake Treinen | Daniel Hudson

Milwaukee Brewers – Hanging on for his 13th save, Trevor Megill closed out a one-run win over the Reds. After recording a strikeout, things turned with a runner reaching on an error. He intentionally walked Elly De La Cruz with two outs before a game-ending play at the plate following a hit. Megill finished with a hit against and a walk while striking out one in a scoreless outing. Joel Payamps navigated around two hits and recorded a strikeout in a scoreless eighth for his ninth hold. Jared Koenig received credit for his second hold, serving up a solo home run (De La Cruz) and striking out one over two-thirds of the seventh. Enoli Paredes hit a batter and issued a walk during his one-third of the seventh. He was awarded his third hold.

Hierarchy remains: Trevor Megill | Joel Payamps | Bryan Hudson

San Francisco Giants – Brought into a lopsided contest for work, Camilo Doval struggled in a low-leverage situation. He allowed a lead-off single, followed by a double, and recorded his first out on a sacrifice fly. With a ten-run lead, he issued a walk, gave up a single, another walk, and a three-RBI double by Michael Stefanic, prompting his removal. His final line was four hits allowed, four earned runs, and two walks during one-third of the ninth. Ryan Walker stranded the runner and retired both batters via strikeout, closing out the seven-run win. Spencer Bivens earned his first major league win in his debut, logging three innings as the “bulk follower,” allowing a solo home run and striking out four.

Hierarchy remains: Camilo Doval | Tyler Rogers | Ryan Walker

St. Louis Cardinals – Locking down his 24th save and tying a team record with his 24th straight this season, Ryan Helsley preserved a one-run lead with a scoreless ninth, working around a lead-off walk and a two-out walk with a game-ending lineout. Helsley recorded two strikeouts in his outing, throwing 23 pitches (11 strikes – 47.8 Strike%) and inducing one whiff. He’s been scoreless in six of seven appearances this month but has issued multiple walks in three of his last four. Andrew Kittredge secured his 19th hold, allowing a walk and striking out one in a scoreless eighth. Ryan Fernandez let his only inherited runner score on a Michael Busch RBI single and walked one during two-thirds scoreless in the seventh for his fourth hold.

Hierarchy remains: Ryan Helsley | JoJo Romero | Andrew Kittredge

Washington Nationals – Save number 20 for Kyle Finnegan. He navigated around a one-out double with a flyout and a game-ending strikeout, preserving a two-run win over Miami. He threw nine pitches (77.8 Strike%) and induced one whiff. He’s converted seven straight saves since May 25 with 14 strikeouts versus one walk with a 0.71 WHIP over his last 11.1 innings. Robert Garcia notched his ninth hold, striking out his only batter and stranding a runner in the eighth. Derek Law logged 1.2 scoreless frames, yielding a hit and striking out one for his seventh hold.

Hierarchy Remains: Kyle Finnegan | Hunter Harvey | Dylan Floro

Closer Monkey’s filthy outing of the day features reliever Ben Joyce as the “opener” with two scoreless frames and a video courtesy of the Pitching Ninja. Texas used José Leclerc in multiple-inning outings last year before he took over as the closer down the stretch.

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

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Updated MLB Closer Depth Chart

Closer1st in line2nd in lineUpdatedCloser1st in line2nd in lineUpdated
BALKimbrelCanoPérez6/13/24ATLIglesiasJiménezJohnson6/13/24
BOSJansenSlatenWeissert6/13/24MIAScottFaucherPuk6/13/24
NYYHolmesWeaverHamilton6/13/24NYME DíazGarrettOttavino6/13/24
TBFairbanksAdamPoche6/16/24PHI*Alvarado*HoffmanKerkering6/13/24
TOR*Y García*GreenPearson6/13/24WASFinneganHarveyFloro6/13/24
        
CHWKopechBrebbiaBanks6/14/24CHCNerisLeiter Jr.Wesneski6/13/24
CLEClaseGaddisBarlow6/13/24CINAl.DíazSimsCruz6/13/24
DET*Foley*HoltonSh Miller6/13/24MILMegillPayampsB Hudson6/13/24
KCMcArthurSchreiberAnderson6/13/24PITBednarHoldermanChapman6/13/24
MINDuránJaxStaumont6/16/24STLHelsleyRomeroKittredge6/13/24
        
HOUHaderPresslyAbreu6/13/24ARISewaldThompsonMantiply6/13/24
LAAEstévezGarcíaMoore6/13/24COL*Beeks*KinleyVodnik6/13/24
OAKMillerErcegJiménez6/14/24LADPhillipsTreinenD Hudson6/13/24
SEA*Muñoz*StanekSaucedo6/14/24SDSuarezEstradaMatsui6/13/24
TEXYatesRobertsonLeclerc6/13/24SFDovalTy.RogersWalker6/13/24

* = closer-by-committee

Monkey Bytes: June 16

First and foremost, Happy Father’s Day to my Dad and all those who have the honor of being fathers.

Saturday’s slate could be considered one rife with lost opportunities. Craig Kimbrel, Kyle Finnegan, and Reed Garrett warmed up for a potential save chance until their respective teams scored runs in the eighth. Because of this, there were only four saves in the 14 games. This slate yielded only four reliever wins, with two planned “bulk outings.”

Three Takeaways

  • An evolving Carlos Estévez: Appearing for a second straight game, the Angels’ closer recorded his 12th save and sixth straight without allowing a hit or a walk. He’s only produced five strikeouts over his last six innings, but he’s produced a 68.1 strike percentage and 13.9 percent swinging strike rate with a slight tweak in his pitch usage patterns:
  • Sleepless for saves in Seattle? Fantasy managers must weigh the lingering back issues affecting Andrés Muñoz and his recent usage patterns. Will this be a short-term circumstance based on the team’s focus on wins, or will he continue to be used as the highest-leveraged reliever (HLR) until the All-Star break? These last two weeks of June may be pivotal to determining his role for the remainder of the season.
  • Devin Williams update: Finding updates about Milwaukee’s injured closer have been few and far between. However, this may change soon:

Our condensed and full-game recaps cover Saturday’s high-leverage events of interest. Also, a bonus last 30-day update will appear at the bottom of the post with leaderboards for saves, holds, SOLDS, K-BB percentage, and swinging strike rates.

Closer CliffsNotes

American League

(RP | BAL): After warming up for the save, Craig Kimbrel pitched the ninth despite his team opening a four-run lead. He worked a scoreless appearance, issuing a lead-off walk and then striking out the next three batters against the Phillies’ 6-7-8 lineup pocket. He threw 16 pitches (11 strikes – 68.8 Strike%) and produced three whiffs (18.8 SwStr%). He owns a five-game scoreless streak and has been scoreless in 13 of his last 14.

Hierarchy remains: Craig Kimbrel | Yennier Cano | Cionel Pérez

(RP | BOS): Taking over in the top of the eighth with two runners on and two outs, Kenley Jansen retired all four batters faced and closed out a win over the Yankees while recording his 11th save. 

(RP | LAA): Locking down his 12th save, Carlos Estévez retired the side in the bottom of the ninth and recorded two strikeouts, preserving a one-run win. 

(RP | SEA): Inheriting a bases-loaded situation in the top of the ninth, Ryne Stanek let two of three inherited runners score on a single, then recorded a game-ending groundout by Corey Seager for his seventh save. 

(RP | TOR): Working as the “bulk follower,” Bowden Francis took over in the fourth and logged four scoreless innings, scattering four hits and striking out two for his third win.

Hierarchy remains: Yimi García | Chad Green | Nate Pearson

National League

(RP | LAD)Not only did Blake Treinen allow his first runs of the season, he served up a go-ahead grand slam after issuing three walks and recorded a strikeout during his two-thirds of the sixth. He suffered his first loss and first blown save as a result. He threw 39 pitches (22 strikes – 56.4 Strike%) and induced three whiffs.

Hierarchy remains: Evan Phillips | Blake Treinen | Daniel Hudson

(RP | MIL): Hanging on for his 12th save, Trevor Megill issued a lead-off walk and gave up an RBI double before recording the last three outs against the Reds. 

(RP | SFG): Ryan Walker suffered his third loss, allowing a one-out walk, a stolen base with a throwing error, and an RBI single, putting an unearned run on his ledger.

Hierarchy remains: Camilo Doval | Tyler Rogers | Ryan Walker

(RP | WSH): In a non-save outing, Kyle Finnegan allowed a hit during a scoreless ninth, preserving a combined shutout against Miami. 

Vulture Save Options for Sunday, June 16

  • Yennier Cano (BAL): Kimbrel has appeared in back-to-back contests, which puts Cano atop the hierarchy. The only caveat is that Cionel Pérez could be used against left-handed hitters in a save situation (Kyle Schwarber; Bryce Harper).
  • Luis García (LAA): Estévez has pitched in two straight, and although García has struggled, Ron Washington has previously trusted him as an ancillary option.
  • Josh Staumont (MIN): He’s rising in the leverage ladder, and those looking for a deep league “Hail Mary” save could receive one if the Twins can sweep the A’s. This requires Griffin Jax and Jhoan Durán pitching in Game 1.

Vulture Save Options for Monday, June 17

  • Chris Martin (BOS): If Jansen pitches on Sunday and Martin’s activated, he could get a vulture save in his first game back. If not, Greg Weissert could be the beneficiary.
  • Reed Garrett (NYM): If Edwin Díaz pitches on Sunday, it will be three outings in four days, putting Garrett in line for the save chance on Monday.

American League – Full Recaps

Boston Red SoxBetween 2022 and 2023, Kenley Jansen recorded a multi-inning outing two times, once each season. Jansen has recorded at least four outs for the second time in his last three appearances. Securing his 11th save, he stranded two runners in the eighth and retired all four batters faced. He threw 12 pitches (83.3 Strike%) and produced one whiff. Greg Weissert was credited with his third hold, giving up a hit, an earned run, and two walks while striking out one in two-thirds of the eighth. Brennan Bernardino stranded a runner and retired his only batter for his fourth hold in the seventh. Justin Slaten collected his fourth win, logging 2.2 innings. He gave up two hits, including a solo home run by Juan Soto, and two walks while striking out three.

Chris Martin will make a rehab outing on Sunday and could be activated for next scoring period. For now: 

Hierarchy remains: Kenley Jansen | Justin Slaten | Greg Weissert

Los Angeles Angels – Save number 12 for Carlos Estévez. He fired a clean bottom of the ninth and recorded two strikeouts, preserving a one-run win over the Giants. He threw 12 pitches (7 strikes – 58.3 Strike%) and produced two whiffs (16.7 SwStr%). He’s converted five straight saves over six clean innings with five strikeouts. Luis García notched his seventh hold, retiring the side and striking out two in the eighth. Hunter Strickland allowed a hit and struck out one in a scoreless seventh for his fourth hold. Matt Moore collected his third win, tossing a scoreless sixth, yielding a hit.

Hierarchy remains: Carlos Estévez | Luis García | Matt Moore

Seattle Mariners – Pressed into action and inheriting a bases-loaded situation in the ninth, Ryne Stanek allowed a two-RBI single by Marcus Semien before inducing a game-ending groundout by Corey Seager for his seventh save. He threw 10 pitches (60 Strike%) and induced one whiff. Not only has he appeared in two straight games, but he warmed up twice, making him unavailable on Sunday. He’s converted three straight saves and been scoreless in nine of his last 10 with two wins, five saves in six chances, and two holds. Eduard Bazardo created the traffic, giving up four hits, four earned runs, and a walk over two-thirds of the ninth. Tayler Saucedo stranded a runner by producing an inning-ending double play groundout on one pitch. Trent Thornton received credit for his ninth hold, yielding a hit and striking out one over 1.1 scoreless innings.

Hierarchy remain: *Andrés Muñoz (HLR/PSS) | *Ryne Stanek | Tayler Saucedo

*= An HLR/PSS means he’s the preferred save option but will be used at the highest-leverage moment in games when necessary. 

National League – Full Recaps

Milwaukee Brewers – Although he did not preserve the shutout, Trevor Megill recorded his 12th save during a two-run win over the Reds. He committed a leverage no-no, issuing Elly De La Cruz a lead-off walk, who promptly stole second and scored on an RBI double by Jeimer Candelario. However, Megill bore down with two groundouts and a game-ending flyout. He threw 11 pitches (6 strikes – 54.5 Strike%) and induced one whiff. This snapped his five-game scoreless streak, but he’s converted six straight saves since May 21 with 11 strikeouts against three walks across his last 7.1 innings. Bryan Hudson nailed down his tenth hold with two clean frames, striking out two. He’s been scoreless in 11 of his last 12 contests, recording two wins and seven holds in eight chances with a 24:2 K:BB over 18.2 innings.

Hierarchy remains: Trevor Megill | Joel Payamps | Bryan Hudson

Washington Nationals – Preparing for a save chance with a two-run lead, Kyle Finnegan logged a non-save outing after his teammates scored two runs in the bottom of the eighth. He gave up a two-out triple by Jake Burger before inducing a game-ending Jesús Sánchez groundout. Finnegan threw nine pitches (88.9 Strike%) without a whiff. Through seven outings in June, he’s collected a win while converting four saves with eight strikeouts against zero walks across 7.1 innings. Hunter Harvey worked into then out of trouble for a scoreless eighth and his MLB-leading 21st hold. He allowed two hits and a walk while recording three strikeouts during his “Houdini.” Dylan Floro retired the side and recorded a strikeout in the seventh for his eighth hold.

Hierarchy Remains: Kyle Finnegan | Hunter Harvey | Dylan Floro

Closer Monkey’s filthy pitch of the day goes to this sweeper by Bryan Hudson – video courtesy of the Pitching Ninja.

Last 30 Days Leaderboards (through games played on June 15)

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

Link: https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/VKuG5/1/

Link: https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/0kLRC/2/

Link: https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/orx71/2/

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Friday’s Three Takeaways: Cubs vs. Cardinals, Last Statistical Year Results, and Tanner Scott Rumors

When time allows, three takeaways will be a free-flowing column featuring a blend of statistical analysis and points of interest from the ever-evolving high-leverage world. It’s too early to consider St. Louis facing the Cubs a big series, but it may set the table for plans ahead of the trade deadline. Although it’s not the midpoint of the season, using the last 365 days (statistical year) can help identify relievers who may impact teams as the season ensues. Plus, one of the best performers in this timeline sits firmly on the trade block, with contenders already kicking the tires.

Tale of the Tape: Cubs relievers versus Cardinals relievers

It comes as no surprise the Cardinals bullpen enters this weekend’s match-up with superior results, especially since the major league leader in saves anchors its leverage ladder. Ryan Helsley has converted 22 of 23 save chances this season. St. Louis has relied heavily on its leverage triumvirate: Helsley, Andrew Kittredge, and JoJo Romero. Through its first 67 games, 48 have been decided by three runs or less (71.6 percent), tied with the Cubs. However, when Helsley, Kittredge, and Romero all appear in the same game, St. Louis owns a robust 18-1 record, with its only loss against the White Sox on May 4.

Chicago has suffered some losses in its arm barn. Last year’s closer, Adbert Alzolay, remains on the injured list, and breakout performer Julian Merryweather was placed on it before him. Both could return in the second half, but it’s fluid, which has been difficult since the Cubs lead the majors with 28 games decided by one run. Lately, it’s been tough sledding for this leverage ladder. Chicago has been in a one-run game in six of its last nine games and 10 of the last 13 have been decided by two runs or fewer.

Entering game play on Friday, June 14, here is how the two bullpens stack up:

Link: https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/J55FC/1/

As one would assume, the biggest difference lies in the blown save category, though the Cubs’ higher walk rate also fuels its WHIP disparity. Bullpen construction remains a pivotal part of any team’s postseason plans. St. Louis will need its relievers to remain healthy and productive, especially given its strength of schedule for the rest of the season, courtesy of Tankathon.com:

With the recent news regarding Ben Brown’s neck issue, Chicago needs a reliever to emerge. It could be Hayden Wesneski. Over the last 30 days, he’s posted a 31.3 strikeout percentage with a 2.74 SIERA, and 1.32 WHIP. He’s been improving with his whiff rates and if he leans into his sweeper while commanding his four-seam fastball better, he could take a nice step forward and provide this bullpen with a third reliever capable during high-leverage events. He and Luke Little could be key parts toward improved results by this unit.

Last Statistical Year (last 365 days)

Looking back, with eyes on the future, results from the last 365 days can help fantasy managers identify relievers amid a breakout. First, some leaderboards:

Link: https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/WoZt6/2/

It’s interesting to see which relievers emerge in these categories when we remove saves from the equation.

However, fantasy requires we do not ignore them. With this in mind, here are the saves and holds leaders from the last statistical year:

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

For those who play in leagues with SOLDS (saves plus holds):

Link: https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/0kLRC/1/

Four key categorical identifiers for relievers are K-BB percentage, swinging strike rate, strike percentage, and contact percent allowed. These relievers qualified in three of these four in the last statistical year:

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

When I first took over Closer Monkey, many were skeptical about my endorsement of Trevor Megill. He leads the relievers in this chart in K-BB percentage and has thrived since taking over the primary save share in Milwaukee. His window may be closing with the pending return of Devin Williams, but it’s been worth the waiver claims for FAAB to get him.

It’s also interesting to see Jeff Hoffman posting almost the exact same underlying indicators as Ryan Helsley, but their save totals do not let some see how great of a reliever Hoffman has been for the Phillies. Here’s hoping the lingering back soreness for Andrés Muñoz subsides so his dominant results help his team pursue a spot in the playoffs.

Last but not least on the list is Tanner Scott from Miami, which will be a perfect segue for our last topic.

On the block: Tanner Scott

It’s not gospel, but Jon Heyman listed four teams inquiring about a potential trade for Scott:

This aligns with recent articles about the Phillies seeking one more high-leverage reliever for its postseason push. As of results through June 13, here are each team’s strikeout percentages and swinging strike rates by the bullpen:

  • Baltimore Orioles: 23.2 strikeout percentage; 10.8 percent swinging strike rate
  • Los Angeles Dodgers: 23.3 strikeout percentage; 10.9 percent swinging strike rate
  • New York Yankees: 21.9 strikeout percentage; 11.7 percent swinging strike rate
  • Philadelphia Phillies: 26.2 strikeout percentage; 12.1 percent swinging strike rate

Scott’s arsenal and availability make him an alluring target for contenders. He may need a package for a larger return in prospect capital, but the Yankees especially could benefit from a power southpaw with swing-and-miss stuff. Philadelphia already has José Alvarado, Matt Strahm, and Gregory Soto, so it may prefer a right-handed reliever, but time will tell.

As for a potential replacement in Miami, fantasy players must monitor usage patterns and performances over the next two weeks. It may be a pivotal period for the future bullpen hierarchy in Miami. Relievers worth tracking:

  • Calvin Faucher
  • Andrew Nardi
  • A.J. Puk
  • Anthony Bender

Over the last two weeks, it’s been Scott with Nardi and Faucher second and third in Win Probability Added (WPA):

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

Statistical Credits:

Fangraphs.com

Baseball-Reference.com

Statcast

Closer Monkey SOLDS Rankings: Week 12

Things have settled across the high-leverage landscape, with another week in the rearview mirror. Although rankings change rapidly, our tiered ranks combine current season results while considering the rest of the season and should not be considered gospel. Here is the latest entering gameplay on June 10.

Tier One

  • Emmanuel Clase (CLE)
  • Robert Suarez (SDP)
  • Ryan Helsley (STL)
  • Kyle Finnegan (WSH)
  • Clay Holmes (NYY)

Tier Two

  • Mason Miller (OAK)
  • Andrés Muñoz (SEA)
  • David Bednar (PIT)
  • Raisel Iglesias (ATL)
  • Josh Hader (HOU)
  • Jhoan Durán (MIN)
  • Craig Kimbrel (BAL)
  • Evan Phillips (LAD)
  • Trevor Megill (MIL)
  • José Alvarado (PHI)
  • Paul Sewald (ARI)
  • Yimi García (TOR)
  • Héctor Neris (CHC)

Tier Three

  • JoJo Romero (STL)
  • Hunter Harvey (WSH)
  • Jeff Hoffman (PHI)
  • Jeremiah Estrada (SDP)
  • Pete Fairbanks (TBR)
  • Alexis Díaz (CIN)
  • Camilo Doval (SFG)
  • Tanner Scott (MIA)
  • Carlos Estévez (LAA)
  • Bryan Abreu (HOU)
  • Kirby Yates (TEX)
  • Kenley Jansen (BOS)
  • Edwin Díaz (NYM)
  • Fernando Cruz (CIN)

Tier Four

  • Griffin Jax (MIN)
  • Daniel Hudson (LAD)
  • Blake Treinen (LAD)
  • Ryne Stanek (SEA)
  • Andrew Kittredge (STL)
  • Jason Adam (TBR)
  • Yennier Cano (BAL)
  • Jason Foley (DET)
  • James McArthur (KCR)
  • Bryan Hudson (MIL)
  • Ryan Walker (SFG)
  • Chad Green (TOR)
  • Colin Holderman (PIT)
  • Matt Strahm (PHI)
  • Luke Weaver (NYY)
  • Mark Leiter Jr. (CHC)
  • Joe Jiménez (ATL)
  • Hunter Gaddis (CLE)
  • Cade Smith (CLE)
  • Scott Barlow (CLE)
  • Tyler Rogers (SFG)

Tier Five

  • Jalen Beeks (COL)
  • Tyler Kinley (COL)
  • Aroldis Chapman (PIT)
  • Ryan Thompson (ARI)
  • Tyler Holton (DET)
  • Reed Garrett (NYM)
  • John Schreiber (KCR)
  • Orion Kerkering (PHI)
  • Elvis Peguero (MIL)
  • Michael Kopech (CHW)
  • Luis García (LAA)
  • Matt Moore (LAA)
  • Enoli Paredes (MIL)
  • Adam Ottavino (NYM)
  • Jake Diekman (NYM)
  • Nick Anderson (KCR)
  • Andrew Nardi (MIA)
  • Anthony Bender (MIA)
  • Jordan Leasure (CHW)
  • Justin Slaten (BOS)
  • John Brebbia (CHW)
  • Pierce Johnson (ATL)
  • Caleb Thielbar (MIN)
  • Cionel Pérez (BAL)

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

Closer Monkey Tiered Closer Rankings; Week 12

Things have settled across the high-leverage landscape, with another week in the rearview mirror. Although rankings change rapidly, our tiered ranks combine current season results while considering the rest of the season and should not be considered gospel.

Tier One

  • Emmanuel Clase (CLE)
  • Robert Suarez (SDP)
  • Ryan Helsley (STL)
  • Kyle Finnegan (WSH)
  • Clay Holmes (NYY)

This group represents the only five relievers with 17 or more saves entering games this week.

Tier Two

  • Mason MIller (OAK)
  • Andrés Muñoz (SEA)
  • David Bednar (PIT)
  • Raisel Iglesias (ATL)
  • Josh Hader (HOU)
  • Jhoan Durán (MIN)
  • Craig Kimbrel (BAL)
  • Evan Phillips (LAD)
  • Trevor Megill (MIL)
  • Paul Sewald (ARI)
  • Yimi García (TOR)
  • Héctor Neris (CHC)
  • Pete Fairbanks (TBR)

While this tier contains relievers in stable save shares, it usually undergoes the most movement based on performance.

Tier Three

  • Alexis Díaz (CIN)
  • Tanner Scott (MIA)
  • Carlos Estévez (LAA)
  • José Alvarado (PHI)
  • Camilo Doval (SFG)
  • Kirby Yates (TEX)
  • Kenley Jansen (BOS)
  • Edwin Díaz (NYM)
  • Jeff Hoffman (PHI)

There are very good relievers in this tier, but volume or recent outcomes sometimes affect rankings for closers. It may be recency bias, but closers in this tier can move up with a strong scoring period.

Tier Four

  • Jalen Beeks (COL)
  • Tyler Kinley (COL)
  • James McArthur (KCR)
  • Jason Foley (DET)
  • Ryne Stanek (SEA)
  • Chad Green (TOR)
  • Michael Kopech (CHW)

Not only must Beeks and Kinley deal with half of their home games in Coors Field, but they are splitting saves based on lineup pockets in the late innings. Can McArthur turn things around or will the Royals make a move for an established reliever with “closer” experience soon?

Tier Five

  • Griffin Jax (MIN)
  • Fernando Cruz (CIN)
  • Jeremiah Estrada (SDP)
  • Bryan Abreu (HOU)
  • JoJo Romero (STL)
  • Bryan Hudson (MIL)
  • Hunter Harvey (WSH)
  • Luke Weaver (NYY)
  • Matt Strahm (PHI)
  • Daniel Hudson (LAD)
  • Blake Treinen (LAD)
  • Jason Adam (TBR)

From a fantasy perspective, there are valuable relievers in this tier, especially for those who can stream them in daily lineups for ancillary save chances or vulture wins while protecting ratios.

Tier Six

  • Mark Leiter Jr. (CHC)
  • Reed Garrett (NYM)
  • David Robertson (TEX)
  • Yennier Cano (BAL)
  • Colin Holderman (PIT)
  • Aroldis Chapman (PIT)

Stash List

  • Nick Anderson (KCR)
  • Justin Martinez (ARI)
  • Justin Slaten (BOS)
  • Jordan Leasure (CHW)
  • Orion Kerkering (PHI)

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

Month in Review for Relievers: Results of Interest and Trends through the End of May

With two months of the season finished, one must remember it’s just past one-third of the season. Do not overreact. But, this process will focus on underlying metrics, hard statistical data, and comparing results from April to May.

Team Saves

  • May, 2024: 199 saves
  • May, 2023: 208 saves

Blown Saves

  • May, 2024: 115 blown saves
  • May, 2023: 131 blown saves

Save Opportunities

  • May, 2024: 314 save chances
  • May, 2023: 339 save chances

Year-to-Date (through May)

  • 2024: 439 saves, 257 blown saves, 696 save opportunities
  • 2023: 418 saves, 249 blown saves, 667 save opportunities

Leverage Trends by Relievers

Link: https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/qAal7/1/

One notices that saves remain more concentrated this year, especially for closers with more than 14 saves. Last year, only Emmanuel Clase reached this mark by the end of May, but this year, he’s joined by:

  • Ryan Helsley (STL) – 18 saves
  • Emmanuel Clase (CLE) – 17 saves
  • Robert Suarez (SDP) – 17 saves
  • Clay Holmes (NYY) – 16 saves
  • Kyle Finnegan (WSH) – 15 saves

Individual Results and Trends

During May, six relievers recorded at least six saves without suffering a blown one:

  • Jhoan Durán (MIN) – 8 saves
  • Ryan Helsley (STL) – 8 saves
  • Andrés Muñoz (SEA) – 7 saves
  • Robert Suarez (SDP) – 7 saves
  • David Bednar (PIT) – 6 saves
  • Craig Kimbrel (BAL) – 6 saves

Unlike in April, when only one qualified reliever (Mason Miller) recorded a K-BB percentage greater than 20, a swinging strike rate over 15 percent, a strike percentage over 65 percent, and a contact rate allowed below 65 percent, there were eight in May:

Link: https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/9tkhF/1/

These relievers qualified in three of the four categories during May:

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

Shifting gears, here were the SOLDS (saves plus holds) leaders in May

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

Here are the SOLDS leaders for the season through the end of May

Link: https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/yoU4j/1/

For those in leagues with holds as a separate category, the leaders in May:

Link: https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/l4Voe/1/

Here are the Holds leaders for the season through the end of May:

Link: https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/7reY9/1/

Two key indicators for success by relievers are K-BB percentage and swinging strike rate. Leaders from each category in May are as follows:

Link: https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/7QfJy/1/

Strikeouts and WHIP (walks plus hits per inning pitched) should also be monitored closely by fantasy managers. Here are the leaders in these categories for May.

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

It’s been two great months providing information at Closer Monkey. More volatility awaits, along with the trade deadline in less than 60 days. Stay safe and be well.

Statistical Credits:

Fangraphs.com

Baseball-Reference.com

Statcast

Monkey Bytes, May 17: Another blown save for Edwin, A Rays blunder costs Adam a save, and The Renegade notched his ninth

Thursday’s slate was small in size featuring only six games, but not in its provision of high-leverage event content. Philadelphia and the Mets played 11 innings, Tampa Bay tried making a mound visit in the ninth with none left, forcing the removal of its reliever during a save chance, and David Bednar recorded a second straight clean appearance while closing out a one-run win against the Cubs. These games and the remaining high-leverage events of interest from last night will be covered below in our condensed and full recaps.

Closer CliffsNotes

(RP | BOS): Suffering his first loss, Kenley Jansen allowed two hits, two earned runs, and a walk while striking out two against the Rays. 

(RP | CHC): Taking over in the top of the sixth, Hayden Wesneski tossed 1.1 scoreless frames and recorded three strikeouts. He threw 21 pitches (66.7 Strike%) and induced four whiffs (19 SwStr%). He or Ben Brown may earn a larger leverage share over the next two weeks, track their results closely. 

Updated Hierarchy: Héctor Neris | Mark Leiter Jr. | Ben Brown

(RP | CIN): Facing the Dodgers, Cincinnati ran a bullpen game which yielded a win for Nick Martinez. He threw five shutout innings and allowed one hit while striking out four after taking over in the third inning.

(RP | HOU): Going old school, Shawn Dubin registered his first major-league save during a three-inning outing against Oakland, preserving a lopsided win. He allowed two hits and an earned run while striking out two on 39 pitches (66.7 Strike%) with six whiffs (15.4 SwStr%).

Hierarchy remains: Josh Hader | Ryan Pressly | Bryan Abreu

(RP | NYM): Hanging on for his first save, Jake Diekman navigated around a hit-batter and a walk, scoring the “place” runner, but preserved the one-run win in the bottom of the 11th. 

(RP | PHI): Entering in the top of the 11th, José Alvarado suffered his second loss, giving up two hits, two runs (one earned), and striking out two against the Mets. 

(RP | PIT): Nailing down his ninth save, David Bednar fired a clean bottom of the ninth, striking out one while securing a one-run win over the Cubs in Chicago. 

(RP | TBR): Pressed into action because of a rules violation, Erasmo Ramírez recorded his first save after retiring his only batter faced, preserving a two-run win in Boston. 

Game Recaps – May 16

Boston Red Sox Veteran closer Kenley Jansen took over a tied game in the top of the ninth and suffered his first loss of the season. He issued a one-out walk and allowed consecutive singles, scoring the go-ahead run, then a sacrifice fly, resulting in a two-run deficit. Jansen did record two strikeouts, throwing 18 pitches (13 strikes – 72.2 Strike%) and inducing three whiffs (16.7 SwStr%). He’s allowed multiple runs in two of his last five contests. Chris Martin worked a scoreless eighth, yielding a hit. Justin Slaten fired a clean seventh, striking out the side on 16 pitches (13 strikes – 81.3 Strike%) while generating six whiffs (37.5 SwStr%).

Hierarchy remains: Kenley Jansen | Chris Martin | Justin Slaten

Cincinnati Reds Appearing as the “bulk follower” in a bullpen game, Nick Martinez took over in the third inning producing five shutout frames while giving up one hit and striking out four for his first win. He threw 68 pitches (45 strikes – 66.2 Strike%) and generated 11 whiffs (16.7 SwStr%). Lucas Sims fired a clean eighth while striking out two on 15 pitches (80 Strike%) with two whiffs (13.3 SwStr%).

Hierarchy remains: Alexis Díaz | Lucas Sims| Fernando Cruz

New York Mets – Entering with a two-run lead in the bottom of the 11th, Jake Diekman escaped with his first save. He retired his first batter-faced, followed by Brandon Marsh reaching on an error and a walk. After inducing a run-scoring fielder’s choice ground out, he produced a game-ending strikeout of Kyle Schwarber. Jorge López collected his first win, issuing an intentional walk (Bryce Harper) during a scoreless tenth. Edwin Díaz suffered his third blown save of the season, and third in four outings. He issued Marsh a lead-off walk after 10 pitches and recorded a strikeout but threw a wild pitch, advancing the runner who scored on a game-tying RBI single by Bryson Stott. Díaz struck out Schwarber and produced a lineout by J.T. Realmuto, ending the inning. Adam Ottavino notched his seventh hold, allowing a hit in a scoreless eighth. Reed Garrett was tagged with his second blown save, yielding two hits, an earned run, and a walk while striking out two over 1.2 innings.

Many will want Díaz placed on the hot seat, especially since he’s already matched his blown save total from 2022 this season. However, his underlying data does not imply a reduction in skills, he must refine his command and improve his strikeout rates moving forward.

Hierarchy remains: Edwin Díaz | Adam Ottavino | Reed Garrett

Philadelphia Phillies – Suffering his second loss, José Alvarado gave up two hits, including a go-ahead RBI single by J.D. Martinez leading off the 11th, a double, and a run on a wild pitch. He also recorded two strikeouts in his outing, throwing 15 pitches (66.7 Strike%) while producing three whiffs (20 SwStr%). José Ruiz logged two clean frames, striking out three. Jeff Hoffman was tagged with his third blown save, allowing a hit, two unearned runs, and a walk while striking out two in the eighth, courtesy of a throwing error by Bryson Stott. Gregory Soto retired the side in the seventh. Orion Kerkering worked a scoreless sixth, yielding a hit and striking out three. Matt Strahm fired 1.2 clean innings, striking out two.

One should note, that Kerkering has been scoreless over his last three allowing one hit while recording five strikeouts (50 K%).

Hierarchy remains: *José Alvarado | *Jeff Hoffman | Orion Kerkering

*= closer-by-committee

Pittsburgh Pirates – Raise the Jolly Roger following a second straight clean appearance by David Bednar, locking down his ninth save. He threw eight pitches (7 strikes – 87.5 Strike%) and produced one while recording one strikeout. He’s converted all four save chances in May and been scoreless in five of his last six games with five strikeouts against one walk. Colin Holderman held on for his fourth hold, giving up an unearned run, a hit-by-pitch, and a walk while striking out one in a scoreless eighth. Aroldis Chapman fired a clean seventh, striking out two, and securing his ninth hold.

Hierarchy remains: David Bednar | Aroldis Chapman | Colin Holderman

Tampa Bay Rays – With two outs, and two runners on, the Rays pitching coach tried making a mound visit without one remaining, causing the removal of Jason Adam from the save chance. Erasmo Ramírez stranded both inherited runners, inducing a game-ending groundout by Romy Gonzalez for his first save this season, and first since 2020. Adam gets credit for his ninth hold, giving up a hit and a walk while striking out one on 23 pitches (15 strikes – 65.2 Strike%) while producing four whiffs (17.4 SwStr%). Manuel Rodríguez collected his first win, striking out one during a clean bottom of the eighth, ahead of his team’s rally. Garrett Cleavinger turned in a scoreless seventh, walking one and striking out one.

Hierarchy remains: *Pete Fairbanks | *Jason Adam | Garrett Cleavinger

*= closer-by-committee

Closer Monkey’s filthy outing of the day goes to Justin Slaten, recording all three outs via strikeout during his outing against the Rays, courtesy of the Pitching Ninja.

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

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Under the Hood: What’s going on with David Bednar and Héctor Neris

Life, like underlying data, can be tricky. Although time did not allow itself last week, it’s time for another Under the Hood session featuring two relievers in the National League Central. Acknowledging ERA can be a fluky statistic, lets post some surface numbers for the two relievers:

  • Reliever A: 17 games, 19:5 K:BB, 1.53 WHIP
  • Reliever B: 16 games, 13:14 K:BB, 1.80 WHIP

Which one owns the lower ERA? As one can assume, it’s Reliever B, Héctor Neris. Despite his inflated WHIP, he’s posted a 3.00 ERA through 15 innings this season. Reliever A, David Bednar has a 9.00 ERA even though he allows less contact, throws more strikes, and induces more whiffs. Using season-to-date results, each reliever’s outcomes, and outlook will be explored in today’s post.

David Bednar, Pittsburgh Pirates

It’s tough not rooting for the “Renegade“. He’s a hometown talent playing in front of friends and family. However, he missed most of the spring with a latissimus dorsi issue and had a rough start to his season. Fantasy managers assumed with more repetitions that Bednar would find past form, which can still happen.

Seeing his current ERA, and his 3.03 SIERA, a metric on Fangraphs that predicts in-season ERA better than other ones such as FIP, one envisions him as a potential buy low from a fantasy perspective. But he must improve his results, especially in contact allowed and with his four-seam fastball placement.

Beginning with his contact trends this season, he’s produced a career-worst 30.4 percent line drive rate, fueling a disparity in his quality of contact:

  • 2.2 pop-up percentage plus 4.3 percent weak contact = 6.5 percent poor contact-induced
  • 8.7 solid contact percentage plus a 13 percent barrel rate = 21.7 good contact allowed

As a comparison, here’s his heatmap from Statcast with his pitches this year:

However, on hits this season, one notices most are on fastballs at the middle or bottom third of the strike zone:

Location may play a part in his early struggles, but when viewing his splits-by-pitch this year versus past results, the fastball results jump off the chart:

Link: https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/J2Lfr/2/

One would think he would throw more of his secondary pitches, but he’s increased his four-seam use early on this year:

Hope lies in improved results with the curve, which has suffered a steep drop in swinging strike percentage in 2024. Delving into his leverage trends, there are no major differences, which may mean better outcomes lie in the offing:

Link: https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/rwSLw/3/

It’s tough giving up on a closer like Bednar, especially when he’s produced a 19.4 K-BB percentage with a 65.4 strike percentage and a 72.9 percent contact rate allowed. Monitor his results over the next two weeks closely, especially the curve, and hope this will be a small sample fantasy players forget about as the year progresses.

Héctor Neris, Chicago Cubs

It’s been a running joke in the game recaps, but he’s been the “Teflon” man during high-leverage events. He’s logged 16 appearances this year with one clean outing. He’s issued at least a walk during 10 games, and multiple walks in three.

He’s staved off trouble by increasing his ground ball percentage, currently at a career-best 54.8 percent. Despite the high volume of traffic on the bases in his outings, he’s only induced one groundball double play out of 22 opportunities. Like Bednar, he’s not performed great in terms of quality of contact, but it does not have as large of a disparity:

  • 2.4 pop-up percentage plus a 9.5 percent weak contact rate = 11.9 percent poor contact-induced
  • 7.1 solid percentage plus an 11.9 percent barrel rate = 18.9 percent good contact allowed

Leaning into his split-finger fastball has helped him avoid implosions:

But, when diving into his splits by pitch this year compared with past results, there are some eye-opening numbers:

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

Taking this step further, his leverage trends in this updated chart:

Link: https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/ZmOLj/3/

One cannot refute Neris being a valuable component of Chicago’s leverage ladder, but it’s tough staving off this much pending migration, especially with a negative K-BB percentage. He’s relied on and produced results with the split-finger fastball, but he will be forced to adjust if hitters lay off this pitch moving forward. It will be intriguing to see how he performs through the end of May, and into June. Note his 5.75 SIERA entering his next appearance.

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

Statistical Credits:

Baseball-Reference.com

Fangrapghs.com

Month in Review for Relievers: Results of Interest and Trends through the End of April

Remembering the sample size this season remains small, with only a month-plus of results in the rearview mirror, it helps to review how relievers performed, which will be the process for today’s post. Using underlying metrics and hard statistical data, we try to remain ahead of the curve in the ever-changing world of high-leverage events.

Team Saves

  • 2024: 248 saves recorded between March and April
  • 2023: 210 saves recorded between March and April

Blown Saves

  • 2024: 132 blown saves between March and April
  • 2023: 118 blown saves between March and April

Save Opportunities

  • 2024: 380 save chances between March and April
  • 2023: 328 save chances between March and April

As one can observe, there’s been more saves recorded, and save opportunities provided, over the first month-plus of this season compared with last year’s results. This coincides with offense on the decline, illustrated by runs scored:

  • 2024: 3,408 runs scored between March and April
  • 2023: 3, 744 runs scored between March and April

Before delving into individual performances, there’s a small difference between the numbers of pitchers recording at least one save with 72 through the end of April this year and 69 with one through this same timeframe last season. Despite the rise in save chances, the distribution has remained mostly stable.

Individual Results and Trends

At the end of April, there were four relievers with at least eight saves without suffering a blown one:

  • Robert Suarez (SDP) – 10 saves
  • Jason Foley (DET) – 9 saves
  • Mason Miller (OAK) – 8 saves
  • Evan Phillips (LAD) – 8 saves

Not only has Miller been terrific as his team’s closer, he’s also the only qualified reliever at the end of April with a K-BB percentage greater than 20, a swinging strike rate above 15 percent, a strike percentage over 65 percent, and a contact rate allowed below 65 percent. He finished with a 47.1 K-BB percentage, a 22.4 swinging strike percentage, a 68.7 strike percentage, and a 58.4 percent contact rate allowed, just dominant.

These relievers qualified for three of the four categories described above:

Link: https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/tRu81/7/

Shifting gears, here were the SOLDS (saves plus holds) at the conclusion of April:

Link: https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/wXS38/8/

These relievers have the most SOLDS without suffering a blown save, knock on wood:

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

For those who play in leagues with holds as a separate category, here are the leaders from March and April in them:

Link: https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/VI04i/1/

Two key indicators for sustained success by relievers are K-BB percentage and swinging strike rate. Leaders from each category are as follows:

Link: https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/Lpx9L/1/

Strikeouts and WHIP (walks plus hits per inning pitched) should also be monitored closely by fantasy managers. Here are the leaders in these categories during the first month-plus this season:

Link: https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/Lpx9L/1/

It’s been a great first-month providing information for the Closer Monkey community. More volatility lies on the horizon, so stay safe and be well until these situations arise.

Statistical Credits:

Fangraphs.com

Baseball-Reference.com

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.

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)

Thanks for being a part of the Closer Monkey community.

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

Thanks for stopping by Closer Monkey.

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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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Until next time, stay safe and be well, especially on this celebration of St. Patrick’s Day.

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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: June 15

Friday night full slates produce a bounty of high-leverage events. Three relievers recorded wins and there were nine saves yesterday, including the first by Seranthony Domínguez in the bottom of the 11th against the Orioles.

Three Takeaways

  • An adjusted hierarchy for Seattle: Lined up against the top of Texas’ batting order, Andrés Muñoz appeared on consecutive days for the first time since his back soreness surfaced in the eighth inning. He pitched during the highest-leveraged moment, not reserved for the save chance. This has transitioned the bullpen hierarchy into a shared save situation with Muńoz representing the HLR (highest-leveraged reliever) and the preferred save share. However, those with Ryne Stanek can leave him in their lineups since he’s firmly affixed in the late-innings with three saves since June 6.
  • Dodgers workload management: Not only will Los Angeles incorporate a six-man rotation, but it’s also preparing its bullpen for the transition by managing workloads. Over the last seven days, only three relievers have appeared on consecutive days, and last night, Evan Phillips was not used in the ninth inning with a one-run lead with Dave Roberts opting for Alex Vesia instead:
  • Edwin Díaz surging: Pitching on consecutive days did not affect the Mets’ closer. He recorded his sixth save of the season and first since May 6 with a scoreless ninth, allowing a hit and striking out two. Fantasy managers should note the clear delineation of his velocity since his return from the injured list:

Our condensed and full-game recaps cover Friday’s high-leverage events of interest.

Closer CliffsNotes

American League

(RP | BAL): Following a rain delay, Jacob Webb took over in the top of the 11th. He issued an intentional walk to Bryce Harper and gave up a two-RBI double by Alec Bohm, resulting in his fourth loss. 

(RP | CLE): Recording his American League-leading 21st save, Emmanuel Clase tossed a clean ninth and recorded a strikeout, preserving a two-run win over Toronto. 

(RP | KCR): During a tied game in the bottom of the eighth, Will Smith was summoned to face the Dodgers’ 9-1-2 lineup pocket. He allowed a one-out single by Mookie Betts, committed a throwing error on a pickoff attempt, induced a Shohei Ohtani pop-out, and then allowed a go-ahead RBI single by Freddie Freeman. Smith suffered his third loss, allowing the unearned run on two hits and striking out one during his two-thirds of an inning.

Hierarchy remains: James McArthur | John Schreiber | Nick Anderson

(RP | LAA): Shutting the door on his 11th save, Carlos Estévez retired the side in the bottom of the ninth and struck out one preserving a win in San Francisco. 

(RP | MIN): Recording his first multiple-inning outing this year, Jhoan Durán collected his second win on a walk-off rally in the bottom of the tenth. He tossed two scoreless frames, issuing a walk and striking out one. 

(RP | OAK): Scott Alexander suffered his second loss allowing a lead-off RBI single in the bottom of the tenth, scoring the “place” runner. 

(RP | SEA): Protecting a one-run lead, Ryne Stanek recorded his sixth save, navigating around a hit for a scoreless ninth against Texas. 

National League

(RP | ATL): Taking over with two runners on and two outs, Raisel Iglesias recorded his 18th save, inducing a game-ending groundout during his team’s four-run win against Tampa Bay. 

(RP | CHC)Entering a tied game in the top of the eighth, Hayden Wesneski suffered his fourth loss allowing a go-ahead solo home run (Pedro Pagés). 

Hierarchy remains: Héctor Neris | Mark Leiter Jr. | Hayden Wesneski

(RP | CIN): Holding on for his 15th save during an eventful bottom of the ninth in Milwaukee, Alexis Díaz gave up three hits, two runs (one earned), and a walk while preserving a one-run victory. 

(RP | LAD)Filling in capably for his closer, Alex Vesia notched his third save tossing a scoreless top of the ninth, allowing a hit while preserving a one-run win over the Royals.

(RP | NYM): Rewarding his manager’s faith, Edwin Díaz secured his sixth save, working around a lead-off hit for a scoreless ninth while recording two strikeouts, preserving a one-run over the Padres. 

(RP | PHI): Handed a two-run lead in the bottom of the 11th, Seranthony Domínguez shut the door on his first save, retiring the side and striking out two in Baltimore. 

(RP | PIT): In a non-save appearance, David Bednar finished the win in Colorado despite allowing a solo home run by Charlie Blackmon. He’s given up a solo home run in two straight appearances. 

(RP | STL): Working around two, two-outs walks, Ryan Helsley secured his MLB-leading 23rd save, preserving a combined shutout and recording two strikeouts. 

Vulture Save Options for Saturday, June 15

  • Reed Garrett (NYM): Díaz has pitched on consecutive days.
  • Andrew Kittredge (STL): Helsley has appeared three times in the last four days and thrown 57 pitches. He should be unavailable this afternoon.
  • Dany Jiménez (OAK): He’s today’s high-risk option. He may get the vulture save with Miller logging 1.2 innings last night, but Jiménez remains a volatile reliever for fantasy purposes.

Vulture Save Options for Sunday, June 16

  • Lucas Sims (CIN): He faltered in his previous chance, but if Díaz pitches today, he will get Sunday off.
  • Ryan Pressly (HOU): If Hader pitches today, it will be Pressly on Sunday.
  • Matt Moore (LAA): If Estévez pitches today, he will have worked in two straight.
  • Jeff Hoffman (PHI): If Alvarado pitches today, it would put Hoffman atop the hierarchy on Sunday.

American League – Full Recaps

Baltimore Orioles – Tasked with the top of the 11th, Jacob Webb suffered his fourth loss, allowing two runs (one earned) on a two-RBI double by Alec Bohm following an intentional walk to Bryce Harper, and struck out one. Cionel Pérez let one of three inherited runners score, giving up a hit during his one-third of the tenth. Yennier Cano gave up a hit, an unearned run, and a walk while striking out one on two-thirds of the tenth. Craig Kimbrel kept the game tied with a scoreless ninth, yielding a hit (Bohm) and striking out one. Keegan Akin fired three clean frames and recorded four strikeouts.

Hierarchy remains: Craig Kimbrel | Yennier Cano | Cionel Pérez

Cleveland GuardiansNailing down his American League-leading 21st save, Emmanuel Clase fired a clean bottom of the ninth and recorded a strikeout. He threw nine pitches (77.8 Strike%) and induced one whiff. He’s converted eight straight saves since May 20 with 11 strikeouts against one walk through 10 innings. Hunter Gaddis tossed a scoreless eighth, striking out one for his 14th hold. Sam Hentges notched his sixth hold, striking out his only batter faced in the seventh and stranded a runner. Scott Barlow issued a walk and struck out one over two-thirds scoreless in the seventh, securing his 16th hold. Cade Smith secured his sixth hold, working a clean sixth and striking out one.

Hierarchy remains: Emmanuel Clase | Hunter Gaddis | Scott Barlow

Los Angeles Angels – Locking down his 11th save, Carlos Estévez fired a clean bottom of the ninth and recorded a strikeout while preserving a two-run win in San Francisco. He faced the 5-6-7 lineup pocket, throwing 17 pitches (12 strikes – 70.6 Strike%) and induced two whiffs. He owns a modest five-game scoreless streak and has converted all four save chances with three strikeouts versus zero walks. Roansy Contreras let both inherited runners score, allowing two hits and an earned run on his ledger, serving up a three-run home run by Heliot Ramos during his two-thirds of the eighth. Adam Cimber turned in a rough outing. He gave up three hits and four earned runs over one-third of the eighth. Ben Joyce logged 1.2 scoreless frames, issuing two walks and striking out one.

Hierarchy remains: Carlos Estévez | Luis García | Matt Moore

Minnesota Twins – Logging an extended outing, Jhoan Durán allowed a walk in a scoreless ninth, keeping the game tied. Then he returned and tossed a clean tenth, recording a strikeout. He collected his second win courtesy of a walk-off in the bottom of the inning. His final line was two scoreless innings, giving up a walk and striking out one. He threw 20 pitches (65 Strike%) and produced three whiffs (15 SwStr%). This marked his first multi-inning outing and third consecutive scoreless outing. Josh Staumont gave up a walk during a scoreless eighth. Griffin Jax allowed a hit and an earned run while striking out one in the seventh. Cole Sands tossed two clean frames, striking out three.

Hierarchy remains: Jhoan Durán | Griffin Jax | Caleb Thielbar

Oakland A’s -Suffering his second loss, Scott Alexander took over in the bottom of the tenth and allowed a walk-off RBI single by Max Kepler, his only batter faced. Mason Miller was tagged with his second blown save, letting one of two inherited runners score in the eighth. He entered with three runners on and one out, giving up an RBI walk and retired the next two batters. He threw 20 pitches (65 Strike%) and induced three whiffs (15 SwStr%) during his 1.2 scoreless innings, issuing a walk and striking out one. Lucas Erceg gave up an unearned run on a hit batter, a walk, and a player reaching on an error during his one-third of the eighth for his ninth hold. Dany Jiménez tossed a clean seventh for his fourth hold.

Adjusted Hierarchy: Mason Miller | Lucas Erceg | Dany Jiménez

Seattle Mariners – Taking over the ninth with a one-run lead, Ryne Stanek secured his sixth save despite allowing a one-out double by Wyatt Langford, inducing a pop-out and a game-ending groundout. He’s been scoreless in eight of his last nine outings, converting four of five save chances with two holds while posting a 9:4 K:BB over 8.2 innings. Andrés Muñoz appeared on consecutive days but was used as the HLR, facing the top of Texas’ lineup. He notched his sixth hold, issuing Corey Seager a walk and recording all three outs via strikeout. He threw 19 pitches (11 strikes – 57.9 Strike%) and generated six whiffs (31.6 SwStr%). I love the results, not the usage pattern. Mike Baumann tossed a clean seventh and struck out one for his fifth hold.

Updated Hierarchy: *Andrés Muñoz (HLR/PSS) | *Ryne Stanek | Tayler Saucedo

*= An HLR/PSS means he’s the preferred save option but will be used at the highest-leverage moment in games when necessary. 

National League – Full Recaps

Atlanta Braves – Forced into action in the top of the ninth with two runners on and two outs, Raisel Iglesias induced a game-ending groundout for his 18th save. He’s converted 10 consecutive save chances since May 7 with eight strikeouts and a 0.73 WHIP over 12.1 innings. Dylan Lee made the mess, allowing two hits, an earned run, and a walk while striking out one in two-thirds of the ninth. Jesse Chavez tossed a scoreless eighth, yielding a hit and striking out one. 

Hierarchy remains: Raisel Iglesias | Joe Jiménez | Pierce Johnson

Cincinnati Reds Hanging on for his 15th save, Alexis Díaz allowed three hits, two runs (one earned), and a walk in the bottom of the ninth, preserving a one-run win. His outing began with back-to-back singles and an error by Elly De La Cruz loading the bases. After inducing a lineout, Díaz issued an RBI walk, which scored a run, and then gave up an RBI single with a runner thrown out at home for the second out. With runners on second and third, he induced a pop-up on a bunt attempt, finishing the contest. Fernando Cruz gave up two hits and struck out one during a scoreless eighth for his 13th hold. Justin Wilson worked a scoreless seventh, giving up a walk and striking out two for his seventh hold.

Hierarchy remains: Alexis Díaz | Lucas Sims| Fernando Cruz

Los Angeles Dodgers – With the game tied at the top of the eighth, Daniel Hudson took the baton from Gavin Stone and fired a clean inning, recording a strikeout. He threw nine pitches (77.8 Strike%) and induced one whiff while facing the 9-1-2 lineup pocket of the Royals’, featuring Bobby Witt Jr. In the ninth, Alex Vesia sealed the one-run win, working around a two-out single by Nelson Velázquez for his third save in a workload management usage pattern. Since May 3, Vesia has logged 15 appearances, giving up one earned run with 24 strikeouts against three walks across 16.2 innings. After this outing, he has converted three of four save chances with a hold.

Hierarchy remains: Evan Phillips | Blake Treinen | Daniel Hudson

New York Mets – Securing his sixth save, Edwin Díaz navigated around a lead-off single by Jurickson Profar with a groundout and two strikeouts during a scoreless ninth, preserving a one-run win. He threw 21 pitches (66.7 Strike%) and produced four whiffs (19 SwStr%). He’s appeared on consecutive days, posting a win and a save off the injured list. Sean Reid-Foley notched his fourth hold with a clean eighth and struck out one. Jake Diekman was credited with his sixth hold, walking one during one-third of the seventh. Adam Ottavino logged 1.2 clean frames and recorded two strikeouts for his 12th hold.

Hierarchy remains: Edwin Díaz | Reed Garrett | Adam Ottavino

Philadelphia Phillies – Capping a two-run win in extra-innings after a prolonged rain delay, Seranthony Domínguez fired a clean bottom of the 11th, striking out two for his first save. He threw 11 pitches (63.6 Strike%) and induced two whiffs (18.2 SwStr%). Orion Kerkering was one out removed from his first career save, then uncorked a wild pitch, scoring the game-tying run. He suffered his second blown save and collected his second win after giving up an unearned run, a walk, and a hit batter with two strikeouts in the tenth. José Alvarado retired the side in the ninth, keeping the game tied. Matt Strahm was tagged with his second blown save and lost his 27-game scoreless streak, serving up a game-tying solo shot by Anthony Santander. Jeff Hoffman stranded two runners while issuing a walk, striking out one in one-third of the seventh.

Hierarchy remains: *José Alvarado | *Jeff Hoffman | Orion Kerkering

*= floating closer

Pittsburgh Pirates – Closing a win in Colorado in a non-save capacity, David Bednar allowed a solo home run (Charlie Blackmon) and recorded a strikeout in an eventual three-run win. He threw 14 pitches (85.7 Strike%) and produced three whiffs (21.4 SwStr%). He’s allowed a home run in his last two outings. Aroldis Chapman gave up two walks and recorded three strikeouts in a scoreless eighth. Colin Holderman tossed a scoreless seventh, issuing a walk for his 11th hold. Luis L. Ortiz collected his third win, giving up seven hits and an earned run while striking out three as the “bulk follower.”

Hierarchy remains: David Bednar | Colin Holderman | Aroldis Chapman

St. Louis Cardinals – After recording two quick outs in the top of the ninth, Ryan Helsley walked Seiya Suzuki and Iah Happ before producing a game-ending strikeout for his MLB-leading 23rd save. He threw 19 pitches (11 strikes – 57.9 Strike%) and recorded four whiffs (21.1 SwStr%). He’s been scoreless in five of six appearances this month, with 10 strikeouts against four walks over six innings. JoJo Romero retired his only batter, pinch-hitter Patrick Wisdom, stranding a runner in the eighth for his 20th hold. Ryan Fernandez secured his third hold, allowing a hit and recording two outs in the eighth.

Hierarchy remains: Ryan Helsley | JoJo Romero | Andrew Kittredge

Closer Monkey’s filthy Pitch of the Day Goes This Curve by Jhoan Durán – video courtesy of the Pitching Ninja.

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