Kenley Jansen suffers third straight blown save to start second half

July 23, 2021

Los Angeles Dodgers – Yikes. After another blown save Thursday, Kenley Jansen has now allowed seven earned runs since Wednesday (!) and eight overall this week after giving up just five all season. Thursday’s loss wasn’t all his fault, though. The Giants’ Jason Vosler was originally ruled out at second for the game’s final out but that was overturned on replay. Then, Darin Ruf appeared to go around on a checked swing on a 3-2 pitch with the bases loaded, but the third-base umpire ruled that Ruf held the swing and sent him to first, enraging manager Dave Roberts, who after the game said, “I don’t think all the blame should be on Kenley.” While he’s kind of right, we’re talking three straight blown saves for Jansen since the break. So, will there be a new closer in LA? Not quite yet, as Roberts steadfastly supported Jansen after the game. Still, we’ll keep a close eye on the situation. Stay tuned. 

Hierarchy remains: Jansen | Treinen | Kelly.

Tampa Bay Rays — Diego Castillo picked up his first save since before the All-Star break, tossing a clean ninth and striking out two in Thursday’s win. Pete Fairbanks picked up the first two second-half saves and could be in line for an opportunity Friday if Castillo needs some rest.

Hierarchy remains: *Castillo | Fairbanks | Springs.
* = closer-by-committee

Chicago Cubs — If Craig Kimbrel is traded, the returning Rowan Wick is a name to watch. He’s rehabbing with High-A and looking sharp while doing so. He’s worth a stash, especially in deep leagues. 

Hierarchy remains: Kimbrel | Chafin | Tepera.

1. Jose Cisnero (DET) — Gregory Soto has thrown in three straight. 
2. Blake Treinen (LAD) — Kenley Jansen needs a break after allowing seven runs across Wednesday and Thursday.
3. Pete Fairbanks (TB) — Diego Castillo has pitched in three of four, and he’s a Ray.
4. Tyler Rogers (SF) — Jake McGee has also gone in three of four. 
5. Noe Ramirez (ARI) — Arizona was off Thursday, but Joakim Soria has gone in four of six.
6. Daniel Hudson (WAS) — The Nationals were also off Thursday, but Brad Hand has been busy (80 pitches the last five days). 

1. Adam Ottavino (BOS) – An outing Friday would be three in a row for Matt Barnes.
2. Emilio Pagan (SD) – Same as above for Mark Melancon. 
3. Emmanuel Clase (CLE) – Ditto for James Karinchak.
4. Giovanny Gallegos (STL) – If Alex Reyes goes Friday, that would be three of four and five of seven for him.
5. Chad Green (NYY) – If Aroldis Chapman pitches Friday, that would be four of six for him.
6. Andrew Chafin (CHC) – If he’s still a Cub and pitches Friday, that would be three of four for Craig Kimbrel.

Updated MLB Closer Depth Chart

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* = closer-by-committee

Gregory Soto finding success for the Tigers

July 22, 2021

Detroit Tigers — Gregory Soto seems to be running away with the closer job in Detroit, and his fourth straight save will see him bid farewell to the committee asterisk.

Updated hierarchy: Soto | Cisnero | Funkhouser.

Arizona Diamondbacks — The seventh-inning role for Arizona is a revolving door to Reno, with J.B. Bukauskas the latest to split for the Aces. Replacing him is a far more familiar name, as Tyler Clippard returned from the 60-day IL and pitched a clean sixth inning on Wednesday. Clippard could bolster the Diamondbacks bullpen over the next two months, or he could parlay a few successful outings into a trade to a desperate contender. Our guess is he’s hoping for the latter.

Updated hierarchy: Soria | Ramirez | Clippard.

New York Yankees — Zack Britton’s return now comprises three outings, eight baserunners, and four earned runs, with no clean innings in the bunch. With Aroldis Chapman’s finger continuing to give him trouble, the Yankees’ bullpen is unusually unreliable lately.

Hierarchy remains: Chapman | Green | Britton.

Tampa Bay Rays — J.P. Feyereisen has been struggling recently, and now he’s hit the IL with shoulder tightness, with an MRI pending. Handicapping the Rays’ bullpen hierarchy has driven many a monkey to madness, but we like what we’ve seen from Jeffrey Springs lately. 

Updated hierarchy: *Castillo | Fairbanks | Springs.
* = closer-by-committee

San Francisco Giants — The Vulture Save Watch correctly forecast that Tyler Rogers would get Wednesday’s save, his 11th of the season for the still-surprising Giants. 

Hierarchy remains: *McGee | Rogers | Leone.
* = closer-by-committee

Washington Nationals — Daniel Hudson has moved into an eighth-inning setup role for Washington, with Kyle Finnegan preceding him most frequently. 

Updated hierarchy: Hand | Hudson | Finnegan.

Baltimore Orioles — If you’re the type of masochist who enjoys owning Baltimore relievers, you’re probably really relishing the three singles and a walk Tanner Scott dished out to blow the save in a one-run ninth on Wednesday. Pick up Tyler Wells, whose slow-motion takeover of the ninth certainly wasn’t hurt by Scott’s performance, and see what fresh pain he can deliver!

Hierarchy remains: *Wells | Scott | Fry.
* = closer-by-committee

St. Louis Cardinals — As predicted by yesterday’s Vulture Save Watch, the Cardinals tried to squeeze a four-out save from Giovanny Gallegos, but he lost the lead with two outs on a hit batsman and double.

Hierarchy remains: Reyes | Gallegos | Cabrera.

1. Chad Green (NYY) — Aroldis Chapman has pitched in three of four.
2. Andrew Chafin (CHC) — Craig Kimbrel has gone in two straight, and could also leave the Cubs at any moment.

1. Noe Ramirez (ARI) — The Diamondbacks have Thursday off, but Joakim Soria might get an extra day after pitching in four of five.
2. Daniel Hudson (WAS) — Similar story for Brad Hand. Thursday off, but 80 pitches thrown over the last four days.
3. Blake Treinen (LAD) — Kenley Jansen threw 27 pitches as he blew a save chance on Wednesday, drawing clamorous boos from the spoiled entitled frustrated LA crowd.

Aroldis Chapman finally gets a save

July 21, 2021

New York Yankees — It had been a month since Aroldis Chapman had earned a save, but despite allowing a solo homer to Andrew McCutchen, the struggling reliever stuck out Bryce Harper, Rhys Hoskins and Didi Gregorius to convert his first save opportunity since that disastrous outing against the Mets on July 4. Not only did Chapman get the save, but his velocity was great, particularly in the final two at-bats of the night. In other news, Jonathan Loaisiga is back with the team and could return this weekend while Darren O’Day will have season-ending surgery.

Hierarchy remains: Chapman | Green | Britton.

Detroit Tigers — The Tigers have opened the second half of the season on a five-game win streak, with Gregory Soto earning a pair of saves in that stretch, including his ninth of the year on Tuesday. Soto has the team’s last three saves and if he locks down the next one he should lose the asterisk.

Hierarchy remains: *Soto | Cisnero | Funkhouser.
* = closer-by-committee

Cincinnati Reds – The Reds continued to deploy their relievers in the toughest spots on Tuesday, as Brad Brach entered the seventh with two runners on and pitched out of the jam. That set the stage for Heath Hembree to get the eighth with the Mets’ 4-5-6 hitters due up. Hembree gave up a run but kept the Reds in front to allow Amir Garrett to come on and work around a leadoff walk to pick up his seventh save of the season. Hembree had consistently been getting the ninth inning prior to Tuesday and should still be the favorite for save chances, but we’ll keep an eye on this to see if the asterisk needs to return.

Hierarchy remains: Hembree | Brach | Garrett.

Kansas City Royals — After Scott Barlow maintained a 5-2 lead against the Brewers’ 3-4-5-6 hitters in the eighth inning, Greg Holland shut the door in the ninth to pick up the Royals’ first save since July 4. Barlow remains the most likely Royals reliever to collect a save, but as we saw on Tuesday, he may pitch earlier depending on matchups.

Hierarchy remains: *Barlow | Holland | Staumont.
* = closer-by-committee

San Francisco Giants – With two lefties due up in the eighth, the Giants went to Jake McGee in that spot to protect a one-run lead, leaving the ninth for Tyler Rogers. The reliable righty was unusually awful, however, as he wasn’t close to the strike zone in a pair of walks before he allowed the game-winning home run. The good news for any Rogers owners is that Gabe Kapler won’t hesitate to get Rogers back on the mound.

Hierarchy remains: *McGee | Rogers | Leone.
* = closer-by-committee


1. Brad Brach/Sean Doolittle (CIN) – All three members of the Reds hierarchy have gone in two straight and three of four, but Brach has thrown significantly fewer pitches than Heath Hembree and Amir Garrett.
2. Tyler Rogers (SF) – Gabe Kapler said he wants to get Rogers back out on the mound, and that may be for a save chance tonight since Jake McGee has gone in two straight.
3. Giovanny Gallegos/Andrew Miller (STL) – Alex Reyes has gone in three of four, including a 30-pitch blown save (snapping his 24-save streak to start his career) last night. Giovanny Gallegos, Genesis Cabrera and Ryan Helsley have also gone in three of four, but Gallegos only tossed nine pitches last night. If you’re desperate you can take a shot on a guy like Andrew Miller.
4. Pete Fairbanks (TB) – Diego Castillo has gone in two straight.

1. Chad Green/Zack Britton (NYY) – If Aroldis Chapman pitches today that’s two straight and three of four, which would also be true of Green and Britton.
2. Tyler Rogers (SF) – As mentioned above, Jake McGee has pitched in two straight heading into Wednesday.

Tyler Wells is a reliever to watch in Baltimore

July 20, 2021

Baltimore Orioles – The Orioles took a 5-run lead into the 7th inning and went to Cole Sulser, then Paul Fry, and then sent out 6’8″, 255-pound Tyler Wells for the 9th; Wells proceeded to strike out two hitters in a perfect inning. Obviously this wasn’t a save situation, but Wells also got the 9th when the Orioles were up four on Friday, and he’s got great strikeout numbers: 55 of them in 43.2 innings. Look for Wells, who was shaky to start the year but has posted a 0.63 WHIP across June and July, to continue contending for 9th inning chances here going forward.

Updated hierarchy: *Wells | Scott | Fry.
* = closer-by-committee

New York Mets – The Mets eventually won the game in the 11th inning, but not after Edwin Diaz blew his third consecutive save by conceding a run in the 9th. Diaz’s main competition is Trevor May, who has posted 13 scoreless appearances in his last 14 outings, including the aforementioned 11th inning save last night. While the Mets certainly want to give Diaz every chance to serve as closer, we’ll keep an eye on this one to see if there’s any plans for a temporary change.

Hierarchy remains: Diaz | May | Lugo.

Pittsburgh Pirates – Kyle Crick’s recent struggles prompted the Pirates to DFA him on Monday night, which was a bit of a surprise given the way he has dominated in brief stretches during his young career. David Bednar becomes the odds-on favorite for saves should Richard Rodriguez get traded before the deadline.

Updated hierarchy: Rodriguez | Bednar | Stratton.


1. Noe Ramirez – Joakim Soria has pitched in three straight.

1. Brad Brach – If Heath Hembree goes today, it’s back to back and three of four.
2. Trevor May – If Edwin Diaz goes today, it’s back to back and three of four.

Diego Castillo MIA thus far; AJ Minter sent down

July 19, 2021

Cleveland Indians – While James Karinchak and Emmanuel Clase got the day off after pitching in two straight, Bryan Shaw apparently had enough gas to pitch his 3rd straight game; he got the 9th inning and picked up the save.

Hierarchy remains: Karinchak | Clase | Shaw.

New York Mets – After Edwin Diaz’s meltdown on Saturday, he got the day off Sunday, allowing Trevor May to pick up his second save of the season. May has likely inched ahead of Seth Lugo (who also got rocked Saturday) for handcuff duties at this point.

Updated hierarchy: Diaz | May | Lugo.

Tampa Bay Rays – Peter Fairbanks nabbed his fifth save of the year, which usually would have us saying “Rays gonna Rays” and moving on. But Diego Castillo didn’t pitch in the entire Atlanta series, and while there hasn’t been any word of an injury, it’s something we’ll continue to keep an eye on

Hierarchy remains: *Castillo | Fairbanks | Feyereisen.
* = closer-by-committee

Atlanta Braves – AJ Minter, so dominant at times in his young career, has hit a rough patch over the past two months, and after relinquishing another lead on Sunday, the Braves sent him to AAA to work on his mechanics. Look for Chris Martin and Luke Jackson to serve as the primary bridge relievers going forward.

Updated hierarchy: Smith | Martin | Jackson.

Chicago White Sox – Michael Kopech got the 8th inning ahead of Liam Hendriks and looks to be the handcuff for the White Sox at this point. Kopech, who started three games earlier this year, now has a 1.49 ERA and 52 Ks in 36.1 innings.

Updated hierarchy: Hendriks | Kopech | Burr.


1. Noe Ramirez – Joakim Soria has gone back to back.
2. Ryan Helsley – The entire Cardinals hierarchy has pitched back to back.
3. Michael Kopech – The White Sox have a doubleheader…
4. Alex Colome – …against the Twins.

1. Blake Treinen – If Kenley Jansen goes today, it’s back to back.
2. Austin Voth – Same for Brad Hand.