Justin Lawrence records second straight save for Rockies

June 4, 2023

Colorado Rockies
— Justin Lawrence picked up his second straight save and this was a little more conventional.  Lawrence came on to get the last out of the 8th inning with the Rockies up 3 and stuck around to pitch the 9th and close out the win.  Pierce Johnson has really struggled recently ( 7 earned runs over his last 4 appearances) and since Lawrence got the save chance over him yesterday, we will move Lawrence to the head of this committee.  We will see if Lawrence and his devastating sweeper can take over this job for good or if Johnson will stay in the mix.

Hierarchy remains: *Lawrence | Johnson | Bard.
* = closer-by-committee

New York Yankees – After Wandy Peralta gave up a single, triple, and walk without recording any outs to start the 7th inning, the Yankees brought on Michael King.  King gave up a single to the first batter he faced but then recorded three straight outs against the Dodgers’ very dangerous top of the lineup.  King stuck around and pitched a scorless 8th inning with a pair of strikeouts and that left Clay Holmes for the 9th.  Holmes responded with a scoreless 9th inning to pick up his 6th save of the season.   Holmes has started to settle in, as he has only allowed one earned run in his last 14 appearances, and we will see if he can work his way back to the top of this committee.

Updated hierarchy: *King | Holmes | Peralta.
* = closer-by-committee

Pittsburgh Pirates — The Pirates traded Robert Stephenson to the Rays.  Dauri Moreta, who picked up the win yesterday, and Yohan Ramirez should see more time in the later innings moving forward.

Updated hierarchy: Bednar | Holderman | Moreta. 

Toronto Blue Jays – Jordan Romano got the day off after pitching in two straight, and that left Erik Swanson for the save chance yesterday.  Swanson pitched a scoreless inning for his first save of the season and should continue to be the back up for Romano when he is unavailable. 

Hierarchy remains: Romano | Swanson | Garcia.

Miami Marlins – George Soriano pitched the last three innings of the Marlins blowout win yesterday to record his first save.   Soriano gave up a run and six baserunners in those three innings and will not be a factor in the Marlins’ normal late inning plans.

Hierarchy remains: Floro | Scott | Chargois.

Tampa Bay Rays — Jason Adam pitched a scoreless 9th inning for his 8th save of the season.  Adam is the reliever most likely to record saves while Pete Fairbanks is out but it’s still the Rays so don’t be surprised when somebody else gets a save.

Hierarchy remains: *Adam | Poche | Kelly.

1. Chris Martin (BOS) – Kenley Jansen pitched both games of the doubleheader yesterday, throwing a total of 43 pitches.
2. Joe Kelly (CHW) – Kendall Graveman and Reynaldo Lopez have both pitched in two straight.
3. Peter Strzelecki (MIL) – Devin Williams has pitched in two straight and three of four.
4. Dauri Moreta (PIT) – David Bednar and Colin Holderman have both pitched in two straight.
5. Pierce Johnson (COL) – Justin Lawrence has pitched in three straight.

1. Chris Martin/John Winckowski (BOS) – Kenley Jansen could get two days off after yesterday’s heavy workload.
2. Bryan Abreu (HOU) – If Ryan Pressly pitches on Sunday, it will be two straight and three of four.

Updated MLB Closer Depth Chart

Closer1st in line2nd in lineUpdatedCloser1st in line2nd in lineUpdated
CHW*GravemanLopezKelly5/30/23CHC*Leiter Jr.AlzolayFulmer5/31/23

* = closer-by-committee

Lawrence records save in 5 run game, Anderson rising in Texas.

June 3, 2023

Texas Rangers – With a fully rested bullpen the Rangers gave the ball to rookie Grant Anderson in the 8th inning of a 2 run game. He successfully bridged the gap to Will Smith for his first career hold. Anderson turned some heads with a 7 strikeout debut, and this hold suggests he may already be in the mix for the late innings. We will slot him to second in line for now, but he may ascend quickly if Texas keeps giving him chances. 

Updated hierarchy: Smith | Sborz | Anderson.

Colorado Rockies — The Vulture Save Watch predicted that Justin Lawrence would get the save last night, and that’s what happened, although it wasn’t a very conventional. Colorado entered the 9th with a 5 run lead, but after Daniel Bard loaded the bases with 2 outs they went to Lawrence. As all bullpen junkies know rule 9.19 says that a save is recorded when a pitcher (1) finishes the game, (2) is not the winning pitcher and (3) meets one of the “save criteria” the second of which is entering the game, regardless of score, with the tying run either on base, at bat or on deck. Congratulations to the vulture save watch and to Justin Lawrence for his 5 run lead, 1 batter save. 

Hierarchy remains: *Johnson | Lawrence | Bard.
* = closer-by-committee

Milwaukee Brewers — An 11 inning game saw both teams empty their bullpens, and the last man out for Milwaukee was Bryse Wilson. He allowed the ghost runner to score, but with a 2 run cushion that was enough to earn the save. Wilson has been quite effective out of the bullpen and already has 3 saves on the year, although this was the first one that wasn’t a 3 inning affair.

Updated hierarchy: Williams | Strzelecki | Payamps.

Arizona Diamondbacks – With a series of righties coming up it was Miguel Castro who got the ball in the 9th inning of a 1 run game. It wasn’t his smoothest outing, giving up a pair of singles, but got the game ending groundout to strand the tying run at 3rd and pick up his 6th save. Castro and Chafin continue to trade save chances in Arizona, but Castro has gotten arguably the harder workload in the last week and this is as it’s close to a 50/50 share as there is right now. 

Hierarchy remains: *Chafin | Castro | McGough.
* = closer-by-committee

Vulture Save Watch:

  1. Jorge Lopez (MIN) — Jhoan Duran threw 26 pitches over 1.2 innings last night.
  2. Andres Muchado/Carl Edwards (WAS) — The entire Washington hierarchy has seen a heavy workload, with everyone throwing at least 40 pitches over the past 3 days, leaving Muchado as a solid off-hierarchy vulture save option.
  3. Michael Fulmer (CHC) — Mark Lieter and Albert Alzolay have both gone in 3 of 4.

For Sunday:

  1. Erik Swanson (TOR) — Today would be 3 straight for Jordan Romano
  2. Peter Strzelecki (MIL) — Today would be back to back and 3 of 4 for Devin Williams.

Angels’ Ben Joyce looks electric against Astros’ top hitters

June 2, 2023

Los Angeles Angels — Flamethrower Ben Joyce, drafted in 2022, burst upon the scene this week. He brought his electric stuff to face the Astros Thursday, throwing 10 pitches at 101 mph or above and striking out Yordan Alvarez and Jose Altuve in his one inning of work. They can’t keep Joyce away from the late innings for too long. We’ll speculatively throw him in this hierarchy.

Updated hierarchy: Estevez | Devenski | Joyce.

Colorado Rockies — Pierce Johnson failed to protect the Rockies’ lead Thursday, yielding two runs to blow the save and take the loss, leaving him with a 6.85 ERA and 1.88 WHIP. Yikes. How long can this go on? Former closer Daniel Bard has been awesome this year in limited action (0.57 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 11 Ks over 15 IP), and as soon as he’s ready for more higher leverage work, you’d have to think a change is coming.

Hierarchy remains: *Johnson | Lawrence | Bard.
* = closer-by-committee

New York Mets – Drew Smith earned the easiest type of save Thursday – the one-out variety — after tossing just one 95-mph pitch to induce a game-ending flyout. It was Smith’s second save of the year. The Vulture Save Watch warned a vulture save was coming, naming Brooks Raley as a candidate. Raley recorded the first two outs of the ninth and allowing a single before giving way to Smith to close it out. In other news, Edwin Diaz has not ruled out a return this season.  

Hierarchy remains: *Robertson | Ottavino | Raley.
* = closer-by-committee

New York Yankees — Tommy Kahnle has been activated off the 60-day IL and could be in line for late-innings work for the Yankees. We’ll see how he’s deployed.

Hierarchy remains: *King | Peralta | Holmes.
* = closer-by-committee

Philadelphia Phillies – Jose Alvarado will begin a rehab assignment Saturday for the team’s Triple-A affiliate. He would likely work his way back into the late-innings mix, but whether he regains the closer’s role is not clear. 

Hierarchy remains: Kimbrel | Soto | Dominguez.

Seattle Mariners – Andres Munoz is beginning to work his way back for the Mariners, with a return date coming as early as next week. He’ll likely slip into a setup role behind Paul Sewald when he returns.

Hierarchy remains: Sewald | Topa | Brash.

1. Justin Lawrence (COL) – Pierce Johnson threw 21 pitches in an ugly outing Thursday.

1. Adam Ottavino (NYM) – If he goes Friday, that would be three of four for David Robertson.
2. Trevor Stephan (CLE) – A Friday appearance would be three of five for Emmanuel Clase.

Saves for Hunter Harvey, Jalen Beeks, and Buck Farmer

June 1, 2023

Milwaukee Brewers — Joel Payamps has been getting the seventh inning ahead of Peter Strzelecki and Devin Williams, and we think he’s best-positioned to pick up a save if those two need a night off.

Updated hierarchy: Williams | Strzelecki | Payamps.

Washington Nationals — Washington just won’t commit to a traditional reliever setup, using putative closer Kyle Finnegan to start the seventh on Wednesday night. He surrendered the lead, but was staked to a three-run advantage entering the eighth — where he gave up a leadoff home run. Enter Hunter Harvey, who pitched two scoreless innings to earn the save.

Hierarchy remains: *Finnegan | Harvey | Edwards.
* = closer-by-committee

Tampa Bay Rays — The Rays used Colin Poche in the seventh and Jason Adam in the eighth, leaving Kevin Kelly to go for the save in the ninth. But when Kelly loaded the bases on a walk, hit by pitch, and error, it was Jalen Beeks who wound up coming in — and he earned the save with a clutch strikeout and flyout.

Hierarchy remains: *Adam | Poche | Kelly.

Cincinnati Reds — Alexis Diaz had pitched in three of four games, so he got Wednesday off, which surprisingly left the save opportunity for Buck Farmer. We’ll see if Farmer edges into a setup role going forward.

Hierarchy remains: Diaz | Sims | Gibaut.

Los Angeles Angels — Long man Tucker Davidson picked up his second save of the season, a gawky three-inning job that featured four runs and seven hits allowed.

Hierarchy remains: Estevez | Devenski | Silseth.

1. James Karinchak (CLE) — Emmanuel Clase has pitched in two of three and Trevor Stephan threw 20 pitches yesterday.
2. Adam Ottavino/Brooks Raley (NYM) — David Robertson has gone back-to-back (38 pitches). Ottavino has too, with fewer pitches, and Raley pitched only yesterday (23 pitches). The Mets could also go off the board to Drew Smith or Jeff Brigham.

1. Lucas Sims/Ian Gibaut (CIN) — Alexis Diaz has gone in three of the last five games.

Giovanny Gallegos grabs another save

May 31, 2023

St. Louis Cardinals – Giovanny Gallegos didn’t make it easy on himself, allowing one run on two hits, but he recorded his seventh save of the season on Tuesday. That’s now one more save than Ryan Helsley, who we last saw blowing Sunday’s opportunity. We teased on Monday that this could be a committee soon, and with Gallegos grabbing the last three saves for St. Louis, now is that time.

Hierarchy remains: *Helsley | Gallegos | VerHagen.
* = closer-by-committee

Chicago Cubs — The Cubs used Mark Leiter Jr. in the seventh to protect a one-run lead against the 9-1-2 hitters, and he got the job done with three groundouts. That left the last two innings for Adbert Alzolay, who impressively retired all six Rays batters he faced to secure his second save (and just the team’s seventh save) of the season.

Hierarchy remains: *Leiter Jr. | Alzolay | Fulmer.
* = closer-by-committee

Pittsburgh Pirates — After a nine-save April, David Bednar had to wait until May 30 for the chance to record his 10th save of the season. Once he figured out how to open the bullpen door, Bednar struck out two of the three batters he faced to earn the save.

Hierarchy remains: Bednar | Holderman | Stephenson. 


1. Wandy Peralta/Clay Holmes (NYY) – Michael King threw 36 pitches last night.

1. Lucas Sims (CIN) – If Alexis Diaz goes tonight, it’s back to back and three of four.