Hansel Robles records another save while the AL Wild Card chase could result in extra save opportunities this season

October 3, 2021

Boston Red Sox — The Red Sox went to Adam Ottavino again in the 8th inning and he struggled.  Ottavino was trying to protect a one-run lead but he was pulled after allowing a double and a pair of walks while only recording one out.  After the Red Sox scored four runs in the top of the 9th and Austin Davis made a mess of things to start the bottom of the 9th, Hansel Robles came on to record the final three outs.  That’s two straight saves for Robles, while Ottavino hasn’t recorded a save in over a month.  Not that it matters much with this being the last day of the regular season, but we will move Robles to the head of this committee.

Updated hierarchy: *Robles | Ottavino | Barnes.
* = closer-by-committee

San Francisco Giants – Jake McGee has been activated from the IL, and will give the Giants another option to close out games.  However, with the way Camilo Doval has pitched, we will leave him atop this committee.  

Updated hierarchy: *Doval | McGee | Rogers.
* = closer-by-committee

Chicago Cubs — Rowan Wick struck out a pair in a scoreless 9th inning to pick up his fifth save of the season.  Wick had a couple of very rough outings in the middle of September, but overall he performed pretty well in the closer’s role and could have a shot to start the season in that role next year.

Hierarchy remains: *Wick | Heuer | Morgan.
* = closer-by-committee

Seattle Mariners – The Mariners kept their playoff hopes alive yesterday with an 8th inning rally and Drew Steckenrider closed it out for his 14th save of the season.  Steckenrider and Paul Sewald both ended up with double-digit saves for the Mariners this year and will hope for one more opportunity on the last day of the regular season, and maybe another one on Monday.

Hierarchy remains: *Steckenrider | Sewald | Castillo.
* = closer-by-committee

Atlanta Braves — Richard Rodriguez was trying to pick up his first save since joining the Braves as he entered the 9th inning to protect a three-run lead.  However, Rodriguez was pulled after allowing a couple of runs, and Jacob Webb came on to get the last out and record his first save of the season.

Hierarchy remains: Smith | Rodriguez | Jackson.

1. Matt Barnes (BOS) – Hansel Robles has pitched in two straight and four of five while Adam Ottavino has pitched in three straight.
2. Codi Heuer (CHC) – Rowan Wick has pitched in two straight and three of four.
3. Craig Kimbrel (CHW) – Liam Hendriks has pitched in two straight.
4. David Bednar (PIT) – Chris Stratton has pitched in two straight.
5. Jake McGee (SF) – Camilo Doval has pitched in two straight and four of five.

1. Adam Ottavino (BOS) – If Hansel Robles pitches on Sunday and the Red Sox end up in a tie-breaker game 163 on Monday, Ottavino could see a save chance.
2. Paul Sewald (SEA) – If the Mariners end up playing a 163rd game on Monday, Sewald could be an option to save if Drew Steckenrider is needed today.

Updated MLB Closer Depth Chart

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* = closer-by-committee

Trivino earns first save since August.

October 2, 2021

Boston Red Sox — The Red Sox used Adam Ottavino to protect a 3 run lead in the 8th inning of a must win game, leaving the 9th for Hansel Robles. Ottavino gave up a solo homer, while Robles worked around a couple walks to close the game out. The Red Sox are in a battle for their playoff lives, and going into the last two games the bullpen has been stretched pretty thin, with Ottavino pitching back to back, Robles in 3 of 4 and Barnes 3 straight. Keep an eye on the vulture save watch to see who has the best chance to close over the next couple days. 

Hierarchy Remains: *Ottavino | Robles | Barnes.
* = closer-by-committee

Oakland A’s — After the Houston Astros scored 4 runs in the 8th inning, Lou Trivino came in to stop the bleeding with 2 outs, he got out of the jam and stuck around for the 9th inning. Although he let the tying run get to second base, he didn’t allow any runs to earn his 22nd save of the year. Trivino had been spectacular early in the season, only to have a brutal 2 week stretch that saw him removed form the closers role in early September, so it is good to see him get back on track. Andrew Chafin and Sergio Romo were both rested yesterday, so they will likely get any other save chances this weekend, but Trivino’s performance yesterday gets him back on the hierarchy to end the year. 

Updated Hierarchy: *Chafin | Romo | Trivino.
* = closer-by-committee

Cleveland Indians — After over a month with the Columbus Clippers, the Indians recalled James Karinchak yesterday and he immediately pitched a scoreless 7th inning. Karinchak will look to build some momentum going into next season, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Indians give him another look in the final two games, although it isn’t likely going to be in a save situation with Clase well rested. 

Updated Hierarchy: Clase | Shaw | Karinchak.

Vulture Save Watch:


  1. Adam Cimber/Tim Mayza (TOR) – Jordan Romano threw 32 pitches last night, and will likely need a day of rest even with Toronto competing for the playoffs.
  2. Jose Alvarez/Tyler Rogers (SF) – Camilo Doval has pitched in 3 of the last 4, and the entire San Francisco Hierarchy could use a rest. Jose Alvarez is the best rested reliever they have going into today.
  3. Blake Treinen (LAD) – Kenley Jansen threw 21 pitches last night, and with the Dodgers playing after the Giants today, they may already know if they still have a chance to tie for the division lead. Treinen is comparatively well rested, and could see a save chance this weekend.

For Sunday:

  1. Hansel Robles/Matt Barnes (BOS) – Today would be 3 in a row for Adam Ottavino, while Hansel Robles threw 22 pitches last night. With Boston fighting for a playoff spot, expect them to push their entire hierarchy.
  2. Craig Kimbrel (CHW) – Today would be back to back for Liam Hendriks, and with the White Sox already locked into their playoff spot, they are unlikely to use him again.
  3. Steve Cishek/Mike Mayers (LAA) – Today would be back to back and 3 of 4 for Raisel Iglesies and Steve Cishek, so if either pitch today, they would likely be unavailable Sunday.

The MLB teams still alive could lean on their top bullpen arms this weekend

October 1, 2021

St. Louis Cardinals – Luis Garcia nailed down the final two outs for his second save Thursday. Giovanny Gallegos pitched Sunday and Tuesday, and now that the Cardinals have clinched a playoff spot, it appears Gallegos was getting a little more rest ahead of next week’s Wild Card game. 

Hierarchy remains: Gallegos | Cabrera | Garcia.

Miami Marlins – Catcher Sandy Leon managed to get into his sixth game as a reliever on Thursday, allowing a run in 0.1 IP to balloon his ERA to…7.50. He’s allowed five runs in six innings this season. He has the most appearances for a non-pitcher this season, a kind of thing that happens on a 94-loss team. 

Hierarchy remains: Floro | Bender | Bass.

Major League Baseball – This weekend, there are four American League teams still vying for the two Wild Card spots (Yankees, Red Sox, Blue Jays and Mariners) and two teams gunning for the National League West title (Dodgers and Giants). Top bullpen arms on these teams (especially the AL ones) will be used as much as possible with each game representing a must-win scenario. If you’re in a daily league, consider aiming for closers and setup men from these squads if they are available, as they will certainly be used. 

1. Richard Rodriguez (ATL) — Will Smith has gone in two of three and four of six.

1. Spencer Patton (TEX) – If he goes Friday, it would be three times in four days for Joe Barlow.
2. Tyler Rogers (SF) – Same as above for Camilo Doval.
3. Tyler Duffey (MIN) – Ditto for Alex Colome.
4. Anthony Bender (MIA) – A Friday outing would be four of six for Dylan Floro. 

Devin Williams picked a weird way to celebrate

September 30, 2021

San Francisco Giants – The Giants are going all-in on Camilo Doval, using him and his 102 mph fastball on back-to-back nights to pick up big saves. The youngest Giant to record a save since Rod Beck, Doval is not just the closer of San Francisco’s future — he may well be who they turn to this October as they ease Jake McGee back into the bullpen. Shades of 2002 K-Rod.

Updated hierarchy: *Doval | Rogers | Leone.
* = closer-by-committee

Milwaukee Brewers — Milwaukee’s joy at clinching a playoff spot quickly turned to agony, as Devin Williams announced that after the party, he had “a few drinks,” got frustrated about something, and punched a wall, breaking his pitching hand and likely ending his season. There’s an outside chance he could be back for the World Series, but then again, if the team makes it there, he’ll have to survive two more celebrations.

Updated hierarchy: Hader | Boxberger | Suter.

New York Yankees — Joanthan Loaisiga returned from the injured list and immediately pitched a perfect seventh in a tied game. That’s enough to get him back on the Yankees’ hierarchy for the remainder of the season.

Updated hierarchy: Chapman | Green | Loaisiga.

Chicago Cubs — Rowan Wick keeps getting used in the eighth inning, the last two times in front of Codi Heuer, who rebounded from two straight losses to pitch a perfect ninth and earn Wednesday’s save. With only four games left, either Wick or Heuer could get what remains of the Cubs’ save chances.

Updated hierarchy: *Wick | Heuer | Morgan.
* = closer-by-committee

Minnesota Twins — Juan Minaya has moved into second in line in the Twins’ bullpen, displacing Caleb Thielbar.

Updated hierarchy: Colome | Duffey | Minaya.

1. Tyler Rogers (SF) — Camilo Doval is unlikely to go in three straight.
2. Anthony Bender (MIA) — Dylan Floro has pitched in three of four games.
3. Juan Minaya (MIN) — Both Alex Colome and Tyler Duffey have gone in two straight.

1. Richard Rodriguez (ATL) — Will Smith has had a heavy workload lately.

Camilo Doval delivers his first MLB save

September 29, 2021

San Francisco Giants – The Giants went with Tony Watson in the seventh and Tyler Rogers in the eighth, leaving the ninth for Camilo Doval, who combined ridiculous heat with a nasty slider to lock down his first MLB save. We’ll move Doval into the hierarchy and see if Gabe Kapler continues to use him as a closer as his team fights for a division title.

Updated hierarchy: *Rogers | Leone | Doval.
* = closer-by-committee

Houston Astros – Ryan Pressly was unavailable on Tuesday because of some knee trouble, but he should be fine for Wednesday. We’ll keep an eye out to see if Pressly actually is fine. Be prepared for the Astros’ closer to be used sparingly, though, as Houston’s magic number to clinch the division is one. Kendall Graveman, placed on the paternity list Tuesday, or Ryne Stanek could vulture a chance this weekend.

Hierarchy remains: Pressly | Graveman | Stanek.

Pittsburgh Pirates – In his second appearance since returning from the IL, David Bednar struck out two and walked two in a scoreless eighth inning to set up a Chris Stratton save. Stratton appears to be in the lead for saves, but as we wrote yesterday, don’t be surprised to see Bednar earn a chance this week. In fact, Bednar has allowed just two runs (both earned) since July 2.

Hierarchy remains: *Stratton | Bednar | Shreve.
* = closer-by-committee

Los Angeles Dodgers — Kenley Jansen was available on Tuesday night, but Dave Roberts decided to go to a better-rested Blake Treinen for the ninth inning. Treinen converted his seventh save of the season, allowing Roberts to keep his closer “frisky and fresh.”

Hierarchy remains: Jansen | Treinen | Kelly.

Tampa Bay Rays – The Rays activated Andrew Kittredge from the IL. While we’re happy that Kittredge is no longer injured, we’re hoping someone new gets a crack at any save chances this week. The Rays were punished for sending out Josh Fleming (one save in 2021) for the ninth inning instead of JT Chargois (zero saves in 2021) on Tuesday with a 3-2 lead, as the Astros came back to win the game as Chargois couldn’t clean up Fleming’s mess.

Updated hierarchy: *Kittredge | McHugh | Fairbanks.
* = closer-by-committee

Baltimore OriolesCole Sulser rewarded us for putting him at the top of the Baltimore committee with a save on Tuesday night. The Orioles play the Red Sox two more times, so Sulser should see at least one more save chance this week.

Hierarchy remains: *Sulser | Tate | Abad
* = closer-by-committee

New York Yankees — Joanthan Loaisiga is expected to be activated from the IL today. He should immediately see high-leverage chances as the Yankees look to clinch home field advantage for the AL Wild Card game.

Hierarchy remains: Chapman | Green | Peralta.


1. Richard Rodriguez (ATL) – Will Smith has gone in four of five.
2. Jhoulys Chacin (COL) – Carlos Estevez has thrown 30 pitches over the last two days.
3. Ryne Stanek (HOU) – If Ryan Pressly’s knee still bothers him, Stanek is the next man up with Kendall Graveman on paternity leave.

1. Anthony Bender (MIA) – If Dylan Floro goes today that will be two straight and three of four.
2. Genesis Cabrera (STL) – Same goes for Giovanny Gallegos.
3. Spencer Patton (TEX) – And Joe Barlow.
4. Tyler Duffey (MIN) – An appearance today would be two straight for Alex Colome, who threw 26 pitches on Tuesday.