Cody Allen records impressive save, Chamberlain gets call with Nathan unavailable

May 31, 2014

Cleveland Indians — Cody Allen picked up his 2nd save of the season last night.  After pitching in the 8th inning on Wednesday, the Indians saved Allen for the 9th on Friday.  He faced the heart of the Rockies lineup, pitching a perfect inning while striking out Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez.  It was an impressive outing and Allen definitely looks like the guy to own in the Cleveland bullpen.

Hierarchy remains: Allen | Shaw | Axford.

Detroit Tigers — Joe Nathan got the night off Friday and the Tigers went to Joba Chamberlain, who converted the save.  Manager Brad Ausmus confirmed before the game that Chamberlain would be the closer on nights when Nathan is unavailable.  Nathan has struggled recently and is probably one more bad outing from the Hot Seat.  Chamberlain showed last night he might be able to handle the job.

Hierarchy remains: Nathan | Chamberlain | Alburquerque.

Pittsburgh Pirates — Jason Grilli recorded his second save in two days on Friday night and is ready to return to the closer’s role full time.  Clint Hurdle said he will monitor Grilli’s health the rest of the season, so Melancon will still see some save opportunities when Grilli is given a night off, but Grilli is definitely the guy when he is available.

Hierarchy remains: Grilli | Melancon | Watson.

1. Neil Ramirez, Chicago Cubs – Hector Rondon will miss a couple games after being placed on the paternity list Friday
2. Mark Melancon, Pittsburgh Pirates – Jason Grilli has pitched in two straight and three of the last four.
3. Andrew Miller/Junichi Tazawa, Boston Red Sox – Koji Uehara has appeared in four of the last 5.
4. Bryan Shaw, Cleveland Indians – Cody Allen has pitched in three of the last four.

What the hell is going on in Houston?

May 30, 2014

Oakland A’s – With $10 million invested, the A’s really want Jim Johnson to succeed — or at least be a usable reliever. But after giving up 2 runs in the 7th inning of a close game on Thursday afternoon, Johnson’s ERA sits at 6.55. The A’s season is exactly 1/3 over, so we’ve reached the point where a small sample size is no longer an excuse, and with the rest of the bullpen essentially dominating, Johnson is unlikely to sniff a save opportunity again for a long time.

Updated hierarchy: Doolittle | Gregerson | Abad.

Houston Astros – One million points to the person who picked up Josh Fields right after he was called up from AAA on May 14. When the one-time closer was sent down, his ERA was an even 12.00. Since returning? 8.0 IP, 0 ER, 2 H, 2 BB, 13 K. Fields got the win last night, pitching two clean innings before giving way to closer Chad Qualls, who now has an 11.1-inning scoreless streak of his own. Tony Sipp, meanwhile, who was signed off the scrap heap, still has a 0.00 ERA through 9.2 absolutely dominant innings (1 H, 1 BB, 13 Ks). That adds up to a 29 scoreless innings for the top three Astros relievers. What the hell is going on here?

Updated hierarchy: Qualls | Sipp | Fields.

1. Jason Frasor, Texas Rangers – Joakim Soria has pitched in three straight.
2. Joba Chamberlain, Detroit Tigers – Joe Nathan has pitched in three straight.

Belisario back to old ways; Familia secures save

May 29, 2014

Chicago White Sox — After finally picking up a drama-free save on Tuesday, Ronald Belisario blew Wednesday’s save chance before salvaging a win after the Sox broke a 2-2 tie in the bottom half of the ninth. Manager Robin Ventura didn’t say anything after the game, but this was Belisario’s third blown save in six chances, so the current closer remains firmly in the hot seat. At least Ronald is having fun though.

Hierarchy remains: Belisario | Webb | Petricka.

New York Mets — As predicted in Wednesday’s Vulture Save Watch, Jeurys Familia picked up his first career save in a five-out, one-hit outing on Wednesday. To add to the fun, manager Terry Collins said that he will “have to” consider giving Familia some save opps going forward. Despite Collins’ praise, Jenrry Mejia has thrown 9.1 scoreless innings since his move to the bullpen and appears to have locked up the ninth inning. However, if Mejia struggles or is unavailable, Familia is now certainly secure as the handcuff.

Hierarchy remains: Mejia | Familia | Matsuzaka.

Cleveland Indians — Both Bryan Shaw and Cody Allen struggled at Chicago on Wednesday night, with Allen giving up a go-ahead run in the eighth inning before Shaw took the loss in the ninth. Thursday brings a much-needed day off for the Tribe, but it will be interesting to see who Francona turns to in the late innings this weekend.

Hierarchy remains: Allen | Shaw | Axford.

1. Jason Frasor, Texas Rangers — Joakim Soria has pitched on back-to-back days and in three of the last four.

Vic Black is lurking in Queens

May 28, 2014

New York Mets — After Jenrry Mejia took to Twitter on Tuesday afternoon and proclaimed he was “very comfortable” with the closer role, Terry Collins tested that resolve with a two-inning, 37-pitch slog against the Pirates. Mejia earned the save and, no doubt, a day off. Vic Black made his return appearance in the sixth with the score tied, escaping a bases-loaded jam with a strikeout of ex-Met Ike Davis. Black stayed on for the seventh and earned the win, and is poised to move into our hierarchy whenever Terry Collins decides to utilize Dice-K elsewhere.

Hierarchy remains: Mejia | Familia | Matsuzaka.

Chicago White Sox — Jake Petricka pitched the seventh and eighth innings of a one-run game, then Ronald Belisario delivered a clean ninth for a pleasantly undramatic White Sox save.

Hierarchy remains: Belisario | Webb | Petricka.

Pittsburgh Pirates — Jason Grilli struck out the side in the eighth on Tuesday with the Pirates trailing, after Clint Hurdle explained that he has no timeline for Grilli’s official return to the closer role. Although Mark Melancon might get the next save opportunity, Hurdle won’t hold off long, saying, “I do like my bullpen best with Grilli closing.”

Hierarchy remains: Grilli | Melancon | Watson.

Baltimore Orioles — In a tight game with the Brewers on Tuesday, Baltimore used Ryan Webb in the seventh, Darren O’Day and Brian Matusz in the eighth (the latter as a LOOGY), and Zach Britton (working on his third straight day) in the ninth. A swinging bunt resulted in Britton’s first blown save, and he should expect some rest tomorrow.

Hierarchy remains: Britton | O’Day | Webb.

1. Jeurys Familia, New York Mets — See above.
2. Brandon Kintzler, Milwaukee Brewers — K-Rod has now pitched on three straight days, and Will Smith threw 22 pitches on Tuesday.
3. Mark Melancon, Pittsburgh Pirates — Grilli isn’t all the way back yet.
4. Ryan Webb/Brian Matusz, Baltimore Orioles — Zach Britton and Darren O’Day are both tired and could be unavailable.
5. Joe Smith, Los Angeles Angels — Ernesto Frieri has pitched on three of the last four days.

Scott Downs picks up rare save; Jose Valverde released

May 27, 2014

New York Mets — They say that if you love something, you should let it go; apparently, the Mets have a thing for mediocre relievers on the high side of 35. On the heels of turning Kyle Farnsworth into Inigo Montoya, New York axed Jose Valverde on Monday for giving up four runs in two-thirds of an inning. Even after his successful spot start on Sunday, Dice-K still appears to be the next guy up in the bullpen — but if Vic Black, freshly recalled from AAA, can improve his command, the Mets might be able to leave thirtysomethings behind them for good.

Updated hierarchy: Mejia | Familia | Matsuzaka.

Los Angeles Dodgers — After Hyun-Jin Ryu lost his perfect game and shutout in the eighth inning, Brian Wilson entered and loaded the bases while yielding two inherited runs. Kenley Jansen bailed everyone out with a four-out save, but the rest of the Dodgers’ bullpen has become a series of question marks. Wilson has allowed an astonishing 36 baserunners in 16.2 innings, and Chris Perez’s ERA over the last three weeks is 17.35. On the whole, LA relievers are 4-12 with a 1.42 WHIP. Brandon League and J.P. Howell have been pitching the best, if only by default, but Howell is limited by his status as the only non-Paul Maholm lefty in the pen. We think Wilson’s last outing has dropped him below these two, but in this bullpen right now, nothing is certain.

Updated hierarchy: Jansen | League | Howell.

Chicago White Sox — After Zach Putnam loaded the bases with a four-run lead in the eighth, Scott Downs came in and retired his fellow lefty, pinch-hitter Daniel Murphy. Downs stayed on to pitch the ninth and earn his first save of the year. As the only lefty in the White Sox pen, Downs is likely to see continued use in a matchup role.

Hierarchy remains: Belisario | Webb | Petricka.

Pittsburgh Pirates — As predicted in Monday’s Vulture Save Watch, Mark Melancon earned another save on Monday as Jason Grilli is eased back into the closer role.

Hierarchy remains: Grilli | Melancon | Watson.

1. Adam Warren, New York Yankees — David Robertson has pitched on three of the last four days.
2. Will Smith, Milwaukee Brewers — K-Rod has pitched on two straight days, including a 21-pitch blown save on Monday.