Jonathan Papelbon returns from suspension

September 24, 2014

Philadelphia Phillies — Jonathan Papelbon returned from his seven-game suspension on Tuesday. According to Ryne Sandberg, Papelbon will immediately return to the closer role, which should make for riveting television when the last-place Phillies close their season at home this weekend.

Updated hierarchy: Papelbon | Giles | Diekman.

Chicago White Sox — Jake Petricka gave back a game to the Tigers in the bottom of the ninth last night, but Robin Ventura and the White Sox brass still like him to close, both now and perhaps next year.

Hierarchy remains: Petricka | Putnam | Guerra.

San Francisco Giants — Incensed that beat writer Andrew Baggarly spilled the beans on an internecine feud between reliever Sergio Romo and coach Shawon Dunston, the Giants players are refusing to talk to any journalists if Baggarly is present. Ordinarily, we’d love to tell you all about the bench-clearing altercation with the Dodgers in Tuesday night’s game, but we just can’t afford to lose touch with Guillermo Quiroz again.

Hierarchy remains: Casilla | Romo | Strickland.

Pittsburgh Pirates — Tony Watson grabbed his second vulture save in three days as the Pirates continue their torrid run. Pittsburgh has won 16 of their last 19 games.

Hierarchy remains: Melancon | Watson | Holdzkom.

Texas Rangers — We told you Neal Cotts was likely to get Tuesday’s save. And then he went ahead and did it. You’re welcome, Internet.

Hierarchy remains: Feliz | Cotts | Mendez.

Los Angeles Angels — Joe Smith struggled on Tuesday night, but managed to tally his MLB-leading 66th scoreless appearance.

Hierarchy remains: Street | Smith | Jepsen.

1. Brian Wilson, Los Angeles Dodgers
— We didn’t go 3-for-3 in yesterday’s Vulture Save Watch because LA turned to Kenley Jansen for a third straight day for only the third time all year. Don’t expect to see him Wednesday.
2. Jumbo Diaz, Cincinnati Reds 
— Aroldis Chapman needed 24 pitches to get the save last night, and he’s been used on three of four days.
3. Kevin Jepsen, Los Angeles Angels — Huston Street and Joe Smith have each been used in three of four.
4. Zach Putnam, Chicago White Sox — Jake Petricka had a rough outing on Tuesday, and has pitched in two straight games.
5. Rafael Soriano, Washington Nationals — Drew Storen threw 25 pitches on Tuesday. With their closest divisional challenger 5 games below .500 and NL homefield advantage nearly sewn up, the Nats might not work Storen or Tyler Clippard as hard over their final few games.

Hunter Strickland and Roman Mendez have arrived

September 23, 2014

San Francisco Giants — Since Bruce Bochy’s late-August announcement that Santiago Casilla would share save opportunities with a committee, Casilla has continued to get every available chance. On Monday, though, Casilla pitched the eleventh and twelfth (in a tie game on the road!!), leaving the save for Hunter Strickland, whom you know all too well as the closer for the mighty Richmond Flying Squirrels. Since Strickland came to the big club on September 1, he has seven strikeouts in seven scoreless appearances. The committee isn’t really a thing, but the Giants might want to keep testing whether Strickland could be.

Updated hierarchy: Casilla | Romo | Strickland.

Houston Astros — Last offseason, Houston signed three free agent relievers: Chad Qualls, who has been a serviceable closer since May; Matt Albers, who made it into eight games before hitting the DL; and Jesse Crain, who earned $3.25 million for throwing as many pitches for Houston as your mother did. Now GM Jeff Luhnow says the team will again prioritize relief spending in the winter, in the hopes Houston can hit the rarefied air of “75 [or] 80 wins.” Keep dreaming that crazy dream, Jeff.

Hierarchy remains: Qualls | Fields | Sipp.

Texas Rangers — Rookie Roman Mendez has been getting several high-leverage outs lately for Texas; he was used in the eighth inning up a run on Monday night. Meanwhile, Alexi Ogando is so injured that they put him on the winter league disabled list.

Updated hierarchy: Feliz | Cotts | Mendez.

San Diego Padres — Kevin Quackenbush earned another save in Joaquin Benoit’s stead. Benoit’s first appearance (on Sunday) was uneventful, so if the Padres are telling us the truth, he should return to the closer role soon.

Hierarchy remains: Benoit | Quackenbush | Thayer.

Cleveland Indians – Unbeknownst to us, Cody Allen couldn’t come back out for the tenth inning of the Indians’ suspended game against the Royals, because rookie lefty Kyle Crockett had already been announced as the new pitcher before the game was called in late August. That left it to Scott Atchison to pick up the save, 22 days later.

Hierarchy remains: Allen | Shaw | Atchison.

1. Tony Watson, Pittsburgh Pirates — The Bucs are riding their bullpen hard as they approach the postseason; Mark Melancon has now thrown on four of the last five days (67 pitches), and five of the last seven (84).
2. Neal Cotts, Texas Rangers — Neftali Feliz has pitched on two straight days, and he hasn’t gone three in a row all year.
3. Brian Wilson, Los Angeles Dodgers — Kenley Jansen has thrown 20+ pitches each of the last two days.

Rafael Soriano and Tony Watson pick up saves

September 22, 2014

Washington Nationals – With their focus on the postseason, the Nationals left Drew Storen and Tyler Clippard — both of whom had pitched in back to back games — in the bullpen on Sunday and handed the save chance to embattled former closer Rafael Soriano. Soriano converted, but didn’t do much to make a case for himself to return to his old role, allowing a run to score.

Hierarchy remains: Storen | Clippard | Soriano.

Pittsburgh Pirates – Mark Melancon got the day off Sunday after pitching in three straight and four of five, allowing Tony Watson picked up his first save of the season. Chalk another one up for the Vulture Save Watch.

Hierarchy remains: Melancon | Watson | Holdzkom.

1. Joe Smith, Los Angeles Angels – Huston Street has pitched in back to back games, and the Angels may want to get him some rest before the postseason.
2. Bryan Shaw, Cleveland Indians – The Indians are resuming a suspended game on Monday, wherein Cody Allen will likely pitch the bottom of the 10th inning. They will then play the Royals a second time, and if Allen can’t go in the nightcap, Bryan Shaw will get the save chance.
3. Kevin Quackenbush, San Diego Padres – Joaquin Benoit is back but might not be closing yet.

Ken Giles picks up first career save in Papelbon’s absence

September 21, 2014

Cleveland Indians – Marc Rzepczynski picked up a four out save last night.  Rzepczynski came on with two men on base in the 8th inning and the Indians up four runs.  He struck out the only batter he faced in the 8th and then pitched a 1-2-3 9th to record his first save of the season.

Hierarchy remains: Allen | Shaw | Atchison.

San Diego Padres — Kevin Quackenbush recorded his 5th save of the season on Saturday night.  The Padres have said that Joaquin Benoit is available out of their bullpen, but they would prefer to use him in a lower leverage situation since he hasn’t pitched in over three weeks.

Hierarchy remains: Benoit | Quackenbush | Thayer.

Arizona Diamondbacks — Oliver Perez struck out four batters in one inning last night. Justin Morneau reached on a wild pitch after he struck out to lead off the inning, and Perez then struck out the next three batters he faced. Perez became the first pitcher in Diamondbacks history to achieve this rare feat.

Hierarchy remains: Reed | Marshall | Harris.

Philadelphia Phillies — Ken Giles pitched a perfect 9th inning last night for his first career save.  Giles will continue to see save chances while closer Jonathan Papelbon is suspended.

Hierarchy remains: Giles | Diekman | De Fratus.

1. Tony Watson, Pittsburgh Pirates – Mark Melancon has pitched in three straight and four of five.
2. Kevin Quackenbush, San Diego Padres – With Joaquin Benoit being used in lower-leverage situations, Kevin Quackenbush extends his record-long stay on the VSW for another day.

Jared Burton to close, Joaquin Benoit returns

September 20, 2014

Minnesota Twins – The Twins will indeed shut down Glen Perkins for the remainder of the season — the lefty has nerve inflammation in his elbow. Expect Jared Burton will likely get the bulk of the save opps the rest of the way, with Casey Fien also potentially getting a chance here or there.

Updated hierarchy: Burton | Fien | Duensing.

San Diego Padres — Joaquin Benoit is available again for the Padres but may not be used in save opportunities immediately.  Manager Bud Black reiterated that Benoit is their closer, but since he hasn’t pitched since August 26th, they might ease him back into the role.  Kevin Quackenbush should continue to see some save chances until Benoit is ready to take over full time.

Hierarchy remains: Benoit | Quackenbush | Thayer.

St. Louis Cardinals — Trevor Rosenthal started the 9th inning last night with the Cardinals protecting a one run lead but after a walk and a hit, he was replaced by veteran Randy Choate.  Choate got a big strikeout of Jay Bruce and then Seth Maness came on for the last out to pick up his third save of the season.

Hierarchy remains: Rosenthal | Neshek | Martinez.

Chicago White Sox — The White Sox brought Jake Petricka on to get the last two outs in the 8th.  Lefty Eric Surkamp got the first out of the 9th, and then Zach Putnam recorded the last two outs to pick up the save.

Hierarchy remains: Petricka | Putnam | Guerra.

New York Yankees — Adam Warren recorded his third save of the season last night.  David Robertson and Dellin Betances were both given the night after pitching back-to-back games.

Update hierarchy: Robertson | Betances | Warren.

1. Pat Neshek, St. Louis Cardinals – Trevor Rosenthal has pitched in two straight and three of the last four.
2. Tony Watson, Pittsburgh Pirates – Mark Melancon has appeared in back-to-back games and three of the last four.
3. Kevin Quackenbush, San Diego Padres – Joaquin Benoit is back but might not close immediately.