Bruce Rondon has a bad night; Sean Doolittle has a good one

August 31, 2015

Detroit Tigers – Usually, your “closer” doesn’t pitch in the 8th inning of a game you’re losing by four runs. But that’s when the Tigers summoned Bruce Rondon yesterday, who responded by allowing 3 earned runs and getting yanked. Rondon’s FIP remains decent at 3.17, but his ERA is still more than double that mark, and you wonder how often the Tigers can keep using him in the 9th inning even with their season lost. Alex Wilson, meanwhile, didn’t help his own cause over the weekend, giving up two home runs on Saturday.

Hierarchy remains: *Rondon | Wilson | Hardy.
* = closer-by-committee

Oakland A’s – It was a good night for Sean Doolittle owners, as the lefty pitched his first clean inning since returning from the DL. Also in Doolittle’s favor: after departing with a 1-run lead, he watched as Drew Pomeranz coughed it up in the 9th. Pomeranz continues to look like the better pitcher, though, despite last night’s hiccup, and is worth holding on to if you have the roster space. He’s throwing hard and has earned the trust of Bob Melvin, while Doolittle’s velocity still hasn’t returned to pre-injury levels.

Hierarchy remains: *Doolittle | Pomeranz | Venditte.

St. Louis Cardinals – Trevor Rosenthal, apparently the poster child for the wussification of America, was still out on paternity leave on Sunday, so Kevin Siegrist got the save in his place. Rosenthal is set to rejoin the team today after taking THREE WHOLE DAYS to be with his family after the birth of his child. WHAT A WUSS.

Hierarchy remains: Rosenthal | Siegrist | Broxton. 

Boston Red Sox – Jean Machi successfully closed out the Mets on Saturday, and going forward, he’ll be the team’s primary closer. Torey Lovullo said that Junichi Tazawa will slide back to the set-up role.

Updated hierarchy: Machi | Tazawa | Ogando.

1. Drew Storen, Washington Nationals – Jonathan Papelbon has pitched in back to back games and four of five.
2. Daniel Hudson, Arizona Diamondbacks – Brad Ziegler allowed three runs in an ugly, 30-pitch appearance on Sunday and might need a day off.

Jean Machi and Drew Pomeranz record saves

August 30, 2015

Boston Red Sox — Jean Machi pitched a perfect ninth inning on Saturday to pick up his third save of the season.  Junichi Tazawa was unavailable after throwing thirty pitches on Friday.  Tazawa has really struggled lately so if Machi can string together a couple more strong outings, he could have a chance to take over as the head of this committee.

Hierarchy remains: Tazawa | Machi | Ogando.
* = closer-by-committee

Oakland A’s – Drew Pomeranz struck out the side on Saturday night to earn his third save of the year.  Sean Doolittle has given up at least one run in each of his two appearances since returning from the disabled list.  Pomeranz could still see some save opportunities in the short term, but long term Doolittle should settle back into that role.

Hierarchy remains: *Doolittle | Pomeranz | Venditte.
* = closer-by-committee

Kansas City Royals — Wade Davis recorded his thirteenth save of the season yesterday, and lowered his ERA under 1.00 in the process.  Greg Holland pitched the previous two games, including a save on Friday, so he was given the night off on Saturday.  Holland is still the closer in Kansas City but Davis will continue to see save chances when Holland is rested.

Hierarchy remains: Holland | Davis | Herrera.

Arizona Diamondbacks – Addison Reed has reportedly been traded to the Mets, pending a physical.  Andrew Chafin took the loss last night but has been pitching pretty well out of the bullpen for the Diamondbacks and could fill Reed’s seventh inning role moving forward.

Updated hierarchy: Ziegler | Hudson | Chafin.

Los Angeles Dodgers — Jim Johnson pitched a scoreless eighth inning ahead of closer Kenley Jansen last night.  Johnson has now picked up a save and two holds in his last three appearances for the Dodgers, and could finally be settling in to the set-up man that the Dodgers were hoping they were getting when they traded for Johnson back at the end of July.

Updated hierarchy: Jansen | Johnson | Avilan.

1. Keone Kela/Sam Dyson, Texas Rangers –
Shawn Tolleson has pitched in three straight, throwing a total of 52 pitches during that time.
2. Jim Johnson, Los Angeles Dodgers – Kenley Jansen has pitched in two straight, and four of the last five.
3. Joakim Soria, Pittsburgh Pirates – Mark Melancon has pitched three days in a row.
4. Drew Pomeranz, Oakland A’s – Pomeranz got the save last night and could get the call on any given day until Doolittle re-establishes himself as the closer.

Hot Seat: August 29, 2015

Hottest – In a committee, or on the verge of losing their job right now

30. Sean Doolittle (cuff: Drew Pomeranz)
29. Junichi Tazawa (cuff: Jean Machi)
28. Bruce Rondon (cuff: Alex Wilson)

-Sean Doolittle is ostensibly still the most likely reliever in the A’s bullpen to be closing by the end of the year, but his return to the majors thus far has included two seventh inning appearances where he’s allowed runs. So Drew Pomeranz is still worth holding on to. Junichi Tazawa has been awful — the best thing going for him is the lack of any other decent arms in the Boston bullpen. Similarly, the best thing going for Bruce Rondon is that the Tigers are out of the playoff hunt and are giving him a longer leash to see if he can win the job. But he’s been unconvincing at best, thus far, while Alex Wilson continues to get outs.

Hot – Closers who could be in danger after their next blown save

27. Greg Holland (cuff: Wade Davis)
26. John Axford (cuff: Scott Oberg)
25. Glen Perkins (cuff: Kevin Jepsen)
24. Santiago Casilla (cuff: Sergio Romo)

-Holland is kinda hurt and definitely not the pitcher that Wade Davis is at this point. Axford would be in more trouble if there was even a single reasonable alternative in the Colorado bullpen. Perkins is coming off injury and Kevin Jepsen pitched very well in his absence, while Casilla continues to just kinda make us nervous.

Warmish – Two blown saves in a row and these players might be in trouble

23. Tom Wilhelmsen
22. Luke Gregerson
21. Brad Boxberger

-Tom Wilhelmsen has posted three efficient saves in six days since taking over the job and has already earned himself a leash. Gregerson has been decent lately, but the bullpen behind him is excellent. Boxberger had a better outing on Thursday after a rough stretch.

Cool – These players would have to blow 3 consecutive saves for their jobs to be in jeopardy

20. Brad Ziegler
19. AJ Ramos
18. Hector Rondon
17. Arodys Vizcaino
16. David Robertson
15. Francisco Rodriguez
14. Jeurys Familia
13. Huston Street
12. Roberto Osuna
11. Kenley Jansen
10. Cody Allen
9. Ken Giles
8. Mark Melancon
7. Shawn Tolleson
6. Aroldis Chapman

-The fact that Brad Ziegler and his 1.46 ERA ranks last in this category shows how solid all of these guys are. Aroldis Chapman tops this section of the list after proving himself healthy and should re-enter Sub-zero as long as he doesn’t have a setback. Shawn Tolleson drops into this category after a blown save and with the recent additions to the Texas bullpen (Sam Dyson, Jake Diekman) pitching exceptionally well.

Sub-zero – These players would have to blow 4+ consecutive saves for their jobs to be in jeopardy

5. Zach Britton
4. Jonathan Papelbon
3. Trevor Rosenthal
2. Andrew Miller
1. Craig Kimbrel

-Not much to be said about the pitchers in this group, who are all locks to close for the rest of the season, barring injury.

Junichi Tazawa could be on the way out in Boston

August 29, 2015

Boston Red Sox — Junichi Tazawa is not making things comfortable in Boston. Up three in the tenth, Tazawa gave up a single, induced a double play, then walked one guy after another after another after another. Craig Breslow (the last guy left in the bullpen) bailed him out and earned a save for his trouble. Because a trainer came out to examine Tazawa after the double play, many speculated that his back was bothering him, but after the game, he claimed that he simply lost his release point. Red Sox fans wish Torey Lovullo would lose his phone number. In August, Tazawa has a 9.31 ERA, 2.28 WHIP, and only 3 Ks in 10 appearances.

Hierarchy remains: Tazawa | Machi | Ogando.
* = closer-by-committee

Minnesota Twins – Kevin Jepsen did indeed get the save on Friday, but Glen Perkins returned from his back spasms to pitch a scoreless seventh, and will return to the closer role going forward.

Hierarchy remains: Perkins | Jepsen | May.

Colorado Rockies — John Axford has pitched well since regaining the closer role, but the rest of the Colorado bullpen continues to stink. Friday, the team sent Tommy Kahnle down to Albuquerque, leaving Scott Oberg as the only remaining pedigreed reliever — and he celebrated by giving up two runs in a tied eighth to pick up the loss. With no hope of playoff baseball, the Rockies are trying some new guys in the ‘pen, including big-armed Venezuelan Jairo Diaz, who has a 100+ MPH fastball and a plus slider.

Updated hierarchy: Axford | Oberg | Diaz.

Philadelphia Phillies — Jerome Williams, by all accounts a friendly guy, is nonetheless the very worst pitcher on the very worst team in baseball. On Friday, demoted from the rotation, Jerome pitched a high-leverage eighth to give his beleaguered bullpen a rest, then headed back out for a pressure-free save, newly staked to a six-run lead. That strange feeling, Philadelphia? It’s joy. It’ll pass. Eat Arby’s.

Hierarchy remains: Giles | Garcia | Gomez.

Atlanta Braves — Left fielder Jonny Gomes was a more effective pitcher than Andrew McKirahan on Friday night, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see the rookie sent down before Saturday’s game. There isn’t much else to choose from for the Braves right now, so by default we must turn to Peter Moylan, in honor of his Rec Specs and his relief dominance (okay, competence) back in ’07, ’09, and ’10.

Updated hierarchy: Vizcaino | Jackson | Moylan.

1. Jean Machi, Boston Red Sox — Junichi Tazawa needed 28 pitches on Friday and looked so bad that he probably won’t get the next save chance.
2. Seth Maness/Steve Cishek, St. Louis Cardinals — Trevor Rosenthal is out all weekend on paternity leave, and Kevin Siegrist struggled immensely on Friday night. Jonathan Broxton threw 27 pitches himself, so Maness and Cishek are the best-rested options.
3. Wade Davis, Kansas City Royals — Greg Holland has gone in two straight and is pitching through arm stiffness.
4. Sam Dyson/Keone Kela, Texas Rangers — Shawn Tolleson has pitched on three of the last four days (56 pitches), and six of the last eight! Maybe Lucille Fleming, who throws at 103, is available.
5. Bryan Shaw, Cleveland Indians — Cody Allen has pitched in three of four and four of six.