The Nationals’ bullpen is still bad

June 30, 2017

Washington Nationals – As predicted in yesterday’s Vulture Save Watch, Matt Albers and Enny Romero each enjoyed an off day. They had good seats to watch Blake Treinen fall behind all seven hitters he faced in the ninth inning en route to blowing a two-run lead. While the Nats are probably still a couple weeks out from going after some legitimate help, they did continue to rummage through MLB’s version of Building 19 and signed Kevin Jepsen to a minor league deal. Because you can never have too many mediocre former closers in the system.

Hierarchy remains: *Albers | Romero | Turner.
* = closer-by-committee

Los Angeles Dodgers – Brandon Morrow has gone back and forth between the minors and the big leagues, but since first arriving in Los Angeles in late May, he’s quietly allowed zero runs while amassing 14 Ks and just one walk in 11.2 innings of work. That includes a pair of strikeouts on Thursday to help the Dodgers escape an eighth-inning, bases-loaded jam with their four-run lead in tact. Don’t be surprised if Morrow begins to see some more high-leverage work.

Updated hierarchy: Jansen | Baez | Morrow.

1. Andrew Miller/Boone Logan — This would be a long shot. Cody Allen should be available after he got a much-needed day off on Thursday after pitching in three straight and four of five. However, if Cleveland has a comfortable three-run lead in the ninth, Terry Francona may opt to rest Allen again. He may also give some time off to Andrew Miller (two straight) and Bryan Shaw (three of four) if at all possible.

1. Pedro Baez — Kenley Jansen needed just 11 pitches for a four-out save on Thursday, but a lengthy outing on Friday may lead to an off day on Saturday.
2. Darren O’Day — If Brad Brach pitches on Friday that will be his third appearance in four days.
3. Juan Nicasio/Daniel Hudson — Same for Felipe Rivero, though unlike Brach, Rivero rested Thursday.

Trevor Rosenthal earns a stressful save for the Cardinals; Sam Dyson closing in San Francisco

June 29, 2017

St. Louis Cardinals — After Seung Hwan Oh’s third blown save on Tuesday, Mike Matheny left the door open for a change in the ninth inning. Tonight Brett Cecil (resurgent, but still leading the league in relief meltdowns) shut down the heart of the Arizona lineup in the eighth, and it was Trevor Rosenthal who got the call to protect a two-run lead. Rosenthal was about as bad as he could be without losing the lead, scattering a single, two walks, and two wild pitches, but managing to strand the tying run on third. He got the save, but it’s hard to imagine the outing filled Matheny with confidence going forward, especially since Oh was warming for much of the inning. This looks like a committee — an ugly committee.

Updated hierarchy: *Oh | Rosenthal | Cecil.
* = closer-by-committee

San Francisco Giants — Mark Melancon’s elbow discomfort never really went away during his earlier trip to the disabled list, so he’s headed back — this time through the All-Star Break. (No word on whether the injury was worsened by “pole vaulting over mouse turds.”) In a possible sign that the Giants don’t trust (or respect?) Hunter Strickland, the interim closer will in fact be deposed Ranger Sam Dyson, who joined the team just three weeks ago and hasn’t yet worked his ERA under 9. Strickland did pick up a save Wednesday, but Dyson was unavailable due to a heavy recent workload. Dyson has been improving — striking out the side in a medium-leverage eighth on Tuesday — but the Giants’ angle here is probably an attempt to flip him for a prospect at the trade deadline.

Updated hierarchy: Dyson | Strickland | Kontos.

Los Angeles Angels — Cam Bedrosian looked great in his turn through the revolving door of Angels closers, right up until the point when he surrendered a tying home run on a 3-2 pitch with two outs.  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯  Bud Norris has a rehab appearance scheduled on Thursday. Until his return, chaos.

Updated hierarchy: *Hernandez | Bedrosian | Street.
* = closer-by-committee

Tampa Bay Rays — Brad Boxberger was activated from the DL following Wednesday’s game, taking the place of Danny Farquhar, who was designated for assignment. Farquhar has the stuff and the experience to wind up on another major league roster immediately, either through waivers or a trade. Tampa has a lot of mediocre options in middle relief, so we’ll slot Boxberger right into his old (2014) setup role for now.

Updated hierarchy: Colome | Boxberger | Hunter.

Philadelphia Phillies — As a starter, Ricardo Pinto was the top pitcher in the Phillies’ minor league system in 2015. These days he’s been getting some looks out of the bullpen, and he earned a win Wednesday with three scoreless innings. Pinto could be a name to remember for next season and beyond — just don’t confuse him with the adventure sports photographer, the Portuguese fantasy writer, the Brazilian goalie, or the male model based in France. Wait, are these all the same guy?

Hierarchy remains: *Neris | Neshek | Garcia.
* = closer-by-committee

1. Jacob Turner/Blake Treinen — Both Matt Albers and Enny Romero have gone in three straight.
2. Bryan Shaw — Cody Allen threw 25 pitches in his third straight appearance, and Andrew Miller got five outs, his second game in a row.
3. Michael Lorenzen — Raisel Iglesias has gone in two straight and three of four.

1. Juan Nicasio — It’s been two in a row for Felipe Rivero.

Tommy Hunter picks up a save for the Rays

June 28, 2017

Tampa Bay Rays — After Alex Colome suffered his second straight rough outing, Tommy Hunter nabbed his first save since 2015 by pitching a scoreless 10th inning. The save, coupled with a solid five-out hold on Sunday, has bumped Hunter into the hierarchy for the time being. As for Colome, after the game manager Kevin Cash said he’s not going to read much into his closer’s recent struggles. Help is on the way, however, as Brad Boxberger may be activated as early as today after what should have been his final rehab outing on Tuesday. Cash mentioned that Boxberger and Erasmo Ramirez could both see some high-leverage spots ahead of Colome, though Hunter, Jumbo Diaz and Danny Farquhar will likely be in the mix too.

Updated hierarchy: Colome | Farquhar | Hunter.

Detroit Tigers — Old friend and former “closer of the future” Bruce Rondon struck out two en route to an eighth-inning hold ahead of Justin Wilson on Tuesday. After showing up to spring training overweight, Rondon has done well to work his way back from AAA and it will be interesting to see if he actually makes the most of yet another chance in Detroit.

Hierarchy remains: J. Wilson | A. Wilson | Greene.

1. Andrew Miller – Cody Allen has pitched in two straight games and three of the last four.

1. Andrew Miller – If Allen pitches today, he most certainly won’t get the ball on Thursday.
2. Arodys Vizcaino – Jim Johnson needed 22 pitches on Tuesday. If he has a lengthy appearance Wednesday, that may mean he gets Thursday off.
3. Darren O’Day – If Brad Brach pitches Wednesday that will be two straight and three of four.
4. Danny Farquhar – Alex Colome needed 25 pitches on Tuesday. Another lengthy outing Wednesday, which would be his third in four days, could mean that Farquhar or any of the other mediocre options in the Rays’ bullpen will see a save chance on Thursday.

David Hernandez gets most recent 9th for Angels; K-Rod signs with Nats

June 27, 2017

Washington Nationals – The Nationals made a low-risk and potentially high-reward signing on Sunday, adding Francisco Rodriguez on a minor league contract. No word on whether they used the donations they received from this fan’s obituary.

Hierarchy remains: *Albers | Romero | Turner.
* = closer-by-committee

Los Angeles Angels – Cam Bedrosian and Keynan Middleton bridged the gap to David Hernandez last night, though by the time the veteran came on for the 9th, the Angels had tacked on an insurance run to make it a 4-run game. Still, the way they lined this up is enough to move Hernandez up to the top of the league’s most unpredictable bullpen.

Updated hierarchy: *Hernandez | Street | Bedrosian.
* = closer-by-committee

1. Dellin Betances – Aroldis Chapman has gone back to back games and three of four. Betances has also gone in back to back games but hasn’t thrown as many pitches.

1. Joe Kelly – If Craig Kimbrel goes today, it’ll be three straight.