Pat Neshek worried that “something serious” is wrong with his shoulder

March 31, 2018

Philadelphia Phillies — Pat Neshek was placed on the 10-day DL with a right shoulder strain and the Phillies missed him immediately. In his stead the team turned to Luis Garcia to protect a one-run lead in the eighth. Garcia gave up a run, and could have given up another if not for replay review. Despite the blown save, Garcia is likely in line for more late-inning appearances, at least until Neshek and Tommy Hunter return.

Updated hierarchy: *Neris | Morgan | Garcia.
* = closer-by-committee

Cincinnati Reds — Amir Garrett pitched a clean seventh inning with two strikeouts last night. Garrett, a would-be starter, has one of the better arms on the rebuilding Reds. On a different team, he might have been relegated to long relief, but given Bryan Price’s habit of using relievers for multiple innings, Garrett could see chances at holds or even vulture saves. Raisel Iglesias followed a similar path to closing for the Reds, so as long as Garrett is in the bullpen, he’s worth keeping an eye on.

Updated hierarchy: Iglesias | Hughes | Garrett.

Boston Red Sox — Matt Barnes pitched the eighth inning ahead of Craig Kimbrel in a 1-0 victory for Boston last night, his second scoreless inning in as many days. Meanwhile, Joe Kelly and Carson Smith combined to give up six runs in a single inning on Thursday. One bad outing doesn’t usually shake up a hierarchy, but we’ll be watching to see whom Alex Cora favors going forward.

Hierarchy remains: Kimbrel | Kelly | Smith.

Los Angeles Angels — Blake Parker picked up a save last night despite giving up a run in the ninth on a walk and two singles. Keynan Middleton pitched a clean eighth ahead of Parker. It’s the second scoreless outing for Middleton, while Cam Bedrosian had a bit of a disaster on his first work on Thursday. Blake Wood has also started the year off with two clean holds and may get more chances going forward. Expect this to be one of the most volatile bullpens all year.

Hierarchy remains: *Parker | Bedrosian | Middleton. 
* = closer-by-committee

1. AJ Minter — Arodys Vizcaino has appeared in both of Atlanta’s games, throwing 37 pitches in that span.
2. Kirby Yates — Brad Hand has thrown even more over the last two days (48).
3. Jacob Barnes — Corey Knebel has gone back to back, and while he worked three straight days a lot last year, the Brewers may rest him in the early going.
4. Dellin Betances — The same is true for Aroldis Chapman.
5. Sam Dyson — And Hunter Strickland . . . and Tony Watson.
6. George Kontos — Felipe Rivero threw 30 pitches yesterday in a blown save.

Opening Day presents us with first vulture save of 2018

March 30, 2018

San Francisco Giants – Closer Mark Melancon was placed on the 10-day disabled list with inflammation in his forearm. Manager Bruce Bochy said he hopes Melancon will be back in a couple of weeks, calling that scenario “realistic.” In his stead, Hunter Strickland tossed a scoreless ninth inning in a tight 1-0 win over the Dodgers. He’ll continue to get the ball in Melancon’s absence.

Updated hierarchy: Strickland | Watson | Dyson.

St. Louis Cardinals – Greg Holland has finally found a home. He signed a one-year deal worth $14 million on Opening Day with St. Louis. He wasn’t available for Thursday’s game (there was no save situation anyway, as the Cardinals lost 9-4), but he’s expected to step in and close in short order, as he has been training at the Scott Boras facility. Meanwhile, impressive rookie Jordan Hicks made his major league debut, tossing a clean inning while throwing harder (101.6) than Mets starter Noah Syndergaard did. He’s a name to watch this year in the Cardinals bullpen.

Updated hierarchy: Holland | Leone | Lyons.

Cincinnati Reds – Closer Raisel Iglesias is opening the season on the three-day paternity list and is expected to be out through the weekend. Setup man David Hernandez was also placed on the disabled list with a shoulder injury, leaving the Reds ‘pen in some disarray. Iglesias will be back early next week, but in the meantime, expect Manager Bryan Price to play the matchups, with Jared Hughes and Wandy Peralta possibly getting looks. Avoid this bullpen situation for now, if you can.

Updated hierarchy: Iglesias | Hughes | Peralta.

Milwaukee Brewers – Game No. 1 of 162 already presented us with the first vulture save of the season! Jacob Barnes did the honors for the Brewers, shutting down the Padres in the 12th inning after closer Corey Knebel blew the save in the ninth, giving up the game-tying run. Don’t worry Knebel owners, he’s locked in as the closer.

Hierarchy remains: Knebel | Barnes | Hader.

1. Liam Hendriks – Blake Treinen and Yusmiero Petit each threw 25 pitches over two innings of work in Oakland’s extra-innings win over the Angels. Yes, we know it’s one game, but they may not want to overwork their closer, Treinen, too early.
2. Jared Hughes – Raisel Iglesias is out for the weekend on paternity leave, and someone will need to close games. Expect Jared Hughes to get the first crack, should the opportunity arise this weekend.

Updated MLB Closer Depth Chart

Closer1st in line2nd in lineUpdatedCloser1st in line2nd in lineUpdated

* = closer-by-committee

Mark Melancon hits the DL; Keone Kela will start off as closer in Texas

March 29, 2018

San Francisco Giants – It’s official: Mark Melancon will start the season on the DL. No word yet on who will close, though Sam Dyson, Tony Watson, and Hunter Strickland are all in the mix.

[UPDATE: Bruce Bochy announced that Hunter Strickland will serve as closer for now.]

Updated hierarchy: Strickland | Watson | Dyson.

Texas Rangers – Keone Kela will be the Rangers’ primary closer, Jeff Banister announced. In a bit of a surprise, Banister mentioned Kevin Jepsen as the player who will spell Kela when he needs a break. Alex Claudio could ascend if they falter.

Updated hierarchy: Kela | Jepsen | Claudio. 

Greg Holland inks deal with Cardinals

March 29, 2018

St. Louis Cardinals – Greg Holland has agreed to a one-year, $14 million deal with the Cardinals. He will almost certainly serve as the team’s closer once he gets up to speed and should be added in all formats. He still has to pass a physical for the deal to become official, but we are moving him up to the top of the hierarchy with the understanding that he may not close for at least a week or two.

Updated hierarchy: Holland | Leone | Lyons.

New York Mets – Pitching coach Dave Eiland said yesterday that Jeurys Familia will serve as the team’s primary closer. There was talk earlier in the spring that the Mets might take a mix-and-match approach in the final innings — and Eiland said they still may occasionally use Familia before the 9th — but right now, it seems that he’s got the full-time gig, or close to it. We’re removing his asterisk.

Updated hierarchy: Familia | Ramos | Swarzak.

San Francisco Giants – We are still awaiting word as to whether the Giants will place Mark Melancon on the disabled list and will continue to monitor throughout the afternoon. Sam Dyson, Tony Watson, and Hunter Strickland have all been mentioned by beat writers as possibilities to close in his absence.

Hierarchy remains: Melancon | Watson | Dyson.