Mark Melancon is hurting; Brad Boxberger wins job in Arizona

March 27, 2018

San Francisco Giants – Closer Mark Melancon hasn’t pitched since Friday, and may start the season on the disabled list. We won’t adjust the hierarchy until we hear something official, but if he has to miss any time, look for Tony Watson and Sam Dyson to share closing duties until he returns. A Giants beat writer also thinks Hunter Strickland will get some consideration after a strong spring.

Hierarchy remains: Melancon | Watson | Dyson.

Arizona Diamondbacks – Torey Lovullo named Brad Boxberger his closer on Tuesday afternoon. At the outset of Spring Training, it seemed like this was going to be Archie Bradley’s job, but things started to change as the preseason progressed, prompting us to move Boxberger into the lead last week. His hold on this job will be tenuous, but it’s his to lose for the time being.

Updated hierarchy: Boxberger | Bradley | Hirano.

Philadelphia Phillies – Tommy Hunter, expected to be one of the main set-up men for Hector Neris — or possibly even serve as a 9th inning candidate if Neris gets the Andrew Miller treatment — will do neither for a while, as the Phillies announced that he will start the season on the DL. Pat Neshek and Adam Morgan figure to get the lion’s share of holds while Hunter is out.

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

Bullpen shakeups abound as teams set 25-man rosters

March 27, 2018

Tampa Bay Rays – Two veteran relievers that appeared to be strong candidates for set-up roles at the start of the spring — Daniel Hudson and Dan Jennings — didn’t even make the roster and will be seeking employment elsewhere. The moves were both a bit surprising — Hudson couldn’t get anyone out all spring (15.19 ERA) but was the player that the Rays acquired for Corey Dickerson; while Jennings had posted four straight scoreless outings after a rough first appearance — but at any rate, it’s now likely that the Rays will use veteran Sergio Romo and hard-throwing youngster Jose Alvarado to bridge the gap to Alex Colome.

Updated hierarchy: Colome | Romo | Alvarado.

St. Louis Cardinals – In addition to Dominic Leone, GM John Mozeliak recently mentioned Tyler Lyons as a possible closer candidate in Luke Gregerson’s absence. Beat reporters like Lyons, too, so we’re placing the lefty in the set-up role ahead of the also-promising Sam Tuivailala and the experienced, but struggling Bud Norris (10.80 spring ERA).

Updated hierarchy: *Leone | Lyons | Tuivailala.
* = closer-by-committee

Seattle Mariners – David Phelps, the expected 7th or 8th inning man in Seattle, underwent Tommy John surgery this week and will miss the 2018 season. Look for Nick Vincent to get a few more holds as a result.

Updated hierarchy: Diaz | Nicasio | Vincent.

Cincinnati Reds – Michael Lorenzen has a strained right shoulder and will start the season on the DL. While there was talk of moving him to the rotation, the injury likely means he’ll resume his familiar bullpen duties once he returns. In the meantime, look for Jared Hughes and David Hernandez to set up for Raisel Iglesias. Also joining the bullpen: former St. John’s small forward Amir Garrett.

Updated hierarchy: Iglesias | Hughes | Hernandez.

Pittsburgh Pirates – Kevin Siegrist, who seemed like one of the most promising relievers in baseball a few years ago, failed to make the Pirates’ opening day roster. He’s only 28, so we’re guessing he resurfaces at some point, but for now, look for Michael Feliz to pitch the 7th inning in Pittsburgh.

Updated hierarchy: Rivero | Kontos | Feliz.

Kansas City Royals – Kelvin Herrera and Brandon Maurer are locked in to the 9th and 8th inning roles in Kansas City, but we’re still just throwing darts as to who will pitch before them. Our current best guess: Brad Keller, a 22-year-old Rule 5 acquisition who struck out 14 in 10 innings this spring. Justin Grimm could also challenge for the role.

Updated hierarchy: Herrera | Maurer | Keller.

Luke Gregerson to begin season on DL

March 25, 2018

St. Louis Cardinals – Luke Gregerson will start the season on the disabled list thanks to a strained hamstring. Mike Matheny did not name a closer, but all signs point to Dominic Leone being the first choice for saves. Bud Norris will also get some consideration for the ninth inning as well. Don’t sleep on Sam Tuivailala as a candidate for late-inning work as well. The 25-year-old has been terrific this spring, posting 12 strikeouts in 6.1 innings. He has not allowed a run and even picked up a save.

Updated hierarchy: *Leone | Norris | Tuivailala.
* = closer-by-committee

Closers for Rangers, Diamondbacks, Cardinals, and Angels still unsettled

March 22, 2018

Texas Rangers — One week from Opening Day, the Rangers’ closer situation still hasn’t really cleared up. With Jeff Banister eager to deploy Alex Claudio and Matt Bush (who lost his chance at the rotation after three poor starts) in high-leverage situations before the ninth, it sounds more and more like Texas won’t commit to a single closer — at least until (and unless) Tim Lincecum is ready to go. Keone Kela passed a big test with successful back-to-back outings this week, and he says he’s ready for the season to start. We’ll throw an asterisk on here (for now) to account for Banister’s lack of commitment, with Kela still our choice over Jake Diekman and the rest.

Updated hierarchy: *Kela | Diekman | Claudio.
* = closer-by-committee

Arizona Diamondbacks — The closer competition in Arizona seems to be down to two men: Archie Bradley and Brad Boxberger. While at least one beat writer is leaning toward Box, Torey Lovullo has had kind words for all his relievers, and no one seems particularly concerned about his role going forward. We’ll flip Boxberger and Bradley at the head of the committee to reflect our current feeling about which way the race is going to go, but watch for an official announcement before too long.

Updated hierarchy: *Boxberger | Bradley | Hirano.
* = closer-by-committee

St. Louis Cardinals — Nothing official out of St. Louis, but there’s still a feeling among writers that Luke Gregerson, back from his injured oblique, will get the first shot at closing ahead of Dominic Leone, Bud Norris, Tyler Lyons, and Sam Tuivailala. Between injuries and competition, even if Gregerson gets the nod, we don’t expect him to keep the job for long.

Hierarchy remains: *Gregerson | Leone | Norris.
* = closer-by-committee

Los Angeles Angels — We’re still roughly in the same place with LA too: Blake Parker continues to have a rough spring, leading to (unsourced) speculation about Cam Bedrosian taking the closer job. The only difference is that now Bedrosian is giving up runs too — three in his last two outings. No changes yet.

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


Dominic Leone emerging as closer candidate in St. Louis

March 14, 2018

St. Louis Cardinals – With Luke Gregerson still ailing and Bud Norris sporting a 9.95 ERA this spring, the Cardinals appear to be moving towards Dominic Leone as a closer candidate. They’re giving him a nice long look in the role during the exhibitions — Leone picked up his third save on Sunday — and general manager John Mozeliak mentioned him as a closer candidate in a recent radio interview. If Gregerson can get healthy by the start of the season, we still think the job is his, but Leone could end up being a great pickup late in your drafts.

Updated hierarchy: *Gregerson | Leone | Norris.
* = closer-by-committee