Brad Ziegler out as Marlins closer

May 31, 2018

Miami Marlins — As we suspected after last night’s blown save, Brad Ziegler is out as closer in Miami. Mattingly did not announce a replacement but we think Kyle Barraclough will take over the ninth inning for the Marlins, with Drew Steckenrider moving up to be the go-to guy in the eighth.

Updated hierarchy: Barraclough | Steckenrider | Wittgren. 

If Brad Ziegler keeps his job, you’ll know Jeter is tanking

May 31, 2018

Miami Marlins — So much for the narrative that Brad Ziegler is lights-out in save situations. Given a one-run lead in the ninth, Ziegler gave up a walk and a double, loaded the bases with an intentional walk, and then saw the Padres walk off on an infield single and a throwing error. Kyle Barraclough could have this job as soon as Thursday night, especially after Don Mattingly’s postgame comments about wanting something “dependable” in the ninth. Consider this a pre-alert.

Hierarchy remains: Ziegler | Barraclough | Steckenrider. 

Cincinnati Reds — After the minimum 10 days off, Raisel Iglesias returned from the disabled list on Wednesday and picked up right where he left off, earning his ninth save of the season. Joining Iglesias in the Reds bullpen will be the aptly named Homer Bailey (6.68 ERA, 15 HR allowed, $21 million salary). Stay away.

Updated hierarchy: Iglesias | Hughes | Garrett.

New York Mets — Robert Gsellman got the gsave Wednesday night, but that was because Mickey Callaway used Jeurys Familia against the top of the Braves’ order in the eighth. This is the kind of unorthodox bullpen strategy that Callaway promised in spring training, and shouldn’t be misread as a hierarchy gshift.

Hierarchy remains: Familia | Gsellman | Lugo.

San Francisco Giants — Mark Melancon will rejoin the Giants on Thursday for an evaluation; if all goes well, he’ll be reactivated on Friday. No word yet on how quickly he’ll move into the ninth inning. We don’t send alerts for DL activations, so if he’s available in your league, now’s the time to grab him.

Hierarchy remains: Strickland | Watson | Dyson.

Chicago Cubs — Carl Edwards Jr. is suffering from shoulder inflammation and will need a few weeks off from pitching. Joe Maddon named Pedro Strop (1.59 ERA, 1.01 WHIP) and Justin Wilson (10.5 K/9) as relievers he’ll trust alongside Steve Cishek and Brandon Morrow while Edwards is recuperating.

Updated hierarchy: Morrow | Cishek | Strop.

Baltimore Orioles — Zach Britton’s rehab assignment went very well. If he can show he’s made a full recovery, his may be the biggest move at the trade deadline.

Hierarchy remains: Brach | Bleier | Givens.

Tampa Bay Rays — Nathan Eovaldi’s return from Tommy John surgery went better than anyone could have hoped, with six innings of no-hit ball against the A’s. But you can’t tax his arm too much, so at 70 pitches, Kevin Cash went to the bullpen, and summoned . . . Wilmer Font. Yeah, the 28-year-old sans-serif rookie acquired from Oakland earlier this week, who’s somehow managed to put up double digit ERAs (and allow five home runs) for two different teams already this season. Font didn’t kern his 11th home run, but he did allow a hit for the 16th time in 18 innings, ruining the only reason the season-low crowd had to stay.

Hierarchy remains: *Alvarado | Romo | Roe.
* = closer-by-committee

1. Dellin Betances/Chad Green — Both David Robertson and Aroldis Chapman have appeared in two straight, three of four, and four of six.
2. Michael Feliz — Javier Vazquez had some recent forearm trouble and he’s pitched in three of four.
3. Comerica Park Canada Goose Backup — The Tigers say Rally Goose is good to go after his crash into a video board and subsequent plummet into the stands, but with a day game following a night game, we doubt they’ll fly him out there again.

1. Joe Kelly — Craig Kimbrel has pitched in two straight games.
2. Brandon Kintzler — So has Sean Doolittle.
3. Chris Martin — And Keone Kela.

Former starter Sergio Romo picks up a save

May 30, 2018

Tampa Bay Rays – After making four starts this month, Sergio Romo is back in the bullpen and was tabbed by Kevin Cash to close out Tuesday’s tilt. Romo allowed a single and a double to start his outing, but he followed that with three straight groundouts (two of which plated runs) to complete a 4-3 win. Romo is the third Tampa reliever to record a save since Alex Colome was shipped to Seattle, and after the game Kevin Cash said that Romo will get some, but not all, of the save opportunities. Jose Alvarado had thrown 23 pitches on Monday, so a day off on Tuesday wasn’t that farfetched and it’s likely he gets the save chance today if one arises. Still, this is looking like a committee after last night’s comments from Cash.

Hierarchy remains: *Alvarado | Romo | Roe.
* = closer-by-committee

Philadelphia Phillies – Hector Neris got the ball in the eighth inning against the top of the Dodgers’ order, tasked with protecting a four-run lead. It did not go well for Neris, as three hits and one earned run later, he gave way to Tommy Hunter to get out of the inning. The Phillies tacked on two more runs in the top of the ninth, but if they didn’t, Seranthony Dominguez was probably going to get the save chance. Dominguez has been lights out this year, but he has yet to pitch two straight days. Neris has not been good in his last two appearances, and it may do him (and the Phillies) some good if he pitches in lower-leverage spots.

Updated hierarchy: *Dominguez | Ramos | Neris.
* = closer-by-committee

Houston Astros — Ken Giles had thrown 35 pitches over the last two days, so with the Astros ahead by two in the ninth, AJ Hinch turned to Chris Devenski to close out a win. That was a nice idea, but Devenski gave up a two-run homer to send the game to extras. Giles was originally unavailable because of his previous workload, but that changed when the Astros threatened to take the lead in the 10th. Either way, Giles and Devenski remain the top two arms in the Houston bullpen.

Hierarchy remains: Giles | Devenski | Peacock.

San Diego Padres – With the 2-3-4 hitters due up for Miami in the eighth inning, Andy Green called on closer Brad Hand to take care of business an inning earlier than usual. Hand retired the side in order, with Yates originally intended to vulture a save until the Padres extended their one-run lead to a five-run advantage. Green mentioned before the season that Hand may not be employed exclusively in the ninth, so this idea isn’t completely out of left field. We’ll see if Green continues to finally follow through on his preseason promise.

Hierarchy remains: Hand | Yates | Stammen.

Pittsburgh Pirates – It wasn’t a save situation, but Felipe Vazquez worked a clean ninth inning in a Pirates loss. Not only that, but Vazquez hit triple digits with his fastball four times, his way of showing everyone he’s fine.

Hierarchy remains: Vazquez | Feliz | Santana.

Baltimore Orioles — Zach Britton will begin his rehab assignment today, it’s just a matter of where. That will be his first game inning since offseason surgery on his Achilles tendon. Meanwhile, Darren O’Day was supposed to throw on Tuesday, but that did not happen.

Hierarchy remains: Brach | Bleier | Givens.

1. Alex Colome – Edwin Diaz, who had a rough outing on Tuesday, has pitched in two straight and four of five.

1. Chris Devenski – Devenski should be off today. If Ken Giles has a really tough outing on Wednesday, Devenski may get a chance on Thursday, as Giles will have pitched in three of four.
2. David Robertson/Dellin Betances – It will be two straight and three of four for the entire Yankee hierarchy if any of them pitch on Wednesday. A particularly lengthy appearance for any of them could lead to a day off on Thursday.
3. Michael Feliz/Edgar Santana – The Pirates may be cautious with Felipe Vazquez after his recent injury scare, but the entire Pirates bullpen has been busy lately. Wednesday’s usage will determine how Thursday goes.

Adam Ottavino hits the DL; Felipe Vazquez should be OK

May 29, 2018

Pittsburgh Pirates – The Pirates got good news about Felipe Vazquez, as the closer’s forearm injury turned out to be minor. He may miss another day or two as he recovers, but he should be fine going forward.

Hierarchy remains: Vazquez | Feliz | Santana.

Colorado Rockies – Adam Ottavino has been placed on the disabled list with a sore left oblique. The team considers the injury to be minor, so he’ll likely be back in two weeks or so. Look for Bryan Shaw and Jake McGee to see their share of holds increase.

Updated hierarchy: Davis | Shaw | McGee.

Tampa Bay Rays – Jonny Venters got the last out of the 13th inning to seal a Tampa victory, giving him his first save in seven years. Venters’s comeback has been a great story, for sure, but he’s also now pitching his way into potentially a bigger role, as the lefty has posted a 1.04 ERA through his first 8.2 innings thus far.

Hierarchy remains: Alvarado | Romo | Roe. 

1. Paul Sewald – Jeurys Familia, Robert Gsellman, and Seth Lugo all threw a lot of pitches in yesterday’s doubleheader.
2. Bryan Shaw – Wade Davis has pitched in back to back games and three of four.

1. Alex Colome – If Edwin Diaz goes tonight, it’ll be back to back and four of five.
2. Tony Watson – If Hunter Strickland goes tonight, it’ll be back to back and four of five.
3. Lou Trivino/Yusmeiro Petit/Ryan Dull – Blake Treinen, Trivino, and Petit have all gone in back to back games; tonight’s usage will determine who is available tomorrow.
4. Chris Devenski/Brad Peacock – If Ken Giles or Devenski go tonight, it’ll be three straight.

Pirates await word on severity of Felipe Vazquez injury

May 28, 2018

Pittsburgh Pirates – Sometimes, forearm discomfort is no big deal. But often, it’s a precursor to Tommy John surgery. Felipe Vazquez, who left the game early complaining of forearm discomfort in his final two pitches, will get evaluated today, and the Pirates may need a new closer for the foreseeable future. Up until recently, this looked to be Michael Feliz, but he’s been knocked around over his last few outings. More consistent lately has been 7th inning man Edgar Santana, who may jump Feliz and get first crack at saves. And then there’s Richard Rodriguez and Kyle Crick, who are both sporting sub-2 ERAs, but haven’t generally been trusted with leads late in games. We will monitor Vazquez’s injury — and any subsequent team announcements about the role — closely today.

Hierarchy remains: Vazquez | Feliz | Santana. 

Toronto Blue Jays – Ryan Tepera got his second save in three days on Sunday and remains atop this committee. Seung-Hwan Oh was going to be the guy who got the opportunity on Saturday, though, if his teammates hadn’t relinquished the lead, so we can’t declare Tepera the full-time guy just yet.

Updated hierarchy: *Tepera | Oh | Clippard.
* = closer-by-committee

Kansas City Royals – Brad Keller is getting the start on Wednesday, so we’ll remove him from the hierarchy until he returns to the bullpen. Rookie Jason Adam, who has struck out 12 hitters in 8.2 innings and got his first hold yesterday, moves into the late-inning crew. Adam may be worth watching as the trade market heats up for Kelvin Herrera.

Updated hierarchy: Herrera | McCarthy | Adam. 

Tampa Bay Rays – Austin Pruitt picked up a 5.2 inning save yesterday. It’s not the longest save in history — Joaquin Benoit got a 7-inning save in 2002, and it’s hardly the most memorable 5+ inning save in recent years. But it’s still pretty impressive. Keep up the weirdness, Tampa!

Hierarchy remains: Alvarado | Romo | Roe.

Washington Nationals – Brandon Kintzler picked up his second save of the season, as Sean Doolittle was given the day off. The Vulture Save Watch may have failed to predict Pruitt’s save, but it got this one right.

Hierarchy remains: Doolittle | Kintzler | Kelley.

Seattle Mariners – The Vulture Save Watch got this one, too, as Alex Colome pitched the 9th inning while Edwin Diaz got the day off. Dilly dilly.

Hierarchy remains: Diaz | Colome | Nicasio.

1. Michael Feliz/Edgar Santana – Even if Felipe Vazquez’s injury isn’t serious, it’s unlikely he’ll be available today.
2. Tyler Olson – Cody Allen has pitched in three straight, and this whole bullpen is gassed after their 14-inning game yesterday.
3. Seth Lugo – The Mets and Braves have a doubleheader today.
4. AJ Minter – The Mets and Braves have a doubleheader today.

1. Jordan Hicks/Sam Tuivailala – If Bud Norris and Jordan Hicks go today, it’ll be three straight.
2. David Robertson – If Aroldis Chapman goes today, it’ll be back to back and three of four.
3. Josh Hader – If Corey Knebel goes today, it’ll be back to back and three of four.