Monkey Bytes, April 2: April Fools by managers?; Game Recaps, and Injury Updates

Although fantasy players prefer clarity during high-leverage events, some managers will deploy their best relievers in the highest-leveraged moment, not necessarily reserve them for the traditional save chance in the ninth inning. This happened not, once or twice, but during three separate contests in Monday’s slate. It remains early for tracking bullpen usage patterns, but it could affect how save situations evolve moving forward.

Seattle Mariners – Protecting a two-run lead, Andrés Muñoz entered in the top of the eighth against Cleveland’s 3-4-5 lineup pocket, in the highest-leveraged moment. Although he served up a solo home run by Josh Naylor, he secured the hold and recorded a strikeout while throwing 16 pitches (75 Strike%) with three whiffs (18.8 SwStr%). Ryne Stanek fired a clean ninth, striking out one for his first save versus the 7-8-9 pocket. Also appearing in relief, Tayler Saucedo retired two batters in the sixth for his first hold. Gabe Speier notched his second hold, giving up a hit and striking out two in a scoreless seventh. Scott Servais played for the win, not for a traditional save.

Hierarchy Remains: Andrés Muñoz | Ryne Stanek | Gabe Speier

Cincinnati Reds – Taking over in the bottom of the eighth with two runners on and one out, Alexis Díaz picked off the pinch-runner at second, and retired all four batters faced, recording two strikeouts, then collected his first win of the season courtesy of a rally in the top of the 10th. He threw 14 pitches (64.3 Strike%) and generated three whiffs (21.4 SwStr%). Tejay Antone worked the 10th, allowing a hit, an unearned run, and a walk while striking out two. Brent Suter gave up two hits during one-third of the eighth before being removed. Justin Wilson tossed a scoreless seventh, walking one and striking out one. Emilio Pagán retired two batters in the sixth, giving up a hit and striking out one. David Bell has done this before with his relievers. The good news, Díaz only needed 14 pitches in this outing, so he could record the save chance if called upon in tonight’s contest.

Hierarchy Updated: Alexis Díaz | Lucas Sims | Fernando Cruz

Miami Marlins – In a curious leverage pattern, Tanner Scott took over a tied game in the top of the eighth against the top of the Angels lineup, which features three right-handed hitters in the top four spots. Scott issued three straight walks, let the go-ahead run score on a fielder’s choice groundout, and then retired the next two hitters en route to his second loss. He threw 27 pitches (14 strikes – 51.9 Strike%) with no whiffs. In the ninth, Anthony Bender allowed two hits and two earned runs while striking out one over two-thirds of an inning. Burch Smith recorded the last out in the inning after walking a batter. In the seventh, Andrew Nardi gave up a hit and recorded a strikeout in a scoreless outing. George Soriano was tagged with his first blown save, serving up two solo home runs and striking out one in the sixth. Manager Skip Schumaker remains steadfast in his support for Scott, but Nardi could be on the radar for those interested for future save chances if the command issues linger.

Hierarchy Remains: Tanner Scott | Andrew Nardi | Anthony Bender

American League (Game Recaps April 1)

Baltimore Orioles – As far as blown saves come, this was a tough one for Craig Kimbrel during his team debut. With one out, he allowed an opposite-field bloop single, then pinch-runner Dairon Blanco stole second and third, then scored on a sacrifice fly, tying the game, before an inning-ending strikeout of Bobby Witt Jr. However, Kimbrel collected his first win courtesy of a walk-off home run in the bottom of the frame. He threw 23 pitches (15 strikes – 65.2 Strike%) with one whiff. Yennier Cano navigated around two hits and a walk while striking out one over 1.1 scoreless innings. Keegan Akin tossed 1.1 scoreless frames, yielding a hit and striking out one.

Hierarchy Remains: Craig Kimbrel | Yennier Cano | Dillon Tate

Boston Red Sox Taking the baton from Tanner Houck, newly acquired reliever Chase Anderson recorded a three-inning save, allowing a hit and striking out three in a scoreless appearance, preserving a combined shutout in Oakland. He threw 40 pitches (75 Strike%) and induced five whiffs (12.5 SwStr%). Before the game, manager Alex Cora indicated Kenley Jansen was available if needed per Christopher Smith of MassLive on “X”. 

Hierarchy Remains: Kenley Jansen | Chris Martin | Josh Winckowski

Detroit Tigers – Closing out a combined shutout, Shelby Miller retired the side in order in the bottom of the 10th, stranding the “place” runner. He threw 16 pitches (50 Strike%) without a whiff. Jason Foley collected his first win, tossing a scoreless ninth, giving up a hit, and striking out two on 15 pitches (80 Strike%) with two whiffs (13.3 SwStr%). Alex Faedo logged two scoreless frames, allowing a hit and a walk while striking out three. Will Vest stranded a runner and retired his only batter faced in the sixth.

Hierarchy Remains: *Jason Foley | *Shelby Miller | Andrew Chafin

Kansas City Royals -Suffering his first loss, Nick Anderson allowed two hits, including a walk-off two-run home run by Jordan Westburg in Baltimore. James McArthur gave up three hits and an earned run while striking out one in the eighth, though his team defense did him no favors. Chris Stratton worked a scoreless seventh, allowing a hit. John Schreiber fired a clean sixth, striking out one.

Hierarchy Remains: Will Smith | James McArthur | John Schreiber

Los Angeles Angels – Securing his second save, Carlos Estévez turned in a scoreless bottom of the ninth, yielding a hit. He threw 12 pitches (75 Strike%) without inducing a whiff. Matt Moore notched his first hold, firing a clean eighth, and striking out one. Adam Cimber collected his first win, firing 1.2 clean frames and striking out one. José Suarez worked 1.1 scoreless innings, navigating around a hit and two walks while striking out two. José Cisnero scattered two hits during a scoreless fourth.

Hierarchy Remains: Carlos Estévez | Matt Moore | José Soriano

New York Yankees – Providing the high-leverage relievers rest, manager Aaron Boone called upon Victor González for the save in the bottom of the ninth, and he responded with a scoreless inning, yielding a one-out double, but retired the next two batters. Nick Burdi secured his first hold, firing a clean eighth while striking out one. Luke Weaver collected his second win, logging 2.1 innings, giving up two hits, an earned run, and a walk.

Hierarchy Remains: Clay Holmes | Ian Hamilton | Jonathan Loáisiga

National League (Game Recaps April 1)

Philadelphia Phillies – Entering with his team down by four, Nick Nelson retired his only batter faced via strikeout, stranding a runner. Connor Brogdon suffered his first loss, giving up four runs (three earned) on a grand slam in the top of the 10th after issuing two walks. He finished with three walks versus two strikeouts in his two-thirds of an inning. José Alvarado worked a scoreless ninth, walking one and striking out two. He threw 15 pitches (60 Strike%) and produced three whiffs (18.8 SwStr%). Yunior Marte tossed a clean eighth, striking out one. Matt Strahm fired a clean seventh, striking out one. Jeff Hoffman was tagged with his first blown save, letting both inherited runners score while allowing two hits and striking out two in the sixth. 

Hierarchy Remains: *José Alvarado | *Jeff Hoffman | *Seranthony Domínguez

Pittsburgh Pirates – Pressed into action with two runners on and two outs, Aroldis Chapman retired his only batter-faced on a game-ending flyout, throwing only three pitches for his first save of the season, and 322nd of his career. He’s logged 2.1 innings over three outings with three strikeouts. Ryder Ryan got credit for his first hold, allowing two hits, an earned run, and a walk while striking out three over 1.2 innings. Roansy Contreras made his season debut as a reliever, collected his first win, and was tagged with his first blown save. He allowed two hits, including a game-tying two-run home run, and a walk while striking out three during his two-inning stint. There’s been four saves by the Pirates, David Bednar has not recorded one of them.

Hierarchy Remains: David Bednar | Aroldis Chapman | Ryan Borucki

St. Louis Cardinals – Finishing off a four-run win in San Diego, Ryan Helsley tossed a scoreless bottom of the ninth, allowing a two-out single by Manny Machado. He threw six pitches (83.3 Strike%) with no whiffs. Even though this was a non-save outing, his velocity returned, averaging 98.3 m.p.h. with his four-seam fastball while facing the 2-3-4-5 hitters. JoJo Romero fired a clean eighth, striking out one on nine pitches (77,8 Strike%) with four whiffs (44.4 SwStr%).

Hierarchy Remains: Ryan Helsley | Giovanny Gallegos | JoJo Romero

Injury Updates (click the player’s name for the update)

Vulture Saves

For Tuesday, April 2:

  • Matt Moore (LAA)
  • Andrew Nardi (MIA)
  • Seranthony Domínguez (PHI)

Contingency Options for April 3:

  • Lucas Sims (CIN): if Alexis Díaz pitches on Tuesday
  • Giovanny Gallegos (STL): if Ryan Helsley pitches on Tuesday
  • Keegan Akin or Dillon Tate (BAL): if Craig Kimbrel pitches on Tuesday

Closer Monkey’s filthy outing of the day, Edwin Díaz in a non-save appearance, courtesy of the Pitching Ninja.

Thanks for being a part of the Closer Monkey community. Stay safe and be well.

Please consider becoming a premium subscriber for a one-time $20 donation to the site, featuring full-text emails with charts, column blurbs, and ad-free analysis.