Monkey Bytes, April 5: Bednar’s on the board, Game Recaps from Thursday’s small slate, and What to Watch for this weekend

Small slates can be slippery, especially with a doubleheader involved, but some performances of interest presented themselves, including a closer recording his first save of the season.

Pittsburgh Pirates – Save number one for “The Renegade”. David Bednar fired a clean bottom of the ninth and recorded two strikeouts finishing off a three-run win over the Nationals. He threw 19 pitches (14 strikes – 73.7 Strike%) and induced two whiffs (11.1 SwStr%). He owns a 0.33 WHIP with five strikeouts versus zero walks through his first three appearances. Aroldis Chapman took over in the eighth with two runners on and retired his only batter faced via strikeout for his second hold. This contest made team history as well. During its first five saves this season, five different relievers have secured them.

Hierarchy Remains: David Bednar | Aroldis Chapman | Ryan Borucki

Cleveland GuardiansRacking up his third save, Emmanuel Clase retired the side in order in the ninth, finishing off a two-run win in Minnesota matching up with the 9-1-2 lineup pocket. He threw 14 pitches (57.1 Strike%) and did not record a whiff. After three outings, he owns a 1.00 WHIP with two strikeouts against zero walks. Scott Barlow notched his third hold, yielding a hit and striking out three in a scoreless eighth. There’s stability in the eighth and ninth innings, but it’s been a revolving door based on availability for the bridge innings, making it tough mining holds in this leverage ladder, hopefully someone emerges in the vacated role filled by Trevor Stephan.

Hierarchy Remains: Emmanuel Clase | Scott Barlow | Tyler Beede

Detroit Tigers – (Game 1): Collecting his second win, Shelby Miller tossed two scoreless innings, stranding both “place” runners, navigating around two walks, and striking out four. He threw 34 pitches (18 strikes – 52.9 Strike%) and induced three whiffs. He owns a 0.33 WHIP with six strikeouts over six innings through four games this season. Jason Foley issued a lead-off walk (Brandon Nimmo), allowed a stolen base, recorded a strikeout, walked Pete Alonso, and produced an inning-ending double play ground-out, keeping the game tied. He only gave up 15 walks last year and never walked two during any of his 70 appearances. He threw 25 pitches (64 Strike%) with one whiff. Andrew Chafin fired a clean eighth, striking out one. Alex Lange worked a scoreless seventh, walking one and striking out two.

Detroit Tigers – (Game 2): Taking over in the sixth, Tyler Holton worked two scoreless frames, yielding a hit and striking out one for his first hold. He has picked up where he left off last season, logging 4.1 scoreless innings with six strikeouts versus zero walks while recording a 0.46 WHIP. Alex Faedo gave up a game-tying home run to Pete Alonso, issued a walk to Brett Baty, followed by a sacrifice bunt and walk-off RBI single by Tyrone Taylor, resulting in his first loss and his first blown save.

Flexing its bullpen’s depth and pliability, the Tigers could not close out a sweep but kept its leverage relievers on regular workloads after these games.

Hierarchy Remains: Jason Foley | Shelby Miller | Andrew Chafin

New York Mets – (Game 1): Suffering his second loss, Michael Tonkin allowed four hits and three runs (two earned) while recording a strikeout in a tough luck outing. Jorge López retired the side in order in the 10th, stranding the “place” runner. Edwin Díaz fired a clean ninth, striking out two on 12 pitches (75 Strike%) and generating three whiffs (25 SwStr%). He’s posted a 0.33 WHIP with five strikeouts versus zero walks through his first three contests. Adam Ottavino was tagged with his first blown save, serving up a game-tying solo home run by Riley Greene and striking out one in the eighth.

Hierarchy Remains: Edwin Díaz | Adam Ottavino | Brooks Raley

St. Louis Cardinals – Securing his second save, Ryan Helsley fired a clean ninth, striking out one versus the 9-1-2 lineup pocket of Miami. He threw 11 pitches (72.7 Strike%) with no whiffs. This outing lowered his WHIIP to 1.50 and he’s posted a 5:0 K:BB over four innings this season. JoJo Romero notched his second hold, retiring the side in order in the eighth, recording one strikeout. Giovanny Gallegos collected his first win, stranding a runner while retiring his only batter faced in the seventh.

Hierarchy Remains: Ryan Helsley | Giovanny Gallegos | JoJo Romero

Vulture Save Watch for Friday, April 5

STL: Ryan Helsley has appeared in three of the last four days, opening the door for a save chance by Giovanny Gallegos or JoJo Romero based on lineup pockets in today’s contest.

Vulture Save Watch for Saturday, April 6

DET: If Jason Foley pitches again on Friday, he will receive Saturday off. This opens the door for a Shelby Miller save chance, or Alex Lange, depending on how Hinch handles the leverage innings.

What to Watch For (Weekend Contests)

Kansas City Royals – Will the team give Will Smith its next save chance? Do they use a match-up-based approach? This would shift Smith into outings against left-handed hitting pockets and John Schreiber versus right-handed hitting pockets during high-leverage events. Also, will James McArthur migrate his early results toward the mean (12.00 ERA versus 3.50 SIERA) and work himself into future save chances?

Miami Marlins – Can Tanner Scott rebound from his early command issues (-5.6 K-BB%; 56.3 Strike%) and find his form from the second half last season? Andrew Nardi turned in another rough outing on Thursday and owns a 3.00 WHIP while allowing a 75 percent contact rate over his first three appearances. This leverage ladder needs stability and no one has stepped forward.

Milwaukee Brewers – Making his fourth appearance in six days resulted in a blown save for Joel Payamps. He also worked with reduced velocity based on this heavy usage pattern. With Trevor Megill on the seven-day concussion injured list, which reliever can step up in the sixth and seventh innings? Hoby Milner? Elvis Peguero?

Texas Rangers – It’s still early, but José Leclerc has not recorded a scoreless outing or a save. Kirby Yates has matched up with left-handed leaning lineup pockets while David Robertson faces right-handed hitting pockets in leverage situations. If Bochy gets an itchy trigger finger, which veteran with “closer” experience takes over the primary save share?

Closer Monkey’s filthy pitch of the day, Edwin Díaz produced an ugly whiff on this slider, courtesy of the Pitching Ninja.

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