What to Watch For: Weekend of May 17-through-19

Although many bullpens have settled into structured hierarchies, many situations remain in flux whether its performance by the team’s closer or the relievers setting him up. Here are the situations which require our focus this weekend.

American League

Baltimore Orioles

  • How does the team use Craig Kimbrel? He’s recorded three consecutive scoreless appearances and a win while striking out four of 10 batters. However, he entered during the seventh inning in two of these contests. Will the team keep using a match-up-based approach or will the veteran reliever reassume his familiar role in the ninth inning?

Boston Red Sox

  • Another veteran closer has struggled in recent outings, though Kenley Jansen did convert both save chances in May. He has also allowed multiple runs in two of his last five appearances while posting a 1.60 WHIP over five innings. Can Justin Slaten forge a larger leverage share?

Chicago White Sox

  • The team may trade Michael Kopech and John Brebbia before the trade deadline, which opens the door for future Jordan Leasure saves. Those with space on their bench may want to stash him sooner rather than later.

Detroit Tigers

  • Who receives the next save chance? How does A.J. Hinch structure his leverage ladder during it? Can fantasy managers trust this bullpen?

Kansas City Royals

  • Will James McArthur solve his home run problem? He’s allowed four through his last five outings. The good news is he’s secured the save in his past three games.

Los Angeles Angels

  • Through four games in May, Carlos Estévez has recorded two clean outings and a save. He’s also suffered a blown save and a loss, allowing two earned runs. Volume caps his upside and if the ratios do not improve, it will be tough earning a leverage share when he’s traded.

Minnesota Twins

  • How will Rocco Baldelli use his best reliever against Cleveland? Does Jhoan Durán match up exclusively against José Ramírez’s lineup pocket or will he operate as the preferred save share?

Tampa Bay Rays

  • Going through some heavy usage patterns recently will make discerning roles going forward tough. Pete Fairbanks was used in the eighth during a win on Wednesday against Boston’s 4-5-6 hitters, not in a save situation. This went against his established closer role from last year, will this continue?

Toronto Blue Jays

  • Closer Jordan Romano has allowed at least a run in three of his five appearances in May resulting in a 2.00 WHIP over five innings. It’s a small sample size but fantasy players should track his results moving forward.

National League

Chicago Cubs

  • Which young starting pitcher converted into the bullpen emerges as a potential high-leverage option: Ben Brown, Hayden Wesneski, or Porter Hodge?

Cincinnati Reds

  • Can Alexis Díaz improve his command?

Colorado Rockies

  • Jalen Beeks has emerged as the preferred save option, can he remain atop the hierarchy? Counterpoint, can Tyler Kinely become the second or first in line with continued strong outings?

Los Angeles Dodgers

  • Who receives the next save chance for the Dodgers? Injury news regarding the pending return of Evan Phillips?

Miami Marlins

  • Will Tanner Scott continue his recent success, and parlay it into trade value for his team? Does A.J. Puk receive another ancillary save chance soon? When the fire sale commences, will the team both southpaw relievers?

New York Mets

  • Remember when Hader struggled but the metrics suggested bad luck, same goes for Edwin Díaz. Remain patient and understand he’s working with the new pitch clock fatigue for the first time, unlike his peers. For comparison’s sake, his pitch splits from 2022 and 2024:

Philadelphia Phillies

  • Does Orion Kerkering earn a larger leverage role soon? He’s recorded three consecutive scoreless outings and struck out five of 10 batters.

Thanks for being a part of the Closer Monkey community, until next time, stay safe and be well.

Statistical Credits:



Monkey Bytes, May 17: Another blown save for Edwin, A Rays blunder costs Adam a save, and The Renegade notched his ninth

Thursday’s slate was small in size featuring only six games, but not in its provision of high-leverage event content. Philadelphia and the Mets played 11 innings, Tampa Bay tried making a mound visit in the ninth with none left, forcing the removal of its reliever during a save chance, and David Bednar recorded a second straight clean appearance while closing out a one-run win against the Cubs. These games and the remaining high-leverage events of interest from last night will be covered below in our condensed and full recaps.

Closer CliffsNotes

(RP | BOS): Suffering his first loss, Kenley Jansen allowed two hits, two earned runs, and a walk while striking out two against the Rays. 

(RP | CHC): Taking over in the top of the sixth, Hayden Wesneski tossed 1.1 scoreless frames and recorded three strikeouts. He threw 21 pitches (66.7 Strike%) and induced four whiffs (19 SwStr%). He or Ben Brown may earn a larger leverage share over the next two weeks, track their results closely. 

Updated Hierarchy: Héctor Neris | Mark Leiter Jr. | Ben Brown

(RP | CIN): Facing the Dodgers, Cincinnati ran a bullpen game which yielded a win for Nick Martinez. He threw five shutout innings and allowed one hit while striking out four after taking over in the third inning.

(RP | HOU): Going old school, Shawn Dubin registered his first major-league save during a three-inning outing against Oakland, preserving a lopsided win. He allowed two hits and an earned run while striking out two on 39 pitches (66.7 Strike%) with six whiffs (15.4 SwStr%).

Hierarchy remains: Josh Hader | Ryan Pressly | Bryan Abreu

(RP | NYM): Hanging on for his first save, Jake Diekman navigated around a hit-batter and a walk, scoring the “place” runner, but preserved the one-run win in the bottom of the 11th. 

(RP | PHI): Entering in the top of the 11th, José Alvarado suffered his second loss, giving up two hits, two runs (one earned), and striking out two against the Mets. 

(RP | PIT): Nailing down his ninth save, David Bednar fired a clean bottom of the ninth, striking out one while securing a one-run win over the Cubs in Chicago. 

(RP | TBR): Pressed into action because of a rules violation, Erasmo Ramírez recorded his first save after retiring his only batter faced, preserving a two-run win in Boston. 

Game Recaps – May 16

Boston Red Sox Veteran closer Kenley Jansen took over a tied game in the top of the ninth and suffered his first loss of the season. He issued a one-out walk and allowed consecutive singles, scoring the go-ahead run, then a sacrifice fly, resulting in a two-run deficit. Jansen did record two strikeouts, throwing 18 pitches (13 strikes – 72.2 Strike%) and inducing three whiffs (16.7 SwStr%). He’s allowed multiple runs in two of his last five contests. Chris Martin worked a scoreless eighth, yielding a hit. Justin Slaten fired a clean seventh, striking out the side on 16 pitches (13 strikes – 81.3 Strike%) while generating six whiffs (37.5 SwStr%).

Hierarchy remains: Kenley Jansen | Chris Martin | Justin Slaten

Cincinnati Reds Appearing as the “bulk follower” in a bullpen game, Nick Martinez took over in the third inning producing five shutout frames while giving up one hit and striking out four for his first win. He threw 68 pitches (45 strikes – 66.2 Strike%) and generated 11 whiffs (16.7 SwStr%). Lucas Sims fired a clean eighth while striking out two on 15 pitches (80 Strike%) with two whiffs (13.3 SwStr%).

Hierarchy remains: Alexis Díaz | Lucas Sims| Fernando Cruz

New York Mets – Entering with a two-run lead in the bottom of the 11th, Jake Diekman escaped with his first save. He retired his first batter-faced, followed by Brandon Marsh reaching on an error and a walk. After inducing a run-scoring fielder’s choice ground out, he produced a game-ending strikeout of Kyle Schwarber. Jorge López collected his first win, issuing an intentional walk (Bryce Harper) during a scoreless tenth. Edwin Díaz suffered his third blown save of the season, and third in four outings. He issued Marsh a lead-off walk after 10 pitches and recorded a strikeout but threw a wild pitch, advancing the runner who scored on a game-tying RBI single by Bryson Stott. Díaz struck out Schwarber and produced a lineout by J.T. Realmuto, ending the inning. Adam Ottavino notched his seventh hold, allowing a hit in a scoreless eighth. Reed Garrett was tagged with his second blown save, yielding two hits, an earned run, and a walk while striking out two over 1.2 innings.

Many will want Díaz placed on the hot seat, especially since he’s already matched his blown save total from 2022 this season. However, his underlying data does not imply a reduction in skills, he must refine his command and improve his strikeout rates moving forward.

Hierarchy remains: Edwin Díaz | Adam Ottavino | Reed Garrett

Philadelphia Phillies – Suffering his second loss, José Alvarado gave up two hits, including a go-ahead RBI single by J.D. Martinez leading off the 11th, a double, and a run on a wild pitch. He also recorded two strikeouts in his outing, throwing 15 pitches (66.7 Strike%) while producing three whiffs (20 SwStr%). José Ruiz logged two clean frames, striking out three. Jeff Hoffman was tagged with his third blown save, allowing a hit, two unearned runs, and a walk while striking out two in the eighth, courtesy of a throwing error by Bryson Stott. Gregory Soto retired the side in the seventh. Orion Kerkering worked a scoreless sixth, yielding a hit and striking out three. Matt Strahm fired 1.2 clean innings, striking out two.

One should note, that Kerkering has been scoreless over his last three allowing one hit while recording five strikeouts (50 K%).

Hierarchy remains: *José Alvarado | *Jeff Hoffman | Orion Kerkering

*= closer-by-committee

Pittsburgh Pirates – Raise the Jolly Roger following a second straight clean appearance by David Bednar, locking down his ninth save. He threw eight pitches (7 strikes – 87.5 Strike%) and produced one while recording one strikeout. He’s converted all four save chances in May and been scoreless in five of his last six games with five strikeouts against one walk. Colin Holderman held on for his fourth hold, giving up an unearned run, a hit-by-pitch, and a walk while striking out one in a scoreless eighth. Aroldis Chapman fired a clean seventh, striking out two, and securing his ninth hold.

Hierarchy remains: David Bednar | Aroldis Chapman | Colin Holderman

Tampa Bay Rays – With two outs, and two runners on, the Rays pitching coach tried making a mound visit without one remaining, causing the removal of Jason Adam from the save chance. Erasmo Ramírez stranded both inherited runners, inducing a game-ending groundout by Romy Gonzalez for his first save this season, and first since 2020. Adam gets credit for his ninth hold, giving up a hit and a walk while striking out one on 23 pitches (15 strikes – 65.2 Strike%) while producing four whiffs (17.4 SwStr%). Manuel Rodríguez collected his first win, striking out one during a clean bottom of the eighth, ahead of his team’s rally. Garrett Cleavinger turned in a scoreless seventh, walking one and striking out one.

Hierarchy remains: *Pete Fairbanks | *Jason Adam | Garrett Cleavinger

*= closer-by-committee

Closer Monkey’s filthy outing of the day goes to Justin Slaten, recording all three outs via strikeout during his outing against the Rays, courtesy of the Pitching Ninja.

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

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