Friday’s Three Takeaways: Cubs vs. Cardinals, Last Statistical Year Results, and Tanner Scott Rumors

When time allows, three takeaways will be a free-flowing column featuring a blend of statistical analysis and points of interest from the ever-evolving high-leverage world. It’s too early to consider St. Louis facing the Cubs a big series, but it may set the table for plans ahead of the trade deadline. Although it’s not the midpoint of the season, using the last 365 days (statistical year) can help identify relievers who may impact teams as the season ensues. Plus, one of the best performers in this timeline sits firmly on the trade block, with contenders already kicking the tires.

Tale of the Tape: Cubs relievers versus Cardinals relievers

It comes as no surprise the Cardinals bullpen enters this weekend’s match-up with superior results, especially since the major league leader in saves anchors its leverage ladder. Ryan Helsley has converted 22 of 23 save chances this season. St. Louis has relied heavily on its leverage triumvirate: Helsley, Andrew Kittredge, and JoJo Romero. Through its first 67 games, 48 have been decided by three runs or less (71.6 percent), tied with the Cubs. However, when Helsley, Kittredge, and Romero all appear in the same game, St. Louis owns a robust 18-1 record, with its only loss against the White Sox on May 4.

Chicago has suffered some losses in its arm barn. Last year’s closer, Adbert Alzolay, remains on the injured list, and breakout performer Julian Merryweather was placed on it before him. Both could return in the second half, but it’s fluid, which has been difficult since the Cubs lead the majors with 28 games decided by one run. Lately, it’s been tough sledding for this leverage ladder. Chicago has been in a one-run game in six of its last nine games and 10 of the last 13 have been decided by two runs or fewer.

Entering game play on Friday, June 14, here is how the two bullpens stack up:


As one would assume, the biggest difference lies in the blown save category, though the Cubs’ higher walk rate also fuels its WHIP disparity. Bullpen construction remains a pivotal part of any team’s postseason plans. St. Louis will need its relievers to remain healthy and productive, especially given its strength of schedule for the rest of the season, courtesy of

With the recent news regarding Ben Brown’s neck issue, Chicago needs a reliever to emerge. It could be Hayden Wesneski. Over the last 30 days, he’s posted a 31.3 strikeout percentage with a 2.74 SIERA, and 1.32 WHIP. He’s been improving with his whiff rates and if he leans into his sweeper while commanding his four-seam fastball better, he could take a nice step forward and provide this bullpen with a third reliever capable during high-leverage events. He and Luke Little could be key parts toward improved results by this unit.

Last Statistical Year (last 365 days)

Looking back, with eyes on the future, results from the last 365 days can help fantasy managers identify relievers amid a breakout. First, some leaderboards:


It’s interesting to see which relievers emerge in these categories when we remove saves from the equation.

However, fantasy requires we do not ignore them. With this in mind, here are the saves and holds leaders from the last statistical year:


For those who play in leagues with SOLDS (saves plus holds):


Four key categorical identifiers for relievers are K-BB percentage, swinging strike rate, strike percentage, and contact percent allowed. These relievers qualified in three of these four in the last statistical year:


When I first took over Closer Monkey, many were skeptical about my endorsement of Trevor Megill. He leads the relievers in this chart in K-BB percentage and has thrived since taking over the primary save share in Milwaukee. His window may be closing with the pending return of Devin Williams, but it’s been worth the waiver claims for FAAB to get him.

It’s also interesting to see Jeff Hoffman posting almost the exact same underlying indicators as Ryan Helsley, but their save totals do not let some see how great of a reliever Hoffman has been for the Phillies. Here’s hoping the lingering back soreness for Andrés Muñoz subsides so his dominant results help his team pursue a spot in the playoffs.

Last but not least on the list is Tanner Scott from Miami, which will be a perfect segue for our last topic.

On the block: Tanner Scott

It’s not gospel, but Jon Heyman listed four teams inquiring about a potential trade for Scott:

This aligns with recent articles about the Phillies seeking one more high-leverage reliever for its postseason push. As of results through June 13, here are each team’s strikeout percentages and swinging strike rates by the bullpen:

  • Baltimore Orioles: 23.2 strikeout percentage; 10.8 percent swinging strike rate
  • Los Angeles Dodgers: 23.3 strikeout percentage; 10.9 percent swinging strike rate
  • New York Yankees: 21.9 strikeout percentage; 11.7 percent swinging strike rate
  • Philadelphia Phillies: 26.2 strikeout percentage; 12.1 percent swinging strike rate

Scott’s arsenal and availability make him an alluring target for contenders. He may need a package for a larger return in prospect capital, but the Yankees especially could benefit from a power southpaw with swing-and-miss stuff. Philadelphia already has José Alvarado, Matt Strahm, and Gregory Soto, so it may prefer a right-handed reliever, but time will tell.

As for a potential replacement in Miami, fantasy players must monitor usage patterns and performances over the next two weeks. It may be a pivotal period for the future bullpen hierarchy in Miami. Relievers worth tracking:

  • Calvin Faucher
  • Andrew Nardi
  • A.J. Puk
  • Anthony Bender

Over the last two weeks, it’s been Scott with Nardi and Faucher second and third in Win Probability Added (WPA):

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

Statistical Credits: