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Bullpen Report: August 18, 2018

It would not be August without some volatility in the ninth inning, right? After saving three straight for the Twins, fantasy owners could think Trevor Hildenberger would be the closer going forward for the Twins in spite of reports suggesting a committee. Paul Molitor held firm during the Fernando Rodney experience. However, this quote by Molitor throws a monkey wrench into things: “To be honest with you, with Hildy getting off to a good start, (he’s the frontrunner), but it might just not play out that way.” Insert the thinking face emoji. Last night, Minnesota started the ninth with Matt Magill on the mound seeking his first career save. However, he allowed two hits, an earned run and a walk with a strikeout in his two-thirds of an inning giving way to Taylor Rogers in the ninth. Rogers retired Jeimer Candelario to record his first career save instead.

There’s many moving pieces here. First, Hildenberger’s notched three of the four saves for the Twins since the Fernando Rodney trade. But, his 10.57 ERA and 1.96 WHIP through 7.2 innings in August do provide caution for deploying him as the primary closer. Add in his career 5.40 ERA in 10 previous innings versus the Tigers, and perhaps this played a factor in Molitor’s decisions Friday night. Rogers has reeled off 11 straight scoreless outings spanning 8.1 innings converting seven holds and a save in them. He also owns a 1.62 ERA his last 20 games (16.2 innings) dating back to July second. The presence of fellow southpaw Gabriel Moya in the bullpen allows Molitor to mix and match in high leverage innings. Moya’s also been hot of last with six straight scoreless appearances (7.2 innings). For fantasy purposes, based on recent usage, Hildenberger could be the primary closer going forward, but with Molitor’s quotes and last night’s usage, Rogers could be a factor as well. Those who added Trevor May in the hopes of getting saves can move on, due to his return from injury, Molitor said May will not be closing in spite of a 21 swinging strike percentage since May cannot work in back-to-back games as he builds up to returning from injury. Read the rest of this entry »

Bullpen Report: August 14, 2018

Sorry for the late entry, received a call to the bullpen to fill-in on short notice, suddenly understanding how a reliever feels. As to the action on Monday night, a small slate of games provided plenty of upheaval. For the third straight game, the Dodgers bullpen cratered giving up a late lead leading to its fourth loss in a row. Scott Alexander, who owns the last save recorded by this bullpen, served up four hits and four runs (three earned) in two-thirds of an inning resulting in his second blown save and first loss of the season. While the team tries to retool the depth in high leverage innings, neither Kenta Maeda nor Ross Stripling have worked since their starts in Colorado. Due to the past performances by Dylan Floro, Alexander and J.T. Chargois, it stands to reason Maeda or Stripling will be available in relief going forward. Do not count out Caleb Ferguson either.

Ferguson’s being prepared to work in back-to-back games and has pitched well as a reliever. In 11 outings as a reliever, Ferguson’s 3-0 with two saves, a 1.14 ERA in 23.2 innings, owns an enticing 28:3 K:BB and a respectable 0.80 WHIP. Also, Julio Urias could rejoin this group soon to add more upside in the late innings. Due to the fluidity, owning a reliever for primary saves could be tough on the Dodgers, so keep focused on how the rest of the week progresses noting how Dave Roberts deploys his new cache of options in order to determine the new hierarchy in high leverage. Read the rest of this entry »

Bullpen Report: August 11, 2018

While the Rockies seek clarity in their bullpen, fantasy owners feel the same. Last night, Adam Ottavino, back from an illness which sidelined him on Thursday, allowed a hit and struck out one batter to record his fifth save of the season. Wade Davis, who suffered his sixth loss on Thursday, did not pitch. There’s no report of an impending changing of the guard, but Colorado could use both Ottavino and Davis in save chances going forward. Ottavino’s within two saves of tying a career high and allowed runs in four of his last 19 outings, has registered multiple strikeout games in 29 of 53 this season and ranks fourth among qualified relievers in the National League in ERA (1.60).

However, before any change occurs, there’s $52 million reasons to use Davis to close games. It’s tough to stomach right now for Rockies fans, especially with him giving up multiple runs in three of his last four appearances. It’s been a rough start to the second half for Davis, sporting a 1-4 record with five saves in 8.2 innings but a 13.50 ERA, 8.34 FIP and WHIP just below two (1.96). Davis feels he’s found a glitch in his delivery after watching video, so it remains to be seen if a mechanical fix can help him improve in the heat of a playoff chase. Colorado will provide him a bit more leash, but consider this a timeshare going forward, but Davis needs to improve his ERA in losses (29.57 in seven innings) and reduce traffic on the bases. Read the rest of this entry »

Bullpen Report: August 9, 2018

Something seemed off kilter with Kelvin Herrera once he arrived in Washington. Following a strong start to his season as a Royal, Herrera’s performance with the Nationals did not come close to matching. Speculation of an injury surfaced when Herrera left the mound on Tuesday and underwent an MRI on Wednesday morning. Although his MRI did not reveal any structural damage, Herrera was placed on the 10-day disabled list with a shoulder impingement. He will not throw for a few days then resume a regimen to get back on the field and, hopefully more productive for the stretch run. In 19 games with the Nationals, Herrera’s recorded a 4.76 ERA, 6.03 FIP and 1.82 WHIP in 19 games (17 innings) striking out 15 against eight walks.

Owners chasing saves have already added Ryan Madson, but if he sits on the wire and the need for saves exists, he will take over as the closer while both Herrera and Sean Doolittle work towards a return. Madson’s pitched well of late yielding only one earned runs his last 11 outings with a save, four holds and a tidy 9:2 K:BB in them. However, the bridge getting to Madson could be slippery. Newly acquired Greg Holland could be asked to pitch in high leverage after being released by the Cardinals. Plus, Washington shipped out Brandon Kintzler to the Cubs, so Sammy Solis and others will need to step up to secure leads going forward. Trusting Madson’s past track record as a closer and his recent performances seems easy, getting him to the ninth with a lead could be precarious. Read the rest of this entry »

Bullpen Report: August 3, 2018

There’s a fine line between stubborn and obstinate, and Bud Black seemingly walks it each year with struggling closers. It’s encouraging to see he trusts his ninth inning arm, but in the midst of a playoff chase, can he afford to keep providing save chances to Wade Davis? Davis blew his second straight save on Friday night in Milwaukee culminating on a three-run walk-off home run by Eric Thames. With the knowledge Davis converted 11 straight saves prior to these implosions, one can make the case for Black to stand by his man. However, Davis has blown six saves this year and giving up wins in the spotlight applies more pressure to his now tenuous hold on the closer role. Especially with Adam Ottavino thriving in the eighth inning.

Colorado could give Davis a couple of mental days off or let him work in lower leverage for an outing or two to get him back on track without removing him from his present role. On the surface, he’s giving up eight percent more contact, to be expected with half of his games in Coors, and generating fewer swinging strikes (down five percent compared to last year). During the last 30 days, Davis has pitched in 12 games (11.1 innings) with a 12:5 K:BB, 7.94 ERA, 4.67 FIP and 1.24 WHIP. Hardly inspiring. Ottavino’s not allowed an earned run over his last 14 outings (15 innings) and secured his last three saves along with eight straight holds since June 28th. Suggesting a change from the outside looking in can be easy, seeing how the Rockies respond to Davis’ recent struggles remains to be seen. Read the rest of this entry »

Bullpen Report: August 2, 2018

In the midst of his walk year to free agency, it’s been anything but easy for Kelvin Herrera. He’s been traded from the organization he grew up in, lost his closer role upon arrival in Washington and has struggled since moving to the National League. Herrera did record his second save for the Nationals on Wednesday afternoon, but it did not come easy. After getting the first out, he then allowed a home run, off the glove of Juan Soto, to Wilmer Flores, a double to Michael Conforto and a walk to Jose Bautista. Herrera did induce a game ending double play but he’s allowed runs in back-to-back games and in five of his last 10.

Of more concern, in 16 games in Washington, Herrera’s 4.30 ERA, 6.59 FIP and 1.77 WHIP do not provide confidence going forward. He’s walked seven in only 14.2 innings as a National after issuing two walks in 25.2 innings for the Royals. Over the last month, Herrera’s use of his change has increased along with throwing fewer sliders and fastballs. Not sure if this plan comes from the coaching staff or a lack of trust in a pitch, but Herrera’s yielded a .318 batting average against this year with the change compared to .200 against with the slider. With Sean Doolittle still sidelined with his foot injury and Brandon Kintzler traded, Ryan Madson lies in the wings if needed for saves. Madson had been scoreless in his previous seven outings until giving up a run as well on Wednesday. There’s no immediate threat to Herrera’s role, but it’s tenuous at best right now for him to remain in the ninth until Doolittle returns. Read the rest of this entry »

Bullpen Report: July 27, 2018

Defending World Champions, Houston, entered the relief pitching market adding Ryan Pressly to their bullpen in an effort to rebuild the struggling bridge to current closer, Hector Rondon. It’s evident they need add arms to their bullpen, especially with the recent struggles of Chris Devenski. For the second straight outing, Devenski did not record an out while giving up multiple earned runs in an appearance. Over his last four games, Devenski’s yielded 11 earned runs in 2.1 innings pushing his ERA to 4.19 on the season. On the other hand, Pressly’s surging in July riding a seven game scoreless streak with a 0.90 ERA in July and 14 strikeouts against three walks in 10 innings. Plus, Pressly’s under team control via arbitration through the 2019 season.

His former team, Minnesota could see more upheaval in the bullpen in the days ahead. Fernando Rodney did blow his sixth save on Friday night allowing a home run to Rafael Devers while pitching in his third consecutive game, and fourth in five days. He’s been in trade rumors as a potential setup pitcher on a contending team due to his experience and 2.90 ERA over 32 games since May first converting 19 of 22 save chances. Many believed Pressly or Trevor Hildenberger would replace Rodney in the event of a trade, however Pressly will not be a factor. If Rodney does get moved, the Twins could use Addison Reed as the closer keeping Hildenberger in the eighth inning role. Reed’s had a tough transition to the team, but could return soon after receiving a cortisone shot in his elbow and a clean image on his MRI. Reed’s been a very effective reliever and being paid as the backup to Rodney, so overlooking him going forward could be a mistake. Read the rest of this entry »

Bullpen Report: July 21, 2018

As daunting as chasing saves can be, adding in the pending trade deadline to trade rumors makes it difficult to publish an early report. But here we are. News of a hugwatch broke out on Twitter suggesting Jeurys Familia could be on the move. He did not enter an obvious save opportunity against the Yankees on the road leaving Robert Gsellman in for the two inning save. While news broke on which teams would not be adding Familia, it appears the focus centers on Oakland trying to obtain his services to add to their already stocked bullpen. If the A’s do not wish to overpay in a scarce starting pitcher market, why not try to shorten games with a deep bullpen? Familia’s yet to allow a run in seven scoreless outings in July yielding one hit in them. He’s also been scoreless in 10 of his last 11 appearances. It needs to be pointed out Familia should setup if he joins the A’s due to his inability to get left-handed hitters out this year (.288 batting average against).

However, since there’s no official word as of this writing, the charts will not be updated until teams announce a deal. As for the Mets, it appears Robert Gsellman could transition to the closer role with Anthony Swarzak struggling and Seth Lugo needed for multiple inning outings. Gsellman did give up two unearned runs against the Yankees on two hits and two walks with two strikeouts during his two inning save. It’s his fifth save this year but Gsellman will need to rebound in the second half in order to appeal to fantasy owners. He’s coughed up 13 earned runs over his last 12 games (14.1 innings) resulting in a 8.18 ERA. Perhaps the break will help him bounce back, but it could be a bumpy ride if he does ascend to the ninth inning. Read the rest of this entry »

Bullpen Report: July 14, 2018

During a freaky Friday the 13th, handcuffs to the closer emerged as focal points of interest with three different relievers garnering saves last night. Starting in Pittsburgh, where Felipe Vazquez had worked in five of the previous six game, Kyle Crick notched his second save of the season allowing two hits in 1.1 innings with a strikeout. He’s in the midst of a 13 game scoreless streak dating back to June 15th limiting hitters to a .167 batting average against within it. Crick’s also recorded seven holds and two saves without a blown save. As for Vazquez, a well earned day of rest but he’s converted his last 11 save chances in 13 straight scoreless outings as well with a 1.02 ERA his last 17 games and 32 strikeouts his last 17.2 innings.

Ground ball machine Scott Alexander locked down his first save as a Dodger in spite of yielding two hits. Alexander’s worked in three consecutive games but the team decided to rest Kenley Jansen on Friday, who worked the the two prior games and threw 29 pitches on Thursday. As for Alexander, he’s not given up a run in 6.2 innings to start July with seven strikeouts against two walks. On the season, his 74.3 ground ball rate and 20.4 hard hit percentage against make him a valued reliever in real life, plus, Alexander’s converted all 12 holds provided him this year. Read the rest of this entry »

Bullpen Report: July 12, 2018

While fantasy owners lament when Brandon Morrow does not receive a save opportunity, it’s time for them to adjust to his usage going forward. Morrow received three days off after working in consecutive outings this weekend. On the season, Morrow’s pitched in back-to-back games five times all season. He’s 20-for-22 in save chances with a terrific 1.57 ERA and 1.08 WHIP, but the Cubs will continue to handle him with care with an eye on the playoffs. Roster limitations can affect attempting to handcuff this bullpen so it’s time to adjust to the situation at hand instead of hoping it evolves going forward. Of course, missing out on saves stinks, but having Morrow healthy during the second half outweighs fantasy implications.

With at least three members of the Marlins bullpen linked in trade rumors, racking up extra inning games does not help limit usage. Kyle Barraclough allowed three hits while striking out the side to keep the game tied last night but has surrendered nine hits his last six innings after holding hitters to six hits his first 30 games. Regression to the mean happens all the time in baseball, so noting Barraclough’s 1.31 ERA accompanies a 3.61 FIP along with a 92.4 left-on-base percentage hints more could be on the way.  Drew Steckenrider blew his third save giving up two hits and two earned runs with a walk while striking out two. After recording 19.2 straight scoreless innings, Steckenrider’s allowed runs in back-to-back games on four hits and two walks. Read the rest of this entry »