Bullpen Report: August 30, 2017

The three murkiest closer situations — the Angels, Cardinals and Rockies — had been in something of a stalemate heading into Wednesday. Finally, one of those bullpens broke through with some clearer roles. When Blake Parker nailed down a four-out save for the Angels against the A’s on Wednesday night, he took a big step towards establishing himself as the closer, as he has now been called upon for three consecutive save situations. Better yet, he converted all three and extended his no-hit streak to 7 1/3 innings and his scoreless streak to 10 innings.

Then again, just two weeks ago, I thought Cam Bedrosian had sewn up the job after he recorded three saves in a week, and then Mike Scioscia turned to Keynan Middleton and Bud Norris for the team’s next two save chances. Parker is having a brilliant season and will be a fine closer if he is, in fact, being given the chance to hold down the job full-time. I would still like to see him get the next save chance before upgrading the Angels from red to yellow in the closer grid.

It’s hard to get a bead on the Cardinals’ closer situation, since they have not had a save opportunity since Aug. 18. Seung-Hwan Oh took care of that one, but he has made just three appearances since then, throwing a total of 27 pitches. It may also be telling that the Cardinals entered the ninth inning in a tie as the home team on both Saturday and Sunday, and Mike Matheny did not use Oh to preserve the tie in the top of the inning in either game. For Saturday’s win against the Rays, Tyler Lyons pitched the ninth, and on Sunday, it was John Brebbia.

While usage patterns suggest that Oh could be out of the mix, there is not quite enough of a trend to remove him from the closer’s spot in the Cardinals’ portion of the grid. It won’t take much, though, for someone to topple him.

Then there is the Greg Holland situation in Colorado. He did not get the call for Sunday’s save opportunity against the Braves, but that was a ┬áplanned day of rest for him. While it was Jake McGee who got the save on Sunday (as well as on Saturday in relief of Holland), Bud Black summoned Adam Ottavino to keep the Tigers from cutting into a four-run lead in the ninth inning on Tuesday. Though it was not a save situation, it is the type of spot where we might see a closer pitch. Holland’s last appearance was on Monday, when he faced the bottom third of the Tigers’ lineup with a one-run deficit in the ninth inning. To his credit, Holland set the Tigers down in order, but whatever grip he may have on the closer’s role is still tenuous.

Aside from the above situations, we are in a moment where closers around the majors generally have a great deal of job security. It is premature to change the Pirates’ green color coding in the grid, but Felipe Rivero has been off his game for much of August. Entering Wednesday’s game against the Cubs, Rivero had yielded five runs in 11 innings this month, allowing opponents to post a 44.8 percent hard contact rate and a 48.3 percent pull rate. Then in Wednesday’s 17-3 blowout loss, Rivero began the bottom of the eighth inning and exited after getting two outs, allowing two runs on four hits. While he had frequently averaged 99 mph or higher on his fastball in June and July, this month, Rivero has met that threshold only three times in 13 appearances. He has also averaged less than 98 mph four times in his last eight appearances, and over that span, he has an 11.4 percent swinging strike rate, which is 0.2 percentage points below the major league average for relievers.

Unless he gets much worse, it seems unlikely that Rivero will lose his job, especially since the Pirates put Juan Nicasio on irrevocable outright waivers. However, if you are a Rivero owner in a league that is shallow enough to have decent closers on waivers, it may soon be time to let him rest on the bench.

Injury update: David Phelps exited Wednesday’s game against the Orioles with right elbow discomfort. He is likely bound for the DL…The Angels placed Bud Norris on the 10-day disabled list on Tuesday with right knee inflammation…The Astros activated Will Harris from the 10-day disabled list on Sunday. He had been out since July 15 on two separate DL stints with right shoulder inflammation. Harris pitched a perfect inning in the Astros’ 12-2 loss to the Rangers on Tuesday.

Closer Grid:

Closer First Second DL/Minors
ARI Fernando Rodney Archie Bradley David Hernandez
ATL Arodys Vizcaino Jim Johnson Jose Ramirez
BAL Zach Britton Brad Brach Mychal Givens
BOS Craig Kimbrel Addison Reed Matt Barnes Carson Smith
CHC Wade Davis Pedro Strop Carl Edwards Jr.
CWS Juan Minaya Gregory Infante Jake Petricka Nate Jones
CIN Raisel Iglesias Michael Lorenzen Drew Storen
CLE Cody Allen Joe Smith Bryan Shaw Andrew Miller
COL Greg Holland Jake McGee Pat Neshek
DET Shane Greene Alex Wilson Joe Jimenez
HOU Ken Giles Chris Devenski Luke Gregerson
KC Kelvin Herrera Brandon Maurer Ryan Buchter Joakim Soria
LAA Blake Parker Cam Bedrosian Yusmeiro Petit Bud Norris
LAD Kenley Jansen Brandon Morrow Pedro Baez
MIA Brad Ziegler Kyle Barraclough Jarlin Garcia
MIL Corey Knebel Anthony Swarzak Josh Hader
MIN Matt Belisle Trevor Hildenberger Glen Perkins
NYM A.J. Ramos Jeurys Familia Paul Sewald
NYY Dellin Betances David Robertson Aroldis Chapman
OAK Blake Treinen Chris Hatcher Liam Hendriks
PHI Hector Neris Luis Garcia Jesen Therrien
PIT Felipe Rivero Juan Nicasio Joaquin Benoit
STL Seung Hwan Oh Tyler Lyons Matt Bowman Trevor Rosenthal
SD Brad Hand Kirby Yates Phil Maton
SF Sam Dyson Hunter Strickland Mark Melancon
SEA Edwin Diaz Nick Vincent Marc Rzepczynski Tony Zych
TB Alex Colome Tommy Hunter Steve Cishek
TEX Alex Claudio Jose Leclerc Ricardo Rodriguez Keone Kela
TOR Roberto Osuna Ryan Tepera Dominic Leone
WSH Sean Doolittle Brandon Kintzler Matt Albers Ryan Madson

[Green light, yellow light, red light: the colors represent the volatility of the bullpen order.]



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Al Melchior has been writing about Fantasy baseball and sim games since 2000, and his work has appeared at CBSSports.com, BaseballHQ, Ron Shandler's Baseball Forecaster and FanRagSports. He has also participated in Tout Wars' mixed auction league since 2013. You can follow Al on Twitter @almelchiorbb and find more of his work at almelchior.com.

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pvalent
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pvalent

Every week I ask: Is Melancon going to replace Dyson? Is it safe to say Dyson has the role until he loses it?

Steve Balboni
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Yes, it is safe to say that.