Bullpen Report: September 13, 2017

On Wednesday, for the first time since Aug. 12, Scott Alexander gave up a run. In fact, he coughed up two of them in the ninth inning against the White Sox, taking the loss for the Royals. While Alexander’s ERA grew from 2.00 to 2.26 as a result, there is a possible silver lining in that Ned Yost entrusted him to preserve a tie in the top of the ninth. Yost also gave Alexander the ball for Tuesday’s save opportunity against the White Sox, so there is at least the appearance of him being at the head of the Royals’ closer committee.

Alexander has certainly done everything possible to earn that distinction. While going a month and 15 innings without yielding a run, Brandon Maurer has posted a 7.71 ERA over that same period. Mike Minor has been more reliable over the last 30 days, though he has been less effective at getting batters to chase pitches out of the zone (29.1 percent O-Swing rate, as compared to a 35.8 percent season-to-date mark).

Yet it is probably premature to assume that Alexander will get the Royals’ next save chance. For one thing, he has pitched on back-to-back days and five times over the last seven days. He, along with most of the Royals’ relievers, was not supposed to be available on Wednesday, but according to the Kansas City Star, Alexander told Yost he could pitch. Without a better option, Yost went with the sinkerballer. Alexander will surely be unavailable for Thursday’s series opener at Cleveland, and for now, it is safe to assume that Maurer and Minor will continue to be part of the ninth-inning mix.

Aroldis Chapman converted his 18th save of the season on Wednesday against the Rays at Citi Field, and it was his second save since being reinstalled as the Yankees’ closer. He was summoned in the bottom of the eighth inning with two outs, and while he walked a couple of batters, he recorded all four outs by way of the strikeout. Five of Chapman’s 34 pitches were swinging strikes, and over his five appearances in September, he has a swinging strike rate of 20.9 percent.

While that span covers just 5.1 innings, it is a promising turn from the 25.2 innings that preceded it. Between Chapman’s June 18 activation from the DL through the end of August, he induced whiffs on just 9.1 percent of his pitches.

It has now been six days since Brad Ziegler last pitched for the Marlins, as he has been sidelined with a back issue. Since then, Kyle Barraclough has taken a loss and blown a save, with the latter occurring on Tuesday at Philadelphia. MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro reported that Ziegler could be back sometime this week, so Barraclough and the other late-inning relievers in the Marlins’ bullpen may have to settle for holds from here on out.

Archie Bradley got his first career save on Sunday against the Padres, and he was called upon to pitch in the ninth inning against the Rockies on Wednesday night, albeit with a seven-run lead, one out and runners on second and third. However, Torey Lovullo confirmed after Sunday’s game that Fernando Rodney was still the Diamondbacks’ closer.

Lovullo has been giving rookie Jimmie Sherfy a look in the late innings, and he has yet to allow a run or a walk in seven innings. He pitched the eighth inning on Wednesday night, and three of his 10 pitches were called strikes. That is pretty much the norm for Sherfy, who has a 26.4 percent called strikes rate with the Diamondbacks and compiled a 22.2 percent rate with Triple-A Reno this season.

The Rangers got two relievers off the 10-day disabled list in recent days, activating Matt Bush on Sunday and Keone Kela on Tuesday. Jeff Banister told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram he was planning to use Bush in the late innings right away, and he got a seventh-inning hold on Monday against the Mariners. He was also brought in for the seventh inning on Wednesday, though with a two-run deficit. Kela has yet to appear in a game since his activation.

Other reliever notes: Mark Melancon underwent pronator surgery on Tuesday, ending his first season with the Giants…Roberto Osuna went on paternity leave Monday. Dominic Leone got the save for the Blue Jays on Monday night against the Orioles…Andrew Miller (knee) will be activated on Thursday and may pitch as soon as Thursday night’s series opener against the Royals, though maybe for only one out.

Closer Grid:

Closer First Second DL/Minors
ARI Fernando Rodney Archie Bradley David Hernandez
ATL Arodys Vizcaino Jose Ramirez Sam Freeman
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 Danny Farquhar Gregory Infante Nate Jones
CIN Raisel Iglesias Michael Lorenzen Kevin Shackelford 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 Brandon Maurer Mike Minor Scott Alexander
LAA Blake Parker Cam Bedrosian Yusmeiro Petit
LAD Kenley Jansen Brandon Morrow Pedro Baez
MIA Brad Ziegler Kyle Barraclough Drew Steckenrider
MIL Corey Knebel Anthony Swarzak Josh Hader
MIN Matt Belisle Trevor Hildenberger Alan Busenitz
NYM A.J. Ramos Jeurys Familia Paul Sewald
NYY Aroldis Chapman David Robertson Dellin Betances
OAK Blake Treinen Chris Hatcher Liam Hendriks
PHI Hector Neris Luis Garcia Adam Morgan
PIT Felipe Rivero Daniel Hudson A.J. Schugel Joaquin Benoit
STL Juan Nicasio Tyler Lyons John Brebbia 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 Tony Barnette Matt Bush
TOR Roberto Osuna Ryan Tepera Dominic Leone
WSH Sean Doolittle Brandon Kintzler 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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Doubt if Scott Alexander, heck any of the Royals relievers who may close out a game, will be worth rostering. Yost is on record in a couple of recent local interviews that they all are running on fumes. This happens when you don’t have much of a SP staff that can go more than 5 innings.