Archive for Middle Relievers

Bullpen Report: August 20, 2017

Another busy weekend for bullpen activity around the major leagues. We’ll start with a few notes from Saturday:

  • Yankees manager Joe Girardi announced on Saturday that Aroldis Chapman was removed from the closer role. Dellin Betances got save later that night, striking out two in a perfect inning. It’s been well documented that something doesn’t look right with Chapman this season, especially lately, and thankfully for the Yankees Betances is more than capable of filling in for the remainder of the season if need be. Despite struggling with command more than usual this season, Betances has an outstanding 40.5 percent strikeout rate, and he’s allowed just one home run this year in 47 innings. He’s been an superb reliever in his career, and this year doesn’t look very different except for the uptick in walks. Girardi didn’t “officially” name Betances the closer just yet (in fact, he said that David Robertson was also in the mix), but Betances should be the heavy favorite. Chapman pitched in the sixth and seventh on Sunday, allowing one walk and striking out two.

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Bullpen Report: August 15, 2017

• With Tyler Clippard moving to Houston the White Sox bullpen is a bit of a mess. Juan Minaya, Jake Petricka and Gregory Infante could all see the ninth but I’m going to roll out Juan Minaya to start. As of now we haven’t quite heard enough out of White Sox camp to make an exact call but Minaya is probably the best of the bunch. In 27.1 innings pitched Minaya has a 6.61/4.31/3.94 ERA/FIP/xFIP line but also has a 3.26 SIERA and a 31.9% K% and 10.6% BB%. You would like to see fewer walks but beggars can’t quite be choosers. Petricka and Infante aren’t particularly exciting or even usable for that matter in fantasy and I would look to grab Minaya first.

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Bullpen Report: August 13, 2017

The Twins blew an 11-6 seventh-inning lead on Saturday. Their new (interim?) closer Matt Belisle relieved Trevor Hildenberger in eighth after Hildenberger allowed a two-run homer with two outs. Belisle got a strikeout to end the inning, but then allowed a leadoff single and a walk-off home run to Justin Upton in the ninth.

The next day, Hildenberger was summoned with two outs in the eighth to face Upton, who represented the tying run. He struck him out on three pitches, then came back out for the bottom of the ninth. He remained very sharp as he struck out two and induced two weak ground balls for his first career save.

The strong appearance, coupled with Belisle’s struggles in the ninth on Saturday, mean that Hildenberger could seize the closer’s role and run with it. His numbers in his brief major league career are impressive: in 23 innings this year, Hildenberger has a 26.8 percent strikeout rate, a 3.1 percent walk rate, and a 58.5 percent ground ball rate. He has a 3.13 ERA/2.79 FIP/2.67 xFIP. He’s allowed just two home runs. He seems more than capable of handling the closer’s role, and he’s probably worth grabbing in all formats before he successfully converts a few more save chances and gains national attention. It’s worth noting that Glen Perkins is expected to return from the disabled list sometime this week, and his presence may further complicate the outlook for Belisle and Hildenberger. Read the rest of this entry »


Bullpen Report: August 8, 2017

Roberto Osuna has had a rough end of July into early August having allowed 9 earned runs in his previous five appearances but he threw a perfect ninth for his 29th save tonight. A slew of bad outings raised Osuna’s ERA which now stands at 3.40 but he still supports a 1.44/2.54 FIP/xFIP and a 2.04 SIERA proving he remains an elite option. Osuna has been an above average closer since he came onto the scene at age 20 and a few years later at age 22 he’s one of the best. He upped his Swinging Strike rate to 18.8% this year which ranks second among all qualified relievers, only trailing Craig Kimbrel and those swings and misses has led Osuna to a career high 35.4% K%. Given his ridiculously young age we expected Osuna could take the leap this year and he’s done exactly that. The Blue Jays might not offer the same amount of opportunities moving forward as a Kimbrel or Kenley Jansen but in 2018 and beyond, that’s the company he will keep.

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Bullpen Report: August 7, 2017

As usual, not a full slate of games on Monday but a few things to note…

• After throwing two scoreless innings last night, Trevor Hildenberger was back again tonight getting the first two outs in the seventh inning. Ryan Pressley threw a scoreless eighth, handing the ball off to Matt Belisle. Belisle converted his first opportunity last night and continued operating as the Twins closer tonight as he secured his second save of the year and it sure looks like Belisle is the man to own for saves in Minnesota. He’s not a sexy name but he hasn’t allowed an earned run since June and in his last 22.2 innings, he’s only allowed the one earned run with 19 strikeouts against 5 walks. Hildenberger is still the exciting name to own and probably the best option in the pen but given the recent usage, I’m putting moving this situation to yellow.

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Bullpen Report: August 6, 2017

Just like last Sunday, another meltdown for the Angels ‘pen was the highlight of the day. With a four-run lead and two outs in the eighth, Blake Parker allowed a single to Jed Lowrie, a home run to Khris Davis, and a double to Ryon Healy. With the lead down to two, he was pulled in favor of Bud Norris, who surrendered a run-scoring single to Chad Pinder (the run was charged to Parker), a double to Matt Chapman that put the tying run on third and the go-ahead run on second, and finally he allowed a two-run single to Bruce Maxwell that gave Oakland an 11-10 lead. Read the rest of this entry »


Bullpen Report: August 3, 2017

• Pitching in the top of the ninth inning in a tie game, Wade Davis allowed homers to Paul Goldschmidt and J.D. Martinez and ended up taking his first loss for the Cubs. It’s tough to blame any pitcher for allowing long balls to those two (Goldy had two more in the game) but he’s been a little off of late, for him. Davis hasn’t been blowing games but since July, he has thrown eight innings with four earned runs and a 9/7 K/BB. After tonight’s game, Davis has a 9.1% HR/FB which is below average but he’s always been pretty terrific at home run suppression. He’s missing bats as well which is a good sign but his 11.6% BB% would represent a career high. I’m certainly picking nits here as Davis still qualifies as a fantastic option for saves but if I was making a deadline move I would be slightly weary to pay top dollar for Davis over others in his tier.

Of more concern however might be Carl Edwards Jr. who walked the only batters he faced in the eighth. Those guys happened to be Goldschmidt and Martinez, so again, it’s tough to blame the pitcher here but control has been an issue of his of late. After tonight’s outing, Edwards still supports a fantastic 13.19 K/9 but it’s paired with a 5.86 BB/9 which is a little troublesome. If Edwards can’t find the strike zone and keeps allowing free passes at that rate, an untimely homer or two could do some damage to your ratios and with Justin Wilson in Chicago, he’s likely not the guy to own if something were to happen to Davis.

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Bullpen Report: July 31, 2017

Well the trade deadline has passed so let’s take a look and see how the bullpens were affected. Before I go on however, it’s worth leading you to Paul’s breakdown earlier this afternoon.  Tonight we will focus on the deadline recap and tomorrow we will turn our attention to deeper dives in those situations that are deserving.

• With the Mets selling we all figured Addison Reed would be on the way out and to Boston he goes. Reed won’t have many chance for saves unless Kimbrel gets hurt or throws three days in a row but he likely leapfrogs Matt Barnes and Joe Kelly as the main setup man in Boston. Reed’s been pretty terrific since last year in New York pitching to a 2.20/2.43/3.28 ERA/FIP/xFIP line in 126.2 innings. However, it’s worth noting in that time he’s posted a mediocre 39% GB%. Moving from Citi to Fenway Park and the American League might cause a few more fly balls to leave the yard. I don’t doubt Reed as the best option behind Kimbrel but consider him to be more of a decent fantasy option than ace reliever. The Red Sox figure to be one of the better teams in the AL moving forward so Reed should rack up those Holds but in save only leagues there isn’t much to see here.

As for the Mets side, recent acquisition A.J. Ramos will pick up the ninth inning duties with Paul Sewald and Jerry Blevins behind him. Addison Reed’s control was stellar for the Mets but A.J. Ramos and his (lack of) control will probably have Mets fans remembering Armando Benitez. Overall they should be pleased with the results if that’s the case but his 4.5-5 BB/9 will likely cause fans to occasionally pull their hair out late in games. Read the rest of this entry »


Bullpen Report: July 30, 2017

The Angels bullpen melted down in epic fashion on Sunday, blowing a 10-4 ninth-inning lead against the Blue Jays. Brooks Pounders started the frame by issuing a walk, a home run, and a double. He was then replaced by Bud Norris, who got one out but surrendered two singles, a walk, and a walk-off grand slam to Steve Pearce. It was the second walk-off grand slam against Norris (the first by Edwin Encarnacion) — and the second hit by Pearce — this week. Over his last 1.1 innings (13 batters faced), Norris has allowed eight earned runs on two grand slams, walked six, and recorded just one strikeout. His overall numbers have ballooned to a 3.89 ERA/3.87 FIP/3.59 xFIP in 41.2 innings. Given Norris’s recent struggles, it wouldn’t be surprising if the Halos look elsewhere for their next save opportunity.

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Bullpen Report: July 23, 2017

With the trade deadline fast approaching, there was plenty of relevant bullpen activity on a busy Sunday afternoon…

Sean Doolittle pitched a scoreless ninth with the Nationals up by four against the Diamondbacks. He now has two saves and the completion of a four-run win under his belt with his new team, and Ryan Madson has yet to see a save opportunity in Washington. It bears repeating, however, that Dusty Baker has indicated that he may mix and match with those two in the ninth, and that he will be cautious with Doolittle given his history of arm issues. Even if Doolittle is the main closer in Washington, which appears to be the case for now, Madson is probably still worth stashing in holds leagues, and to those desperate for saves, in case Doolittle falters or sustains another injury.

Zach Britton struck out two and walked one en route to his first save since April 14. Orioles ownership has reportedly given management the green light to trade Britton, so his status is worth monitoring closely in the coming days. His successful save conversion on Sunday was a good start, but Britton has missed a lot of time with a forearm injury this season and teams might not be willing to give up what the Orioles would want in return for their ace reliever. If Britton remains with the Orioles, he will likely reclaim the closer’s role in full capacity assuming he can remain healthy. If he’s traded, however, it’s possible that he could be used in an Andrew Miller-type role on a new team.

On Saturday, Hector Neris allowed a run on three hits in what had been a tie game in the ninth, and was saddled with the loss. On Sunday, with a three-run ninth-inning lead, the Phillies went to Luis Garcia for the save chance. He struck out one in a perfect frame. It was his first save of the season and just the third of his career. Despite the rare save opportunity, Garcia’s peripherals don’t suggest he’s a closer in the making, so the grid remains unchanged for now. Neris’ grip on the ninth, however, remains relatively shaky.

Jose Leclerc was brought into a left-heavy section of the Rays’ lineup in the ninth with the Rangers up by one. He struck out two and walked two to secure the save. Leclerc has an exceptional 35.5 percent strikeout rate this season, but he’s also walked 16.1 percent of batters. Along Alex Claudio and Keone Kela, Leclerc is in the Rangers’ ninth-inning mix. Despite picking up the majority of saves for the Rangers recently, Jeff Banister wouldn’t commit to Alex Claudio as his closer, and Sunday’s converted save chance by Leclerc seemed to back that up. Matt Bush, who held the closer’s role for the Rangers earlier this season, pitched a scoreless seventh with the Rangers trailing by a run on Sunday.

Kenley Jansen blew a three-run ninth-inning lead against the Braves. Jansen allowed the first two batters to reach but settled down and got two outs before finally allowing a three-run homer to Matt Adams that tied the game. It was Jansen’s first blown save of the season.

Staying in the National League West, Brad Hand picked up a save against the Giants on Sunday. Brandon Maurer is San Diego’s usual closer, and he blew a save on Friday when he surrendered two two-out baserunners and a game-tying, three-run blast to Conor Gillaspie. If Hand wasn’t likely to be traded, it might be a bigger deal that he got the save chance over Maurer on Sunday. As it is, Maurer will remain in the closer’s spot on the grid for now, and Hand’s future is completely unknown at this time. If he isn’t traded, he could conceivably take over the closer’s role in San Diego. If he is traded, there’s no telling what his role will be. He’s probably worth owning in all holds leagues, as he’s quietly one of the best relievers in baseball.

With the Yankees leading by two runs in Seatlle, Dellin Betances pitched the seventh and David Robertson pitched the eighth. Betances has struggled mightily with command this season to the tune of a 17.8 percent walk rate, and it appears that Robertson may snag the eighth inning role and be next in line for saves behind closer Aroldis Chapman. For now, Betances will remain in his usual spot behind Chapman on the grid, but that could change if he continues to see the seventh and Robertson continues to see the eighth.

There were a few fresh faces in the eighth inning on Sunday: Blake Parker of the Angels, Bruce Rondon of the Tigers, and Jason Grilli of the Rangers all pitched in close eighth innings despite occupying lesser roles recently. Parker and Grilli pitched spotless frames, and Rondon allowed two runs on three hits before giving way to Justin Wilson for a four-out save opportunity. Wilson allowed a home run and a walk in the ninth but struck out three in the outing to secure his 12th save.

Other closer activity: Raisel Iglesias notched a two-inning save against the Marlins. Santiago Casilla allowed a hit but notched his 16th save against the Mets. Kelvin Herrera struck out two in a perfect ninth in a tie game at home. Bud Norris secured a one-run save against the Red Sox. Tyler Clippard was brought into a two-on, no out situation in a tie game in the ninth inning on the road, and he allowed a game-ending single to the first batter he faced, Brandon MossBrandon Kintzler entered in the top of the ninth with the Twins trailing by a run, and he allowed three runs on two hits and two walks. Jim Johnson entered in the bottom of the 10th in a tie game against the Dodgers, and allowed the winning run to score. Aroldis Chapman allowed two hits but struck out one and notched his 11th save of the season against the Mariners.

Closer Grid:

Closer First Second DL/Minors
ARI Fernando Rodney Archie Bradley JJ Hoover
ATL Jim Johnson Arodys Vizcaino Jose Ramirez
BAL Zach Britton Brad Brach Mychal Givens
BOS Craig Kimbrel Joe Kelly Matt Barnes Carson Smith
CHC Wade Davis Koji Uehara Carl Edwards Jr.
CWS Tyler Clippard Anthony Swarzak Dan Jennings Nate Jones
CIN Raisel Iglesias Michael Lorenzen Drew Storen
CLE Cody Allen Andrew Miller Bryan Shaw
COL Greg Holland Adam Ottavino Jake McGee
DET Justin Wilson Alex Wilson Shane Greene
HOU Ken Giles Will Harris Michael Feliz
KC Kelvin Herrera Joakim Soria Mike Minor
LAA Bud Norris Cam Bedrosian David Hernandez Huston Street
LAD Kenley Jansen Pedro Baez Luis Avilan
MIA A.J. Ramos Kyle Barraclough Junichi Tazawa
MIL Corey Knebel Jacob Barnes Carlos Torres
MIN Brandon Kintzler Taylor Rogers Matt Belisle Glen Perkins
NYM Addison Reed Paul Sewald Jerry Blevins Jeurys Familia
NYY Aroldis Chapman Dellin Betances David Robertson
OAK Santiago Casilla Blake Treinen Liam Hendriks
PHI Hector Neris Pat Neshek Luis Garcia
PIT Felipe Rivero Juan Nicasio Daniel Hudson
STL Trevor Rosenthal Brett Cecil Seung Hwan Oh
SD Brandon Maurer Brad Hand Ryan Buchter Carter Capps
SF Sam Dyson Hunter Strickland George Kontos Mark Melancon
SEA Edwin Diaz Nick Vincent Tony Zych
TB Alex Colome Tommy Hunter Brad Boxberger
TEX Alex Claudio Jose Leclerc Keone Kela
TOR Roberto Osuna Ryan Tepera Danny Barnes
WSH Sean Doolittle Ryan Madson Matt Albers Koda Glover

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