The Pirates have climbed right back into the playoff picture, and should get a boost after ousting Tony Watson from the closer role finally. Felipe Rivero will get the first crack at saves and is certainly talented enough to run away with the job, although Juan Nicasio has also been very good this season. While the Pirates are fixing their bullpen problems, I am really starting to feel a tiny bit bad for Dusty Baker. A managers worse nightmare is not having that reliable late game pitching, and Baker has absolutely no one at the moment whom he can rely on to protect a lead. They seem destined to make a deal before the deadline, and at this point, might have to bump up the urgency and get a deal done soon.
TIER 1: Nothing Compares 2 U
- Dellin Betances has been flawless since Aroldis Chapman went on the DL a month ago, striking out 16 in 8+ innings while not allowing a run. It’s a shame that this will likely be his last week on the list, with Chapman expected back by the weekend. Right now, I think I would put Chapman in between Craig Kimbrel and Greg Holland at #3 upon returning. Betances would return to elite set-up status, right behind Andrew Miller.
TIER 2: Save Tonight
- Felipe Rivero is finally getting his shot to close out games for the Pirates, after they finally pulled the plug on Tony Watson. They had originally announced that Rivero and Juan Nicasio would split duties, but so far it has been Rivero getting the opportunities. I am being a bit conservative with his ranking here, as he really could be a top 10 option the rest of the way. Just need to make sure he is the guy, and that Nicasio won’t be vulturing any saves.
- Matt Bush find’s himself dropping down several spots after a very sketchy week, to say the least. Lucky for him, there isn’t too much competition behind him in that bullpen at the moment, and his job should be relatively safe despite his terrible past 4 game stretch (3.2 IP, 7 H, 5 R (4 ER), 3/3 K/BB). It’s fair to wonder if there is some shoulder fatigue wearing on him, as he missed some time with an AC Joint issue.
TIER 3: Bound for the Floor
- Addison Reed was great this past week, as he continues to fill in admirably for Jeurys Familia. While he continues to be hit around a bit and has allowed 5 HR’s already, he’s been great at limiting free passes which has helped minimize potential damage. With Familia out until August at the earliest (and possibly the whole year), Reed should continue to be valued as a legit RP2 option for the rest of the season.
- Zach Britton heads out on a rehab stint next week, meaning the end is near for Brad Brach’s on this list. Brach has been much better filling in after Britton hit the DL for the second time this season back in May, although with the Orioles scuffling, has seen a lack of save chances. He has only allowed one hit in his last 8 appearances/innings, to go with a 10/1 K/BB ratio. He is locked in right now and should return to being a top 10 set-up man once Britton finally returns.
TIER 4: Better Days (and the Bottom Drops Out)
- I have come to the conclusion that the Nationals closer job is just cursed, and anyone who is given an opportunity to protect a lead in the ninth inning for them is bound for trouble. They currently have 6 different RP’s with blown saves on the year. Matt Albers blew the first save chance the team had post Koda Glover injury, and who really knows who will get the next chance. With Dusty Baker basically begging the front office to make a trade for relief help, I’d suggest staying away from any and all options in that bullpen until the dust settles. I think Enny Romero deserves the next chance, with Trevor Gott getting a look at some point perhaps if he pitches well in the coming weeks.
Darren O’Day (Baltimore Orioles)
Houston Street (Los Angeles Angels)
Glenn Perkins (Minnesota Twins)
Sammy Solis (Washington Nationals)