Welcome back to the latest edition of our Reliever Ranks series! This will bring you up-to-date bullpen depth charts every morning for the day’s games and makes for an excellent tool for those looking to stream saves or wins. This series runs seven days a week, so check in every morning to get your daily bullpen fix!
Transaction and Schedule Notes
- Following Friday’s shortened slate, we had a full day of 15 games on Saturday.
- That will be the case again on Sunday as all 30 teams will be in action.
- The Mariners recalled Gabe Speier in the wake of the Robbie Ray injury. Chris Flexen is likely to rejoin the rotation.
- A vulture win opportunity could be available for the Braves as Jared Shuster makes his Major League debut. It’s tough for starters to shake the jitters in their first time on a big league mound and that can hold them back from going deep into ballgames. Jesse Chavez would seem to be the likeliest candidate for an early entry if Shuster falters.
- The same can be said for Jhony Brito making his Major League debut for the Yankees. Ron Marinaccio could be the first arm called upon after Brito exits, giving him a good shot at a victory.
CHW 4 – HOU 6
- The South Side bullpen was unable to keep the score in their favor after the starter exited. Jimmy Lambert had a couple of clean outs but both Joe Kelly and José Ruiz gave up at least one run. The former was tagged with the loss. I’m unsure if it’s a Baseball Savant bug, but apparently, Kelly was throwing his “Knuckle-Curve” five mph harder with an average of 92.8 mph. He also induced five whiffs across just 17 pitches, showing off his swing-and-miss stuff. Gregory Santos also nabbed two outs in his White Sox debut.
- Three games, three different pitchers used in a save opportunity. After Ryan Pressly blew a save on Opening Day and Rafael Montero locked one down on Friday, Héctor Neris was used to secure a four-out save. He did so, but not before surrendering a run. At this time, it’s difficult to tell if this is a straight-up committee or if Pressly is dealing with an injury, but this is a bullpen on which to keep an intent eye because of the skill level of the other options and how many are available on the waiver wire. Outside of Neris, Ronel Blanco tossed two hitless innings with four punchouts and Ryne Stanek took home his first win after grabbing five outs of his own. The former got 11 swings and misses on 20 sliders, so he’s someone to put on your watch list in deep holds leagues.
TOR 1 – STL 4
- Pitching with a deficit, we only saw two Bluebird relievers appear. Adam Cimber took the mound to lob sub-85 mph fastballs (can you still call them that?). After that, we once again saw Erik Swanson pitch in a low-leverage situation. This time he allowed a run. I’m not totally sure what his role in Toronto is, but they seem comfortable turning to him at any point.
- Ryan Helsley got his redemption following a blown save on Opening Day, locking down five outs to earn his first save. His fastball velocity was down a tick, but he was still able to get the job done. Despite staying under the 25-pitch threshold, it’s highly likely he doesn’t take the mound on Sunday because the Cardinals tend to avoid using the righty on back-to-back days. With Jordan Hicks and Andre Pallante throwing in two of the past three games and Giovanny Gallegos out with a minor injury, we could see the likes of Chris Stratton in the ninth on Sunday. The aforementioned Hicks and Pallante joined Drew VerHagen as Cardinal relievers to record their first hold of the season on Saturday. Hicks also dominated the pitch velocity leaderboard, as usual, topping out at 102.3 mph with his sinker.
MIL 3 – CHC 1
- The Milwaukee pen worked out exactly as we expected when positioned with its first save chance. After Peter Strzelecki vultured his first win with a perfect seventh, Matt Bush was used as the setup man and Devin Williams as the closer. Bush was perfect in recording his first hold and Williams was able to work around two hits to notch his first save. This should be the order of operations all year, health permitting. Keep an eye on Bush who was sitting more than two ticks down on his four-seamer. For that matter, Williams was also down almost two mph on his heater. Fingers crossed.
- Javier Assad was looking good for the Cubs until he was extended for a second inning leading to three runs on the board and Assad being stuck with a blown save and his first loss. Presumed closer Michael Fulmer was used to get out of the jam created by Assad but he needed some help from Michael Rucker to escape the inning. This begs the question of whether Fulmer is the closer or the high-leverage reliever. Mark Leiter Jr. was the final arm to pitch, posting a hitless ninth.
PHI 3 – TEX 16
- For some odd reason, in the first real blowout of the season, the Phillies turned to some high-leverage arms and likely regretted it. Both Seranthony Domínguez and Craig Kimbrel struggled to pitch without any stress, giving up six runs (four earned) and three runs respectively. They should be fine once they’re back to pitching in regular late-inning situations, but you have to feel for the fantasy managers that rostered them and got unnecessarily punished. José Alvarado also saw time on the mound and was unfazed pitching without the lead. Yunior Marte and Andrew Bellatti saw some work as well before we got our first appearance from a position player on the mound as Josh Harrison didn’t even reach 60 mph.
- With the massive lead, the Rangers turned to Dane Dunning to eat a trio of innings, earning him a hold in the process. Taylor Hearn also took the mound for a hitless frame and sat a tick higher on his fastball. It’s difficult to find flamethrowing lefties, so if Hearn can maintain the 96 mph fastball velocity he displayed, he could be another big addition to this growing arm barn.
ATL 7 – WSN 1
- An uncompetitive game allowed the Braves the opportunity to test out some of their new arms. Offseason additions Nick Anderson and Joe Jiménez made their Atlanta debut, putting up zeroes across the seventh and eighth. It’s still early, but the former was up 1.5 ticks on his fastball, and the latter was down 1.5 mph. Kirby Yates also made his season debut. At the age of 36 following three seasons lost to injury (11.1 IP from 2020-22), Yates knows that this will be an important year for him if he wants to remain a big leaguer.
- With a hefty deficit, the Nationals called upon Anthony Banda for a clean fifth before giving Thad Ward his Major League debut. The first overall selection in this past offseason’s Rule 5 Draft, the right-hander covered a pair of innings while serving up a two-run shot to Matt Olson. If you want to learn more about Ward, check out my article ranking the 2023 Rule 5 Draft picks. We also witnessed a second Major League debut when Hobie Harris took the mound. The lefty put up a scoreless frame while tossing six mid-80s changeups, three mid-90s sinkers, two upper-80s cutters, and one mid-90s four-seamer.
SFG 7 – NYY 5
- We got a preview of the most important relievers in the Giants’ bullpen in a hectic game against the Yankees. Jakob Junis secured seven outs to vulture his first win after the starter couldn’t escape the fourth. He looked like a different pitcher last year during his first year in SF and we could see him take another step forward this year as he sat three mph faster with his sinker. He’s definitely worth a look in leagues with games-started limits or SP/RP restrictions. The seventh and eighth went to John Brebbia and Taylor Rogers respectively, each of whom recorded their first hold. Rogers served up a dinger to Josh Donaldson but was otherwise unharmed. In the ninth, Camilo Doval was the preferred closer option and took on the bottom of the Yankees’ order. After striking out the first batter, he allowed a run on four straight baserunners before bearing down and securing the save. It was shaky but he got the job done and, for now, looks to be the go-to guy in the ninth.
- On the opposite side, the Bronx bullpen was far from lights out. Wandy Peralta looked great in his perfect, lone inning of work, but the same couldn’t be said about Michael King. Upon being extended into the sixth, the young right-hander broke down, giving up two runs in the process, and was saddled with the loss. Right now, we can blame the performance on reduced fastball velocity which may take some ramp-up time to recover. Albert Abreu took over the next two frames and was unhittable before turning the ball over to presumed closer Clay Holmes in the ninth with a three-run deficit. It was likely just to get the man some work, but he didn’t respond well, giving up two runs. I wouldn’t worry about him or his role for the time being. Jimmy Cordero was used to help Holmes close out the final frame.
LAA 13 – OAK 1
- An 11-run third inning put this one in the Angels’ bag early. They were afforded the comfort of a huge lead and turned to Tucker Davidson for the rare four-inning save. Despite transitioning from the rotation to the bullpen, Davidson saw his fastball velocity down more the two mph. Nonetheless, the pitch returned a 44% CSW and he allowed no runs to score.
- The A’s also turned to a bulk reliever after trailing by more than a touchdown, but he was not as successful. Adam Oller covered 14 outs but surrendered five runs (four earned) along the way. Jeurys Familia also made his Oakland debut with a perfect frame and Sam Moll chipped in a hitless outing of his own.
BAL 8 – BOS 9
- A wild ending in Boston defined the third day of Major League Baseball. Félix Bautista recorded the first two outs of the ninth with ease, preserving the tight one-run lead. With Masataka Yoshida batting, he coaxed a lazy fly ball to left that bounded out of the glove of left fielder Ryan McKenna. The blunder became impactful when Adam Duvall, needing just a single to complete the cycle, stepped to the plate. Rather than completing the arbitrary feat, the right-handed hitter snuck a Bautista fastball over the Green Monster for an OMG-worthy walk-off bomb. It’s been a disastrous couple of outings for Bautista to start the season. The homer capped off a six-run comeback which can’t be blamed on the bullpen. Austin Voth and Cionel Pérez were the only relievers to surrender a run, and they both earned holds by maintaining the lead. Outside of that, Mike Baumann pitched a perfect fourth, Danny Coulombe (first hold) tossed a perfect fifth, and Logan Gillaspie (second hold) and Keegan Akin (first hold) combined for a perfect eighth.
- The Boston arm barn kept their team in the game after the starter struggled to a line of seven runs in just three innings. After Zack Kelly surrendered a run in the fourth, they were unscored upon for the rest of the game. Josh Winckowski, John Schreiber, and Chris Martin got the ball to Kenley Jansen in the ninth. The closer was fortunate enough to be awarded a win when Duvall walked it off. Jansen also showed off increased velocity on all of his pitches as everything had a two to three-mph buff across the board.
PIT 2 – CIN 6
- There wasn’t too much excitement to go around from the Pittsburgh pitching staff but we did get to witness the scoreless debut of Rule 5 Draft pick Jose Hernandez. To find out more about Hernandez, check out my article ranking the 2023 Rule 5 Draft picks. Otherwise, Chase De Jong took the mound for two innings and served up a three-run shot to Jake Fraley along the way.
- Getting his first work of the season, Alexis Díaz pitched with a four-run lead in the ninth. He was perfect and struck out two. His role is among the safest in the league and the only concerns about his ability are his propensity for the free pass and his calling Great American Ballpark “home”. Reiver Sanmartin, Buck Farmer, and Ian Gibaut combined to pitch three frames in the game, and the latter recorded his first hold.
DET 2 – TBR 12
- The Tigers will not be writing home about their pitching performance on Saturday. All but one pitcher that appeared surrendered a run. Trey Wingenter gave up one while Tyler Alexander and Garrett Hill allowed two apiece. José Cisnero was the only one unscathed.
- With the comfortable lead, the Rays turned to some of the most intriguing arms in their pen. Kevin Kelly led things off with two innings of one-run ball in his Major League debut. If you’re interested in learning more about him, check out my article ranking the Rule 5 Draft picks. Garrett Cleavinger followed with a perfect inning during which he struck out two. He turned heads last year by striking out 36.8% of the batters he faced (18.2 IP) after landing with the Rays last year. Don’t be surprised if he’s an integral member of this arm barn. Calvin Faucher wrapped things up with a scoreless ninth.
MIN 2 – KCR 0
- Don’t be alarmed by the result of the bullpen usage by the Twins. Jhoan Duran was apparently not available after sleeping funny Friday night. In the wake of his absence (see what I did there?), manager Rocco Baldelli turned to Jorge López for the ninth after he was used to set up for Duran on Opening Day. He got the job done to lock down his first save. Jorge Alcala (first hold), Griffin Jax (second hold), and Caleb Thielbar (second hold) all earned a hold as they got the ball from the starter to the closer. Jax was a big breakout reliever last year after transitioning from being a starter. The breakout was keyed by a two mph jump in fastball velocity. Last night, Jax sat two mph above that new baseline, averaging 97.4 mph with his four-seamer. The Pitcher List projections were down on him in the preseason, but they couldn’t account for further improvement of his stuff.
- The game was close, so the Royals turned to some trusted arms to keep it that way. Ryan Yarbrough finished the starter’s sixth before pitching a perfect seventh. He was followed by Taylor Clarke who struck out the side in order in the eighth despite sitting two ticks down on his fastball. Aroldis Chapman was the final Royals reliever to appear and he showed glimpses of his former self. The big left-hander also struck out the side in order and was touting the velocity that made him such a big star earlier in his career and had been missing from his repertoire in recent seasons. He averaged 99.5 mph on his fastball and topped the pitch velocity leaderboard with a 102.5 mph sinker.
NYM 6 – MIA 2
- It looks like we may know who the closer is in Queens. Even though he didn’t get a save, David Robertson was warming up in the top of the ninth when the offense eradicated the save opportunity. He pitched anyway and was unscored upon. On top of that, Adam Ottavino (first hold) pitched the eighth and seems to be the next man up. We also saw two combined innings from Dennis Santana (first hold), Drew Smith (second hold), and Brooks Raley (second hold) as they each notched a hold.
- The deficit provided the Marlins a chance to test out their bulk reliever. Braxton Garrett wrapped up for the Miami pitching staff with three innings, during which two runs scored. Matt Barnes and Andrew Nardi were the other two arms to take the mound. The latter was tagged with his first loss after surrendering two runs in the fifth.
COL 4 – SDP 8
- The Rockies didn’t get what they hoped for in this one. They couldn’t keep up with the Padres as Ty Blach gave up two runs across three innings after the starter exited in the third. Jake Bird survived through five scoreless outs before turning the ball over to Dinelson Lamet who couldn’t find the zone and gave up a pair of runs. Despite being unable to locate his fastball, Lamet’s slider was on point, racking up six whiffs on just 16 pitches.
- This was another instance of a closer getting screwed out of a save. The Padres put up two runs in the bottom of the eighth to take the save chance away from Josh Hader, but he pitched anyway. He was perfect while punching out two. Both Tim Hill and Steven Wilson were also perfect in a lone frame, as they were awarded their first holds of the season. The latter induced five whiffs on just 13 pitches, with his sweeper (four whiffs, 10 thrown) doing the heavy lifting.
ARI 1 – LAD 10
- Every Diamondbacks pitcher served up a homer last night. Kevin Ginkel was the pitcher when Trayce Thompson went deep for the second time, Cole Sulser watched J.D. Martinez take him deep, and Carlos Vargas let Thompson lay claim to the first three-homer day in 2023. Not the best showing.
- Instead of taxing their pen, the Dodgers turned to Andre Jackson for the save, this one of the three-inning variety. The 26-year-old righty permitted just one hit and no runs, inducing seven whiffs and a 31% CSW during his time on the mound.
CLE 2 – SEA 0
- To be honest, box scores look so nice when a starter goes seven innings for a win, the setup man pitches the eighth for a hold, and the closer ends things with a save. That was the case for the Guardians as James Karinchak earned his first hold and Emmanuel Clase secured his first save. Scarily enough, Clase’s average cutter velocity was down three miles per hour after looking fine on Friday. Let’s hope that was just a fluke and not an injury or a sign of what’s to come. The righty has pitched on each of the past two days and likely has Sunday off. Look for Karinchak or Trevor Stephan to get a shot at the ninth in his absence.
- Having failed to score a run, the Mariners used Diego Castillo in the seventh, new call-up Gabe Speier in the eighth, and Matt Festa in the ninth. Both Speier and Festa were unscored upon but Castillo served up a long ball to Andrés Giménez.
Bullpen Depth Charts
Also, if you’re looking for a detailed list or ranking of RPs, check out Rick Graham’s weekly pieces:
The Hold Up: Ranking the Top 100 Relievers for Holds Every Thursday
Closing Time: Ranking the Top 30 Closers
Top 100 Relievers for Save+Hold Leagues
Photos by Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Doug Carlin (@Bdougals on Twitter)