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
- Two teams were off on Friday (BOS & DET), but every team will take the field on Saturday.
- There were a couple of minor bullpen transactions. The Diamondbacks placed Cole Sulser on the 15-day IL with a strained right shoulder and recalled Luis Frías. Additionally, the White Sox designated José Ruiz for assignment and purchased the contract of Jesse Scholtens.
- The only obvious vulture win opportunity is in Baltimore where Jhony Brito makes a spot start for the Yankees. He’s a rookie pitcher that will have a short leash and could be pulled early or pitch inefficiently. With Ron Marinaccio pitching on Friday, the other best option to snag a victory is Albert Abreu.
- An early exit from the starter forced Huascar Brazoban into action in the third inning. He held the fort until Andrew Nardi got four outs to take the game through five frames. The final three innings were pitched by Matt Barnes, Tanner Scott, and Daniel Castano, a trio of relievers that allowed six combined runs. They all featured decreased velocity.
- The Mets bullpen only had to cover three innings and it became less intense as the offense added to the lead. Adam Ottavino was the first to emerge from the arm barn, portraying his status as a high-leverage arm. Dennis Santana and Brooks Raley split the eighth with the latter recording his third hold. Then, Denyi Reyes closed things out with a scoreless ninth.
- Cole Ragans and Ian Kennedy were used to cover the final 2.1 innings in the Windy City. The former still displays a three-mph increase in his fastball velocity, making him an interesting bullpen breakout candidate with the ability to go multiple frames. The harder heater induced four whiffs on just 17 pitches. If you’re looking for someone to vulture wins or have a league that pumps up the value of multi-inning relievers, Ragans is a worthwhile target.
- We also saw just a pair of relievers pitch for the Cubs. Mark Leiter Jr. earned his first hold with a perfect seventh before turning the ball over to Michael Fulmer. He looked like a legit closer, pitching two scoreless frames while striking out four to earn his first save as a Cub. The multi-inning save did three things: it gave us an idea of what his next level could look like, it solidified his role as the closer on the North Side, and it afforded us an extended look at his new pitch mix. I think he should be rostered in just about every league. The long outing (28 pitches) might make him unavailable today, leaving Brad Boxberger and Adbert Alzolay as appealing save vulture candidates.
- Handed a tie ballgame, Derek Law was unable to keep it that way. After the starter and Alex Young kept the game knotted through six frames, Law surrendered a two-run shot to J.T. Realmuto and was tagged with his first loss as a result. Reiver Sanmartin didn’t make things any better, allowing a home run of his own.
- We finally were lucky enough to witness the dominance of the new-look Phillies bullpen. After Andrew Bellatti completed the starter’s sixth inning, the high-leverage arms got to work. Gregory Soto nabbed his first win with a perfect seventh, José Alvarado notched his first hold by striking out the side in the eighth, and Craig Kimbrel secured his first save with a scoreless ninth. We didn’t see any Seranthony Domínguez, so we can’t say for certain, but it looks like Kimbrel will be the preferred ninth-inning option to begin the year.
- Early entrance aside, the Yankees bullpen was unable to hold the lead it was handed. Three of the four relievers to appear surrendered a run. Ian Hamilton, Ron Marinaccio, and Jimmy Cordero gave up one run apiece. Marinaccio was saddled with his first blown save and loss in the process. Wandy Peralta was the only one to walk away with a clean plate.
- Capitalizing on a lead that arrived later than usual, Félix Bautista locked down the ninth for his third save. He has little competition in this bullpen and seems to be fully trusted by manager Brandon Hyde. Logan Gillaspie also pitched in this one, giving up a run and blowing his first save. Outside of him, Danny Coulombe had a perfect outing, Cionel Pérez earned his first victory despite surrendering a run, and Bryan Baker logged his first hold with a perfect eighth.
- Bullpen usage seems to be shaking out similarly to last year. Paul Sewald worked the ninth over Andrés Muñoz. The former secured his first save with a perfect ninth while the latter notched his first hold with a flawless eighth. Both are worth rostering in most leagues, but Sewald seems to be the favorite as the veteran with more experience in the ninth. Don’t let Munoz’s overwhelming skills overshadow Sewald’s ability. Matt Brash also made some noise with his perfect seventh, during which he recorded his first hold and struck out the side in order. He’s a great option in holds leagues and has the ability to toss multiple frames. Otherwise, Penn Murfee vultured his first win with a hitless fifth and Trevor Gott logged his second hold with a scoreless sixth.
- Without a lead to work with, the Guardians stayed away from their high-leverage arms. Nick Sandlin served up a dinger to Julio Rodríguez in the sixth, Tim Herrin worked five scoreless outs, and Xzavion Curry tossed a hitless ninth. The latter is interesting because the Guardians have a lot of success with guys that exhibit exceptional control without a dominant secondary. They help them develop a breaker and then they take off. Curry’s ability to go multiple innings could be intriguing for managers searching for vulture wins.
- The Astros were outlasted in an extra-innings pitcher’s duel in Minnesota, but that didn’t stop the bullpen from showing off before blowing up. Outside of Bryan Abreu blowing his first save by allowing an inherited runner to score and Ryne Stanek blowing a save in the 10th and being tagged with his first loss, the rest of the arm barn was lights out. Rafael Montero was unscored upon in the seventh, Hector Neris put up a zero in the eighth, and Ryan Pressly struck out the side in order in the ninth. Pressly has surprisingly yet to record a save, but the fact that he pitched the ninth today regardless of the score and was so dominant gives me confidence that he is still the preferred option and will still have a stellar campaign.
- After an electric performance from their starter, the Twins turned to their top guns. Griffin Jax was flawless in the eighth and is still exhibiting slightly increased velocity, which is more than plenty of relievers can say at this point in the season. Jhoan Duran pitched a hitless ninth without a save on the line, but his being saved for that frame suggests he’s the preferred closer, though we’ve still only seen him secure one save. He recorded the fastest velocity of the day, topping out at 102.6 mph with his heater. Finally, Jorge López was gifted with a win upon the offense’s walk-off in the bottom half of the 10th.
- This is a game that should be highlighted more so for its offensive exploits than its pitching performances. The Pale Hose turned to three relievers and just one of them kept their ERA pristine. That was Jimmy Lambert who was lucky enough to skirt around an unearned run. Jake Diekman (first loss) and Jesse Scholtens, however, were not as fortunate. The former allowed four runs while the latter gave up one. This was Scholtens’ major league debut, as the 29-year-old featured a slider nearly 50% of the time and induced five whiffs on 28 pitches with it.
- The Pirates went for efficiency, needing just two pitchers to cover five frames. Dauri Moreta pitched two clean innings to earn his first save and Wil Crowe tossed three innings of two-run ball to secure the rare three-inning save, his first of the year. We likely won’t see many more of those.
- A tight contest forced the back end of the Royals bullpen into action. We saw two interesting developments. The first: Aroldis Chapman is still up 2.5 mph and is averaging 100 mph on his fastball. He pitched a scoreless eighth for his first hold and recorded the third-highest velocity of the day, topping out at 102.1 mph. The second: Scott Barlow is still the closer for the time being. He tossed a scoreless ninth to secure his first save. His days may be numbered with the way Chapman is pitching. That’s also back-to-back days for Barlow, so we could see Chapman or Dylan Coleman get a shot in the ninth today. Ryan Yarbrough also pitched in this one, recording four outs without allowing a hit while logging his first hold.
- Having not seen game action in almost a week, both Camilo Doval and Taylor Rogers got some work in. There’s also a pair of takeaways. First: Doval was used in the ninth and Rogers in the eighth, so that may be an indication of the bullpen hierarchy. Second: Doval was up 1.2 mph on his cutter to 100.6 mph on average while Rogers was down across the board. Do with that information what you will.
- Just one arm was needed out of the Oakland arm barn. Adam Oller tossed five innings of one-run ball, inducing seven whiffs across 80 pitches with a 24% CSW.
- The Rays utilized a similarly minimalistic approach. Calvin Faucher covered the seventh and eighth while Jason Adam pitched the ninth. Both relievers gave up runs, but it didn’t affect the outcome.
- I liked what I saw out of the San Diego relief corps on Friday. Brent Honeywell Jr. looked great while earning a win across two hitless innings. He struck out three, inducing at least one whiff with all four of his pitches. Despite displaying reduced velocity, Luis Garcia still survived four outs for his second hold. Lastly, Josh Hader had zero problems locking down the ninth for his second save. It’s a calming vibe to know everything is right with Hader after last year’s disaster.
- The Braves tied the game in the third, but they never once held a lead. Therefore, we saw the likes of Michael Tonkin, Joe Jiménez, Jesse Chavez, and Lucas Luetge. Tonkin was stuck with his first loss as the only reliever to surrender a run.
- Getting shut out has rarely proved to be a stomping ground for appearances from impactful relievers. The Cardinals attempted to keep things close by turning to Andre Pallante and Jordan Hicks in the sixth and seventh, but each of them surrendered a run, so they gave up on that attempt. Packy Naughton and Chris Stratton combined to pitch the eighth.
- The Brewers took their shutout as an opportunity to get as many pitchers a piece of the prize. Five relievers pitched despite covering just 3.2 innings. Joel Payamps, Gus Varland, and Hoby Milner each recorded their first hold as they put up zeroes across the sixth and seventh. Matt Bush appeared for a hitless eighth and Bryse Wilson pitched the ninth with ease. After struggling as a starter for the Braves and Pirates, Wilson’s transition to the bullpen has been successful thus far and has helped him add nearly two mph to his heater and four mph to his slider.
- Outside of Erasmo Ramírez surrendering three runs in the seventh, the Nationals’ relief corps was surprisingly effective in holding on to their win in Denver. Hunter Harvey completed the seventh before Carl Edwards Jr. pitched a scoreless eighth and Kyle Finnegan tossed a flawless ninth. This was likely a situation where the Nats wanted to give Finnegan a shot to regain his confidence after a shaky start to the season. Unfortunately, my confidence in him remains unchanged.
- Nothing to write home about out of the Colorado arm barn. Ty Blach gave up two runs across seven outs, Jake Bird was unscored upon across six, Dinelson Lamet pushed home a pair of runs in the eighth, and Brad Hand put up a zero in the ninth. Not many pitchers to like and they all call Coors home.
- Jordan Romano might be the safest closer in baseball right now. He’s seen no noticeable dip in his fastball velocity, he’s on a great team, and his job is secure with little competition. He furthered the status of his security and safety by locking down his league-leading fourth save with a flawless ninth. Yimi García and Erik Swanson set up and each logged their third hold of the season.
- It’s only the second week, but it already feels like there needs to be a change made in the Angels’ pen. Matt Moore held the lead and notched his third hold in the seventh, but Jimmy Herget came aboard and promptly blew everything up by serving up a go-ahead longball to Bo Bichette. Andrew Wantz cleaned things up with two perfect frames, but it was too little too late. Herget was saddled with his first loss and his first blown save.
- A rare poor outing from Clayton Kershaw left little for the bullpen to protect. Brusdar Graterol was great in a perfect seventh, but Yency Almonte gave up two runs while splitting the eighth with Shelby Miller.
- The weird usage of the bullpen led to no one getting a save despite the save opportunity. It would’ve gone to Andrew Chafin if he didn’t only get the final two outs with a three-run lead. He was brought on to replace Miguel Castro because two lefties were due up in the next three batters, so his late-inning usage has definitely been platoon-based. Speaking of Castro, he earned his first hold pitching after Drey Jameson. The young right-hander has transitioned exceptionally from the rotation and feels like this year’s Spencer Strider, so get in now while you still can. He tossed 2.1 hitless innings to vulture his second win and is showing increased velocity in relief.
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)
These write-ups are great. Appreciate the work!