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
- All 15 games went on as scheduled on Sunday and we have 11 more on tap Monday with BOS, TOR, MIA, NYM, PHI, MIL, CIN, and SDP being the lucky eight with a scheduled off day.
- The Rays decided they had too many Kellys on their team and optioned Trevor Kelley and recalled Joe LaSorsa who will soon make his MLB debut. Pete Fairbanks exited warmups with a hip injury on Sunday, so be on the lookout for news of an IL placement on Monday.
- Matt Moore was placed on the IL and the Angles called up Ben Joyce to take his place. Joyce is certainly an intriguing relief prospect and delivered tons of fun GIFs from his time in college last year, but he’s making the jump straight from AA and his minor league track record shows there are still some major command issues to work out here. Tread lightly.
- Josh Taylor was placed on the IL by the Royals to make room for the return of Daniel Lynch
LAD 10 – TBR 11
- Most of this damage was done by the starter, but the Dodgers bullpen still didn’t help as they allowed four earned runs in six innings of work, just enough to allow the Rays to take the game. They seem to have the pieces to put together a solid back end of the bullpen, especially with Shelby Miller, who posted a scoreless inning to bring his season ERA down to 2.63, seemingly gaining more trust in the later innings. Brusdar Graterol also delivered a scoreless inning here to bring his season ERA under 2. His value rivals that of Evan Phillips in SVHD leagues.
- Jason Adam earned his seventh save of the year, going in the 8th and 9th after Pete Fairbanks suffered a hip injury during his warmups. Early reports make me believe that there’s a better than 50% chance that an IL stint is coming which makes Adam the closer to own in Tampa. The Rays have been surprisingly consistent in the 9th inning this year with twelve of the team’s sixteen saves going to either Adam or Fairbanks. Adam now becomes an excellent play in SV only leagues as well as SVHD where he was already an excellent play. He did, however, throw 37 pitches here, so he’s almost certainly unavailable for at least Monday’s game in Chicago. Given the bullpen’s heavy usage recently, they could go with Colin Poche on Monday, but we also may see a surprise in the 9th like Calvin Faucher.
TEX 2 – BAL 3,
- Despite the close game, none of Texas’s high-leverage arms got work in this one. Cole Ragans continues to show progression in his fastball velocity as he touched 99 in this one and sat 97.4 mph, but he didn’t have command and walked two in his inning of work. The bullpen’s best fastball by Stuff+ in May has been another reliever who saw work here, Joe Barlow, but the rest of his numbers look pretty ugly. I do think that Will Smith is likely not the long-term solution for the Rangers, and they may choose to make an acquisition to fill the closer role given the quality of their in-house contenders.
- Félix Bautista recorded his thirteenth save by striking out the side on fifteen pitches. Danny Coulombe waltzed right into a win by facing one batter and retiring him on three pitches. Bautista remains just as dominant as ever, but Yennier Cano is now looking somewhat human. After rolling into May 19th with a 0.18 WHIP, he’s allowed ten hits in his last 6 IPs of work along with three earned runs. This cold streak raises his ratios to a 0.98 ERA and 0.54 WHIP. It’s still an otherworldly start to the season for Cano and not worth abandoning ship yet.
SDP 7 – NYY 10
- San Diego went down big during the middle innings and turned to their depth relievers. Their offense nearly pulled them back in it with a big 7th inning, but the lead was too much. None of the three relievers used seem to be close to high-leverage work that would earn them holds anytime soon.
- Jimmy Cordero and Ron Marinaccio each earned holds while Clay Holmes was called upon in the 9th to close a 4-run game. Holmes struggled with command and struggled to miss bats allowing a run on two walks with no strikeouts. Overall, Holmes has improved his K-rate from last year by throwing more sliders, but he hasn’t been able to maintain his historic effectiveness at keeping the ball on the ground. He’s seen his GB rate climb from a ridiculous 75.8% last year to a more reasonable 53.6% this year. This has played a role in raising his WHIP to a dangerous 1.41 figure. Advanced stats are a bit mixed on him with FIP liking him more than last year and xERA liking him less and I side more with xERA on this one despite it not being completely updated for expected stats in the post-shift context. If Holmes isn’t generating weak ground balls at an elite rate, he’s going to struggle to strike out enough guys to be a truly dominant closer and will likely continue to split time in the 9th with Michael King.
STL 3 – CLE 4
- Cardinals relievers earned a trio of holds, but Ryan Helsley was unable to close the door and allowed the walk-off, taking a blown save and loss. Helsley has been on a bit of a cold streak recently allowing four runs on six hits and six walks in his past six appearances. There doesn’t seem to be anything obviously wrong with Helsley except that he’s not hitting his spots as consistently as he needs to right now. Chalk this up to a very normal cold stretch that almost all relievers have at some point in the season.
- Xzavion Curry logged the final three innings in relief to save the rest of the bullpen and found himself being rewarded with a win when the offense came through in the bottom of the 9th. Curry has some impressive numbers as a long reliever this year, so he may, at some point, earn a spot start, but I wouldn’t chase it. He struggles to miss bats or keep balls on the ground and is currently rocking a HR/FB ratio considerably below where he was in the minors. There’s likely a reason he hasn’t yet been allowed to go through an order for a second time yet, much less a third.
CWS 5 – DET 6 (F/10)
- I speculated last week that Joe Kelly’s save wasn’t just a case of load management for Kendall Graveman and we see here proof positive that that was true. Graveman worked the 8th inning and picked up his 7th hold of the season while Kelly came on for the 9th and the save opportunity. A misplayed ball in center field turned into a one-out triple and the tying run came in to score on the next batter which tagged Kelly with the blown save, his second in two days. I get that it was a rough weekend for Kelly, but I’m intrigued and encouraged. He touched 101.3 mph on his fastball and earned a pair of whiffs on his slider. On the season, he’s generating more o-swing than ever and throwing harder than ever. His four-seamer Stuff+ is better than anyone in the league except Ryan Helsley (min 10 thrown). Yes, Liam Hendriks is expected to be activated on Monday, but I believe there’s enough uncertainty around what he can actually produce on the field that a speculative add of Kelly could still be interesting.
- In his next appearance after breaking a sixteen-appearance scoreless streak, Alex Lange started another on Sunday, punching out two in the top of the 10th and earning a win. Lange has been one of the most dominant relievers in the league this year and, while some regression is certainly coming (no homers allowed despite an increase in fly ball rate and barrel rate), he should still be a serviceable closer for the Tigers the rest of the campaign.
WSN 2 – KCR 3
- The back end of Washington’s bullpen was basically all unavailable due to heavy use from Wednesday to Saturday and the team tried to go for the ambitious Chad Kuhl two-inning save. Kuhl allowed the tying run in the 8th and the winning run in the 9th to take the loss and blown save. I would only expect the team to try something like this on days where they are in the most dire of straits.
- Aroldis Chapman kept the game close in the 8th and Scott Barlow held firm in the 9th to eventually earn the win when the team walked it off in the bottom of the frame. Chapman started with a dominant April, but has been pretty pedestrian in May issuing ten walks in ten appearances in May with just thirteen punchouts. Barlow, on the other hand, was dreadful in April, but has been lights out in May with a 1.69 ERA and sixteen strikeouts in 10.2 IPs. I don’t believe either end the year as the closer for the Royals.
TOR 3 – MIN 0
- Toronto’s three relievers shut the door hard in this one, striking out nine of the last twelve batters they faced to end the game. Trevor Richards and Erik Swanson earned holds while Jordan Romano picked up his twelfth save. I was a bit concerned in the preseason about Romano’s fastball velocity early in the year, and I would say that those concerns have only been somewhat well-founded. His ERA is being supported around the low-3s rather than the low 2s of 2021 and 2022, but he’s still been plenty good to hold on to the 9th inning for a good ball club, which means he likely returns good enough value for what you paid for him.
- Stuff+ darling Griffin Jax is starting to right the ship after a rough first half of May. He’s now posted three straight scoreless innings with six Ks. He seems to have been passed in the holds pecking order by Brock Stewart for now, but all that could change quickly if Jax starts to perform to what advanced metrics say he’s capable of.
SFG 5 – MIL 7
- The Giants turned to a couple of rookies, Tristan Beck and Ryan Walker, to clean up the mess made by starter Alex Cobb. They did an excellent job, retiring twelve in a row and giving the team a chance to come back. Despite this performance, they don’t seem likely to be in the conversation for anything but mop-up duty for the foreseeable future.
- Devin Williams recorded four outs, three on strikes, for his eighth save of the season. It was his third straight save of more than three outs, but only his sixth appearance of the month as save opportunities have been hard to come by for the Brewers. He did walk another batter, but, unlike in his last appearance, his changeup was absolutely dialed in, registering a 50% CSW on fourteen offerings. Williams is still a dominant closer and Milwaukee isn’t so bad that we shouldn’t expect a regular amount of chances, so hold on tight and hope some close games start coming in bunches.
CIN 8 – CHC 5
- Alexis Díaz struck out the side to record his twelfth save of the season and second of the weekend. He’s now struck out 40 of 81 batters faced on the year for a 49.4% K-rate. Did he absorb his older brother’s powers or something? Diaz has exceeded my expectations for him this year by leaps and bounds despite losing a tick on his fastball and keeping a fairly high walk rate of 13%. Diaz has severely cut down on his fly ball rate which will be increasingly important as we move into the summer in the GABP, but you can get away with a lot if you have nearly a 50% K-rate. There’s clearly something I’m not seeing and Stuff+ isn’t seeing in these two pitches that are making Diaz an elite reliever this year. I would imagine his K-rate ends up settling in the mid-30s, but if he continues to suppress fly balls like he’s done so far this year, he might be resistant to the pitcher poison that his home park typically is.
- Jeremiah Estrada faced three batters and was unable to retire any of them walking two and allowing a double. He threw exclusively fastballs and just never got a feel for it. Stuff+ really likes Estrada, but his MLB numbers haven’t yet shown the potential the model thinks he has and my money is still on Adbert Alzolay to lead the team in saves by the end of the year. Estrada still seems like too much of a work in progress for me to believe.
NYM 10 – COL 11
- We did see Brooks Raley for a lone batter, but didn’t see any of the Mets typical saves/holds candidates in this high-scoring affair. Dominic Leone delivered an impressive performance here striking out the side with six swinging strikes on thirteen pitches. That makes three days in a row for both he and Jeff Brigham, though, so they’ll likely have Tuesday off in addition to the scheduled day off on Monday.
- Peter Lambert picked up a win in relief somehow avoiding a blowup in this game that saw fifteen runs scored across the 4th and 5th frames alone. Daniel Bard earned his first hold of the season while the team went with Justin Lawrence to close it out in a non-save situation instead of Pierce Johnson and the former nearly blew it anyway by surrendering three runs before putting the Mets away. Lawrence had pitched to much better results than Johnson so far this year, so if this was a tryout to begin using Lawrence in the 9th, it did not go well. Bard seems to be moving extremely slowly up the leverage ladder, but this is still not the 2022 version of Daniel Bard despite his sparkling ERA. He’s still sitting three ticks slower on his sinker with a slower, less biting slider. He has as many walks as strikeouts in his 14.1 IPs and would only be a ticking time bomb if he took over the 9th with that performance.
HOU 10 – OAK 1
- Houston didn’t need to sweat very much to close out this game and secure the sweep, which was exactly what they needed given the heavy workloads for their top three arms across Friday and Saturday and the lack of an off day on Monday. Rafael Montero continues to try to right the ship. After another blowup performance on Tuesday, he worked the 9th inning here and delivered a scoreless frame with a walk and a strikeout. Last year, Montero’s BABIP and HR/FB rate were both a decent amount lower than the baseline he set for himself as a reliever across 2021 and, so far this year, they’re considerably higher. The truth likely lies somewhere in the middle for Montero; a decent middle innings arm and not the dominant, closer-ready guy he seemed like last year or the AAA fodder he’s pitched like in May.
- Ken Waldichuk opened this game, so there were technically eight innings of relief here. We saw Stuff+ darling Garrett Acton again, and it definitely didn’t go well as he allowed three runs on a pair of homers in the inning. Stack your hitters against Oakland. It’s the only way.
MIA 2 – LAA 0
- Woo boy, this is one taxed bullpen. They’ve used at least five relievers in four straight games and now desperately need this off day on Monday to get reset. JT Chargois benefitted from the craziness and snagged his first save in the absence of Dylan Floro who had been used in three straight games. Four holds were awarded including Tanner Scott’s ninth who doesn’t seem to currently be contending with Floro for save opportunities. He has been making a good case for it, though, since A.J. Puk went down delivering eight straight scoreless outings with twelve punchouts. He still battles major command and walk problems at times, though, so the next blowup outing could be right around the corner.
- Jacob Webb worked two frames here striking out four and generating eight whiffs on 29 offerings (27.6% swinging strike rate). When we last saw Webb, he was a decently effective middle reliever for Atlanta in 2021, but this is a much-improved version of him. The numbers didn’t quite play out in AAA as he battled major command issues that we should look out for, but Webb now sports a much more devastating changeup adding nearly two inches of run, and he improved his fastball Stuff+ from 103 in 2021 to 122 so far in his three appearances. Webb could easily turn into a “lead with the changeup” style reliever in the mold of Trevor Richards or, dare I say it, Devin Williams and prove to be a valuable member of this relief corps should the command not fall away like it did in AAA.
BOS 2 – ARZ 4
- Most of the relief work was cleaned up by Nick Pivetta here as he now seems to be filling the role of a multi-inning piggyback once or twice a week. The first three outings in this new role have gone fairly well as he’s put up a 3.24 ERA supported by a 2.69 FIP in the 8.1 IPs he’s worked. Still, the home run always seems to be looming for him, so I’d give it a bit more time before chasing this.
- Three holds were distributed to D’backs relievers and the save again went to Miguel Castro, his fifth of the season. He seems to be getting the majority of chances recently over Andrew Chafin, but given how quickly they moved away from Chafin, I wouldn’t imagine Castro has much of a long leash either. A couple of bad luck outings could be the only thing separating him from the 8th inning. Castro has been fine, but a 22% K-rate and a fastball that sits 96/97 don’t seem to me like a guy who is going to avoid those cold stretches that most relievers go through. When that happens, he’ll probably be removed from the 9th and lose all his fantasy value in most leagues.
PIT 3 – SEA 6 (F/10)
- Roansy Contreras made his first relief appearance of the year and he took the opportunity to go 64% sliders to get through a couple of mostly clean innings. His four-seamer had been getting completely lit up, so moving away from it in a move to the bullpen seems to be a logical choice. We also saw the typical velocity bump which got the five fastballs he did toss up to sitting 96 mph rather than the 94 he had been hovering at as a starter. I think this version of Contreras could be effective for a while, although, I don’t think he moves out of a long relief role. In other news, David Bednar and Colin Holderman are still very, very good.
- The Mariners brought on Paul Sewald in the 8th to try to hold a one-run lead with a runner on third and one out, but he was unable to do so and got tagged with a pretty harsh blown save. Tayler Saucedo struck out the side in the 10th to earn the win and continues his dominant May. His line for the month now sits at 9 IP, 8 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, and 12 K, and the walk was intentional. If Gabe Speier has another bad outing or two, Saucedo could supplant him as the team’s preferred lefty out of the pen and be in line for a good amount of holds.
PHI 4 – ATL 11
- Philadelphia’s starter was unable to make it through the first inning, so the team’s goal was simply to make it through this game. They did have to use Matt Strahm, but otherwise stuck to their bulk and low-leverage guys and will use the off day on Monday to get the bullpen back to full strength.
- Atlanta didn’t need to sweat in this one either, so we saw the Atlanta debut of Dereck Rodríguez who is already pitching for his second team this year. He doesn’t figure to be anything more than a depth arm.
Bullpen Depth Charts
Also, if you’re looking for a detailed list or ranking of RPs, check out Rick Graham’s weekly pieces:
(Photos by Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Doug Carlin (@Bdougals on Twitter)