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
- Less than half of the league was active on Thursday with seven games played, but we’re back to a full slate of 15 games on Friday with a double-header coming up between TBR and BOS on Saturday.
- The Astros optioned Parker Mushinski to AAA and replaced him on the roster with Ronel Blanco who provided a spot start in Thursday’s game.
MIL 1 – TOR 3
- Milwaukee only needed two innings from their relievers here, and they were down three runs, so they didn’t use their high-leverage guys. I wish I could believe that Trevor Megill’s impressive first 6.2 IPs of the season showed some real improvements over last year, but I just don’t see it. I’m going to believe the larger sample size from last year or at least consider his disastrous time in the minors this year.
- Erik Swanson recorded four outs for his thirteenth hold and Jordan Romano a hit, a walk, and an earned run to pick up his thirteenth save. Romano’s ERA is up to a decent, but not spectacular rate of 3.27 to go with a 1.23 WHIP. This is about what advanced metrics say he earned last year and the ROS projections for ATC pretty much have him continuing on this pace. Despite his xERA, I think it would take some luck for him to pitch in the low-2s in terms of ERA the rest of the way. ATC’s estimate of 3.13 seems to be spot on to me which should be good enough for him to keep the closer’s job all year, but not dazzle with his ratios.
PHI 2 – NYM 4
- Both working on many days’ rest, Gregory Soto and Craig Kimbrel delivered clean maintenance innings as they try to stay fresh for the next save chance. Both have had bouts of extreme volatility this season, but Kimbrel is currently putting together a good stretch with eleven punchouts compared to just three hits and two walks in his last seven innings. José Alvarado was cleared for a rehab assignment on Thursday, though, so even a prolonged stretch of dominance would likely still have Kimbrel lose save chances in the near future.
- Working in the absence of both David Robertson and Adam Ottavino, both of whom worked Tuesday and Wednesday, the Mets turned to Drew Smith to convert the team’s third save in three days. Brooks Raley had initially been sent out for the 9th to get the dangerous lefties Bryce Harper and Kyle Schwarber, but the team apparently didn’t like the matchup with a righty and, once Raley faced three batters, lifted him in favor of the opposite-handed Smith. The Mets were clearly mixing and matching with their available guys here and this is clearly not going to become a regular occurrence in the 9th.
SDP 10 – MIA 1
- This was a blowout by the time the bullpen got in on the action, so the Padres were able to rely on their depth arms to get through the three innings they needed. Tom Cosgrove did extend his scoreless innings streak to ten which happen to be the first ten innings of his Major League career. He’s another in the vein of a crafty lefty with a slow, loopy slider as his primary pitch and a couple of unremarkable fastballs behind it. Maybe he does well enough to supplant Tim Hill in the pecking order for holds and maybe not. That’s about all I would expect from him despite his hot start.
- Miami really threw in the towel in this one, tossing out catcher Jacob Stallings for the final frame here who actually delivered a scoreless inning with just one hit. Before that happened, though, Matt Barnes absolutely lost it allowing five runs to score plus two additional inherited runners that were charged to Jesús Luzardo. Barnes had only allowed two runs in his past eleven appearances, but a monumental blowup like this one is the kind of thing that anchors a reliever’s ratios for the whole year and shapes how they’re seen. Barnes is not likely to make his way back into holds situations anytime soon.
COL 4 – ARZ 5
- It wouldn’t be a Rockies game if they didn’t throw Jake Bird out there yet again. Three holds were handed out before Pierce Johnson attempted to secure the save, but he allowed a pair of runs to blow his first save of the season and raise his ERA to 6.85. It’s pretty surprising that he was previously a perfect eleven for eleven on save chances despite the ugly ERA, but much of the damage had come in non-save situations prior to this. The Rockies will likely try out a guy like Justin Lawrence pretty soon and he’ll probably be fine, but I wouldn’t expect a ton from him. Only chase Lawrence if you’re desperate for saves.
- Arizona was playing from behind until the last play of the game, so we didn’t see any of their most high-leverage arms. Kevin Ginkel fell into a win by delivering a scoreless 9th. Ginkel has been on a solid stretch with a 13:1 K:BB ratio over his past seven appearances (11.2 IPs) with a 1.54 ERA. I kind of expect this bullpen to be a bit of a carousel without clear options for 7-8-9, so Ginkel could certainly build on his holds total at some point this summer.
CIN 2 – BOS 8
- Rough game for Kevin Herget who entered the bottom of the 8th in a 2-2 game and walked off the field at the end of the frame with his team down 8-2. After a couple days of heavy usage for Cincinnati’s most high-leverage arms, apparently, the team was willing to leave Herget out to dry a little bit rather than spend another arm in a game where they were already down a couple runs going into the 9th. However, all of this happened in just 29 pitches, so maybe everything happened so quickly that they couldn’t get anyone else ready in time. In any case, the silver lining of the rough loss was that it was much-needed rest for the high-leverage arms.
- Chris Martin entered the 8th with a one-run lead and allowed the tying run to earn himself the blown save. He backed into the win when Boston went on their big run in the 8th and Kenley Jansen finished out the game. Jansen only averaged 91.8 mph on the thirteen cutters he threw which is a full 2.8 mph slower than his season average. He was up six runs and did get up to 95 for a pitch or two, so this could just be an example of him taking his foot off the gas pedal with a big win, but I would monitor this closely in his next appearance.
CLE 6 – MIN 7
- James Karinchak worked a scoreless 7th to earn his tenth hold and Trevor Stephan was chosen to protect the lead for the 8th inning. He ended up allowing three runs on three hits taking the blown save and setting the stage for Eli Morgan to take the loss when the Twins walked it off in the 9th. With both Karinchak and Stephan being used before the 9th, I would say that Emmanuel Clase was, in fact, available for his third day of work in a row had the lead made it to the 9th, so I would keep that in mind for future back-to-back situations.
- Emilio Pagán worked a bit of a bulk role here securing seven outs while allowing just one hit. When the game was tied in the 8th, they brought on Griffin Jax to keep the game tied and give the team a chance to walk it off in the 9th, which they did securing Jax his third win of the year. Jax seems to be starting to settle in again after a rough stretch of seven earned runs in seven appearances. He now has five straight scoreless outings with four of those being clean innings. Jax was a key piece at the back of this bullpen last year and he has a solid chance to get back there if he keeps up this type of performance.
LAA 2 – HOU 5
- We were treated to another dominant Ben Joyce outing on Thursday night as he topped out at 103 mph and struck out two of the four batters he faced. It’s extremely early here, but Joyce hasn’t walked a batter in his first two appearances of his career, so that’s a somewhat promising early sign. The sample size required for BB% to stabilize is pretty high, though, so we might not even be extremely confident in it at the end of the year. There is the narrative that the tacky ball in AA could be responsible for Joyce’s major control problems he faced in the minors this year. Should you choose to believe that narrative for now, you could even see Joyce as immediately becoming the team’s top option for holds and a nice handcuff play for Carlos Estévez.
- A trio of holds were handed out before Ryan Pressly locked down the 9th for his eleventh save of 2023. It’s interesting that Rafael Montero was used in the 8th despite his recent struggles and it looking like Bryan Abreu, who was thrown for the 7th inning, was now the heir apparent. Abreu’s stuff still seems superior, so I’m not reading into this too much for now. Pressly struck out one in this one, but his K-rate is still a bit lower than we’d like at 28.4% this year after coming in at 35.7% last year. His velocity and swinging strike rate are mostly in line with his previous few seasons, though, so I don’t think there’s anything wrong here.
Bullpen Depth Charts
Also, if you’re looking for a detailed list or ranking of RPs, check out Rick Graham’s weekly pieces: