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 30 teams saw action on Sunday while sixteen are scheduled to play on Monday. Those with days off are: BAL, NYY, MIN, CLE, CHW, LAA, SEA, ATL, NYM, WSN, ARZ, LAD, SFG, and COL.
- Caleb Thielbar was activated by the Twins with Cole Sands being placed on the IL to make room for him on the roster. Thielbar likely becomes the preferred lefty out of the pen in Minnessota.
- Joely Rodríguez was placed on the IL and replaced on Boston’s roster by Kaleb Ort.
STL 1 – PIT 2
- Génesis Cabrera and Jordan Hicks combined to record the final nine outs for the Cardinals allowing no hits and one walk. Hicks has been on an absolute tear recently allowing no runs in his past 11.1 IPs with seventeen strikeouts and four walks. Despite his elite velocity, Hicks doesn’t rely a lot on swinging strikes and instead relies on well-placed pitches in the zone. His command has, historically, been pretty suspect, but he’s still capable of stretches of dominance like this one. Just don’t get too sucked in since the next injury or blowup outing could be just a game away.
- David Bednar earned his third save in three days and thirteenth of the year as the Pirates swept the Cardinals in Pittsburgh. Bednar held his velocity and command in his third straight day of work, so I don’t think there will be too many chances for other players on this roster to get ancillary saves. Still, he’s almost certainly unavailable should another save chance arise on Monday and it could be Colin Holderman who is called upon in the 9th in that case.
TBR 6 – BOS 2
- Jake Diekman earned his fifth hold of the year, but he was the only pitcher to record a hold or save as the Rays quickly extended their lead to four and kept it there throughout the late innings. We saw a trio of recent additions to the Rays bullpen, but Shawn Armstrong is the most interesting to me as he looked really impressive here striking out three in two scoreless innings with seven whiffs generated on 27 pitches. He really found a groove when he re-joined the Rays roster in 2022 even securing a couple of saves and, while his velocity isn’t where it was last year, his first outing saw him go more cutter-heavy and pound the zone with it with a 73% zone rate. With the injuries in the Rays pen, Armstrong has a chance to gain trust over the course of his next few outings and work his way into a path toward ancillary saves.
- We saw Kaleb Ort in a long relief role fresh from AAA here, but what was more surprising was to see Corey Kluber in relief again. It was thought that he had a chance to get a start in the upcoming week for the Sox, but his 34 pitches here make it seem like the plan is currently not to have him start a game. He’ll likely be available for a two to three inning bulk relief role on Wednesday when he was the presumed starter, but that’s about it. It looks to me that that’s going to be a bullpen game with both Kluber and Kutter Crawford going two to three innings each.
PHI 11 – WAS 3
- This was a blowout by the time the bullpen got involved, but we saw another solid inning from Jeff Hoffman, former top prospect for the Rockies who turned into a solid bullpen piece for the Reds. Maybe now that he’s not pitching in the two most hitter-friendly ballparks in the majors, he’s good? The Phillies have had him increase his slider usage, a pitch he’s only added since becoming a reliever, and it’s helped lead to a solid bump in strikeout rate for him. The other big development is that he’s added three ticks to his fastball like I was hoping he’d do in Cincinnati. I don’t think it’s enough to make him dominant as the contact numbers on the fastball are still not great, but I think this is a tangibly improved pitcher from last year where he logged a 3.83 ERA over 44.2 IPs. He could easily pitch to an ERA in the mid-to-low 3s with a K-rate around 27% the rest of the year.
- Andrés Machado and Thaddeus Ward each got roughed up in this one and nobody was that surprised by it.
TOR 6 – NYM 4
- Nate Pearson backed his way into a win even though he allowed two runs in his inning of work, but the game was closed in the typical fashion for the Blue Jays with Erik Swanson taking the 8th and Jordan Romano the 9th. It was Swanson’s fourteenth hold and Romano’s fifteenth save. Both have now worked three out of four days, so we could see an ancillary save chance on Monday against the Astros. Other players to earn a save this year include Tim Mayza and Adam Cimber, so both seem like potential candidates.
- The Mets relievers needed to pick up the slack for a short start from Kodai Senga and they delivered excellent production except for Dominic Leone who allowed two runs and took the loss. Drew Smith appears to have turned the ship around after a stretch of four straight appearances with an earned run at the end of May. He remains a decent holds option.
OAK 5 – MIA 7
- Austin Pruitt took his third loss as he allowed a pair of runs to score in the bottom of the 8th to give Miami the lead. I see nothing that convinces me this bullpen won’t continue to be historically bad over the full season.
- Tanner Scott has been a strikeout machine lately even though he didn’t record any in his scoreless inning of work that earned him a win on Sunday. He logged 25 punchouts in 14 IPs in May to support a 1.93 ERA. Dylan Floro bounced back from a disastrous outing on Tuesday to earn his sixth save. Floro has had a couple of major hiccups while A.J. Puk has been out with an injury, but we haven’t seen Scott get any chances as a result. The window for that appears to be closing as Puk completed a back-to-back on Friday and Saturday in his rehab assignment, a milestone that Marlins manager Skip Schumaker said was the final one he would have to clear before being activated. I would expect Puk to be back early in the week and perhaps as early as Monday.
MIL 5 – CIN 1
- Milwaukee only needed a couple innings of relief to close this one out and no holds were awarded with the four-run lead they amassed. We did see team holds leader Peter Strzelecki here as he continues to craftily get outs and avoid the long ball. I think he remains the top option for holds even when Matt Bush returns from injury in the near future.
- The Reds also only needed their bullpen for two innings of work and they didn’t provide much in the way of interesting performances.
LAA 2 – HOU 1
- Chris Devenski recorded five outs including two on strikes and allowed just one hit which was enough for a win on Sunday when the Angels took the lead in the top of the 8th. He paved the way for Carlos Estévez’s fourteenth save of the year which was of the four-out variety. Devenski has overall been leading with the changeup here and he took it to an even greater extreme in this one with 20/28 offerings being the slowball. Neither Matt Moore nor José Quijada is expected back anytime soon, so Devenski should continue to be in line for late-inning work with a good amount of holds and some ancillary wins and saves.
- Phil Maton allowed a rare run and took the loss, his first, in his 25th appearance of the season on Sunday. That was only Maton’s fourth earned run allowed of the whole season and raised his ERA to 1.26. Despite this performance, he remains behind Bryan Abreu and Hector Neris in the conversation for holds as they each also hold ERAs under 2 and do so with K-rates over 30%. There are only sixteen qualified relievers who combine those two feats this year and only two teams have more than one of them. These Astros and…. the Pittsburgh Pirates with David Bednar and Dauri Moreta. Fun facts.
COL 0 – KCR 2
- Somehow Jake Bird didn’t get into this game, but if the Rockies can’t throw Bird, they’re at least going to throw Brent Suter who provided yet another scoreless frame here to drop his ERA to 1.77. Suter and Bird are now the top two in relief innings pitched this year and Suter is 5th in fWAR among qualified relievers ahead of guys like Josh Hader and Jordan Romano. I feel like Suter would be a solid trade piece, but it’s tough to know what the Rockies are planning internally.
- Taylor Clarke and Aroldis Chapman earned holds and Scott Barlow picked up his seventh save, working around a pair of hits and striking out the side. Speaking of trade pieces, Chapman again looked filthy here. Even though it was just ten pitches, he flashed the ability to put all four of his pitches in the zone and get whiffs with them as the four-seamer, sinker, slider, and splitter all got results. The Royals should absolutely be sellers at the deadline and I’m fairly certain there is a team willing to buy into Chapman’s name brand and performance this year as a playoff closer. Barlow could be right there along with him, but I just don’t trust his stuff as much nor do I trust that the team acquiring him would want him to remain a 9th-inning option.
CLE 2 – MIN 1
- Emmanuel Clase logged his league-leading 30th appearance and 19th save, striking out two thanks to five whiffs from the slider. It was the second straight day that Clase was able to earn a save while striking out multiple batters, a feat he had only achieved twice all year coming into the weekend. He’s been solid, but the big thing that’s been different from his amazing 2022 season is nearly a 10% dip in strikeout rate. Hopefully, these past two outings and him leading with the slider more can help to bring those punchouts back.
- Griffin Jax now has recorded six straight scoreless innings with eight Ks, no walks, and two hits over the past two weeks. The return of Caleb Thielbar, however, makes the holds situation even more crowded, so I wouldn’t necessarily expect Jax to move up to the 8th or even the 7th inning consistently quite yet.
DET 2 – CWS 6
- Alex Lange allowed a walk-off grand slam which single-handedly more than doubled his ERA on the season, sending him from 1.11 to 2.55. Lange had a stretch earlier in the year where the whiffs were just not there and that was the case again here as he struggled to land his pitches in the zone (he went 10/23 on strikes) and, when he did actually put a curveball in the zone against Jake Burger, he was expecting it and it caught too much of the zone. Even when you incorporate this blowup, Lange still has solid numbers to start the year, so fantasy managers should just ride this out.
- The beneficiary of the grand slam on the other side of the diamond was Liam Hendriks who had worked a scoreless top of the 9th and earned his first win of the season. This was the first back-to-back of the season for Hendriks and we actually saw progress in his velocity in this one. He had been sitting 94/95 in his previous two appearances, about two to three ticks lower than where he was last year. In this one, however, he averaged 96.3 on his six fastballs thrown which was nearly a full mile an hour faster than he had been just the day before. It’s going to take Hendriks a while longer to get up to speed here. He’s still struggling to locate his slider and he’s mostly shelved the curve for now. As he regains a feel for the slider and works his fastball velocity back up, we may see some more rough outings. I don’t know where the ceiling is for this year, but it’s encouraging to see progress after only three appearances.
SEA 3 – TEX 12
- Four of the five Mariners relievers used were able to come away with scoreless outings here, but Trevor Gott allowed enough to bring the whole team’s ERA down. He gave up five runs, all earned, on four hits and a walk in his inning of work which sent his ERA skyrocketing from 1.75 to 3.38. The team was down seven runs at the time, so adding on another five didn’t really hurt that much, so I don’t think this actually reduced Gott’s value in the team’s eyes. It’s simply a lesson in sample size among relievers and how one outing, even if it comes at a fairly meaningless time, can do a lot to shape our perceptions of a player.
- Other than some maintenance work for Brock Burke, there’s not much interesting going on in this game for the Rangers bullpen. It was a blowout from early on.
BAL 8 – SFG 3
- Another day, another scoreless outing for Yennier Cano who leads all relievers in fWAR on the year. He does, however, have just a 12% K-rate and a 1.61 WHIP over his last eight appearances which makes me wonder if there is also some ERA regression coming up in the near future for him. The numbers on the year are still so good, though, that it’s tough to do anything but continue to trot him out there.
- Jakob Junis had to work some bulk relief here and Ryan Walker continued his impressive start to the season striking out two in a clean inning. He’s allowed just one earned run in his first 7.2 IPs at the big league level this year after delivering a 0.89 ERA in 20.1 IPs in AAA. The sample size at the major league level is still really small, but I’m thinking that both the K-rate and BB-rate will regress a little bit to make him no more than an OK middle reliever.
ATL 8 – ARZ 5
- It was the much anticipated major league debut of AJ Smith-Shawver and he went 2.1 IPs with no hits, one walk, and three Ks. The line is impressive, but the underlying stats, 3/39 on swinging strikes and a 15% O-swing, aren’t quite as impressive. This isn’t Spencer Strider pt. 2, but he could progress from here. Atlanta clearly likes what Smith-Shawver brings to the table, so his role may continue to grow and change from here. In other news, Raisel Iglesias earned his second save of the weekend and seventh of the season while allowing one walk. The inning brings his K-BB% to a troubling 10.2% compared to a career rate of 22.5%. He did start the season late, but if that number doesn’t start improving, there could be some rocky times ahead. Atlanta does have an off day on Monday, so I don’t think Tuesday will be an ancillary save chance for Nick Anderson.
- Fortunately for Miguel Castro, he wasn’t the only reliever who allowed a go-ahead grand slam in the 9th inning today, but he still had to take his second blown save and loss. The team has shown a pretty quick hook to their closer before, so this could be enough to move Castro back into more of a committee with Andrew Chafin, who worked the 7th, or Scott McGough, who worked the 8th. I don’t know if any of them are good enough to stop the wheel from turning, but I have the most faith in Chafin.
CHC 7 – SDP 1
- This game was lopsided from the first two innings, but the Cubs decided to keep their long man, Javier Assad, fresh. They did only need three innings, so I suppose they were happy to focus on just keeping the Padres at distance, but I’m also wondering if we’re going to see more of a piggyback situation on Tuesday rather than a full start for Hayden Wesneski.
- Domingo Tapia and Drew Carlton had lots of work to do to finish this game logging a combined 6.1 IPs as San Diego tried to save as many of their other arms as they could. They don’t have an off day on Monday and, if they don’t make a roster move, they will not have the benefit of a long reliever for their next couple of games having used theirs for 37 and 56 pitches respectively in this one.
NYY 4 – LAD 1
- Clay Holmes was brought on in a tie ball game in the 7th and left with the lead in the 8th. Wandy Peralta relieved him and took the final four outs of the game to secure his fourth save of the season. Roles continue to be fluid in the Yankee’s arm barn as Holmes remains the team leader in saves with six of the team’s seventeen. As long as all three pitchers remain healthy, I wouldn’t expect that to change.
- The Dodgers threw their top two arms in the 7th and 8th to hold on to a tie game, but neither were able to do so as Brusdar Graterol allowed an unearned run in the 7th and Evan Phillips allowed an earned run in the 8th which would eventually prove to be the winning run earning him the loss. Both had been coming off several days of rest and the team has a scheduled off day on Monday, so it’s not surprising to see both of them used here. If the context of their recent usage and schedule had been different, we may not have seen them so aggressively used. This committee seems a bit more lopsided than the Yankees as Phillips seems to be the guy who gets the call much more often than not.
Bullpen Depth Charts
Also, if you’re looking for a detailed list or ranking of RPs, check out Rick Graham’s weekly pieces: