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 and twelve more games are scheduled for Monday in a relatively busy Monday slate. Teams with scheduled days off include BAL, TBR, HOU, SEA, STL, and ARI.
- Gregory Santos was placed on the bereavement list by the White Sox. Aaron Bummer figures to be next in line for saves for the next couple days, but it could easily just be whoever has the right matchup. Santos figures to reclaim the 9th inning in the middle of this week.
- The Dodgers placed Michael Grove on the IL and replaced him on the roster with Bryan Hudson. Hudson doesn’t figure to be anything more than a depth arm while he’s with the club.
- Parker Mushinski was optioned to AAA to make room for José Urquidy on Houston’s roster. J.P. France, as previously announced, will now be available out of the bullpen in a long relief role.
- Reynaldo López was placed on the bereavement list by the Angels with no corresponding move yet announced. Dominic Leone has a slightly higher chance of picking up a hold over the next few days until Lopez returns.
CWS 5 – CLE 3
SV: Jimmy Lambert (1)
- Working with a barebones crew with Gregory Santos hitting the bereavement list and Aaron Bummer unavailable due to throwing 43 pitches on Saturday, the White Sox turned to Jimmy Lambert for his first career save when the team snagged the lead in the top of the 9th. With so many unproven arms in the White Sox pen right now, it seems like almost anyone could rise up and claim an ancillary save, but the majority are going to go to Santos and Bummer down the stretch if they stay healthy.
- Four Guardians relievers protected the lead on Sunday and handed a 3-2 lead to Emmanuel Clase for the 9th. You’ll see four hits allowed by Clase in the box score and three unearned runs, but this was far from Clase’s fault. Two of those hits were of the infield variety and the one from Oscar Colás was originally ruled an error and, in my opinion, should have stayed that way. The Guardians took a chance acquiring Kole Calhoun to fill the void on the roster left by Josh Naylor and giving him his first start at first in nearly a decade with rookie Brayan Rocchio making just his third big league start at third base. While Calhoun didn’t directly get charged with any errors, his play directly lost them the game here. In any other game of the year, Clase is out of this with a save.
NYM 0 – BAL 2
SV: Félix Bautista (30)
- Adam Ottavino received a maintenance inning after four straight days off and faced the minimum three batters. He still looks to be splitting save opportunities with Brooks Raley, but his ability to get righties out may give him a small-handedness advantage.
- A couple of former Oakland starters held down the 7th and 8th to pave the way for save number 30 for Félix Bautista this year. Shintaro Fujinami looked especially dominant. Of the nine pitches he needed to record three outs, all nine were strikes, six were over 100 mph, and four were whiffs. He’s not about to jump Yennier Cano and become the preferred holds option here, but the Orioles seem to trust him and he seems to be getting more comfortable with his new relief role and with the MLB ball in general (his hot streak started before he came to Baltimore). He’ll likely continue to get a decent amount of holds chances down the stretch for Baltimore.
TOR 13 – BOS 1
- Jay Jackson continued his dominant run since being called up to Toronto. Another scoreless inning in this slaughter gives him a 0.50 ERA and 0.67 WHIP with nineteen strikeouts across 18 IPs so far this year.
- Boston planned a bullpen game and they may want to rethink their strategy for next time. Five relievers combined to allow thirteen runs on fourteen hits with seven walks in eight innings. Ouch.
KCR 4 – PHI 8
- Jonathan Heasley and James McArthur combined to eat up all four innings of relief for the Royals on Sunday. There’s really nothing interesting to say about that.
- Gregory Soto and Jeff Hoffman took over their team’s share of relief work and delivered two scoreless innings to close things out. Hoffman continues to be an important piece for Philadelphia and he could certainly find himself starting to get put into holds situations more often. Since June 24th, he’s logged 16 IPs with just three earned runs and 22 punchouts.
HOU 9 – NYY 7
HD: Hector Neris (23)
SV: Bryan Abreu (4)
- Ryan Pressly was reported to be unavailable on Sunday due to general soreness, so this save opportunity fell to Bryan Abreu who was asked to get four outs for his fourth save and did so, but in somewhat rocky fashion. J.P. France also worked as a bulk reliever in this one and picked up the win. Pressly’s health should be closely monitored because Abreu becomes an immediate pickup in save-only leagues if the former is shut down for even a little bit.
- Wandy Peralta delivered his worst outing of the year by far and took the loss as this four-run outing ballooned his ERA by 0.77 runs. Peralta hadn’t allowed four runs in a single appearance since 2020. While the two homers he allowed were no-doubters, I don’t think managers in SVHD leagues should be worried about continued blowups. It’s just an unfortunate day to have him in your starting lineup.
WSN 6 – CIN 3
SV: Kyle Finnegan (17)
- Kyle Finnegan has now closed out the Nationals’ past four games and five out of the past six with the scheduled off day on Thursday being the only rest for him since Tuesday. The Nationals keep winning and Finnegan keeps getting the job done. He’s now converted six straight saves since July 17th and has a 1.34 ERA and 0.77 WHIP over his last 30 appearances. Pretty much all the indicators are worse here in 2023 for Finnegan than they were in 2022, a year in which he was a good-but-not-great reliever and he started out the year in terrible fashion, but you start the season about a week later and he’s working with a 1.58 ERA in 45.2 IPs. Projection systems still like him around a 3.90 ERA the rest of the way, though, so, while both he and the team are hot now, it likely won’t last for much longer. Finnegan has now worked three straight days along with Jordan Weems and Andrés Machado, so the Nationals will find themselves really playing out of position in their bullpen on Monday if they find themselves with another lead to protect.
- Six relievers saw action for the Reds on Sunday. Fernando Cruz offered the most noteworthy performance, inducing twelve swings on thirteen splitters he threw, which led to six swinging strikes. This helped Cruz strike out five of the six batters he faced in a clean inning and two-thirds. Cruz’s splitter was in rare form here and he hasn’t shown the ability to consistently convince hitters to swing at it, so there’s no action to be taken here for fantasy purposes.
TBR 10 – DET 6
- The Rays used six relievers here and none saw a very high-leverage situation as the Rays went up early and, while there was some back and forth, the offense kept them with a pretty consistent cushion throughout. With an off day on Monday, they gave all their top arms a bit of work, but it likely won’t affect their availability for Tuesday.
- On the other side, the Tigers never got quite close enough to justify bringing in their top arms, especially after a game on Saturday that saw them use all of their high-leverage guys to barely scrape by with a win.
ARZ 3 – MIN 5
- It was the best of times. It was the worst of times. A day after striking out the side on twelve pitches in his Arizona debut, Paul Sewald failed to retire any of the three batters he faced on Sunday as he went game-tying homer, walk, walk-off homer. He was brought in to bring clarity and stability to this Arizona staff, something that they’ve lacked arguably since 2018, so it’s way too early for even the trigger-happy Diamondbacks to make any changes, but it’s an inauspicious beginning for a seemingly cursed bullpen. The silver lining is that the team has an off day on Monday to reset.
- Caleb Thielbar allowed the go-ahead homer in the top of the 9th but was quickly saved by his offense to give him his second win of the campaign, both coming in the past three days. Thielbar has stepped right back into high-leverage work since returning from injury earlier this month and his use in the top of the 9th of a tie ball game indicates that he could even be a candidate for ancillary saves. He deserves a look in any SVHD league given his recent performance and status as the most reliable lefty reliever on the team.
PIT 4 – MIL 1
- A couple of 8th-inning insurance runs saved the Pirates from having to decide whether to use David Bednar for the third straight day or not. However, Colin Holderman did still get the call in the 8th in a non-hold situation. He delivered a scoreless inning, his ninth straight scoreless appearance. Over these nine appearances, he’s allowed just three hits and two walks while striking out eleven.
- Hoby Milner delivered another scoreless inning and he’s been dominant since about late May or so. Since May 24th, he’s put up a 0.68 ERA and 0.90 WHIP with 26 Ks in 26.2 IPs. Both he and youngster Abner Uribe are examples of Milwaukee’s ability over the past few years to develop relievers and get the most out of them.
COL 1 – STL 0
SV: Justin Lawrence (9)
- Tyler Kinley continues his return tour with his first hold of the campaign. He’s not there yet, but don’t forget that he was a force when healthy last year. If he can return to form, the Rockies could have a pretty decent 7-8-9 punch between him Brent Suter, and Justin Lawrence, but it’s just a question of how many opportunities the rest of the pitching staff and the bats will give them.
- It was a great day overall for Cardinals pitching as the bullpen allowed four hits and walked none in five shutout innings. However, the biggest piece of news came out of AA Springfield where Ryan Helsley successfully completed his first rehab appearance firing eleven of sixteen pitches for strikes in a scoreless frame. He’ll likely need another appearance or two, but he seems to be on track to return from the IL when eligible on August 10th or not too long afterward.
ATL 4 – CHC 6
SV: Adbert Alzolay (14)
- Four Atlanta relievers combined to walk four and strike out none in three and two-thirds innings, but they managed to only allow one run. There haven’t been many high-leverage innings the past few days, so they used a couple of their top arms like Joe Jiménez and Kirby Yates, but stopped short of getting a maintenance inning for Raisel Iglesias, whose last appearance came on Tuesday. Expect him to get in the game regardless of the score on Monday to keep him fresh.
- In the opposite dugout, there have been lots of leads to protect for the Cubs recently and Adbert Alzolay has stepped up when the team needed him. He faltered on Saturday in a non-save situation but rebounded to convert his 10th straight save opportunity. His ten saves since July 5th are the most in baseball over that stretch as he’s been one of several Cubs who have been surging over the past month. With all of this work, the bullpen is a bit thin for Monday with Alzolay having worked three of the previous four games and Mark Leiter Jr. four of the previous five. I think the club may call upon Alzolay again if a save chance presents itself on Monday with Julian Merryweather being the top option for a hold.
MIA 0 – TEX 6
HD: Chris Stratton (5)
- The Marlins were down several runs by the time the bullpen took over and they only needed a couple low-leverage innings from their staff. The back end of their bullpen is pretty well rested for the beginning of their series in Cincinnati on Monday to the point that David Robertson likely sees a maintenance inning regardless of the game’s outcome either on Monday or, if not, Tuesday.
- Martín Pérez made his first bullpen appearance since 2019 to close out this game with a scoreless 9th. Given the Rangers’ starting pitching acquisitions, there doesn’t appear to be a clear path for Perez to return to a starting role, but he could be used creatively out of the pen either as a spot starter or bulk reliever. Chris Stratton now has three straight scoreless appearances to start his stint with the Rangers. He’s a bit buried on the depth chart here and is, at best, third in line for holds on this team, so he’s unlikely to rack them up with any kind of consistency.
SEA 3 – LAA 2 (F/10)
- Taylor Saucedo logged a scoreless 9th and was left in to close out his own win when the Mariners plated a run in the top of the 10th. He succeeded, needing just 25 pitches to get through his two innings of clean baseball with three punchouts. Seattle was likely thrilled to be able to get the win in a close game given that both Andrés Muñoz and Matt Brash were likely unavailable given their workload from Wednesday to Saturday. But this bullpen is among the deepest in baseball and Saucedo has been excellent of late, allowing just one run in 13 IPs since the start of July. Seattle benefits from an off day on Monday, though, so Brash and Munoz will be ready to take the 8th and 9th respectively again on Tuesday.
- After blowing his first save of the year in a four-run meltdown in the first game of this series on Thursday, Carlos Estévez kept the game tied in the top of the 9th generating five swinging strikes on twelve fastballs thrown. It wasn’t the cleanest inning and he’s now allowed a walk in five straight appearances, but it at least showed signs of a rebound after such a dreadful performance in his last outing. Matt Moore delivered another strong outing and has been excellent all year, but we’re still a long way away from a change in the 9th being made even though the Angels are getting increasingly desperate for wins as they struggle to hang on in the wildcard chase.
SFG 6 – OAK 8
SV: Trevor May (11)
- Luke Jackson came on in a hold situation in the 6th inning but was unable to pass the lead on to the Giants’ highly effective 7-8-9 trio and took the loss and the blown save. Jackson has struggled to stay healthy this year, but he’s generally looked excellent in the little bit of work that he’s gotten. The fact that he was used in a hold situation here tells me that he’s the third in line for holds behind Taylor Rogers and Tyler Rogers and he may even be used situationally ahead of one of those from time to time. Despite this performance, he’s a decent option if you’re in a deep league looking for sneaky holds down the stretch.
- One positive thing about having such a bad bullpen is that good pitchers quickly rise to high-leverage situations and start earning holds. Angel Felipe struck out the side in order to earn his second hold in two days, his first two of his career since being called up for his MLB debut a month ago. He’s got the kind of delivery that makes you wonder if he really knows where the ball is going sometimes and he’s struggled mightily with walks at times in AAA and since his call-up. Even in this one, he got to two strikes and then started to get wild with two of the three at-bats going full. He generates a decent amount of swing-and-miss in the zone, but his recent success has been relying more on a 22% called strike rate which is huge and likely unsustainable. I don’t really buy this in the short-term, but improved command as he develops could make him an interesting option for holds next year.
LAD 8 – SDP 2
- There likely wasn’t a single high-leverage pitch thrown in this game as the Dodgers were up six after two innings and both runs from San Diego came on solo blasts. We did see another extremely efficient inning from Brusdar Graterol who needed just six pitches to retire the side. He’s at his best when he’s generating lots of ground balls and he’s over a 60% GB rate for the second straight year and he’s over 65% since June 21st, a stretch in which he’s allowed one earned run in 18.1 IPs.
- Pedro Avila took most of the six innings the Padres needed from their relief corps on Sunday and did well to not let the game get more out of hand with seven strikeouts in 4.2 IPs while allowing one run. Avila has been pretty impressive in limited work with a 34% K-rate backed up by a 16% swinging strike rate in the majors this year. He may earn himself another spot start soon with this type of performance. Josh Hader hasn’t worked since Tuesday and is likely to get into the game on Monday for a maintenance inning regardless of the score.
Bullpen Depth Charts
Photos by Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Doug Carlin (@Bdougals on Twitter)