Welcome back to the newest 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
- Sundays’s schedule featured a trio of doubleheaders (NYM @ PHI, KC @ BAL, TEX @ NYY) and Monday features some travel days that were replaced with games due to the weekend rain. There are eleven games now scheduled for Monday which means only eight teams have the day off. They are: TOR, BOS, MIN, HOU, NYM, ATL, WAS, STL.
- Aaron Bummer was placed on the 10-day IL by the White Sox and replaced on the active roster by Joe Kelly. Oh, look, another closer in the White Sox bullpen. Kelly immediately steps into the holds conversation.
- There’s still some movement of 27th men coming up and down, but none of it is very impactful.
- If you feel like the White Sox have been getting a lot of save opportunities lately, you’re right. That’s six straight games with a converted save. The first five of which were converted by Liam Hendriks. However, even the best closer in the AL has to take a rest sometimes. Tony La Russa showed some restraint and avoided throwing Hendriks for his sixth save opportunity of the week and went with a team approach. It was Bennett Sousa who ended up recording the final out and earning the first save of his career. This was the B-team out there with the heavy usage in close games this week, so don’t expect Sousa to pick up any more saves this year. José Ruiz recorded his seventh hold, tying for the team lead.
- It was an emergency bullpen game for the Red Sox after Michael Wacha was a late scratch. It’s tough to put too much stock in usage in a situation like that, but we did see Matt Strahm in the 9th inning. Both Hansel Robles and Jake Diekman have struggled in the ninth. Matt Barnes is a shell of his former self. Is Strahm the next man up?
- No save opportunity between either game of the double-header for the Mets, so no saves or holds were handed out in either game. They have a day off on Monday, so they’ll be able to recover and be at full availability when they retake the field on Tuesday.
- Corey Knebel earned his fifth save of the season backed up by holds from Seranthony Domínguez and José Alvarado. The second game didn’t yield save or hold opportunities, but required them to use many of their depth arms. The Phillies play again on Monday, but Knebel should be available to go if need be.
- Scott Barlow delivered his second save of the season after the Royals took the lead in the top of the ninth of the first game of this double-header. Kansas City used six relievers across the two games, but none of them were Josh Staumont. He, at one point, was warming up in the pen, so he was available; he was just never inserted into the game. He hasn’t worked in over a week, since Sunday May 1st, so I’m surprised they couldn’t find a maintenance inning to get him in there at least. I’d highly expect him to work the Monday matinee regardless of score.
- The Orioles had save opportunities in both games and usage went about how we’d expect. Jorge López was called upon in the first game to get out of a jam in the 8th and carry the game all the way through the ninth. He just wasn’t as sharp in this one as we had previously seen him and he didn’t get much help from his defense. He ended up blowing the save by allowing his inherited runner to score in the 8th and taking the loss through two unearned runs in the 9th. Dillon Tate earned the next save opportunity in the next game and secured his first save of the year. There was a lot of uneasiness about Tate early in the year given how much his fastball velocity dropped year-over-year (95.5 –> 92.9 mph), but his strikeout rate sits at 24%, a career high, and he’s walked just two batters all year. He’s succeeding despite the drop in velocity, so he’s the clear number two for Baltimore.
- Joe Barlow secured his fourth save of the year in the nightcap of the doubleheader on Sunday. Barlow has fought off a lot of speculation and competition to clearly take the top spot in this pen. The K-BB% of 30.6% is elite and can afford him a lot of margin for error going forward. That said, Statcast isn’t a fan. He’s been working high in the zone and generates a lot of fly balls, a 52.6% fly ball rate this year. Despite already allowing a couple bombs, the Statcast numbers are telling me they think he should have allowed more and that he’s benefitting a lot from the mush ball right now. As conditions change, all those loud fly ball outs could change into more damaging results.
- A rare misstep from Michael King in the nightcap allowed the Rangers to take Game 2, but more magic from Clay Holmes allowed the Yankees to walk off to win Game 1. It was a light work week for many of the Yankees top arms, but especially for Aroldis Chapman, who hasn’t worked since Sunday, May 1st. There’s no changing of the guard yet here, but the former two relievers have performed so well this year that they have potentially shortened Chapman’s leash a bit. Maybe not as much as his own 17.6% walk rate has shortened it, though.
- Milwaukee found themselves down big after a rough start from Aaron Ashby and sent in the mop-up crew. Don’t expect many saves or holds from the three relievers used in this one.
- Will Smith worked the ninth inning, but it was a seven-run lead he was protecting, so he didn’t get the benefit of a save or hold. He somehow continues to make it work despite his fastball velocity and K-BB% being at their lowest rates since he was a starter in 2012. If you want holds out of Atlanta’s bullpen, I think I’d trust Tyler Matzek or A.J. Minter a bit more.
- Dillon Peters had been lights out as a starter/long relief hybrid for the Pirates, but he just couldn’t find the strike zone in this one. After a bloop single to begin the inning, he walked the next three batters he faced. All of his baserunners came home to score on a Colin Moran grand slam. While Peters hasn’t been dominating with tons of punchouts, he has been a master of limiting hard contact. The walks combined with the lack of strikeouts, however, will give him a pretty low margin of error going forward.
- Sixth inning Art Warren is the guy all the analysts were hoping to see this year. He struck out the side on thirteen pitches, dominating with his slider. While his second inning of work wasn’t nearly as impressive, he still delivered a second scoreless inning and earned the win. Even with his dominant sixth inning, he still has a long way to go to prove that his slider can consistently dominate at this level.
- Normally bastions of consistency, both Tim Mayza and Adam Cimber gave up runs to turn a 3-2 lead for Toronto into a 4-3 defeat. Mayza remains a solid holds option as the best lefty out of the Toronto pen.
- Emmanuel Clase easily notched his sixth save retiring the side on just nine pitches, including the last five over 100 mph. There haven’t been tons of save opportunities for him yet, but he’s performing at a pretty comparable level to last year. On a team like Cleveland, you have to imagine low-scoring games and save opportunities are on their way soon.
- It was a bullpen game for Detroit as no one went more than two innings. Unfortunately, they also went down multiple runs early, so they held out their top arms. Will Vest is looking like he could be a solid part of a bullpen. Maybe not a setup guy, but he’s added velocity on that fastball and gotten up into that 94.5-95 mph threshold that always seems to help people break out. Not too exciting unless you’re a Tigers fan.
- Cristian Javier followed starter Jake Odorizzi for three nearly perfect innings, logging five strikeouts. He’s thrived in the long relief role with a 17:2 K:BB ratio in 11.1 IP as a reliever compared to 8:4 in 10.1 IP as a starter. The stuff and swinging strike rate don’t seem to support such a massive K-rate as a reliever, but, like many two-pitch pitchers, he seems to be more effective out of the pen for now.
- Dany Jiménez got his first inning of work since Tuesday, trying to maintain a one-run deficit in the ninth inning. Lou Trivino was potentially unavailable in this one after working two straight games, but no save chance manifested for us to see. While there was initially some hope Jiménez would maintain some share of the ninth, it seems Lou Trivino is firmly back in the role.
- Emilio Pagán worked around a walk and a hit to record his fourth save of the season for Minnesota. Jhoan Duran worked two innings and threw 32 pitches on Saturday, so he was clearly unavailable in this one. Duran is going to continue to be closely monitored, which will leave plenty of space for Pagán to also step in and earn saves, like in this one. If the Twins didn’t have a day off on Monday, I’d say Pagán would be the closer in that one as well. When both are fully available, I think I’m seeing the Twins going to Duran first and, if he’s on and dominating like he can, allowing him to close things out. With the rest they’re going to give Duran and the possibility to come in after Duran throws too many pitches in the 8th, Pagán is still likely looking at 50-60% of save chances going forward.
- The Cardinals used Giovanny Gallegos in the ninth inning to maintain a one-run deficit. He’s still not quite getting clean innings, but he’s quickly putting his meltdown against the Mets behind him. His fastball was up over 94 mph in this one. Much like Jhoan Duran, Ryan Helsley is looking like he’s getting a lot of space between his appearances. It’s possible that this continues throughout the whole season, but Helsley threw 47 innings last year, so I feel like the gloves have a better shot of coming off as the year goes on here.
- Camilo Doval had to work a bit for it, throwing 21 pitches, but he nailed down his fifth save of the season, recording two strikeouts. Doval was pumping heat in this one as he broke the 100 mph barrier three times. His fastball velocity has been up in his three May appearances and he seems to be thriving now that he’s got the closer job all to himself.
- Sorry, Nats fans. They finally got some good setup work from Kyle Finnegan and Austin Voth, each earning holds, but now it was Tanner Rainey, who had previously been excellent this season, who struggled. Command and control have been issues to this point in Rainey’s career, but he had largely avoided them coming into this game. The walk and hanging slider are an unfortunate signal that he may not have completely put these issues behind him yet. The overall numbers are still good, though. Just be prepared.
- Jaime Barria provided two scoreless innings to pick up the win when the Angels walked it off in the ninth. Barria was mainly just eating innings and isn’t super intriguing as a long reliever due to his low strikeout rate. Oliver Ortega didn’t do well in this one, but has slowly been gaining trust in the middle innings. As long as Ryan Tepera and Aaron Loup are around, though, he’ll only be in line for ancillary holds.
- Nothing interesting from the Rockies’ two relievers in this one.
- Mark Melancon was probably unavailable here, so Noé Ramirez paved the way for Joe Mantiply in the ninth. It was a four-run game, so no holds or saves were distributed. If Melancon ever goes down again, it might be useful to remember that Mantiply was beginning to be used in the ninth over Ian Kennedy towards the end. His strikeout rate isn’t exciting, but he’s been quite effective so far.
- Andrew Kittredge was brought on in the eighth inning to protect a 1-0 lead, but allowed a one-out homer to Abraham Toro in the ninth to earn the blown save. Matt Wisler replaced him in the ninth and ended up taking the loss. Kittredge is a strike-thrower and that helped him get through the two innings on just 17 pitches (16 strikes), but perhaps it was too many strikes this time. I’d still call Kittredge the favorite to earn a save on Monday while Ryan Thompson and J.P. Feyereisen likely have shots, too. With Jeffrey Springs making the start, we’re likely to see four to five relievers work for the Rays on Monday.
- The Mariners used most of their top arms in this one to keep the game close and that ultimately allowed them to secure the win. This is what it looks like when Andrés Muñoz is on and why we’ve got him at the top of our ladder. He went 8/13 on swinging strikes to raise his swinging strike rate on the season to 24.4%. Insane. Paul Sewald worked the ninth in this one and picked up the win. Muñoz is likely to see at least one day off and both Sewald and Erik Swanson have worked three out of four games. If the Mariners get a save chance on Monday, it’s likely Drew Steckenrider, given Diego Castillo’s issues so far this season.
- There is a changing of the guard in Miami. To who? It’s tough to tell. Anthony Bender recorded his first hold of the year being used in the sixth inning of a two-run game. The next two holds went to Anthony Bass and Steven Okert; it was then Cole Sulser who trotted out for the ninth inning and the save opportunity. Five batters later, the game was over and a blown save was registered for Sulser, as he allowed a walk-off three-run bomb to Jorge Alfaro. Dylan Floro made a fifth rehab appearance…. as a starter? That certainly won’t stick, but I just wonder what they’re waiting for with Floro. My gut says the job is his when he gets back.
- What if we just forget Robert Suarez’s first career appearance? A bit nitpicky, I know, but I just want to look at his last 14 IP of work instead. That gives us this line: 14 IP, 6 H, 4 BB, 15 K, 1.93 ERA, 0.71 WHIP. That’s pretty good! You could absolutely do worse in leagues that value holds or middle relievers, especially with Pierce Johnson on the shelf.
- Another light week of work for the top arms in the Dodgers’ arm barn as the team seems to win by 4-6 runs very, very often. All you can do is hold and hope the Dodgers start getting in some closer games.
- The Cubs relievers that were used here are mainly mop up duty. Not much fantasy relevance here.
Photos by Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Doug Carlin (@Bdougals on Twitter)