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
- There were 16 games on the docket Wednesday, as the Mariners and Nationals partook in a pair of showdowns to make up for their postponed matchup from Tuesday.
- Today, there are three fewer games, meaning the Orioles, Athletics, Phillies, and Diamondbacks have the day off to rest their bullpen arms.
- The Atlanta Braves activated Kenley Jansen from the 15-day IL after he missed the last couple of weeks with an irregular heartbeat. It’s incredibly positive news to hear that the issue wasn’t as serious as it could have been. In more negative news, however, Jansen’s spot on the roster was opened up because Darren O’Day landed on the 15-day IL with a strained left calf. With Jansen retaking his closer role and everyone moving down a peg on the bullpen ladder, no replacement on the chart is needed for O’Day.
- Daniel Norris was activated from the 15-day IL by the Chicago Cubs as he’s healed from a strained left index finger. In a corresponding move, charted bulk reliever Matt Swarmer was demoted to the minors, leaving Norris as the ideal replacement for that role.
- The Minnesota Twins removed right-hander Joe Smith from the 15-day IL and sent starter Josh Winder to Triple-A. Smith was one of the top hold options in Minnesota, recording a team-high 14 holds prior to upper trap tightness that landed him on the IL. He will reclaim a prominent role in the arm barn as a high-volume reliever that appears in close games, kicking Caleb Thielbar from the chart in the process.
- Joe Barlow was placed on the 15-day IL by the Texas Rangers with a recurring blister on his right index finger. He recently lost the closer job, and this injury may have been part of the reasoning. In his place, Josh Sborz was recalled, but José Leclerc will be the reliever to land on the chart as a hold option.
- The Washington Nationals placed closer Tanner Rainey on the 60-day IL with a sprained right UCL. It is a massive blow to a bullpen that is already working with a band of misfits and is trying to hold leads for the worst team in the National League. The severity of the injury is proven by Rainey’s immediate placement on the 60-day IL, meaning he will be out until at least mid-September, and most likely for the rest of the season if he requires Tommy John surgery to remedy the malady. If that is the case, Rainey’s season ends with a 3.30 ERA (30 IP), a 1.30 WHIP, a 28.1% K%, and 12 saves. It is unclear who takes over his job right now, as there are several candidates, including Kyle Finnegan (last year’s second-half closer), Carl Edwards Jr., Steve Cishek, and Andres Machado. Not only could a few of these arms be traded at the deadline at the end of this month, but they won’t be getting many save opportunities, considering their team’s performance thus far, especially if the role is shared by a committee.
- Looking ahead, the Kansas City Royals don’t have a scheduled starter for their game in Toronto tomorrow, most likely because 10 players on the team were placed on the restricted list because they are unvaccinated. The arms likely to fill in as a spot starter or in a multi-inning role in the event of a bullpen game are Jackson Kowar, Wyatt Mills, and Joel Payamps.
- Additionally, the Detroit Tigers will turn to Elvin Rodriguez to start their game in Cleveland. The right-hander hasn’t pitched in the Majors since June, where he never lasted longer than five innings, and since his demotion, the longest outing he’s put together was 16 outs. Tyler Alexander could be called upon to eat some innings if Rodriguez doesn’t last, but there’s a possibility a middle reliever vultures a win if one is on the table, because Rodriguez won’t pitch into the sixth.
SEA 6 – WSN4 (Game 1)
- A four-run lead was handed to the Seattle bullpen in the seventh inning and they almost let it get away. Ryan Borucki and Andrés Muñoz shared the seventh and the latter stayed in to finish the eighth. Across his last 12 appearances, the flamethrower hasn’t given up an earned run and owns a 29/3 K/BB in 14.2 innings. In the ninth, Penn Murfee was brought on in a non-save situation, but he quickly created one by allowing two singles and a homer to All-Star Juan Soto. With the lead cut to just one, Paul Sewald was called upon to secure the final out. The right-hander was able to do so and recorded his 11th save in the process.
- In their first official game with the closer role in flux, the Washington bullpen wasn’t tested. Hunter Harvey and Mason Thompson pitched the sixth and seventh respectively without permitting a baserunner. With another game on the docket, the Nats turned to Cory Abbott to cover the final two frames, as he allowed one run but struck out three.
SEA 2 – WSN 1 (Game 2)
- Yesterday, I was under the impression that Tommy Milone would start the second half of the doubleheader, but instead, it was Erik Swanson opening with Milone doing the bulk work. Swanson was perfect across the first two innings and handed the ball over to Milone for 3.1 scoreless, as he earned his first win. As I predicted, Matt Brash got some work, finishing off the sixth and beginning the seventh before Diego Castillo concluded the seventh and pitched all of the eighth. They earned their first and third holds respectively with their scoreless outings, setting up the ninth to once again be pitched by Paul Sewald. As one might guess from his being used twice in one day, Sewald wasn’t at his best, giving up another ninth-inning dinger to Juan Soto to lead off the inning, but he struck out three of the next four batters to seal the deal and earn his 12th save. He more than likely gets the day off today after throwing 26 combined pitches on Wednesday. One of Castillo or Muñoz will fill in as the closer if a save situation arises.
- Although the game was close, we still didn’t get any idea of how the bullpen hierarchy will work out without Tanner Rainey. We will have to wait another day to get official confirmation on this situation. In spite of the lack of clarity, bullpen work needed to be done, and it began with Steve Cishek finishing off the starter’s sixth. He was followed by Andres Machado, Jordan Weems, and Erasmo Ramírez, as they were unscored upon across the game’s final three frames.
NYM 7 – ATL 3
- A big lead afforded the Mets bullpen a stress-free night. Even though Drew Smith and Tommy Hunter each allowed a run, it was no sweat as they were able to easily close the game out. The former worked two innings and struck out five batters while the latter owns an even 3.00 across his first nine innings in Queens.
- Pitching from behind, the Atlanta arm barn called upon Jesse Chavez for two frames to push the game along into the later innings, as the right-hander gave up two runs (one earned) in the process. In the eighth, Kenley Jansen got some work in his return from the IL, most likely getting himself situated and comfortable in the bright lights of MLB action. He didn’t allow a baserunner but was featuring depressed velocity on all of his pitches, sitting one mph down on his cutter and sinker and nearly 2.5 on his slider. This is probably a result of the long layoff and the lack of adrenaline in a non-save opportunity, but it’s something to take note of as Jansen’s performance has been tied to his velocity in recent seasons. He needed just nine pitches to finish his inning, but I could see the Braves taking it easy with him and letting one of A.J. Minter or Will Smith close out today’s game so that Jansen doesn’t have to pitch on consecutive days immediately upon his return from a frightening heart condition. Finally, Jackson Stephens covered the final inning flawlessly with a pair of punchouts.
MIL 1 – MIN 4
- With their starter unable to finish the fifth, a lot of reliever usage was needed to get the ball to the ninth. The game was tied up 1-1 for the majority of the bullpen’s time on the mound, and they did their best considering the circumstances. Trevor Gott finished the fifth and pitched the sixth without any trouble while Brad Boxberger and Devin Williams covered the following two frames and held the score. It wasn’t until the ninth that Josh Hader appeared in a tie game and seemed uncomfortable. The All-Star lefty walked the first batter he faced, gave up a single, and then served up a walk-off home run to rookie Jose Miranda. Hader has been somewhat shaky recently, permitting runs in four of his last five appearances, and may be limping towards the All-Star break. Having worked in each of the past two days, tossing 28 pitches in the process, he likely stands back and lets Williams take over the ninth for a change, even though he too has pitched on consecutive days (26 pitches). If neither are available and no one is allowed to pitch three days in a row, Gott would be the likely benefactor or Hoby Milner could be used in an inning that features a heavy dose of lefties.
- In an opposite fashion, the Twins bullpen held the tie and walked away victorious. Caleb Thielbar completed the starter’s sixth and went on to start the seventh, which was finished by Griffin Jax who pitched the entirety of the eighth. In a tie game in the ninth, Jhoan Duran pitched a clean frame and ended up taking home his first career win when the offense walked it off in the bottom half. He recorded the highest velocity on the day, topping out at 102 mph with his four-seamer, using just 15 pitches in the outing making him first in line for a save today.
DET 2 – KCR 5
- Just one reliever was used by the Tigers as he covered multiple innings in a loss in which his starter covered the first third of the game. That pitcher was Drew Carlton, as he was perfect across the seventh and eighth, striking out one batter on a much-needed day off for the rest of the relief corps.
- The Royals made up for the lack of bullpen excitement on the other side by sending four relievers to the mound to toss the final three frames, the first of which was pitched by Amir Garrett and Wyatt Mills. The former surrendered a run while the latter was unscored upon, yet recorded just one out. A hold was handed to Dylan Coleman as he was flawless in earning his seventh hold. The Royals turned to Scott Barlow in the ninth, where he was perfect and secured his 15th save of the season. The closer isn’t talked about much, but he owns a 2.16 ERA (41.2 IP) and while his 25.1% strikeout rate isn’t overwhelming and is 4.6% lower than last year’s mark, it has been effective in locking down ninth-inning leads. He will be available again today after using just 14 pitches on Wednesday.
ARI 3 – SFG 4
- With the day off today, the Diamondbacks went all out with their top-tier arms on Wednesday. It did not pay off. Arizona held a lead rolling into the seventh but their starter surrendered a home run to Brandon Belt and was pulled after giving up two more hits and a sac-fly. All-Star Joe Mantiply was able to get out of the jam and preserve the lead, but not for long, as the lefty gave up a game-tying long ball to Wilmer Flores to lead off the following frame and was removed after allowing the next batter to reach via a single. He was saddled with his third blown save, but the game wasn’t over yet. Taking over the inning was Keynan Middleton as he perfectly closed it out. However, with the score tied in the ninth, Mark Melancon was called upon and loaded up the bases with one out before allowing Brandon Crawford to send fans home happy with a walk-off single. They’ll need a day to recover and forget this unfortunate outcome.
- In the second of two bullpen games on Wednesday, the Giants opened with John Brebbia, and as I expected, Sam Long was the follower. Brebbia didn’t give up a run but Long gave up three, two coming on a triple in the second and another on a solo shot from Ketel Marte in the third. The rest of the arm barn picked up the slack, with Tyler Rogers finishing off the third and pitching the next two frames and Jarlín García tossing the following two, pushing the game to the eighth. Neither were scored upon, preparing Mauricio Llovera to put up a perfect frame of his own. Having not pitched in a week, Camilo Doval got some work in a tie game, earning his third win upon the walk-off in the bottom half of the inning. A 101.8 mph cutter released from his hand was the second fastest pitch thrown on Wednesday. His lack of usage recently and 17 pitches on Wednesday likely means he’d be open to pitching again today if necessary.
PIT 4 – MIA 5
- On a day of closers blowing saves and losing tie games, this matchup in Miami was a perfect encapsulation of the madness across the league. At first, it looked like the Pirates were on course for a win with just two innings to go, but the slim one-run lead was too much to handle, as Duane Underwood Jr. blew his first save by giving up two runs while he was setting up for the ninth. The ninth was ultimately pitched by Yerry De Los Santos who pushed the game to extras with a perfect inning. The 24-year-old is quickly settling in as one of the most trusted options in Pittsburgh, as he owns a 2.65 ERA (17 IP) and a 0.94 WHIP with a 29.4% K% in his rookie year thanks to a heavy mid-90s sinker that coaxes ground balls (68.2% GB%) and limits hard contact (14.7% HC%). The offense took the lead in the first half frame of extras, and manager Derek Shelton happily called upon All-Star closer David Bednar to end the game. Unfortunately, Bednar wasn’t up for the task, giving up three singles and an intentional walk before uncorking a wild pitch that allowed the winning run to scamper home. This was Bednar’s third loss and fourth blown save, but considering his status as an All-Star, I wouldn’t expect him to be worried at all about losing his grasp of the closer role in the near future. He has now pitched on back-to-back days and four of the last five, so he assuredly cedes the ninth to De Los Santos, Chris Stratton, or Wil Crowe (Medicine Show) today.
- It was more of the same for the Marlins, but with a more fortunate ending. The three frames leading up to the ninth were pitched without event by Dylan Floro, Anthony Bass, and Steven Okert in that order. Bass has quietly put up a 1.43 ERA (37.2 IP) and is the second in command of a Miami bullpen that has undulated in its effectiveness. With a newfound one-run lead in the ninth, Tanner Scott came aboard to close things out, but he gave up a run on two walks and a double before settling down and escaping the inning without further damage, being tagged with his fourth blown save in the process. In extra innings, Zach Pop led things off by giving up two runs (one earned), making the prospect of a win look bleak, but the events in the bottom half landed Pop his first win. Scott will likely get a shot at redemption, even after tossing 27 pitches on Wednesday, unless Bass’ solid production and light workload catches the eye of manager Don Mattingly and forces him to reconsider the bullpen hierarchy, at least for a day.
CIN 6 – NYY 7
- Another close game between the Reds and Yankees was a battle of the bullpens as neither starter lasted into the fifth. Buck Farmer was the first arm for the Reds, whiffing four in two perfect innings. The seventh was also pitched flawlessly, as Joel Kuhnel earned his second hold. The eighth was not as productive, with Ian Gibaut blowing his first save as a result of a Giancarlo Stanton home run. He made up for it by punching out the next three batters before Hunter Strickland took over in the ninth and pitched a perfect frame, forcing the call for free baseball. Extras were not kind to the Reds, as Alexis Díaz allowed the zombie runner to score the walk-off run and was tagged with his first career loss. He has pitched back-to-back days, leaving Strickland as the unencumbered closer in the rubber match of this interleague series.
- The Yankees didn’t expect it to go this way, but they were forced to cover seven innings of this game with their relief corps because their starter exited with an injury before the third inning began. Luckily, JP Sears was there to help out, pitching 3.2 frames with five strikeouts and 60% CSW on 15 sliders. From there, it was all hands on deck, as Albert Abreu, Wandy Peralta, and Aroldis Chapman pushed the game along to the ninth, allowing no runs across 2.1 combined innings of work. Clay Holmes got his redemption with a clean frame after blowing the save in a dramatic fashion on Tuesday. The 10th was pitched by Michael King, who earned his sixth win thanks to the heroics in the bottom half. Holmes has pitched on back-to-back days and so have King and Peralta, so Chapman is the likely candidate to close out a lead today.
PHI 2 – TOR 8
- With their starter getting roughed up and a day off on the horizon, the Phillies took the game to give their relief corps some extra rest. Jeurys Familia worked just the final out of the fifth before making way for Nick Duron in his MLB debut. The 26-year-old right-hander featured an upper-90s heater as well as an upper-80s breaker as he was unscored upon in his first inning of Major League action. Having not pitched since Friday, Brad Hand got some work with a clean ninth and handed the ball to Bubby Rossman for the second Major League debut of the day. Other than featuring a unique first name that is used as a nickname for Charles, the 30-year-old right-hander tossed mid-90s heaters and a few upper-80s curves, serving up a home run to Teoscar Hernández along the way as a welcome gift to the Majors. These arms will be able to use today to rest up and let the novelty of their debuts sink in.
- A comfortable lead and an impressive seven-inning outing from their starter made it an easy night for the Toronto pen. Tim Mayza and Trevor Richards pitched a perfect inning apiece to close things out, with the former dropping his ERA to 2.81 (25.2 IP) and the latter setting down all three batters he faced via the strikeout.
BOS 1 – TBR 4
- A single run is usually not enough to win a ballgame, and that was what failed the Red Sox here. Just two relievers pitched in the loss, with Jake Diekman allowing a run in the seventh and Phillips Valdez pitching a hitless eighth. Closer Tanner Houck hasn’t pitched since Saturday and likely gets some work today, regardless of the score, in an effort to stay fresh.
- The Tampa Bay arm barn did what it does best – throw baseballs. Wait that’s not right. They did what they do best – shorten baseball games with a cast of unsung relievers that don’t mind being used in interchangeable roles. I think I like the first one more. Jason Adam earned his 13th hold after he completed the starter’s sixth, dropping his ERA to 1.25 (36 IP), the third-best mark among pitchers with at least 35 innings pitched, while his 0.72 WHIP is also third among that same group. Flawlessly pitching the eighth was Ryan Thompson, as he earned his seventh hold. To finish things off, Colin Poche climbed atop the mound and clutched his sixth save with a scoreless outing. He used 14 pitches, and despite pitching in four of the last six days, could easily be back out there again today in a high-leverage situation. However it’s anyone’s guess if it’s him, Adam, or Brooks Raley (or even someone else altogether) who gets the shot at a save.
CHW 2 – CLE 1
- A tight one-run lead was what the South Side bullpen was given to work with. They must be good coworkers because they secured the victory without a hitch. Finishing off the starter’s seventh, Reynaldo López earned his fourth hold. Kendall Graveman set up the ninth with a perfect, two-K eighth for his fourteenth hold. Finally, Liam Hendriks shut down the ballgame with an identical inning to Graveman and was rewarded with his 18th save as a result. He needed just 11 pitches to do so and won’t let manager Tony La Russa hold him out of a save opportunity in the ninth today.
- On the other side, we saw another start cut short due to injury, forcing relievers into action much earlier than anticipated. This time, the starter exited ahead of the second frame, leaving eight innings on the dinner table to be eaten up by five relief arms. It ended up being too much for them to scarf down. Eli Morgan was effective across the third and fourth, permitting zero baserunners and dropping his WHIP to an MLB-best 0.67 (40.1 IP) among pitchers with at least 40 frames. Enyel De Los Santos followed in his footsteps with two scoreless innings of his own before Sam Hentges made everyone look bad. He failed to complete the two innings he was tasked, giving up two runs, the only Cleveland reliever to surrender a run, and was tagged with his second loss. Trevor Stephan cleaned up his mess and pitched the eighth prior to Emmanuel Clase receiving some action in a non-save situation. I don’t think they would have used him in this situation if they didn’t expect him to be available again today.
LAD 7 – STL 6
- It wasn’t looking like a lead would present itself when the Dodgers entered the seventh down by six, but you can never count yourself out of it when you’ve got an offense led by multiple MVPs. Alex Vesia set the deficit at six with a one-run sixth, but Caleb Ferguson began a streak of three perfect frames in the seventh. He has yet to be scored upon in his first eight innings of work this season. Working in a non-save situation to rebuild his confidence, Craig Kimbrel did just that in the eighth and earned his third win in the process. With a newly formed lead and the closer having already been used, Evan Phillips got the save opportunity and didn’t squander it, notching his first save of the season. Kimbrel tossed 17 pitches, which wouldn’t usually preclude him from consecutive days of usage, but if the Dodgers are trying to take it easy on him as he works his way back towards his former glory, they may give Brusdar Graterol a shot at the ninth today.
- If you read the Dodgers’ half of this blurb, you can probably guess how the Cardinals’ night turned out. It started off fine, with Packy Naughton concluding the starter’s sixth, but it was all downhill from there. Drew VerHagen was slapped by Will Smith on a two-run shot in the seventh, while Génesis Cabrera and Junior Fernández surrendered three combined runs in the eighth. The latter was able to hold the lead and was awarded his third hold for his troubles. The run he gave up was his first of the year, and it bumped his ERA to an impressive 0.68 (13.1 IP). The lead was still intact in the ninth, but Giovanny Gallegos had other plans – namely blowing his sixth save. He was also saddled with his fourth loss as a result of the two runs he gave up to blow the lead. It has been tough sledding for Gallegos recently, as the right-hander has permitted a run in each of his last four outings and is quickly falling out of favor for ninth-inning usage, especially with how well Ryan Helsley has pitched. Expect Helsley to see the ninth today given the fact that Gallegos has made appearances on consecutive days.
BAL 7 – CHC 1
- It was a smooth 10th straight win for the Orioles in the Windy City. Two holds were handed out for perfect appearances before the lead was extended beyond the reach of decisions. Dillon Tate and Cionel Pérez earned their 12th and 13th holds respectively across the sixth and seventh frames. A 56.9% ground ball rate defines Tate’s campaign while Peréz’s has been notable because of his microscopic 0.90 ERA. With the comfortable six-run lead, Joey Krehbiel and Bryan Baker pitched scoreless innings with two strikeouts apiece to secure the victory. The bullpen will be at full strength heading into the weekend with a day off today.
- The Cubs used this down game to get underworked relievers some much-needed action. Rowan Wick hadn’t pitched since Sunday and tossed a scoreless seventh on Wednesday. Chris Martin also hadn’t tossed a pitch since Sunday, but he allowed two runs in the eighth, requiring some help from Daniel Norris who also closed out the ninth in his return from the IL, surrendering a run of his own in the process. Closer David Robertson hasn’t pitched since Friday, so expect to see him get some maintenance work today at the very least.
OAK 2 – TEX 5
- Manager Mark Kotsay used this game as a shot to garner even more rest for his relief corps. Just one pitcher, Domingo Tapia, pitched, and he was unscored upon in two innings of work. So, on top of not pitching on Wednesday, the Oakland pen will also receive a day off today, setting themselves up for a weekend’s worth of a wide workload.
- There was a somewhat interesting development in the Texas arm barn, but I’m not sure it’s worth reading into. The less noteworthy part was Matt Bush tossing a perfect eighth with two strikeouts. The ninth was where my attention perked up. Despite a five-run lead, José Leclerc pitched, giving up a homer to both Skye Bolt and Ramón Laureano. He was replaced by Garrett Richards once a save was in sight. Richards secured the final out, clinching his first save, and making everyone wonder if Brett Martin is actually the first in line for save duties. To quell your worrying, Martin had pitched in each of the previous two days and four of five, so I think he was only going to be used in an emergency. Hold on to Martin for now until something more telling occurs.
SDP 6 – COL 10
- The scoring is never light in Coors. It wasn’t an enjoyable environment for an ailing San Diego relief corps. Nabil Crismatt blew his third save when he surrendered a home run to José Iglesias in the sixth prior to Tim Hill finishing off his frame. Tayler Scott then had his own troubles, giving up three runs in the seventh to take his first career loss. Finally, in his return from the IL, Adrian Morejon permitted a run in an inning of work.
- The Rockies were pretty lucky to be given a lead, but they wouldn’t let it go to waste. Finishing off the starter’s fifth and beginning the sixth was Jhoulys Chacín, who gave up two runs in the process. Jake Bird also permitted a run while closing out that sixth frame. Things were much steadier the rest of the way. Robert Stephenson earned his first win with a scoreless seventh, Lucas Gilbreath grabbed his fifth hold thanks to a hitless eighth, and Daniel Bard closed out the four-run lead with a perfect ninth. A lot of arms in this pen have pitched back-to-back, so Alex Colomé or Carlos Estévez could be the arms used in the ninth today.
HOU 1 – LAA 7
- Facing Shohei Ohtani, the Astros had no chance. Their starter couldn’t survive the fourth, leaving Seth Martinez to clean it up and pitch the fifth. He owns a 0.75 ERA (24 IP) and a 0.79 WHIP in his first full season. The sixth was very unkind to Bryan Abreu as he watched four runners cross home plate and couldn’t escape the inning. Ryne Stanek finished it off and pitched a clean seventh to lower his ERA to 0.60 (30 IP), which is tied for the lowest mark in the Majors (min. 30 IP). Lastly, Phil Maton pitched the eighth flawlessly to end Houston’s night of pitching.
- The Angels had a big league to work with thanks to the efforts of their two-way megastar. José Quijada and Elvis Peguero worked the final three frames, with the latter doing the majority of the heavy lifting. Neither allowed a hit and they secured the Angels’ 39th win of the season.
Bullpen Depth Charts
Also, if you’re looking for a detailed list or ranking of RPs, check out Rick Graham’s weekly pieces:
The Hold Up: Ranking the Top 100 Relievers for Holds Every Thursday
Closing Time: Ranking the Top 30 Closers
Top 100 Relievers for Save+Hold Leagues
Photos by Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Doug Carlin (@Bdougals on Twitter)