With the MLB in full-swing, most bullpen hierarchies are becoming a lot more clear. While some managers may keep fantasy owners guessing, it is important to at least have an idea of who has a chance at a save, and who is most likely not even going to appear in a game today. Don’t sleep on saves! In a shortened season, they all count that much more.
Before the chart, let’s examine some notes from yesterday’s games.
- Jesus Luzardo was again effective in long relief Wednesday, striking out five over 3.2 IP with two BB and one ER, with the only real blemish being his own inexplicably weak throwing error to first base in the 9th that plated two and opened up a 5-1 Colorado lead, effectively ruining any chance for Oakland’s still-hibernating offense (24th in MLB in scoring) to pick up a late W. That said, Luzardo’s days in the vulture role are likely spent; after throwing 67 pitches in this outing, he appears ready to assume a starter’s workload and, per reports, could be in the rotation as soon as this weekend’s four-game set in Seattle.
- The Rangers are off on Thursday, but it’s worth watching the status of closer Jose Leclerc who was pulled from his warm-up tosses before the 9th with shoulder tightness. The bullpen picture behind Leclerc is pretty bleak with 29-year-old journeyman Nick Goody getting the immediate call and certainly raising his stock by locking down the 1-2-3 save with one K on 11 pitches. Jesse Chavez and Jonathan Hernandez were likely the next men on the depth chart coming in, but both were ineffective in this game (even though Hernandez ended up with the W), allowing two ER each in the 7th and 8th respectively. Should Leclerc miss additional time, Chavez would still seem to be the favorite to get the next save chance given his experience in Texas and Hernandez’s control issues (16.7% BB rate in 2019), but Goody has inserted himself in the conversation as well.
- Brad Hand was lifted after facing five White Sox on Wednesday and recording just one out with 22 pitches. Despite the diminished velocity he has displayed so far this year, it seems unlikely Hand is in any real danger of losing his seat given his pedigree. Since he threw 16 pitches on Tuesday as well though, look for Nick Wittgren, with his three scoreless 8th-inning outings so far, or possibly James Karinchak, to get the save chance should one arise Thursday in Minnesota.
- In Toronto (by way of Washington), Washington won in 10 innings after a strong 8th and 9th inning from Daniel Hudson (1.2 IP, 3K). Hudson has yet to allow a baserunner in 2.2 IP this season, easily out-pitching co-closer Sean Doolittle (6.75 ERA) so far, and was very efficient in this outing, needing just 21 pitches to get his five outs. Washington has a long weekend coming up with the series against Miami being postponed, so Hudson should still be available if needed on Thursday.
- We knew better than to think Tampa Bay had reduced themselves to using a real closer. Oliver Drake entered in the 6th inning with a 4-2 lead in Atlanta, two days after closing his second game, and promptly blew the save and eventually was saddled with the loss. Nick Anderson did not pitch and may have been on the ticket for the save had the Rays kept the lead. Mark Melancon, meanwhile, picked up an easy nine-pitch save and should still be available for Atlanta today.
- Brandon Workman threw 30 pitches and landed the save despite one ER on two BB and two H on Wednesday, a day after throwing six pitches in one quick inning. Matt Barnes pitched Wednesday as well and was not terribly effective (one IP, two H, one ER, one HR, 15 pitches), but should be fresher for a chance Thursday for Boston.
- The Dodgers are stretched a bit thin after using eight relievers in the 13 innings in Houston. Kenley Jansen and Blake Treinen have both pitched consecutive days, throwing 40 and 32 pitches respectively. Brusdar Graterol and Joe Kelly both managed to avoided pitching in this one, so both have a shot at some vulture work Thursday (assuming Kelly’s suspension appeal is not resolved).
- Ian Kennedy pitched the 7th in a tie ball game in Detroit and picked up an L, so looks like Greg Holland is the likely KC save man for Thursday. On the Detroit side, Joe Jimenez and Buck Farmer have both pitched consecutive days, but threw only 20 and 19 pitches respectively, so both may still be available. If Detroit goes carefully though, Jose Cisnero is lurking.
- In 15 starts between this year and last, Dinelson Lamet has only recorded more than five IP four times and more than six IP just once, so don’t expect the Padres’ kid gloves to come off Thursday in San Francisco. Matt Strahm followed Lamet when he left with a lead on Saturday, but Strahm picked up the loss yesterday in quick work, so Cal Quantrill may be the benefactor if a long-relief W is in the cards.
- Philadelphia had their COVID timeline pushed back another day, and are now looking at a Saturday doubleheader with the Jays as their return to action.
- The Marlins remain unable to play until Monday at the earliest.