With the MLB season in full swing, some bullpen hierarchies are becoming a lot clearer, while others have fallen apart. Though 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.
First, notes from last night and thoughts on today’s games:
- It’s a light slate Thursday with 18 teams out of action (scheduled or not). St. Louis had their twin bill with Detroit canceled on Thursday, so best case for their return to action is now Friday.
- The Pirates announced Keone Kela will be activated for their four-game series with Cincinnati that starts Thursday and he should immediately take over closing duties. While Pittsburgh has struggled to win games, Kela has easily the strongest pedigree of their relievers and should have a lock on the job going forward if he’s 100% recovered from his bout with COVID.
- Count the Colorado bullpen among the units most happy to see an empty block on their schedule as they leave a taxing three-game set against Arizona, which saw the Rockies’ nine relievers combine to allow 14 ER (plus three unearned) in 10.2 IP (12.35 ERA). While the back-end got a break anyway because of the blowout loss Wednesday, closer Jairo Diaz was among those hit hard with the five-run Arizona 9th on Tuesday, allowing two earned on three hits and a walk while only recording a single out. Carlos Estevez pitched the 8th and picked up the win in that game, and with his 0.96 ERA so far, he may have already passed Diaz for the next save chance in Colorado.
- In other hot seat news, the Marlins put up two touchdowns on the Blue Jays in 10 innings Wednesday, but the Toronto pitcher that should get your notice anyway is Jordan Romano. It was Romano, and not Anthony Bass, that was called upon in the 9th inning of an 11-11 tie, and Romano was again dominant, getting two Ks and allowing the first hit, a single, in his 9.0 IP this season. Bass did throw 31 pitches in his blown save Tuesday, so he may have gotten the night off anyway, but Romano looks like the best bet in that bullpen until Ken Giles (who could begin throwing again soon) returns.
- Kansas City needed a save from Trevor Rosenthal yesterday after Ian Kennedy and Scott Barlow combined to allow four ER with three HR in the Cincinnati 7th inning, letting the Reds close the game to 5-4. Rosenthal wasn’t effective either, having walked the bases loaded in the 9th before getting a game-ending double play, but the closing job still looks to be his until someone else in the Royals’ bullpen can assert themselves.
- Rowan Wick was called on to protect a 5-1 lead from a Cleveland rally in the bottom of the 7th yesterday, and allowed an inherited runner to score on a Francisco Lindor single before striking out the next four men he faced. The 23 pitches he needed were his first in over a week so he should be fine for Thursday.
- The White Sox relief corps performed almost exactly according to plan on Wednesday, with Jimmy Cordero and Evan Marshall setting up a clean 9th from Alex Colome. Colome now has five saves in eight one-inning appearances with seven strikeouts and no earned runs, proving to be one of the more reliable closer options in the league currently. Should Colome start to falter, Marshall looks to have a lock on any vulture chances, and at the very least looks to be a solid source of 8th inning holds, with his 14 K in 9.1 IP and a stellar 0.96 in both the ERA and WHIP columns.
- Ty Buttrey entered with the bases loaded and down a run to the A’s with two out in the 8th and promptly walked Marcus Semien to force home a run, then allowed a two-run single to Ramon Laureano before finally getting Matt Olson to fly out. While this was a tough spot to come in and the runs ultimately weren’t charged to him, Buttrey certainly didn’t do anything to solidify his hold on the closer role in LA. Felix Pena looks like the one to watch here if the Angels decide to make a move; he tossed a clean 7th and got the first out of the 8th before ceding a walk and was then lifted for Keynan Middleton who walked two of the three men he faced. Former closer Hansel Robles still has work to do to earn back enough trust for high leverage, but did come in in the 9th with the game out of reach, and proceeded to strike out the side, lowering his ERA to 11.05 in the process.
- Baltimore gave the nod to Cole Sulser in the 9th Wednesday, a day after he blew the save but picked up the win in Philadelphia. He retired the side in order, netting two strikeouts, but he needed 16 pitches on top of the 28 from Tuesday, so there’s a good chance he’ll get the day off for their afternoon game Thursday, though the rest of the Baltimore pen has also been worked hard the last couple days. Miguel Castro threw 45 pitches in consecutive mediocre appearances (1.2 IP, four earned runs, seven hits, two homers), so that leaves Mychal Givens (32 pitches) as the freshest of the bunch and perhaps the most likely to get a third straight day of action if another opportunity presents itself.
- Nick Anderson came on to stop the bleeding in the five-run Boston 8th last night, and needed 12 pitches to pick up a hold. He’s thrown two in a row, and with the Rays’ propensity for playing match-ups, will probably cede a chance to Chaz Roe, Jose Alvarado or Diego Castillo if a save situation emerges.
- Kenley Jansen lost a save chance thanks to a four-run Dodgers 8th inning, but finished the shutout anyway, getting two strikeouts and a groundout on 16 pitches after Scott Alexander loaded the bases. Jansen should be fine for Thursday if needed.
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