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:
- In normal closer action, Alex Colome for the White Sox, Brandon Workman for the Red Sox, Liam Hendriks for the A’s, Tony Watson for the Giants, and Taylor Williams for the Mariners all worked Wednesday but should be available Thursday.
- The starters for the Blue Jays in today’s doubleheader with Philadelphia, Chase Anderson and Trent Thornton, have yet to get into the 5th inning this year, so look for some bullpen opportunities from Toronto, including from Wednesday’s mildly surprising closer, Rafael Dolis. Dolis converted his first save (in the US) since 2012 on 20 pitches, after allowing a bunt single and a walk, and striking out 3. Anthony Bass was likely unavailable having pitched the two previous days, and Jordan Romano had also pitched on Tuesday throwing 19 pitches, so the low leverage (3 run lead) save was up for grabs. For now we’ll slot Dolis in with Romano as Next In Line, with Bass maintaining a tentative edge for the next save chance, but all three should be available for the double header. Look for Anthony Kay and AJ Cole as possible mid-inning vultures.
- Is the real Craig Kimbrel back? Rowan Wick had thrown 2 in a row so was given the day off during the Cards/Cubs twin bill, giving Kimbrel the ball to close the nightcap after Jeremy Jeffress blew his setup opportunity in the 6th. Kimbrel did so in a nearly flawless inning on 20 pitches, striking out 3 batters and plunking another. The velocity and movement were there as his fastball sat 97-98 and the breaking ball was snappy, accounting for 2 of his strikeouts (one looking, one swinging). He most likely still has some work to do to build back full trust given his 11.12 ERA and Wick’s excellent work so far, but it’s clear the Cubs haven’t given up on him.
- Andrew Miller blew the save for St. Louis on the other side and was lifted for Giovanny Gallegos after facing 4 hitters and getting just one out. Miller got the crack at the save first but Gallegos will be the first man up if the Cards make a move.
- In typically frustrating fashion for fantasy owners, Tampa used Nick Anderson in the 8th to face the Yankees’ 2-3-4 hitters with a 4-2 lead on Wednesday, and he picked up 2 K’s on 13 pitches in an otherwise uneventful inning. Chaz Roe took the ball first in the 9th, but walked the first two men he faced and was lifted for Jalen Beeks a hitter later. Beeks finished off the save, but Anderson is still the most consistent performer in this pen and the one that should be rostered long-term. That being said, Anderson and Roe have both worked consecutive days, so Diego Castillo or Ryan Thompson may be on tap for Thursday.
- In Mets news, Seth Lugo was not used Wednesday in another save situation and was announced to be the starter for Thursday’s game in Steven Matz‘s rotation spot, so Lugo will not figure into the late innings for the time-being. This does set up some vulture opportunities for long guys like Chasen Shreve (five multi-inning relief appearances this year) since Lugo has yet to throw more than 30 pitches in any appearance so far.
- Edwin Diaz came on for a 4-out save opportunity after Dellin Betances forced home a run with a HBP with 2 outs in the 8th in yesterday’s game. Diaz blew the save immediately by walking in a run himself before getting a strikeout to get out of the jam and struck out the side in the 9th, landing him a W after the offense picked up 2 runs. Diaz (45 pitches), Betances (37), and Justin Wilson (23) have all pitched consecutive days, though Wilson is probably the freshest of the bunch. Jeurys Familia threw 14 pitches Wednesday as well, but he or Wilson may be the best pick for a vulture save chance in the expected bullpen game on Thursday.
- The Padres elected to let Matt Strahm try for a 6-out save after only needing 7 pitches to retire the Rangers in the 8th. Unfortunately, he couldn’t seal the deal, allowing a tying HR to Joey Gallo to lead off the 9th, and he was lifted shortly thereafter for Cal Quantrill. Drew Pomeranz worked Tuesday throwing 18 pitches and was surprisingly deemed unavailable Wednesday, but still looks like the most reliable option for saves in San Diego. The Padres also activated Michel Baez Wednesday, adding some depth to their stretched pen. Indications are he’ll be used in low leverage situations for the moment, though the 6’8″ 24-year-old sports a fastball that touches 98 mph and may be an interesting piece in high leverage spots before long.
- On the other side, the Rangers used Jonathan Hernandez and Rafael Montero for solid 8th and 9th work, but a 2nd inning in the 10th for Montero proved too much, as he allowed two walks and a Manny Machado grand slam to earn the L. Montero threw 42 pitches in this one, and Hernandez has thrown 2 in a row, so if the Rangers need to dig deep, Joely Rodriguez looks like the next man up.
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