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.
Three doubleheaders are scheduled to take place today in Houston, Cincinnati, and Detroit. All 30 teams are slated to play today; however, the remnants of Hurricane Laura are looking like they’ll be heading over the northeast this morning and afternoon, so it’s probably worth monitoring the weather in New York, Philadelphia, Buffalo, and Boston. With that out of the way, let’s talk vulture win opportunities!
- Robert Gsellman will be tapped to start this afternoon in the subway series. He’s still building up to a starter’s workload, so the Mets will likely need to bullpen to cover 5-6 innings at least. Chasen Shreve followed Gsellman last time and is lined up to do so again, however, he faces a tough matchup in the Yankees lineup.
- Tarik Skubal is expected to start the second game of the Tigers’ doubleheader with Minnesota. Skubal increased his workload from 52 pitches in his first start to 69 in his second, so the Tigers will probably continue to play it safe and limit him to around 80-85 pitches. The Tigers had used Daniel Norris as a sort of follower in Skubal’s first two starts, but Norris was used for multiple innings on Wednesday which would seem to indicate that they aren’t reserving him to follow Skubal today. With a slightly increased workload and with this being a seven-inning double-header, we may see the Tigers go straight from Skubal into their middle/late relief depending on how he does. Bryan Garcia and Gregory Soto would be likely candidates to follow Skubal and pick up a win if the Tigers are able to upset the Twins.
- The Reds have tapped Tejay Antone to make his second career start today. He did go 4.1 innings in his last start, but he has been used as a long reliever since and hasn’t yet thrown five innings in his major league career. Michael Lorenzen is fresh and could be called on to follow Antone for multiple innings.
- Chris Mazza was called up to make a start for Boston. This is probably just a spot start for Mazza, so he may not be expected to exceed the three innings on 66 pitches he achieved in his last outing. Ryan Weber followed Mazza last time, but Weber was used for three innings on Wednesday and is probably only good for one inning tonight. Darwinzon Hernandez was used for two innings on Tuesday and could also be an option to follow Mazza.
- Adrian Morejon will make his third career start for San Diego in Colorado today. Morejon lasted just 36 pitches in his last outing, so the Padres will likely need to pickup six innings or so out of the bullpen. Luis Patiño followed Morejon in his last start, but with Patiño seeing work on Thursday, that seems unlikely to be repeated. Javy Guerra and Michel Baez are both ready to be called upon for multiple innings.
- Moving on to bullpen and closer news, Edwin Díaz struck out the side on 16 pitches in game one of the Mets-Yankees doubleheader last night. His fastball touched 99 a couple times and he generated six swinging strikes, so it’s looking like Diaz is feeling good. I would be surprised if he isn’t called upon again tonight if a save situation arises. On the other side of the Mets-Yankees matchup, Aroldis Chapman gave up a walk-off home run to Amed Rosario in the second game of the doubleheader. There’s nothing jumping out to me here to say anything besides a blip in the radar as Chapman gets back up to speed. The Yankees have barely needed him since he returned from injury, so it’s hard to say if they’d be willing to use him back-to-back days yet.
- In Buffalo, both teams used the back ends of their bullpen. Jordan Romano was brought on to protect a one-run lead in the eighth which would seem to indicate that Anthony Bass was penciled in for the save in the ninth. Romano blew the save on a two-out homer and seemingly injured his finger which prompted the Jays to bring in Bass for the final out of the eighth. The severity of the injury to Romano is not yet known, but it appears that he’s in something closer to a closer-by-committee situation rather than being the top dog. Cole Sulser managed to protect a tie game in the ninth, but ended up being saddled with the loss when he gave up a walk-off homer to Randall Grichuk. Sulser still seems to be in line for the majority of the save chances in Baltimore.
- Extra innings and short outings from starters forced the Braves and Phillies to use a combined 15 pitchers last night. Héctor Neris and Brandon Workman protected tie games in the eighth and ninth innings respectively. Will Smith worked a clean eighth for the Braves, but Mark Melancon gave up a walk-off three-run bomb in the bottom of the 11th. Given their pitch counts, all four are likely available tonight if needed.
- Raisel Iglesias shut the door on a comeback attempt from the Cubs by recording the final two outs on just six pitches. He has been used two nights in a row now, but given the short nature of this outing, he may very well be available again tonight.
- Alex Colomé blew the save, but picked up the win yesterday when Ian Kennedy allowed a walk-off bomb in the bottom of the ninth. It wasn’t the cleanest outing for Colomé, but he was able to get out of a runners on second and third with one out jam by getting the final two batters he faced to pop out and strike out. He’s likely available today.
- Diego Castillo has picked up the past two save opportunities for the Rays. The Rays are supposed to get both Chaz Roe and Nick Anderson back from the IL some time this week, so Castillo is likely to face more competition for saves very soon. That being said, he is likely to continue to be in the mix as he’s been very effective and the Rays typically do not follow a strict hierarchy for closer duties.
- The Rangers aired on the side of caution and threw both Jonathan Hernández and Rafael Montero with a four-run lead last night. Both faced the minimum and should be available tonight.
- Adam Plutko secured the rare 12-out save last night. Yes, Plutko finished off the final four frames and secured a save in a 14-2 game. Needless to say, I wouldn’t consider Plutko a challenger for consistent saves in Cleveland.
- The Padres decided to get Emilio Pagán some work with a six-run lead last night. He hadn’t worked since Sunday, so they were likely just keeping him fresh. He needed 26 pitches to get through the inning, however, so I’d be a bit surprised to see him out there again today.
- Ty Buttrey converted the four-out save for the Angels, his fourth save of the year. It was far from a clean outing, however, as he allowed three of the first four batters to reach and was bailed out by a savvy play from Jo Adell throwing a runner out at third base. Buttrey has a firm hold on the closer role for now, but with the lack of strikeouts and worrisome x-stats (5.24 xERA according to Statcast), he seems like a “cherry bomb” waiting to happen.
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