With the MLB season in its final stretch run, some bullpen hierarchies have stayed steady, while others have become more and more muddled. 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.
- For the first time in what seems like forever, it’s a typical 15-game schedule today with each team slated to play just one, 9-inning game of baseball each.
- Upon first glance, it doesn’t look like there are many win vulture opportunities out there today. Your best bets are to look at the Phillies who are throwing Vince Velasquez or the White Sox who are reportedly activating Dallas Keuchel off the IL. Velasquez has been largely ineffective for the Phillies, so there’s a solid chance he fails to go five innings again, but relying on the Phillies bullpen this year is just setting yourself up for pain. Speaking of pain, Keuchel is coming off the IL to make this start and, while it was a short hiatus, it’s still possible the White Sox play it safe with him. Ross Detwiler and Matt Foster would both be decent options if they opt to do so.
- Moving on to closer news, Ryan Helsley finally picked up his first save of the year after being talked about as a potential closer candidate since Spring Training 2.0. I think the Cardinals have a full-blown committee going on here, so don’t be surprised if someone else gets the next save. Andrew Miller has thrown two days in a row, so it likely won’t be him tonight.
- Rafael Dolis suffered an unfortunate triple whammy last night, being tagged with the loss, the blown save, and leaving with an injury. The depth chart will be updated when an official roster move is made, but my money is on Ken Giles getting the next save chance despite a couple of shaky outings. Héctor Neris tried to console the Blue Jays by giving the game back to them and threw just 11 of his 25 pitches for strikes, walking two. However, the Blue Jays were having none of it and Neris ended up converting the save for Philadelphia. It was far from a lockdown performance from him, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Phillies continue to try new combinations in the 9th to find something, anything that works.
- Both closers got work in the Indians-Tigers matchup with Brad Hand getting an uneventful save and Bryan Garcia walking three out of five batters he faced. Advanced metrics indicate Garcia hasn’t come close to earning his 1.42 ERA on the year and he barely strikes anyone out making him a guy you’d want on your roster only if you are extremely desperate for saves.
- An extra-inning affair led to yet another crazy long Yankees-Red Sox matchup in which both bullpens got lots of work. Aroldis Chapman pitched a scoreless 10th to keep the Yankees alive even with the extra-innings rule putting a runner on 2nd base to start the inning. Matt Barnes was one strike away from closing out the save in the 9th, but he gave up a 2-out, game-tying homer to Gary Sanchez and instead was credited with his fourth blown save of the year. Both Chapman and Barnes have now thrown two days in a row, so each team may look elsewhere for the save tonight.
- The Rays continued trolling the fantasy world, using Nick Anderson in the 8th and granting the 9th and the save to Ryan Sherriff. Anderson was sent in to line up with the O’s 2-3-4 hitters, which tracks with how the Rays have handled the closer’s role the past few years. Anderson is still the arm to own out of the bullpen, but whether or not he gets the 9th will depend on matchups.
- Stefan Crichton picked up his 4th save in the last eight days with Junior Guerra working the 8th. Last week, I advised you not to rush out to your waiver wire and pick up Crichton. It ended up being very wrong last week, however I have to stand by it in the long-term. Crichton isn’t flashy as a closer and the D’Backs don’t win many games. While it does look like he’s the #1 guy in Arizona right now, I wouldn’t describe him as any more than serviceable.
- Josh Hader got some work in a non-save situation, something the Brewers seemed to have been avoiding earlier in the year. He gave up a solo homer to the first batter he saw, then struck out the next three, all swinging, on 14 pitches. The lack of walks is a good sign, but there’s going to be a lot of discussion in the offseason about what changed with Hader this year and whether we should be worried going into drafts next year.
- Jeremy Jeffress nailed down a slightly rocky save for the Cubs last night. He walked two, but also induced a double play and didn’t allow a runner to get to scoring position. He still holds a share of the closer’s duties even with Craig Kimbrel’s turnaround.
- Rafael Montero was thrown into a non-save situation last night after not getting any work since Sunday. It was a rocky outing, but we see this a lot when typically high-leverage pitchers are thrown into low-leverage situations after a long rest. Nothing to see here.
- Similar to Montero, Trevor Rosenthal hadn’t seen work since Sunday and was thrown into a non-save situation. He fared much better against the Mariners, retiring the side in order and striking out two.
Bullpen Depth Charts