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.
- As of this moment, only the A’s and Mariners have the day off due to the positive COVID test on the A’s staff.
- Archie Bradley made his debut for the Reds … in the third inning of the 16-2 drubbing the Cardinals put on Cincinnati. He pitched 1.2 innings allowing two hits and striking out two, which is a good sign. Raisel Iglesias came on later in the game and tossed an acceptable-but-shakier inning of his own, allowing an unearned run, two hits, and a walk with no strikeouts. Iglesias is probably the closer with Bradley as a fireman/set-up guy, but struggles by Iglesias would get things mixed up in a hurry.
- Ryan Helsley returned to action for the first time since July 29. He gave up two hits and a home run, but at this point we’re just glad to see him back. He should slot into the seventh or eighth inning role pretty quickly, but I don’t think he’s a threat to Giovanny Gallegos any longer.
- The embattled Robbie Ray came on to start the third inning for the Blue Jays, which actually sounds like a really smart idea for a guy who generally struggles to pitch deep into games. He pitched reasonably well, with 3.1 innings, one earned run, a single walk, and four strikeouts. He’ll earn RP eligibility before the season is over and likely carry it into next year, if you’re into that sort of thing. Shun Yamaguchi ended up getting the loss here, but he actually didn’t pitch that poorly, going 2.2 innings and allowing just three hits and striking out three but also the deciding home run to new Marlin Starling Marte in the eighth.
- Brandon Kintzler picked up his second save on consecutive days and now has a solid 2.51 ERA and 1.05 WHIP to go with eight saves. That’s tied for the second most in the league, and the surprisingly scrappy Marlins looks like they’re going to continue to give him save chances for at least a little while longer. While he has pitched on back-to-back days, he’s only thrown a combined 13 pitches so he should be fine to go again tonight if the Marlins need him. If they decide to give him a break for some reason, they’d likely turn to Brad Boxberger.
- Aroldis Chapman finally picked up his first save of the season for the Yankees in the testy battle between them and the Rays, but also threw a 101 mph fastball at a guy’s head and at some point will almost certainly be suspended (though we don’t have any details on when that will be). On that note, Zack Britton returned to action last night and threw a clean eighth inning to earn a hold. He’s the obvious choice to get saves if Chapman misses time for his dangerous actions.
- Both Tanner Scott and Hunter Harvey came out to finish up the Orioles win over the Mets, though neither were in a hold or save situation. I’m not sure Harvey will be throwing on consecutive days quite yet, and Scott has thrown on three straight days, so I guess maybe Paul Fry or Travis Larkins would be the closer if they needed one? I doubt they’d turn to recently-demoted Cole Sulser so soon after taking him out of that role.
- The Cubs let Jeremy Jeffress throw 1.2 innings to earn the win in extras against the Pirates, so Craig Kimbrel should get the save chance tonight if there is one. That said, Jeffress pitched well and may have earned some brownie points that could put him at the top of the committee.
- Yet again, Daniel Norris tossed quality innings for the Tigers following a short start. He allowed one run and four hits in 2.1 innings, but also struck out five and walked none. His 2.60 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, and 17:3 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 17.1 innings is impressive, and we might finally be seeing what the left-hander can do after so many frustrating seasons.
- I was surprised to see journeyman Matt Wisler pick up the save for the Twins instead of Sergio Romo, though he’s been having a strong year and did a nice job dispatching Eloy Jimenez, Luis Robert, and Nomar Mazara to close it out. I don’t think he’s a closer candidate due to the walks he allows, and he hasn’t picked up a single hold this season, but it was interesting nonetheless.
- Ryan Pressly finally allowed his first home run of the season, giving him his first blown save since Aug. 11 and his third of the year. I am still not worried about him losing his job, as he’s been really strong after his first two rough outings, sporting a 2.45 ERA, six saves, 15 strikeouts, and just two walks in 11 games since then.
- Rafael Montero continued to succeed as the Rangers’ closer, allowing an unearned run on just one hit to secure the save. Jonathan Hernández tossed two innings and picked up his fifth win of the season. That combined with his five holds, 1.77 ERA, 0.89 WHIP and 23 strikeouts makes him one of the more reliable non-closing relievers of the season so far.
- Kenley Jansen only needed to get one out (a strikeout) to nail down his tenth save of the year, putting him in a three-way tie for the most saves this season.
- Jairo Díaz had a night to forget, giving up seven earned runs while getting just two outs. That’s three straight outings with multiple runs allowed which all but assures he’s out of the closer mix.
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