With the MLB season in full swing, some bullpen hierarchies have become a lot clearer, while others have become 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.
- Only two doubleheaders today, which seems oddly disappointing after yesterday’s five. The Astros, Angels, Cubs, and Cardinals will all get a couple games today and their bullpens can expect extra work.
- Starting out with win vulture opportunities, the Cubs are slated to throw Adbert Alzolay in game one and have yet to announce a starter for game 2. Alzolay was able to throw five innings in a spot start earlier this year, but it’s probably not wise to expect that again. The Cubs bullpen could see a lot of work today and virtually anyone could find themselves in the right place at the right time for a vulture win.
- The Astros are slated to start Brandon Bielak and Jose Urquidy in the two games of their doubleheader today. Bielak has been awful in his past two starts and Urquidy is making his first start of the year and is reported to be limited to around 75 pitches. In addition to the names already in our depth chart below, Chris Devenski was activated today and will likely have an opportunity to see his first work since July.
- Seth Lugo is the probable pitcher for the Mets today. He was able to improve his pitch count from 39 to 60 in his last start, but he may still be restricted a bit for one more start as he continues to stretch into a starter’s role. Chasen Shreve was used for multiple innings on Thursday, so I’d look to middle relievers like Justin Wilson or recently acquired Miguel Castro for potential win vultures.
- Ryan Weber is listed as the probable pitcher for Boston tonight. He is working on three days’ rest after having gone four innings on Tuesday, so I wouldn’t be expecting a long outing here. There has been a ton of turnover in the Red Sox bullpen and hardly any of them have been particularly effective. While Phillips Valdez isn’t exactly their long man, he represents the best opportunity to get someone who won’t tank your ratios while giving you at least some shot at a win or even a save.
- Tony Gonsolin is being used very cautiously by the Dodgers and was pulled after just 62 pitches in his last outing. He’s absolutely capable of going five strong, but it’s just a question of if the Dodgers will let him do it. Victor Gonzalez was the first out of the bullpen in Gonsolin’s last start and Scott Alexander picked up the vulture win. The former has a chance of doing so again, however the latter was optioned to the minors, so Dennis Santana also deserves some consideration.
- On to closer usage and news, the Twins used each of the top five pitchers in their bullpen for an inning each with Taylor Rogers and Trevor May each picking up saves and Sergio Romo picking up a win. None of the five have worked back-to-back days and none threw over 20 pitches, so I’d expect the Twins to be able to follow their normal order out of the back of the bullpen tonight if another save chance arises.
- Gregory Soto was credited with a blown save last night. This snapped a six-inning scoreless streak, so it would be pretty harsh to remove Soto from the closer’s role for just this performance. However, Jose Cisnero has proven himself worthy of a shot. I’d consider this a fluid situation and look closely at Rod Gardenhire’s comments and bullpen usage over the next couple days.
- Raisel Iglesias of the Reds picked up his fifth save of the year in the day game while Richard Rodríguez picked up a save for the Pirates in the nightcap. That makes two nights in a row for Rodriguez and three of four, so he’s likely unavailable today. Next in line, Nik Turley has also gone two in a row, so on the off chance the Pirates see a save opportunity, the chance may go to Chris Stratton or Nick Tropeano.
- Just like the Reds-Pirates matchups, each closer in the Red Sox-Blue Jays pair of games picked up a save. Anthony Bass tallied one in the opener and Matt Barnes followed suit in the nightcap. Barneshas now worked three days in a row and is due for a rest on Saturday. It would be reasonable to predict that the save opportunity, if available, would fall to Ryan Brasier. Bass, on the other hand, hasn’t worked back-to-back nights, but has thrown on four out of the last six days. Rafael Dolis, who wasn’t used in either game yesterday, may get a crack at a save.
- Moving on to the Braves-Nationals twin set, Daniel Hudson picked up a rocky save in the second game and has now worked two in a row. Tanner Rainey and Will Harris, however, have each worked three days in a row and are due for a break. I think Hudson may still get the call for a save opportunity tonight given how taxed the rest of the Nationals bullpen is.
- We had a couple of unexpected saves in the Yankees-Orioles doubleheader as Chad Green picked one up for the Yankees and Cesar Valdez recorded a six-out save for the Orioles. Both teams threw their top bullpen arms in the day game attempting to keep the game tied. Zack Britton and Aroldis Chapman worked the sixth and seventh respectively for the Yankees while Hunter Harvey and Tanner Scott worked the seventh and eighth respectively for the Orioles. That makes two days in a row of work for both Britton and Chapman. The work was fairly taxing with Brittonthrowing 45 pitches over the last 2 days and Champan 39, so my money is on the Yankees using a guy like Adam Ottavino considering Chad Green is also likely due a day off.
- The Rays got back a big piece last night and Nick Anderson wasted no time picking up his fourth save of the year. Diego Castillo was used in the 8th and is second in line for saves behind Andersonnow. However, the Rays have a history of playing the matchups in their bullpen, so don’t be surprised if we see Andersonin the eighth and Castillo in the ninth once or twice due to matchups.
- Brandon Workman secured a save for the Phillies, his fifth conversion in a row after blowing his first opportunity in his new home. It was his first appearance since coming to Philadelphia where he didn’t allow a hit and he was lucky to get out of this inning clean after giving a warning track liner to Jeff McNeil that center fielder Roman Quinn happened to be positioned for. Despite his recent streak, Workman is still very much a “cherry bomb” candidate.
- Alex Colomé got a rocky four-out save in Kansas City last night. Colomé has been rock solid for the White Sox this year, so a little bit of trouble isn’t something to be concerned about. He did throw 40 pitches, however, so despite being yellow, I’d bet on him being rested today and Steve Cishek getting the save chance considering Evan Marshall is also coming off two straight days of work.
- The Cubs elected to use Rowan Wick for the eighth and Jeremy Jeffress for the 9th while Craig Kimbrel remained in the bullpen. Kimbrel had worked on Thursday, so perhaps that played into the decision-making. Kimbrelhas done much better of late, but Jeffress’ overall performance on the year still vastly surpasses him, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see Jeffress continue to get more save opportunities than Kimbrel even if they are in a committee.
- Well, I called Ty Buttrey a cherry bomb candidate last week and his ERA has ballooned to 5.68 after allowing three earned runs on three hits to four batters faced last night. He didn’t receive much help this time as a passed ball allowed one run to score and a two-out double allowed by Matt Andriese dealt another blow to Buttrey’s ERA, but the overall performance is entirely earned. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Angels go in a different direction soon.
- Yoshihisa Hirano got an inning of work in what was then a five-run game due to the Mariners extending their lead in the bottom of the 8th. The 9th was all lined up after Anthony Misiewicz successfully protected the Mariners 3-1 lead in the top of the eighth and they decided to send Hirano out anyway even though it wasn’t a save situation. Hirano struggled, allowing three hits, a walk, and two earned runs before recording the third out, but this usage at least confirms that he is at the top of Seattle’s bullpen hierarchy.
- The Dodgers opted to use Kenley Jansen in a four-run game last night. He recorded the final three outs, but needed 21 pitches to do it. After working both Tuesday and Wednesday, that pitch count may be enough to give Blake Treinen first crack at a save for the Dodgers tonight.
- Kevin Ginkel picked up his first save of the year for the Diamondbacks last night. It was a bullpen game for Arizona last night as their starter only went three innings. They opted to use Junior Guerra in the sixth. It’s yet unclear if this means that Ginkel is first in line for save opportunities, but it’s certainly worth monitoring. He showed the ability to be dominant last year and has given up just two runs in his last 8.1 innings with ten strikeouts. He may be a bit more interesting than his 6.91 ERA would have you believe.
Bullpen Depth Charts