I think it’s fair to say most people had A.J. Minter as the Braves’ third lefty option out of the pen entering the season, with Will Smith and Tyler Matzek in front of him. Just over a month into the season and Minter has established himself as the Braves’ top setup man, as Smith and Matzek (now injured) have struggled with Smith falling out of favor as well. It still shouldn’t come as a large surprise, as Minter was once touted as Atlanta’s next closer not too long ago and while it took him a while to put it all together, it looks like he’s hitting his stride now. I’ve talked about pitchers throwing their off-speed stuff more this year but Minter has gone the other way, as his cutter usage has dropped nearly 8% as he is throwing more four-seam fastballs. This could be because he is facing more right-handed hitters, but it’s certainly working nonetheless and should continue to as long as he keeps locating where he needs to.
- I featured Clay Holmes last week and while he’s the premier reliever in this bullpen for now, Michael King is certainly making a push. He’s likely at least pushed Jonathan Loáisiga out of steady high leverage work for now, and while King may not rack up holds, he could be this year’s Collin McHugh who does a little bit of everything to help your fantasy team.
- Michael Fulmer has struggled this month, walking 6 while striking out just 3 and also seeing a dip in his velocity. The team hasn’t given up on him in a setup role yet, but they could if he isn’t able to turn things around soon. Alex Lange (curveball usage way up) and Will Vest have pitched well this year and could be in line for more higher leverage work moving forward.
- J.P. Feyereisen has yet to allow a run this season while sporting a 19/4 K/BB rate over 18.1 IP, but the Rays have not exactly been using him in high leverage spots this season. That could change with how well he has pitched, but others in this bullpen (Matt Wisler, Jason Adam, Jalen Beeks, etc.) also deserve more hold/save chances, so stay tuned for how the unpredictable Rays work this out.
- Just when I thought Jhoan Duran might run away with the closer role, Emilio Pagán (the new splitter is working) and Tyler Duffey show up and get saves last week. This bullpen has faired well despite trading their best reliever just before the season started, and while the committee approach may be annoying for standard leagues, it’s a great situation to take advantage of in leagues that count holds.
- Alexis Díaz picked up the save for the Reds in extra innings on Tuesday and could be in line for more save chances after Art Warren had originally blown the save in the ninth. Díaz has certainly been the Reds’ best reliever and has legit closer stuff (100th percentile fastball spin rate, 36.6% Whiff rate) and could rise up these boards fast if the Reds can find ways to win games.
- Brock Burke has been the second-best reliever in the Rangers’ bullpen this season which comes as a surprise given his career numbers. Working out of the bullpen now though, Burke has been able to add almost 3 MPH to his fastball but despite his 34.6% K rate, he has struggled to get Whiffs with his secondaries and his 19.6% Whiff rate suggests that K rate is not sustainable.
Photo by Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)