After being the team leader in saves and recording the team’s only save in the World Series last year, it is definitely a little surprising to see that Daniel Hudson has passed Sean Doolittle in the pecking order this early in the season. Doolittle had an up-and-down 2019, but he was able to put things together and seemed to have regained Dave Martinez’s confidence by the end of their playoff run.
But after seeing what Doolittle is bringing to the table right now, it’s hard to blame Martinez for making a switch. Doolittle’s fastball (which he uses more than 80% of the time) has seen a sharp decline in velocity, down three mph from last year to an underwhelming 90.8 mph. It’s still early and plenty of pitchers are seeing velocity decreases to start the season, but it’s hard to see someone with Doolittle’s repertoire survive that type of velocity drop very long.
- Corey Knebel takes a minor fall for now, as I’m a bit concerned on his velocity at the moment and his command has not been great either. In a normal season, he’d have plenty of time to figure things out, but Knebel we may have to wait til next season.
- Most of the names that fell in Tier 4 only fell because of usage concerns. Andrew Miller hasn’t pitched in a game with the lead so far, and he too is dealing with some low-velocity concerns. Pedro Baez seems to be on the odd man out for consistent hold opportunities with Blake Treinen and Caleb Ferguson working in front of Kenley Jansen the past two days. Trevor May is behind Tyler Duffey, Sergio Romo, and perhaps Tyler Clippard for holds in Minnesota at the moment. Jose Alvarado has yet to see a high leverage spot as well, despite pitching well (for the most part)
- Nick Wittgren is still the primary setup option to Brad Hand, and for good reason, but it’s easy to see that rookie James Karinchak is the much more electric pitcher between the two. I still think Karinchak will bring more to the table in terms of Ks and possibly even lower ratios than Wittgren, but that eighth vs. seventh inning role could actually become a usage issue, especially with how deep Cleveland starting pitchers tend to go.
- The Braves situation in front of closer Mark Melancon became a bit more clear last night, with Chris Martin working the eighth inning and AJ Minter the seventh. With Will Smith returning early next week, that may really put a damper on whatever value Luke Jackson and Shane Greene still had in holds leagues.
- Jairo Diaz has become Wade Davis‘s top handcuff, and even with Scott Oberg nearing a return, should be able to retain value as one of the team’s top relievers. While he’s been lights out so far, the team has yet to play home game so keep that in mind.
- The Cubs bullpen could be in for a shakeup soon, so Kyle Ryan and Jeremy Jeffress get significant boosts. If Craig Kimbrel has trouble in his next outing, I’d expect these two plus Rowan Wick to receive the bulk of high leverage late-inning work.
Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Justin Paradis (@freshmeatcomm on Twitter)