It was a busy opening day for the league, with (almost) every team playing yesterday, and gave us a good look at how some bullpens will operate out of the gate. The biggest news of the day was likely the placement of Trevor Rosenthal on the IL with a shoulder issue that seemingly came out of left field. There’s currently no timetable for his return but as soon as we find out I’ll update the new IL table at the bottom of the page. For the time being, Jake Diekman will fill in as the Athletics closer, but it doesn’t affect his ranking all that much.
We also found out who would be the Cardinals (and Padres) closer to begin the season, with the Cards going with Alex Reyes, which was a bit of a surprise to me. Reyes has a 2.44 career ERA at the MLB level over 73.2 IP, but that also comes with a 1.34 WHIP due to a career 14.7% BB rate. Reyes does have an impressive 4 pitch mix, it just comes down to how well can he command it. The overall skill set, closing out games for a potential playoff team, and also potentially working multiple innings each outing with the team hoping to get him 100 IP this year still have me very much in on Reyes right now with the concerning walk rate the only thing holding me back.
- Will Smith picked up where he left off this spring, racking up 3 K’s while allowing no baserunners and most importantly, working the 9th inning following Chris Martin. Smith’s 3 K’s came with a 64% CSW as he produced four whiffs on all four swings against him.
- After dealing with some forearm issues last month, Drew Pomeranz was electric in his regular-season debut today and looks to be 100%. His fastball sat at 95 MPH and produced a 59% CSW while he only threw 4 curveballs in his 21 pitch outing. Despite not closing, he should remain one of the top 2-3 setup options in baseball this year.
- Emmanuel Clase didn’t pitch yesterday, which is perhaps a good thing considering James Karinchak worked the 8th inning down 3 runs. This is the one team where we still have no idea how the closer position will shake out, but there seems to be growing hype around Clase getting the first crack at the job, which if that’s the case, you don’t want to miss out.
- Although Emilio Pagan was gathering all the momentum to open as the Padres closer, it will be Mark Melancon who gets the first crack at the role after all. He converted the save in typical Melancon fashion yesterday (no K’s) and while the lack of K’s is frustrating, closing out games for that Padres team makes him a near must roster player.
- Adam Ottavino gets a slight boost for a couple of reasons here. He had a great spring, is in a contract year and no Ryan Brasier should mean he gets a heavy workload pitching in high leverage situations.
- I was probably a little too harsh with my low Rafael Montero ranking to begin the season, and despite the blown save last night, I feel like he deserves a slight bump being the only reliever of real value in Seattle at the moment. He had a shaky spring, and probably won’t be much help in the ERA or K department but saves are saves, right?
- Jose Alvarado is awfully fun to watch when he is commanding his pitches, but the shaky command is still holding me back from placing him any higher on the list at this point. It’s great that he has a setup role locked down and is healthy and sitting at 100 MPH though.
- All the bottom tier closers are getting a slight boost this week, with perhaps none benefiting more than Ian Kennedy who opens the season as the Rangers closer. Coming off a good spring, maybe we are sleeping on Kennedy a little here as he is just one year removed from being a respectable closer with a 30 save season to his name.
- Due to a shaky spring (it was really one bad outing), the Diamondbacks backed off their commitment to Joakim Soria as their closer, and have yet to name anyway. He should still be viewed as the favorite for the job, especially considering Kevin Ginkel and Stefan Crichton worked the 5th and 6th innings of yesterday’s game.
|PITCHER||TIER||INJURY (EST. RETURN)|
|Nick Anderson||1/2||Elbow (All-Star break)|
|Trevor Rosenthal||2/3||Shoulder (???)|
|Seth Lugo||2/3||Elbow (May)|
|Zack Britton||4||Elbow (June)|
|Jonathan Hernandez||4||Elbow (June)|
|Felix Pena||5||Hamstring (mid-April)|
|Austin Adams||5/6||Elbow (mid-April|
|Pedro Baez||5/6||COVID (early May)|
|Will Harris||5/6||Arm (April)|
|Pierce Johnson||5/6||Groin (mid-April)|
|Ryan Brasier||5/6||Calf (early May?)|
|Rowan Wick||6||Oblique (April)|
Photo by Scott Kane/Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)