In a league where we are seeing decreasing spin rates left and right, Scott Barlow has actually seen an increase over the past week, with both his curve and slider up over 120 RPM’s in his last outing. For the season, Barlow ranks in the top 25 amongst all qualified relievers in xFIP, K%, CSW%, and SwStr%. He has been able to up his fastball velocity this season to 95.7 MPH, up .8 MPH from last year while his slider is up almost two MPH and continues to get whiffs at a 42% clip. Barlow remains the only consistent reliever in the Royals bullpen at the moment, and while you’d like to see a lower walk rate and fewer barrels, he still remains one of the more underrated relievers in the game.
- It’s been a rough two outings for Tejay Antone since returning from the IL this week, as his offspeed pitches have seen drastic drops in spin rate (300 RPMs). I’m going to give him another week or two before dropping too much further, but it’s a worrying trend. In Lucas Sims‘ absence, Brad Brach converted his first save since 2018, and the 35-year-old has looked surprisingly good over 15 games this season. Not overpowering by any means, Brach still has a nasty changeup (46.7% Whiff rate) and could be the middle part of the season’s version of César Valdez.
- James Karinchak was used to close out the Twins yesterday, as Emmanuel Clase was nowhere to be seen with Bryan Shaw and Blake Parker working the sixth and seventh innings instead. Perhaps this was just Terry Francona conserving Clase for today as he knows he’ll need to ask a lot from his bullpen given who’s in his starting rotation at the moment, but it’s still weird that Clase didn’t pitch last night since Monday was his last appearance. As for Karinchak, he converted the save, but it’s worth noting he’s another pitcher who has seen his spin rates drop around 200 RPM’s lately. Over his past four outings, he has a 5/5 K/BB ratio, a far cry from his 28.4% K-BB rate for the season.
- After blowing his fifth save of the season Wednesday, Héctor Neris is firmly on the hot seat as the Phillies closer, with manager Joe Girardi saying he’d “think about” making a change. Five blown saves is a lot, sure, but Neris has still been one of their better relievers all season (3.54 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 29.1% K rate), as there isn’t really a realistic alternative on the roster for them to turn to. José Alvarado has insane stuff, but he has absolutely no idea where it’s going when it comes out of his hand, and I don’t think Connor Brogdon is really ready for the role right now. For now, they’d be better off sticking with Neris while looking for outside help, but Girardi isn’t exactly the best decision-maker.
- Hansel Robles is another one of the 50+ relievers who have seen a significant decline in RPM’s over the past week, and while it didn’t hurt him against the Rangers, it did hurt when he faced a decent MLB lineup in the Reds on Tuesday as the reliever has his worst outing of the season. Taylor Rogers has been shaky as well, but it looks like Rogers may be the only reliever in that bullpen that is semi-trustworthy at the moment.
- It’s been a trying year for Nationals reliever Tanner Rainey, and while his last two outings have been far from great, there are some promising signs. For starters, his spin rate is fine, let’s get that out of the way. He’s also seen an increase in velocity as he averages 99 and touched 100 MPH on Tuesday while averaging 98.1 on Monday. He also still has a setup role despite his 7.54 ERA and 1.76 WHIP on the season, so the teams still seem to be confident that a breakout is coming. The next step is to finally get some positive results on the field, so hopefully, he can fix that atrocious walk rate and start missing some barrels.
- Mark Melancon led all relievers this past week with SV+HLD’s (all saves) but not one of them came easily. He is constantly putting runners on base in every one of his outings and he too has seen a bit of a drop in his cutter and curveball’s spin rate as of late.
|PITCHER||TIER||INJURY (EST. RETURN)|
|Nick Anderson||2/3||Elbow (August)|
|Trevor Rosenthal||3/4||Shoulder (August)|
|Drew Pomeranz||3/4||Lat (All-Star break)|
|Lucas Sims||3/4||Elbow (August)|
|Julian Merryweather||4/5||Oblique (All-Star break)|
|Michael Kopech||4/5||Hamstring (early July)|
|Corey Knebel||4/5||Triceps (late July)|
|Daniel Hudson||4/5||Elbow (July)|
|Rafael Dolis||5/6||Hand/Finger (July)|
|Jordan Hicks||5/6||Elbow (August)|
|Pierce Johnson||6/7||Tricep (late July)|
|Ryan Borucki||6/7||Forearm (early July)|
Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)