Welcome to the Infirmary Report, a place where all Injury List Designations will be listed by team, in an effort to help you organize all of the injuries that are happening in the world of baseball in 2021. Here’s hoping that the list of players here doesn’t get too extensive at times, but if it does, we at RotoFanatic have got you covered. Keep coming back as there will be regular updates throughout the season.
Zac Gallen – Hairline fracture in his right forearm: 10 day-IL (April 1, 2021)
Gallen injured his forearm while swinging a bat, and because it is a small fracture, he needed to minimize its usage and needed time to heal. Ideally, a mid-May or early June return seemed likely and optimistic, but he recently threw 67 pithiness in a bullpen session and is slated throw 80 in an upcoming simulation game. If all goes well, a return to the lineup could happen this week, so activating him in your weekly lineups is a good idea. The Diamondbacks’ rotation should be avoided at almost all costs, minus Zac Gallen.
Tyler Clippard – Capsule sprain in his right shoulder: 60 day-IL (March 29, 2021)
Clippard said his arm felt weak in his final Spring outing where he didn’t return a batter. His velocity was low and he said that he felt weird. He has since been shut down for six weeks, with a re-evaluation forthcoming. Clippard was going to be a late inning option for holds and some saves, but now his value will have to be waited upon. Stefan Crichton takes over as the next in line should Joakim Soria falter.
Marte suffered the strain while running to first base, and the injury looked significant. While there is no timetable for his return, multiple weeks seems probable. Tim Locastro will get some time to fill the void while Marte recovers, though he has struggled to start the season.
Joakim Soria – Strained left calf: 10 day-IL (April 6, 2021)
Soria injured his calf while fielding a ground ball vs the Padres. The closer situation remains murky for the Diamondbacks as they try to find a solution to their problem. Stefan Crichton and Kevin Ginkel seem to be the top two options, but neither should be trusted as a solidified source for saves just yet.
Mike Soroka – Achilles tendon, right foot: 10 day-IL (April 7, 2021)
Touki Toussaint – Right shoulder strain: 60-day IL (March 27, 2021)
The promising pitcher suffered another setback and was moved to the 60 day-IL with a right shoulder strain. He may have to wait yet another year before showing anything near the potential he’s thought to have had all these years.
Chris Martin – Shoulder Inflammation: 10 day-IL (April 10, 2021)
Hunter Harvey – Oblique injury: 60-day IL (March 16, 2021)
On the one hand, it was not an arm injury for the hard throwing right hander, who was being tabbed as a potential closer for the Orioles. On other hand, oblique injuries take a long time from which to recover, so it could be until June. Thus far, Cesar Valdez has looked good in 2021, converting on multiple saves and probably has the closing job for now.
Hays hit a double against the Red Sox, but also hurt his hamstring, causing some concern for the outfielder. He will hopefully be out for only the minimum and back at it for the Orioles.
Boston Red Sox
Ryan Brasier – Left calf strain: 10 day-IL (April 1, 2021)
Brasier would be an option for the shaky Red Sox bullpen, and may be down the road, but even when returns, it’s up to Matt Barnes and Adam Ottavino to battle it out for saves. Brasier is a deep deep add for potential opportunities well down the road, however.
Chris Sale – Tommy John surgery: 60 day-IL (April 1, 2021)
As of now, Chris Sale has advanced to throwing from the mound, showing some progression. Pitching coach Dave Bush said that the goal is for Sale to pitch at some point this year, which is a very vague outlook. He has thrown from 120 feet, thus showing some progress, but he is a long ways away from contributing on the field. He could very well pitch one inning on the last day of the season, given that quote, or he could be back after the All-Star Break. He is behind schedule, and thus, your expectations of him need to be lowered.
J.D. Martinez – Covid-19 (April 10, 2021)
Martinez had cold and flu like symptoms and is awaiting the results of his coronavirus test. He could be back as soon as a negative result.
The knee is feeling better as he was able to do some light hitting and throwing. He progressed to actually doing some drills at Wrigley Field and looks likely to be back soon. Still, being a catcher, his knees will need be at 100% to be behind the plate as the backup to Willson Contreras. He is looking like someone who will be back sooner than I originally expected.
Rowan Wick – Oblique: 10 day-IL (April 1, 2021)
Wick has begun ramping up activity as he tries to come back from the injury to his ribs. He’s trying to ramp up his arm for the season, and manager David Ross said that he looked pretty good. When healthy, expect him to be the top setup man, and possibly the next in line for saves should Kimbrel falter. He looks to follow up on last year’s career best 27% strikeout rate.
Jimenez suffered the injury while leaping in an attempt to catch a home run ball in a Spring Training game. The timetable for a full recovery is estimated at costing him much, if not all, of the 2021 season. A crushing blow for the White Sox and those who invested an early round pick in the slugger. He is expected to be fully healthy come 2022. Options for replacement for the White Sox include Andrew Vaughn, Leury Garcia or Adam Engel. They could go the free agency route too. Until anything is solidified, expect some sort of a platoon with inconsistent playing time.
Tim Anderson – Left hamstring strain: 10 day-IL (April 8, 2021)
Anderson hurt his hamstring trying to beat out a ground ball, and was placed on the injury list as a result. Manager Tony La Russa believes that Anderson will be back when he’s eligible to return. In the meantime, replacement Leury Garcia has failed to do much of anything, and really shouldn’t be rostered at all. Short stop is deep enough where someone like Jean Segura should be on the waiver wire and give you the speed you need while you wait for Anderson to return.
Adam Engel – Hamstring: 10 day-IL (April 1, 2021)
Engel hurt himself while making a play in the outfield, and is expected to miss a couple of weeks, which should include the beginning of the season. Look for him to try and win a shot as an everyday outfielder for the White Sox, but is also someone with minimal upside.
Billy Hamilton – Hamstring: 10 day-IL (April 8, 2021)
Hamilton had already swiped two bases in this short start to the season, but he heads to the injured list, thus giving more opportunities for Yermin Mercedes and Andrew Vaughn to play.
Jace Fry – Back: 60 day-IL (April 8, 2021)
Fry was transferred to the 60 day-IL when he was eligible to return because he needs more time to recover. The White Sox bullpen is deep enough to give Fry more than enough time to get things right.
Sonny Gray – Back: 10 day-IL (March 29, 2021)
Gray had back spasms and had to take some time off to recover. He said he felt fine, but noted that getting into games is key. He continues to ramp up his arm strength before starting his season with the Reds, as he will throw a simulated game this week. He is expected to be back with the Reds in the very near future, possibly this upcoming week, so activating him in your weekly lineups is recommended.
Michael Lorenzen – Shoulder strain: 10 day-IL (March 29, 2021)
This seems like something that he’ll be able to return from soon enough. He looks to be ready to be the Reds’ SP5, and if he can develop the curveball he’s been tinkering with, he may prove some value going forward. Give him a weeks though as he’s only now starting to play catch, following a setback.
After leaving the team with a personal issue, Akiyama returned to the Reds only to suffer an injury to his hamstring, that manager David Bell as already said will cost him a few weeks. He is weeks away from doing anything game related at the Reds’ alternate site. He will be looking to carve himself out a role within the Reds’ lineup, as their lineup looks pretty solidified as is.
Nobody yet to report.
Scott Oberg – Blood clots: 60 day-IL (March 27, 2021)
Freeland looks likely to miss about a month of action due to a shoulder strain. The news is positive given how severe it looked when he was on the mound. He should be able to ramp up his recovery just after the season begins, if all goes right. When healthy, he was looking to be a part of the Rockies’ rotation. Austin Gomber looks to be slotted within their rotation, but the situation and location of where they play doesn’t make it ideal at all. He is playing catch, but is still far away from returning.
The promising rookie hurt himself while trying to steal a base. He was pressing for playing time with Garrett Hampson and Ryan McMahon, but now will be fighting even harder to maintain his health going forward. While he is making significant progress, he is still far away from a return. Once back, he warrants some attention for his bat and speed potential. Keep an eye on how Garrett Hampson does to start the season, as his speed potential could play well in Colorado.
Ian Desmond – Covid-19 Opt-Out
Desmond opted out for the season due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
Spencer Turnbull – Covid-19 IL
Turnbull will be ramping up while at the Tigers’ alternate site over the weekend and will be rejoining the Tigers once he’s back at full strength. It remains to be seen how quickly he is ready, but he is expected to be inserted back into the rotation immediately.
Julio Teheran – Shoulder strain: 60 day-IL (April 11, 2021)
Teheran’s time missed rose quickly, as we went from a possible two week absence to now at least two months. He makes way for a returning Turnbull.
Miguel Cabrera – Bicep Strain (April 11, 2021)
Cabrera will miss some time with his bicep, after wincing following a foul ball on Saturday. This opens up at bats for Renato Nunez and Harold Castro.
Pedro Baez – Covid-19 April 8, 2021)
Baez missed some time due to testing positive for the Coronavirus, but has returned to camp. He will, unfortunately need some time to ramp himself back to game mode, and may miss time to open the season. He is slowly getting back to form and will be a middle innings option for the Astros upon his return.
Forest Whitley – Tommy John surgery (March 17, 2021)
The promising prospect suffered yet another setback in his young career, this time requiring surgery to fix his UCL, and costing him his entire 2021 season. He’ll look to get back on track for next year, but he may never live up to the hype that followed him to the Astros.
Valdez survived a season-ending scare, as his left ring finger will not require surgery. As such, while he looks to pitch in 2021, the timeline for a return is unknown, but increasingly optimistic, as he has started playing catch and fielding ground balls. He is also playing catch off a flat ground too. The Astros need him as soon as possible, as they have a gaping hole late in their rotation currently filled by Luis Garcia, who struggled to start the season. In all fairness to Garcia, it’s only one start, and he has potential to fill the void. Keep monitoring him to see for any setbacks or progress.
Josh James – Hip: 10 day-IL (April 1, 2021)
The ever-so-promising yet often-injured pitcher will miss some time due to a hip injury and a physical setback he suffered recently. Upon returning, look for him to gain the role of a multi-inning reliever to start his season.
Justin Verlander – Tommy John Surgery: 60 day-IL (March 17, 2021)
In an attempted comeback, Verlander has started throwing, but is still nowhere near pitching again. He will likely pitch again in 2022, and thus needs to be dropped in all redraft formats for this year.
Coming out of nowhere, Mondesi was placed on the IL a day before Opening Day with an oblique injury that will cost the speedy shortstop at least two weeks. Keep an eye going forward, as obliques can be tricky to get rid of and also a recurring problem. Nicky Lopez was called up as a subsequent replacement, and has hit quite well to start the season, but shouldn’t really be trusted long term (yet) going forward. As for Mondesi, patience here is key, as the Royals want to make sure he’s 100% healthy and don’t want to rush anything.
Los Angeles Angels
Felix Pena – Hamstring: 10 day-IL (March 31, 2021)
Pena injured himself in a Spring Training game and received the news that it is a Grade 1 strain. It looks as if he is close enough to return, possibly even this week. A talented bullpen arm for the Angels, Pena is likely to be a later inning setup man to the newly signed Raisel Iglesias.
Franklin Barreto – Elbow: 60 day-IL (March 31, 2021)
He is recovering from his second Tommy John surgery and is unlikely to pitch in 2021 as a resul
Joe Kelly – Shoulder: 10 day-IL (April 2, 2021)
Kelly has had a rough Spring Training, battling shoulder stiffness and being under the weather. Upon returning, he will be slotted in the bullpen, presumably for multi-inning usage. There is no timetable for a return to action.
Graterol will miss extended time with the Dodgers, though he did recently throw 15 pitches en route to r return to action later this season.
Cody Bellinger – Calf: 10 day-IL (April 9, 2021)
Bellinger injured himself while trying to squeeze out an infield single, and will need some time on the injured list to recover. It doesn’t sound long term and he could be back within a week, but it’s not yet guaranteed. The Dodgers are deep and talented enough where they can sustain the loss and right the ship. Max Muncy proves his worth as he can play over the first, while Chris Taylor subsequently plays everywhere too. One would think that Edwin Rios gets a bump in playing time too.
Tony Gonsolin – Shoulder Inflammation: 10 day-IL (April 4, 2021)
Gonsolin’s pain had been lingering for awhile, so the Dodgers were cautious with their promising pitcher and put him on the injured list. There has been little mention of any progress thus far, but he will be throwing a bullpen session this weekend.
Hernandez hurt his bicep midway through his 2021 season debut, thus halting his comeback from a season-ending injury last year. After progressing to playing catch, it remains to be seen exactly when he will return.
Jacob Nottingham – Thumb, 10 day-IL: (April 1, 2021)
Despite having surgery on it in the offseason, Nottingham still had setbacks upon returning to the lineup late in camp. With Narvaez doing well to begin the season, it’s unlikely Nottingham will be rushed at all, given the depth of Pina behind him.
Kolton Wong – Oblique (April 10, 2021)
Wong was placed on the injured list with an oblique strain. It’s unsure what the Brewers will do here, but putting Hiura back at second could be an option, giving a big bat like Vogelbach some time to play. However, if they keep Hiura at first, Travis Shaw is the benefactor of this injury.
Donaldson began limping after rounding first base following a hit in the season opener. With a history of injuries, this is just another in the disappointing career of the third baseman. Donaldson will take some swings in his next step of rehabbing, and could be back as soon as this week, meaning an activation on fantasy rosters is in order. The Twins have been hit with some injuries as of late and could use his bat back in the lineup, though the flexibility of Luis Arraez of Willians Astudillo have aided Minnesota as they look to get healthy.
Rooker, who was seen as somewhat of a fix in left field, was put on the injured list for an injury to his neck. He isn’t necessarily their long term answer, but neither is Jake Cave, who replaces him there and is a fixture for everyday at bats in the time being. Keep an eye for Alex Kirilloff news once the Twins get an extra year of eligibility on his rookie status.
The hard throwing bullpen piece for the Twins felt inflammation and hasn’t yet pitched in 2021. Thought to be a setup man, he will need additional time before making that a reality. The Twins have plenty of pother bullpen options and can afford to wait.
New York Mets
Seth Lugo – Bone spur, right elbow: 10 day-IL (April 1, 2021)
Lugo has started throwing from a flat ground, and the Mets are optimistic that he will pitch for them soon enough, as he is on track with no setbacks. He had surgery in February, and seems likely to start the year on the IL, potentially missing all of April.
Carlos Carrasco – Hamstring: 10 day-IL (April 1, 2021)
Hurt during some conditioning drills, Carrasco was set to miss 6-8 weeks, which translates to 4-6 weeks of the actual season when it’s all said and done. He threw two innings in a simulated game, which showed some progress. David Peterson and Joey Lucchesi will have a chance to take over in the rotation and attempt to solidify themselves as a long term solution in the meantime. Here’s hoping the best for Carrasco, who has overcome so much in order to be back in baseball.
Noah Syndergaard – Tommy John Surgery: 60 day-IL
Syndergaard recently threw off a mound to a live batter, with no swings, in his latest step forward to a full recovery. In that bullpen session he hit 97mph on the radar gun. While a June return seems optimal, a post All-Star Break seems likely, though it remains to be seen how he continues to progress.
Jose Martinez – Torn meniscus, left knee: 60 day-IL
Martinez tore his meniscus at first base and is expected to miss up to four months as he recovers.Without a DH in the National League, Martinez seems destined to remain on the waiver wire while playing for a deeply talented Mets team.
J.D. Davis – Hand contusion: 10 day-IL (April 10, 2021)
Davis goes on the IL after hurting his hand after being struck by a pitch this week. This gives a team like the Mets and their players an uptick in consistency for at bats going forward.
New York Yankees
Luke Voit – Torn meniscus, left knee: 10 day-IL (March 31, 2021)
Voit will miss at least three weeks of the season due to surgery to clean up his meniscus. He will stop all baseball activities for three weeks and then begin to ramp up his workload to hopefully return sometime in May. Jay Bruce has has been lacklustre in his attempt to fill the void at first base, while DJLeMahieu has only enhanced his value by gaining extra eligibility (if he already hadn’t) over at first base. The Yankees desperately need someone to step up for them.
Miguel Andjuar – Right hand and wrist soreness: 10 day-IL (March 31, 2021)
Andjuar begin the season on the IL after succumbing to the pain he was feeling all winter while playing in the Dominican League. He was fighting for a roster spot, but looks likely to be facing an uphill battle when he eventually does return. While seeing a hand specialist for the injury, he remains nowhere near being ready for any baseball action or activities. Even when he returns, he is an injury or two away from becoming relevant in 2021.
Zack Britton – Elbow: 60 day-IL (March 31, 2021)
Britton had surgery in March to remove a bone chip in his elbow. There is no timetable for a return to action, but he is going to be playing catch sooner rather than later. There is some speculation has him returning at some point in June, upon which he may record the odd save with plenty of holds opportunities. Until then, look for a returning Chapman to record a majority of the saves for the Yankees, while Chad Green gets the odd save.
Luis Severino – Tommy John Surgery: 60 day-IL (March 16, 2021)
Severino has been throwing off a mound, and has started to throw sliders, which is the next step in his progression. Still, while he’s looking to return at some point this year, but really shouldn’t be counted on for too much.
Clarke Schmidt – Elbow: 60 day-IL (April 3, 2021)
He’s likely to begin throwing again soon, but he won’t be rushed.
A devastating blow to the Athletics, Rosenthal contracted the rare baseball injury and will need an extended time in order to recover from it. He will now wait an additional eight weeks for a follow up to see if there has been any progress in his recovery. In the meantime, the A’s will be mixing and matching while employing some sort of a closer-by-committee. Look for one of Trivino, Diekman and Romo to emerge as the safest option of all, but it’s hard to tell who will.
Mike Fiers – Hip: 10 day-IL (March 29, 2021)
Fiers has yet to throw against any batters at all this Spring, as he’s gone from having back tightness to hip soreness. He hasn’t experienced any setbacks as he’s ramping up and could be back soon.
Puk hurt his bicep after a strong outing, thus putting another damper on him getting closer to the potential many think he will one day show. He will be out for longer than the minimum, giving Cole Irvin and Chris Bassitt more time to try and establish themselves.
Dominguez may pitch again in 2021, but it’s not set in stone. He may have been an option for some saves had Neris faltered, but now getting healthy is his number one priority.
Steven Brault – Lat strain: 60 day-IL (April 1, 2021)
Brault will be shut down from throwing and baseball activities for about a month after suffering the injury in a Spring game. Likely non-surgical, he is procedure that will take about 10 weeks to heal before a return. He may go into the Pirates’ rotation when he starts up again.
Blake Cederlind – Tommy John Surgery: 60 day-IL (March 24, 2021)
After suffering a UCL strain, Cederlind had Tommy John Surgery and will miss the 2021 season.
Ke’Bryan Hayes – Wrist: 10 day-IL (April 7, 2021)
His wrist is improving and he’s inching closer to a return to action, but seeing as he is the foundation for this extremely weak lineup and a big piece of their future, the Pirates will take their time.
San Diego Padres
Austin Nola – Fractured finger: 10 day-IL (March 29, 2021)
After injuring his finger, Nola has progressed taking some live batting to test it out. Victor Caratini has done well to start the season, but is likely to be at the shorter end of a platoon split once Nola returns, while promising rookie Luis Campusano will likely be sent back down to the minors.
After trying to pitch the Spring, Lamet was placed on the IL as he wasn’t fully ramped up and ready to go for the season. He has since thrown 36 pitches at the Padres’ alternate site. A risky pick in fantasy due to long term uncertainty, he gives way to the promising Adrian Morejon until he can prove that he is finally back and ready to contribute with consistency in the rotation.
Mike Clevinger – Tommy John Surgery: 60 day-IL (February 18, 2021)
Fernando Tatis – Shoulder: 10 day-IL (April 6, 2021)
Tatis hurt his shoulder after a violent swing against the Giants. He was taken for an MRI, and while season-ending surgery was feared, the Padres were opting for non-season-ending surgery and will have him attempt to play through it. With every reason to remain cautious, it remains to be seen if this option is what actually happens. It could be a recurring injury if he does play through it and thus cost the Padres their star player even more time. Either way, look for Jake Cronenworth, Jurickson Profar and Ha-Seong Kim to get some additional at bats and possibly emerge as a star. That being said, there are rumours of Tatis returning later this week. Definitely something to monitor.
San Francisco Giants
Alex Wood – Back: 10 day-IL (April 1, 2021)
Wood starts the season on the IL due to back spasms. Wood has been progressing well and has thrown in a simulated game on his way back. Aaron Sanchez has done well to start the season, but anything substantial and long term is dicey.
After suffering a setback from his March 2020 Tommy John Surgery recovery, Beede was moved to the 60 day-IL, putting his entire 2021 season in jeopardy. He hopes to return at some point.
Kyle Lewis – Knee, 10 day-IL (March 31, 2021)
Lewis has missed almost a week of Spring Training action, and will miss the start of the season. Taylor Trammell has had a great Spring but has struggled to start the season. Lewis looks on track to return within the next week or two, after experiencing zero setbacks following an uptick in intensity in rehab.
James Paxton – Tommy John Surgery: 60 day-IL (April 8, 2021)
Paxton got the bad news and was told that he will need to will have Tommy John Surgery, thus ending his 2021 season. Though he is looking for a second opinion, an extended absence from the team is likely.
St. Louis Cardinals
Kwang-Hyun Kim, Back: 10 day-IL (March 29, 2021)
Kim missed the start of the season, but will need to only go through simulated games successfully before joining the team again. He is slated to throw 90 pitches this weekend as a final tune up for a 2021 debut. Jon Gant looks to stay as their fifth starter in the meantime.
Miles Mikolas – Shoulder: 10 day-IL (March 28, 2021)
The team will cautiously take their time getting Mikolas back to speed while he recovers from shoulder tightness. He is optimistic to return sometime in May if all goes right, which means coming to the Cardinals’ alternate site for rehab and ramp ups.
Harrison Bader – Forearm: 10 day-IL (March 28, 2021)
Bader will begin the season on the IL with forearm soreness and will be sidelined for up to six weeks. This opens the door to Dylan Carlsson having everyday playing time, while possibly producing a platoon in right field. This may also be Tyler O’Neill’s last chance to prove that he can be a starter in the majors.
Dakota Hudson – Tommy John Surgery: 10 day-IL (March 28, 2021)
Hudson is unlikely to pitch in 2021.
Tampa Bay Rays
Nick Anderson – UCL torn ligament: 60 day-IL (March 26, 2021)
Anderson, who is shut down for eight weeks, will be re-evaluated past the All-Star Break, though right now, surgery doesn’t seem necessary. Peter Fairbanks and Diego Castillo look to get the load of save opportunities for Tampa in the meantime.
Yonny Chirinos – Tommy John Surgery: 60 day-IL (February 22, 2021)
Chirinos will miss the entire 2021 season after having Tommy John Surgery last August.
Jalen Beeks – Tommy John Surgery: 60 day-IL (February 17, 2021)
Beeks will miss the entire 2021 season after having Tommy John Surgery last August.
The injury will keep him out until at least May as he is being shut down for awhile. This gives Diego Castillo a clearer path for saves in the Ray’s bullpen.
Ji-Man Choi – Knee: 10 day-IL (April 8, 2021)
After undergoing arthroscopic surgery in the offseason, Choi will remain sidelined for the next month or so. Yoshi Tsutsugo and Mike Brousseau look to split playing time, but nothing is set in stone with the Rays.
Kevin Keirmaier – Quadriceps: 10 day-IL April 6, 2021)
Chris Archer – Forearm tightness: (April 10, 2021)
Archer experienced the tightness is the middle of his performance on the mound versus the Yankees, and was immediately sent to the injured list. While it doesn’t seem to serious an issue, the Rays are playing it safe. Brent Honeywell has been called up as a corresponding move.
Khris Davis – Left Quadricep: 10 day-IL (April 1, 2021)
Davis has been diagnosed with a Grade 2 strain of his left quadriceps, and will be placed on the IL. The timeline of this injury is about 3-4 weeks. The Rangers will use a lot of platooning and role switching this season to help accommodate their injuries.
Calhoun is expected to miss at least two weeks to start the season with a mild groin strain. This opens the door for Lady Tavares to take over for now, but a lot of options are there in platoon-like roles.
Jonathan Hernandez – Elbow: 60 day-IL (March 30, 2021)
Hernandez was shut down at the beginning of March for four weeks due to a low-grade UCL sprain in his elbow. He was shut down and will be out until June. Projected to be the closer earlier this offseason, Matt Bush and Ian Kennedy will be battling it out to see who gets the most saves. It is by no means a group of players worth rostering since there are so many unknowns.
Matt Bush – Elbow Inflammation: 10 day-IL (April 9, 2021)
This is yet another roadblock for the Rangers and their attempt to save games this year. Look for Ian Kennedy to get the bulk of the opportunities in the meantime.
Toronto Blue Jays
George Springer – Oblique and Quadriceps: 10 day-IL (March 31, 2021)
Springer was day-to-day with a Grade 2 strain on his oblique, and even progressed to hitting off of a tee before the official move to the IL. He was subsequently placed on the IL as he wasn’t ready, and has since suffered another injury while rehabbing. He is unlikely to be back for yet another week. For now, look for Randall Grichuk to continue get more at bats in his absence.
Robbie Ray – Left Elbow Contusion: 10 day-IL (March 31, 2021)
Hatch will miss some time with non-UCL related elbow inflammation. The MRI showed no real signs of this injury being as serious as it could have been. Once healthy, he may either be a long reliever out of the bullpen or fighting for a spot at the end of the Jays’ rotation. He has resumed throwing on his way back to the club.
Nate Pearson – Groin: 10 day-IL (April 1, 2021)
Pearson is now throwing from a mound in an effort to make the rotation at some point during the season. He has since thrown a bullpen session and could be back within the month. That said, the Jays will continue remain cautious.
Harris recently discovered that his bloodletting was unrelated to thoracic outlet syndrome, which could mean he will be back much sooner and healthier. When back, he should be in the mix for some holds and the odd save.
Jon Lester – Covid-19 Symptoms: (April 6, 2021)
Lester was a part of a massive list of players that were hit with a positive test, and will miss some time. The other players that remain out at Kyle Schwarber, Josh Bell and Josh Harrison. Timetables for each player varies on how recovery goes.
Last time I checked, there were 39 different pitchers with saves, with all teams having played less than 10 games on their seasons. Let that sink in. Bullpens continue to be the bugaboo for many fantasy owners as we head into the second full week of games.
Another week, another week of bullpen roulette. Who’s in? Who’s out? Who’s hot? who’s cold? Bullpen usage changes from game to game in many situations. Managers are showing an aptitude to use their best reliever at different points in the game, leading to potential save opportunities for just about anyone in a bullpen. Last night, for example. Boston manager Alex Cora used Matt Barnes in a tie game in the ninth, leading to a win for Barnes, and a save opportunity for…drum roll…Matt Andriese, which he converted. See what I mean?
Some other names that have gotten saves that we were not expecting: Brad Boxberger (Milwaukee), Paul Fry (Baltimore), Jesse Hahn (Kansas City), Wily Peralta (Detroit) and Brooks Raley (Houston). Keep in mind some of these opportunities come, or may continue to come, in the second games of doubleheaders, when a manager may be loath to run his closer out there a second time in the same day.
While a headache for fantasy owners, it does make reading daily box scores fun again!
News and Notes:
Anthony Bass appears out as closer in Miami…for now. Yimi Garcia got the save in his first opportunity on Saturday afternoon.
Jake McGee picked up his third save on Friday night, continuing a solid start to his season for the San Francisco Giants.
Emmanuel Clase got a save on Friday night in what continues to be an interesting situation in Cleveland. Clase is throwing 99 MPH cutters…
Oakland continues to be an injury carousel; Trevor Rosenthal is on the 60 day IL and had thoracic outlet surgery last Thursday, and AJ Puk followed him to the IL with a strained left biceps. Options abound here: Lou Trivino, Jake Diekman, Sergio Romo and JB Wendelken. Could we see a committee approach in the Bay?
The Toronto bullpen bears a close look. Many spent a bundle of their FAAB last Sunday on Julian Merryweather, but let’s not forget they have other options in Jordan Romano and Rafael Dolis as well. Romano blew a save in extra innings on Friday night. What a headache.
Edwin Diaz got lit up in a non-save situation on Saturday, only getting two outs whole facing six hitters. Egads!
Chris Martin hit the IL this weekend with right shoulder inflammation. This should solidify Will Smith as the closer in Atlanta.
Joakim Soria went down last weekend with a calf strain. Chris Devenski got a save in his absence.
Greg Holland is yet to earn a save for Kansas City, but Wade Davis and Jesse Hahn each have one.
Craig Kimbrel remains hot and looks resurgent.
We also learned that Aroldis Chapman has added a splitter to his repertoire…as if he needed another frightening weapon.
In St. Louis, Alex Reyes has three saves and looks terrific on the young season. Jordan Hicks and Giovanny Gallegos lie in wait.
Raise your hand if you saw Ian Kennedy becoming a closer again three months ago. Yet he is doing so in Texas.
Cory Knebel wrested two saves this week from Kenley Jansen. What is happening in LA?
Here is our updated closer and reliever workbook: Closer Workbook Note that those listed in red are injured, and those with carrots (^) are moving up this week.
And we also have our rubric for grading the bullpens:
Mastery: the best. Nothing else to be learned here. Move forward with confidence.
Distinguished: just a notch below mastery, excellent work, but still some room for improvement.
Proficient: is average. Think of this as a solid “C” on your term paper.
Marginal: poorly constructed, issues with organization, and unclear what is happening.
Unacceptable: failure due to lack of planning or execution.
Baltimore Orioles: Cesar Valdez is stuck on two saves. Valdez proved human on Saturday, and blew the save. Lefty Paul Fry got a save last Wednesday, but it was in an 11 inning game, so there does not seem to be much to read into that. Best guess is that Tanner Scott will also get opportunities and the situation will be a mix-and-match moving forward. I would anticipate that the Orioles’ bullpen will be moving down in these rankings shortly, but they have ben excellent (with one misstep) to start the year.
Tampa Bay: They just keep getting the job done. Diego Castillo remains at two saves, but with three outings on the season, he’s got five strikeouts in three innings. I do not see anyone challenging him for the top job. Looking for holds? Ryan Thompson and Andrew Kittredge cold get those opps with Chaz Roe and Pete Fairbanks on the shelf. Cody Reed also looked very good Saturday afternoon,
Chicago White Sox: It is and will always be Liam Hendriks. The struggles of Matt Foster and Codi Heuer have hurt the Sox thus far. Look for guys like Garrett Crochet and Michael Kopech to get more opportunities should these struggles continue; Aaron Bummer will get holds.
Houston Astros: Ryan Pressly is the closer. He hasn’t had an opportunity yet, but he will. You can safely ignore the save Raley got last week. Start Pressly in all formats.
New York Mets: Edwin Diaz is the closer and had a rough outing yesterday afternoon. Trevor May lurks as a great candidate for holds. The Mets fans were merciless on Diaz. Let him shake off the rust before casting him out. I still think he gets the opportunities, and would still start him in all formats.
Milwaukee Brewers: Josh Hader and Devin Williams are two of the top relievers in all of baseball. Hader took home the win on Opening Day, striking out three in one inning of work. Hader got another win this week. Williams and his famous “Airbender” lie in wait to get holds and vulture some saves. If you want go deep for holds, look at Brent Suter. Brad Boxberger got save this week as well, but this was a tenth inning job. Tt is still Hader’s job, and he’s among the best in the game.
Chicago Cubs: Kimbrel looks unhittable so far. Start him where you have him.
Los Angeles Dodgers: Kenley Jansen has been written off by many, but this bullpen continues to intrigue. Cory Knebel got two saves this week. Brusdar Graterol nears a return from the IL. Victor Gonzalez and Blake Treinen continue their solid work in the bullpen. Manager Dave Roberts did not answer the question when asked to commit to Jansen as his closer yesterday. He cited a desire to keep all the bullpen arms fresh, and why not? He essentially has four options. I’d encourage you to pick up some of these guys as questions mount about Jansen’s effectiveness and velocity. I’d lean Knebel and make a nominal FAAB bid if he is available in your league.
San Diego Padres: With a plethora of options, many pundits wondered who would be anointed closer here. Melancon leads the league with four saves; he’s unblemished this year. Tingler prefers to have one closer, and Melancon has over 200 career saves and the most experience. But at 35 he will also need nights off, and that opens the door for three other good candidates. Drew Pomeranz, Keone Kela and Emilio Pagan are good reserve or holds candidates. Melancon has been terrific thus far in 2021:
New York Yankees: We learned this week that Chapman has added a cutter. Good grief. While he doesn’t have a save yet, he’s struck out six of the seven batters he has faced in 2021. He will be the main option. Chad Green will get holds and vulture saves.
Kansas City Royals: Greg Holland…right? Except that Wade Davis and Jesse Hahn have saves this year while Holland has none. Holland has not looked good, giving up three walks and four hits in two appearances thus far. Could we be heading to a committee here? Names to watch include Davis, Hahn, Josh Staumont and Scott Barlow.
Minnesota Twins: What an intriguing situation. Taylor Rogers took the loss Saturday night giving up an unearned run. Alex Colome pitched the eighth in the same game, and gave up the tying run. What to make of all of this? Colome has two saves. Randy Dobnak has one. Rogers has none. Look for some kind of split here moving forward, maybe 70-30 for Colome.
Los Angeles Angels: Raisel Iglesias will keep this job. He’s a top guy with lots of opportunity and zero competition. Mike Mayers did get a save earlier in the week, but that was after two consecutive days of usage for Iglesias, including 30 pitches the night before. Ride with him.
Washington Nationals: The team has been besieged by Cvoid-19 illness and protocols. Hand was just activated Saturday from the IL. He should be the closer with Tanner Rainey a phone call away.
St. Louis Cardinals: Nobody told Alex Reyes that this was supposed to be Jordan Hicks’ job. Reyes has three saves on the young season and has been spotless. The Cardinals seem to be bringing Hicks along slowly due to past injury concerns as he ramps up his stamina. It looks like they may not use him two days in a row in an attempt to protect him. Giovanny Gallegos also is here. Roll with Reyes right now but keep an eye on things here.
Colorado Rockies: Daniel Bard just keeps getting the job done, and he is one of the best stories in baseball. Watch his age and injury history; at any time this could go south. He’s looking excellent thus far: six strikeouts in 3.2 innings. One issue to consider is that he may not get many save opportunities on a crummy Rockies’ team.
San Francisco: What we thought might be a competition was wrested away by Jake McGee. McGee has been terrific with four saves and moves this bullpen up this week. McGee is using his fastball an astounding 90% of the time. Can he keep that up? See chart below:
Boston Red Sox: Hard to say how this will work out, but Matt Barnes will get the first crack, and Adam Ottavino waits stage left. Ottavino got beat up Saturday, but the tam has not had a save opportunity all week. Barnes is a high wire act with historically poor ratios; improvement in those areas could help make his saves less painful. That said, he has 11 strikeouts in five innings, and appears to have regained confidence in his fastball. Maybe the competition is causing him to turn the corner? I would roll with Barnes. Barnes is trusting his curveball more this year and cutting down on baserunners. See pitch mix below in a small sample size:
Toronto Blue Jays: Many owners dropped a ton of FAAB on Julian Merryweather last week, and he repaid you with zero saves. Tommy Milone, somehow, got a save by pitching three innings in a 15-1 blowout yesterday. Jordan Romano has a win and a hold. I would not get overly excited about Merryweather, based on a checkered injury history and usage concerns. Manager Charlie Montoyo said before the season he thought he would use a committee approach as he did last year. File Rafael Dolis as well, and maybe even David Phelps for holds. One to watch here.
Cleveland Indians: We have shared for weeks the idea that Emmanuel Clase was likely to get opportunities despite the helium on James Karinchak. And he did, getting a save this week. Clase is throwing 100 MPH cutters. Disturbing for hitters, amazing for fantasy owners. He appears to be the guy as Karinchak is being used as a stopper.
Philadelphia Phillies: Archie Bradley gave up the lead on Saturday night, and Jose Alvarado continues too look good. Connor Brogdon, preseason sleeper for us, has three vulture wins. Yet Hector Neris is the closer.
Atlanta Braves: It is Will Smith. Chris Martin hit the IL with a sore shoulder this weekend. Hold opps for Tyler Matzek, AJ Minter and maybe even former closer Luke Jackson.
Detroit Tigers: Gregory Soto should be the guy; he’s by far their best arm in the bullpen, even though Bryan Garcia also has a save. Neither have been sparkling. I would stay away unless desperate; if you must have one, get Soto.
Oakland Athletics: Trevor Rosenthal is on the IL and had thoracic outlet surgery on Thursday. It’s unknown how long he will be out, but looks like at least 12 weeks. The A’s used Sergio Romo and Jake Diekman in the seventh yesterday afternoon. I would lean Lou Trivino right now, based his excellent start to the year, but don’t sleep on Miguel Romero, who is at the alternate site now. At 3-7, they may use a closer by committee.
Texas Rangers: Ian Kennedy has taken the job and moved ahead of his competition. He’s been good so far.
Cincinnati Reds: Skipper David Bell announced in the last week of Spring Training he was going closer by committee led by Amir Garrett and Lucas Sims. Lying in the weeds is Sean Doolittle. Garrett has two saves but an ERA of 15. Yikes. Sims has been slightly better at 5.40. The Reds are a surprising 6-2 and this bullpen still needs shaking out. In some leagues I have both Garrett and Sims and wait for resolution.
Pittsburgh Pirates: As we expected, Richard Rodriguez got the first save opportunity on Opening Day….and hasn’t had one since. He will probably get traded at some point. Guys like David Bednar and Chris Stratton will get the few holds that may be available.
Arizona Diamondbacks: Joakim Soria was injured last week with a calf strain, leading to potential opportunities for Stephen Crichton, Chris Devenski and Kevin Ginkel. Devenski got a save last week. I don’t want to touch this one.
Miami Marlins: Anthony Bass looks to be out of the job with a brutal week. Yimi Garcia came on in the ninth on Saturday and should get more chances moving forward.
Seattle Mariners: Rafael Montero looks shaky, and the Ms used Kendall Graveman and Keynan Middleton in expanded roles this week. Montero gave up the tying run in the eighth inning Saturday, with Graveman pitching the ninth, and Middleton getting the save in the tenth. I won’t touch this one either.
Welcome to week 3 of the 2021 MLB season. The below schedule factors are based on the published schedules for each team as of 1:00 PM CT on Friday, 4/9/21.
How Do Schedule Factors Differ From Park Factors?
Park Factors are an evaluation of how each stadium performed over the last three seasons (2017-2019) whereas Schedule Factors are a weighted measure of all of the stadium’s Park Factors that each team plays during the upcoming week. As far as what single metric is the best overall measure of a team’s schedule factors I personally use RBIcon for pitchers (Expected RBI generated by contact) and wOBAcon for hitters (Expected weighted on base average generated by contact).
7: CLE, CWS, DET, KC, MIN, BAL, BOS, TB, TOR, SEA, TEX, PIT, ATL, MIA, NYM, PHI, WAS, SD
Today marks the first GPS Location report of the 2021 season. A few weeks ago, I wrote up Zach Plesac and his relatively unprecedented rise in 2020, discussing what it meant for his 2021 season. As I said in that article, for those of you who are new to the GPS Location reports, it is a breakdown of a pitcher mostly centered around how he locates and the various metrics that can be found here on RotoFanatic’s Data Monster. The Data Monster is the interactive leaderboard of all of my research around the value of pitch locations and how much pitchers/hitters under or over-perform those underlying expectations.
This week I wanted to cover a favorite pitching target of mine, Brady Singer. The young Royals’ right-hander showed flashes of brilliance in his abbreviated 2020 season. The final line showed a 4 ERA with a 3.85 FIP largely held down by a slow start to his career. In 29 first-half innings, he posted an ERA over 5 and then turned it around completely in the second half posting a 3.12 ERA in 34 innings. There were certainly some questions about the strength of the Central silo in which he pitched as his dominance came against the Tigers and a weak Cleveland offense last season.
His 2021 season got off to a rough start as he got torched by a surprisingly solid Texas Rangers offense allowing five runs in only three innings. However, my opinion of him certainly has not changed and I will continue to buy in on the skillset I saw last season.
Throughout his minor league career, Singer did not post massive strikeout totals. This is largely driven by a lack of true “swing and miss” stuff. His first stretch in the majors was not much different as Singer only posted a 9% swinging-strike rate. Yet he was still able to post around a strikeout per inning driven by his ability to generate called strikes at an elite level.
The chart above shows Singer’s swing metric on pitches within the zone. His actual swing rate (IZ.Swing) was 96th percentile despite his IZ.xSwing only being in the 36th percentile. This lead to the best IZ in all of baseball in 2020. This means that Singer was able to generate unexpected takes within the zone, better than any other pitcher in baseball. We typically view the ability to generate swings and misses as more valuable than called strikes for good reason as they are largely a more “repeatable” skill. However, based on the research that I have done, IZ is actually quite stable as well.
What you will see in the above chart based on year-over-year correlations, IZ is actually the most stable of all of the in-zone swing metrics. This tells us that pitchers who find themselves at or near the top will likely return there again in the following season. Unsurprisingly, Singer posted a called strike rate of 22.1% in his first start nearly matching his 22.8% from the 2020 season. I largely believe this to be the most underrated and underappreciated skill in baseball. This fact is a huge reason why I think Singer has upside and room to grow into an ace.
The above chart shows the in-zone results for another pitcher who I believe showed a similar early career skillset to Singer. As you can see my mystery pitcher posted elite IZ figures ranking no lower than the 93rd percentile from 2016 on. However, early in this pitcher’s career he also posted swinging strike rates in the 8-10% range. This limited his strikeout upside and he posted K/9 values slightly better than Singer did last season. However, over the last two season’s this pitcher has seen his strikeout totals jump up and he peaked in 2020 with a 33% K%. The mystery pitcher is Aaron Nola, who I have comped to Singer in the past. As Nola’s career has gone on, he has improved his swinging strike rates largely by improving his pitch locations.
As you can see, for the majority of his career Nola has “underperformed” his expected swinging strike rates but the actualized swinging strike rates have risen due to a rapid climb in xWhiff. In 2020, Singer posted an xWhiff of 0.117 but he underperformed that by over 2%. Singer was only a two-pitch pitcher in 2020 but he has focused on adding a change-up. I think this should allow him to generate a few more swings and misses and move him back towards his underlying expected rates. If Singer can continue to locate exceptionally well and continue to generate called strikes at an elite rate I think his strikeout rate will jump.
Overall don’t let the poor start to Singer’s season put you off the potential is there for Singer to take the leap ahead to become an ace and a pitcher we will be drafting in the top five rounds of fantasy drafts next season.
Going forward, as we get more 2021 data I will be including this information in the Data Monster and will be focusing more heavily on the 2021 numbers in these GPS Location reports. These articles will run every week here at RotoFanatic on Thursday mornings and if you ever have a suggestion for a pitcher for me to break down please reach out to me on Twitter.
Here is a prospect question that applies to those of us who play in redraft, keeper, and dynasty leagues: Which rookie hitter will be the most valuable fantasy player in 2021?
The season isn’t yet a week old, and already there’s going to be some movement on the hitter side of the rookie ladder. Also, we’ve had a number of exciting hitter debuts in 2021 already. I’ll break down all the debutants as well as updates on the rookie ladder:
Bobby Witt Jr.
News and Notes
Ke’Bryan Hayes started the year off with a bang, homering in his first at-bat. Then, he suffered a wrist injury swinging the bat. Fortunately, the team has reported that his wrist x-ray came back negative and that he only suffered a sprain. Hayes is currently on the 10-day IL but is unlikely to miss much more time.
Alex Kirilloff didn’t make the cut for the Twins opening day roster. Gotta admit that this one surprised me, I thought he would definitely make the cut and possibly feature as the team’s starting left fielder all season. The team has been using Jake Cave and Brent Rooker in LF thus far, but neither hitter has done much yet. And Kirilloff can really hit. Keep him on your radar.
Nick Madrigal has made a couple of costly errors and baserunning blunders already this season. Is he just pressing too much to make things happen instead of letting the game come to him? Madrigal won a minor league Gold Glove at 2B in 2019 and posted one of the highest range factors in all of the minors that year, so he can play at a plus defensive level in MLB.
Bobby Dalbec is 0-for-10 with 5 Ks so far. He got a day off yesterday.
Pavin Smith has appeared in every game and made a pretty nice defensive play in RF over the weekend. He should continue to get opportunities.
My initial hitter piece came out before Eloy Jimenez’s injury, so I had Andrew Vaughn buried pretty low down the list. He jumps up into the Top-10 now with an increased chance at playing time with the team’s commitment to at least trying Vaughn out in left field. But his playing time has been spotty thus far and there’s a good chance that Tony La Russa just isn’t going to trust him to play every day.
Why is Vaughn not getting as much playing time? Well, fellow White Sox corner bat Yermin Mercedes has looked like the second coming of Ted Williams so far. “The Yerminator” started the season with eight consecutive hits and grabbed the first AL Player of the Week award of the season. White Sox fans are rooting for this cult hero to continue this form, but you have to believe some regression is coming, possibly soon.
Cristian Pache was the Braves opening day centerfielder, but we’re still waiting for something to click for him at the plate. He’s 1-for-10 with a 40% K-rate so far.
Ha-seong Kim could be in line for more playing time after Fernando Tatis Jr.’s unfortunate shoulder injury swinging the bat last night. The team is calling Tatis’s injury a shoulder subluxation at the moment, and that’s just an injury with a wide range of outcomes. He’s a special athlete, so hopefully, it will be a short time on the shelf for Fernando. Kim has only garnered one start thus far, but look for that to change this week.
Jazz Chisholm is the Marlins starting 2B and getting regular PAs early on. He’s been electric:
Padres catcher Luis Campusano has already made two starts this season. With Austin Nola injured, look for Campusano to split time with Victor Caratini behind the dish. Campusano also got some good news this week as prosecutors in Georgia dropped pending felony marijuana possession charges against him. I didn’t realize we were charging people with that in 2021, but then again Georgia seems to be stuck in 1951.
Akil Baddoo – OF – Detroit Tigers
Akil Baddoo was a Rule 5 selection by the Tigers this offseason. This means he really has a solid path to playing time as the Tigers have to keep Baddoo on the active roster for the duration of the 2020 season if they intend to keep him. And based on his performance thus far, they might intend to!
Baddo had an excellent 50 PAs this spring (.325/.460/.750). Then on Monday, he hit a grand slam and stole a base while starting in left field for the Tigers in their 15-6 blowout loss to Minnesota:
Baddoo can handle centerfield defensively, so look for him to get his fare share of chances in the Tigers outfield this year. He’s probably just a 4th OF at the moment, but in the event that JaCoby Jones or Victor Reyes really struggle, Baddoo could easily work his way into additional playing time.
Jonathan India – 2B – Cincinnati Reds
Cincinnati’s roster crunch early this season has opened up a starting 2B job for Jonathan India. He’s responded well, picking up five hits over the course of three games. I would not be surprised to see India hold onto a near-everyday role for the Reds going forward.
India skyrocketed up draft boards following a strong junior season at the University of Florida in 2018. He’s a player who does a little bit of everything well. He carries a good enough glove to play multiple positions, has a patient approach at the plate, makes a lot of contact, and can drive mistakes with good pull-side flyball power.
Kyle Isbel – OF – Kansas City Royals
Kyle Isbel was a shock addition to the Royals Opening Day roster, and it looks like he might have the inside track on the team’s right field job for 2021. Isbel has picked up five hits and stolen a bag in three games so far this season.
Isbel is a smart, instinctual, and hard-working ballplayer. He was a popular sleeper prospect coming out of the 2018 draft from UNLV. His glove and arm can play all over the field, but the Royals have been grooming him for an OF spot since the draft. He’s already pushed Whit Merrifield back to second base.
No particular tool stands out for Isbel, but they all play up given his instincts and athleticism. He presents a real power/speed combo that could be a fantastic find for fantasy owners in deeper leagues in 2021.
Tucupita Marcano – 3B – San Diego Padres
Tucupita Marcano was a surprise addition to the Padres Opening Day roster. With the potential that Fernando Tatis Jr. could be sidelined for some time with a shoulder injury, there’s now a chance that Marcano gets some extra run beyond pinch-hitting and defensive replacement duties.
Marcano was excellent in the Cactus League this year. He’s a lefty bat with a high-contact, high-walk, high-OBP approach. He’s got way more slash and dash than pop in his swing, but he can still drive the ball to the gaps and take advantage of his speed to stretch hits for extra bases. His glove is good enough for MLB-level utility man, and he has the arm to be able to make the necessary throws from third base at the big league level.
Geraldo Perdomo – SS – Arizona Diamondbacks
With Nick Ahmed on the IL, Arizona called up their shortstop of the future, Geraldo Perdomo. While his call-up is likely to be temporary (for now), Perdomo has already shown us what he can do with the glove at the Big League level:
Because of his ability to add value with the leather, there’s a non-zero chance that Perdomo sticks around long enough to let his bat heat up. He’s a switch hitter with an immensely patient approach. He also displays great hand-eye coordination, making contact and spoiling pitches late in counts. While he might lack the power to be an all-around offensive force, you can see his overall offensive approach is by far a net positive if you look at his minor league wRC+ by each stop in his career: 122, 198, 145, 149, 128, 128.
He might be a better “real life” player than fantasy one, but guys like Perdomo have a great ability to work their way into lineups and become compilers. He’s also still very young (21 years old) and has a frame that could continue to add strength. He’s a guy to keep your eyeballs on, especially if he earns an everyday gig.
Ka’ai Tom – OF/DH – Oakland Athletics
A Rule 5 selection by Oakland this offseason, Ka’ai Tom might find his way into some additional playing time in Oakland’s lineup with Chad Pinder’s left knee injury. Tom provides Oakland with left-handed hitting depth and is able to cover every outfield spot. Heck, he can even pitch a little bit:
🚨 POSITION PLAYER PITCHING 🚨
Athletics outfielder Ka’ai Tom is the first position player of 2021 to take the mound and his mom is in attendance. pic.twitter.com/5Pe3N77MWl
Don’t be fooled by his 5’9” frame, Tom packs some pop in his bat. He found the barrel at a solid clip in the Cleveland system in 2019, slugging .532 between Double-A and Triple-A. He’s probably only relevant in the deepest of leagues, but he’s worth keeping an eye on depending on how Oakland’s roster crunch develops during the season.
Welcome back to “Closing Remarks,” where we try and help you ascertain the pecking orders in 30 bullpens every week of the season. Welcome to insanity.
Picking up right where we left off in 2020, bullpens are insane again. Literally and figuratively. And I am already exhausted, staying up late on Saturday night to get the late game notes.
In an attempt to keep you informed each week, we will update our closer chart each week as things shift and turn. Keep in mind that this chart will change weekly, and teams will move up and down based on each week’s results. The sheet is attached here: Closer Workbook
In Spring Training, we followed bullpens and ascertained that there were maybe six settled closers in no order: Liam Hendriks, Aroldis Chapman, Raisel Iglesias, Edwin Diaz and Josh Hader. Ryan Pressly. And then questions. Many analysts had moved James Karinchak into the top ten, but we do not know his role, and we may not know the role. Brad Hand? After the top six, we are riddled with questions, and anxiety.
So our motto is this: be prepared for anything. As we have seen after only three games, be ready. The only constant in our world is change, and that holds true for MLB bullpens every, stinking year. Be ready to pivot, and be prepared to strike ahead of your competition, which means you may need to bid early on guys who do not have a clear shot at the top role yet in the bullpen.
Remember our rubric from last year. We will use that again in 2021. To refresh your memory:
Mastery: the best. Nothing else to be learned here. Move forward with confidence.
Distinguished: just a notch below mastery, excellent work, but still some room for improvement.
Proficient: is average. Think of this as a solid “C” on your term paper.
Marginal: poorly constructed, issues with organization, and unclear what is happening.
Unacceptable: failure due to lack of planning or execution.
Baltimore Orioles: Will this last? Baltimore is 2-0 and Cesar Valdez, he of the 85 MPH fastball, has two saves. It would still appear that Tanner Scott is the closer-in-waiting, but Valdez got both opportunities this weekend. I do not bank on this continuing, but stranger things have happened.
Tampa Bay: They just keep getting the job done. While I am heartbroken over the loss of Nick Anderson, they haven’t missed a beat with Diego Castillo having earned two saves last week. Chaz Roe provides depth with a filthy slider and a bevy of others, most notably Pete Fairbanks, will help out. If Castillo is available in your league, he is worth a strong FAAB bid or waiver pickup if you are looking for saves. Looking at Castillo’s Statcast data, it looks like Tampa Bay is in good hands:
Chicago White Sox: Yes, Liam Hendriks gave up a ninth inning homer Friday night to Shohei Ohtani while earning his first save for the White Sox. Do not worry or be perplexed; he remains one of the best and the Sox are committed to him. This bullpen has a huge potential depth as well, and names like Garrett Crochet, Evan Marshall and Matt Foster are worth having for holds. Michael Kopech is a starter-in-waiting who earned a win Friday night as well. Watch this team and their depth.
Houston Astros: Ryan Pressly is the closer. They are 3-0 with no close games yet, although due to scoring four runs in the ninth on Saturday while nursing a one run lead, Brooks Raley earned a save. That won’t happen often this season. Stick with Pressly.
New York Mets: Have not played yet due to Covid-19 protocols. Edwin Diaz is the guy. Trevor May is a great guy for holds.
Milwaukee Brewers: Josh Hader and Devin Williams are two of the top relievers in all of baseball. Hader took home the win on Opening Day, striking out three in one inning of work. Williams and his famous “Airbender” lie in wait to get holds and vulture some saves. If you want go deep for holds, look at Brent Suter.
Los Angeles Dodgers: Kenley Jansen has been written off by many, but he is still in the driver’s seat for the best team in baseball, earning his first save of the year Saturday night over 1.2 innings. Other popular targets here for holds are Blake Treinen (who earned a vulture win Saturday) and Victor Gonzalez. Brusdar Graterol is on the 60 day IL and thus not a factor at the moment. As for Gonzalez, zero barrels in 2020? 28.7 K%? Sign me up.
San Diego Padres: With a plethora of options, many pundits wondered who would be anointed closer here. Well, the team used veteran Mark Melancon in their first two situations opening weekend, and he converted both. Speculation had been rampant after manager Jayce Tingler refused to name a closer. But he used Keone Kela, Emilio Pagan, Drew Pomeranz and Mark Melancon, in order, to close the game. Tingler prefers to have one closer, and Melancon has over 200 career saves and the most experience. But at 35 he will also need nights off, and that opens the door for three other good candidates. This could be a tough bullpen to use in weekly leagues when you are unsure of Melancon’s availability.
New York Yankees: Aroldis Chapman will be the guy; he was suspended the first two games of the season, leading to Chad Green converting the save opportunity on Saturday night. Green is a good handcuff but Chapman will be closing this week.
Kansas City Royals: Are you ready for this? The team resigned Greg Holland which means that Wade Davis earned a save on Friday. I was as surprised as you. It’s still Holland. But there are options here with Josh Staumont, Scott Barlow and maybe even Kyle Zimmer.
Los Angeles Angels: Raisel Iglesias will keep this job. Ty Buttrey retired abruptly and was put on the restricted list this weekend, eliminating a potential fallback option right now. Iglesias got the save against the White Sox on Thursday, but then blew the save Friday night. He’s a top guy with lots of opportunity and zero competition. Ride with him.
Washington Nationals: Have not played yet due to Covid-19 protocols. Brad Hand is their closer. Don’t sleep on Tanner Rainey, who at this time is slowly being integrated into the pen, but will play a large role in this bullpen. He could close if Hand falters.
St. Louis Cardinals: This is a team with a bevy of options. Alex Reyes may start the season in the closer’s chair, but Jordan Hicks may take off with this once the team’s brass is sure he is all the way back to health. Giovanny Gallegos is an alternative who has done well with past opportunities. Watch carefully. Committee approach right now, it seems.
Colorado Rockies: Daniel Bard kept the job this spring, and earned his first save on Opening Day. Mychal Givens was shelled over the weekend, but he appears to be another option with Scott Oberg currently out due to a scary surgery to remove blood clots from his right arm, his fourth such procedure. Roll with Bard if you trust him; he’s a risky pick due to age and lack of track record.
Boston Red Sox: Hard to say how this will work out, but Matt Barnes will get the first crack, and Adam Ottavino waits stage left. Barnes is a high wire act with historically poor ratios; improvement in those areas could help make his saves less painful.
Toronto Blue Jays: Remember two weeks ago we told you that Julian Merryweather was a sleeper in this bullpen, especially after the loss of Kirby Yates to TJS. The job should belong to Jordan Romano. Or Rafael Dolis. I do think the job is Romano’s to lose.
Cleveland Indians: This is an interesting pen to observe. I have been told we don’t take victory laps, so I won’t tell you that I was right when I said James Karinchak may not close. Ha. Nick Wittgren and Emmanuel Clase are going to get opportunities, as manager Terry Francona refused to anoint a closer and has mentioned using Karinchak in a stopper role. Wittgren pitched the seventh on Saturday and was lit up like a Christmas tree. Karinchak pitched the eighth inning Thursday. Clase has yet to appear in a game, but I do feel he will get chances as the season gets going. It is important to note that he missed all of 2020 due to a PED suspension. His arsenal is eye-popping:
Philadelphia Phillies: The Fighting Phils have won their first two games but have not had a save situation yet. Hector Neris is the closer, for now, and pitched a spotless ninth inning on Thursday. Manager Joe Girardi used Archie Bradley to face two hitters in the seventh, and then used Jose Alvarado to pitch the eighth. This bullpen intrigues as they have several potential options should Neris not work out.
Atlanta Braves: If the first game was any indication, Will Smith is closing and Chris Martin is the eighth inning guy. Both pitched effectively on Opening Day before Atlanta lost in extra innings.
Chicago Cubs: Craig Kimbrel will get the chances here. Kimbrel struck out three in his one inning of work Saturday. Hoping for a resurgence for him this year. I know it is early, but Kimbrel may be carrying over those September 2020 results to April. If so, he is flying under the radar. See below:
Detroit Tigers: Gregory Soto closed Friday and got the save. Then Bryan Garcia got one Saturday. It’s our opinion that Soto is the best reliever in their bullpen. But we all know that the best reliever isn’t always the closer. I would still ride with Soto.
Minnesota Twins: Watching this week, the Twins used Taylor Rogers in the seventh inning Thursday, allowing Alex Colome to close the ninth. Colome proceeded to blow the save by giving up two hits and three unearned runs. This could be a time share based on matchups, but I would go 60/40 Colome to Rogers. No reason to think there won’t be more opportunities for Colome. This should be a good bullpen this year. Colome did rebound to get his first save on Saturday night. They will move up these ranks with better performances.
Oakland Athletics: Trevor Rosenthal is on the IL with shoulder fatigue, which never sounds good when one pitches for a living. It’s unknown how long he will be out. Jake Diekman could get the first shot at it, but we don’t know yet as Oakland is 0-3 and have not had any save opportunities yet this year. Lou Trivino and JB Wendelken could factor here too. Stay tuned.
Texas Rangers: This will be a tough one due to injury. No Jose Leclerc, Jonathan Hernandez or Joely Rodriguez. My bet here is on Ian Kennedy. They haven’t had any save opportunities yet but manager Chris Woodward used Matt Bush (another potential closer) to mop up Saturday. Josh Sborz could be a name to file too. The key for Kennedy would be to get back to 2019 results with his four-seamer, throwing it with more velocity and better location.
Cincinnati Reds: Skipper David Bell announced in the last week of Spring Training he was going closer by committee led by Amir Garrett and Lucas Sims. Lying in the weeds is Sean Doolittle, who pitched in both games so far, although not in save situations. I know several analysts who will remain nameless here who double-tapped Garrett and Sims to corner the market on all Cincinnati saves. Could pay off, especially if both get opportunities.
Pittsburgh Pirates: As we expected, Richard Rodriguez got the first save opportunity on Opening Day. But continue to watch out for David Bednar, who got a hold and two strikeouts in that game as well. Manager Derek Shelton has said he may mix and match the bullpen roles this year. We will see if he holds true to that idea.
San Francisco: What we thought might be a competition was wrested away by Jake McGee. Tyler Rogers imploded on Opening Day and Reyes Moronta seems to still be working out the kinks. At 34, McGee may not have the job for long if Moronta gets right; or, he may hold on to it if no other options develop. It’s worth pointing out that manager Gabe Kapler historically plays with roles in his bullpens. McGee did pitch very well in a bridge role for the Dodgers last year, with a 2.66 ERA, .87 WHIP and 33 strikeouts in 20.1 innings.
Arizona Diamondbacks: This team has not experienced a save situation yet. Joakim Soria feels like the logical choice here once an opportunity should arise, with Stefan Crichton backing him up. I didn’t touch this situation in any drafts and I would have advised you to do the same. One goal in life should be to try and avoid self-inflicted pain, such as this bullpen. We will watch and see what happens each week.
Miami Marlins: Anthony Bass was shelled on Friday night, giving up a go-ahead home run to light-hitting Joey Wendle, thus blowing the save and also taking the loss. Yimi Garcia waits in the wings. It sounds like Bass has some wiggle room right now, but how much will there be for a team that wants to contend in 2021?
Seattle Mariners: Rafael Montero blew his first save Thursday night, giving up a home run to Alex Dickerson. Montero is a shaky choice for your closer, but it’s unclear who may give him pause here. Kendall Graveman struck out five in two innings of work last week, and could be one to watch. Montero did bounce back and earn his first save on Saturday night. Look at Graveman’s Statcast data from 2020; it is eye-opening: