It’s another week of Closing Remarks here at RotoFanatic. We are seeing that bullpens are stabilizing in many cities, which some are still confusing and moribund. That’s ok, and that is part of why I have a job at RotoFanatic, to make sense of what we are seeing in these bullpens, if we can.

Let’s take a look at who got their first saves this week: Phillips Valdez, Phil Bickford, Alex Claudio. There are now 111 pitchers that have saves in MLB as of June 12th. The bullpen games continue, unfettered and without check.

Unrelated, I am happy to report that Jack Carter got another hold this week.  🙂

News and Notes on Pens:

  • The New York Yankees activated Zack Britton. Look for him to get back to getting holds once he is up to speed. He could get occasional vulture saves on days when Aroldis Chapman needs a rest.
  • The Washington Nationals placed ace setup man Daniel Hudson on the IL with elbow inflammation. In a perfect world, in which we do not live, Tanner Rainey would take the setup role, but he’s been ineffective. Look for Wander Suero and Kyle Finnegan to continue their heavy usage, and file the name Sam Clay as well.
  • Tejay Antone is on the 10-day IL with inflammation in his right forearm. The Reds brass are hopeful that it will be a minimum stay. This won’t help their bullpen, which has a 5.88 ERA as of this weekend. Brutal.
  • The Seattle Mariners activated Kendall Graveman and he should be inserted right back into the closer role.
  • The Texas Rangers placed their best reliever, Ian Kennedy, on the 10-day IL with a hamstring strain. Who will get the opportunities while he is out? Most likely Joely Rodriguez or maybe even Josh Sborz. 
  • Jose Cisnero appears to be the choice in Detroit. For now. If you care.
  • Here is this week’s updated closer chart: Closer Workbook 6.13.2021

It’s hard for me to believe, but we have several questions this Sunday that we will try and answer from some of our Twitter friends. Can we call it a mailbag? Ha ha.

Not exactly closing, but I’d be interested in a list of a few guys getting holds working in the bullpen right now that may be moved into the rotation by the end of this season. @mattmaison

Matt, that is a tough question and not exactly my forte. A couple of guys that could swing into that role are Seth Lugo and David Price who could move in if injury hits. However, I am guessing that you are asking about other guys who may be under the radar a bit. So I dove in and took a look. Michael Kopech could move into the rotation should anything happen in Chicago, Christian Javier in Houston, and Jonathan Loaisiga or Deivi Garcia in New York (despite his current struggles). I will do more research on this during the coming week.

Yusmeiro Petit-most non high leverage arms you keep for great ratios. This guy is a wins magnet. Do you see him as the 7th/8th innings guy for the A’s? How many more wins is he going to have? Over/under 11? @dapscout

Hey @dapscout he’s probably an eighth inning guy right now, but he’s at risk of being overused. Petit has seven wins now and I think I would take the over on this one. The thing is, he limits hard contact but doesn’t help you much with strikeouts, with only 21 in 34.1 innings, good for a 15.3% rate. That puts him in the sixth percentile. Beware!

Thoughts on Ranger Suarez? @mattmaison

Hi Matt. Good eye on Suarez. He’s a young guy in what has been a beleaguered Philadelphia bullpen dating back to last season.  He’s 2-0 with a robust .42 ERA, and .56 WHIP, chipping in with 18 Ks in 21 innings. He features a sinker and a changeup, which have been effective for him this year; hitters are 1-29 on his changeup with 12 strikeouts. Could he be in line for an expanded role? It’s entirely possible, even though Jose Alvarado and Hector Neris are in the back-end roles right now. If the Phillies, who are 31-31 as of this writing, fall out of contention, they could trade one or both of Alvarado or Neris, opening a spot for Suarez as the closer. Stay tuned.

Best available for holds? @inthedugout

I am guessing you might be asking who is available that might be under the radar? I am guessing leaders like Andrew Chafin (15), Victor Gonzalez (14) and AJ Minter and Blake Treinen (13 each) may be owned in your league. Try Genesis Cabrera, Miguel Castro, Jonathan Loaisiga, Dylan Floro, and Darwinzon Hernandez. If you have questions specific to your league, just DM me and we can talk about it further.

Taylor Rogers? @michaelbushe

Hey Michael, if you have read any of my work you know I remain high on Taylor Rogers. He’s 2-3 with six saves, and has shaved the ERA down to 3.04. The 37s Ks in 26.2 innings help you out as well. Yes, he’s susceptible to bad outings that blow up his ratios at times. I still think he is their best arm in the Minnesota bullpen, and that he will be the closer again. I don’t believe in Hansel Robles and his 14.8 BB% and 47.8 HardHit%.

Is Luke Jackson the arm to own in the Atlanta bullpen? Senor Futch @BravesDadBod

Senor Futch, he’s been really good, hasn’t he? Jackson is 1-1 with a minuscule 1.14 ERA and 21 punchouts in 23.2 innings. A deeper dive reveals an xERA of 4.47, which is far from ideal for a relief pitcher. That being said, he does have some closing experience, and Will Smith has struggled. But here’s the thing: Smith has a bloated 4.74 ERA, but his xERA is 2.85, and he’s got a 33.7 K%. I would look for Smith to right the ship and Jackson to perhaps have some value in deeper leagues where holds are a category.

O’s bullpen predictions? @jeffzuffrano

Have a crystal ball? Right now it looks like Paul Fry. But they also have Cole Sulser and Tanner Scott. Dillon Tate and Hunter Harvey; management would love for Harvey to seize this job and prove his pedigree. My best guess is that Fry does well with the opportunity and is traded to a contender who will use him in his proper role, which is a setup guy.

Is Joe Nathan worth a scoop? Rob DiPietro @deadpullhitter

Hey Rob, great to hear from you. He’d be better than anyone in Cincinnati right now who isn’t injured, and he’d be the closer in Arizona. He’s only 46 and could be worth a flyer in deep leagues.

Here is 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.

Mastery

Boston Red Sox: Matt Barnes just keeps rolling. He’s 2-1 with 14 saves. Continue to use with confidence, although he did not get a save this past week.

New York Yankees: As mentioned above, Zack Britton is back which should slide Chad Green and Jonathan Loaisiga back once Britton is ready to resume his high octane eighth inning role. Aroldis Chapman has four wins and 12 saves, but lost twice this week; one was a four earned run nightmare against Minnesota. I don’t see anyone mounting a challenge to him there and he should continue to be the guy based on his excellent track record.

Tampa Bay Rays: The remarkable Rays just keep winning and it doesn’t matter who is in the top chair. Diego Castillo leads them with 11 saves and 34 strikeouts, but they also can use Pete Fairbanks, who earned his second save this week as well. Castillo has two saves but also took a loss this week. The Rays have six guys with saves. J.P. Feyereisen and Andrew Kittredge are also candidates for holds.

Chicago White Sox: Liam Hendriks is a beast and has 16 saves after a tough start to the year. Aaron Bummer should get holds, as should Evan Marshall and maybe even Codi Heuer again should he figure out the strike zone again. Hendriks has 43 Ks against three walks in 27.1 innings. Bummer could also get vulture save opps on nights that Hendriks is unavailable.

Cleveland Indians: The Karinchak/Clase debate rages on. Both will continue to get chances, largely based on who they may be facing in the ninth inning. If it is a left-handed heavy spot in the lineup, it will be Karinchak. Lefties are 7-62 against him; at one point, they were 2-50. Right-handed, likely Clase. Clase has nine saves, Karinchak seven. Good luck with this one.

Houston Astros: Ryan Pressly continues to be under-appreciated but excellent. He has ten saves in 11 chances. Interestingly, with a return to health of starters like Jake Odorizzi and Framber Valdez, Christian Javier has moved to the bullpen, and earned a save this week. He could become an interesting multiple inning option down there, and could get holds and occasional save opps should Pressly continue to have trouble with his neck.

Milwaukee Brewers: The Josh Hader and Devin Williams show is back for a hot Milwaukee team. Isn’t baseball better when the Brewers are good? It is, unless you are a Cubs or Cardinals fan. Hader is filthy and unhittable. Brad Boxberger got another save this week on a night where Hader needed a breather. Depth abounds here. Hader has 16 saves and 43 Ks in 25.2 innings.

Chicago Cubs: Kudos to those of you who believed in Kimbrel, as it is paying off handsomely with 17 saves, and 42 KS in 26.1 innings. The best part about it is the limited walks; only eight so far this season. He looks to be fully back and capable of being lights out every night. Watch the WHIP though as it could start to show us if they are any dents in his armor, but he has been terrific so far. Andrew Chafin leads MLB with 15 holds, and Ryan Tepera has chipped in nine as well.

St. Louis Cardinals: It’s been the Alex Reyes show in St. Louis this year. He has three wins and 16 saves thus far. He does have 28 walks which has given him a 1.39 WHIP, high for what we would like to see in a reliever. He’s also thrown 31 innings, and recall that the Cardinals were talking about limiting him to 100 this season, so he’s about a third of the way there. Resting him once in a while could lead to opportunities for Giovanny Gallegos and Genesis Cabrera, who do help with holds too.

Los Angeles Dodgers: Do you keep waiting for Kenley Jansen to lose this job? He’s chugging along with 14 saves and a 1.75 ERA. There’s pressure behind him with Blake Treinen and Victor Gonzalez proving capable in expanded setup roles. Phil Bickford also got a save this week; I wouldn’t be too worried about him stealing chances, but he’s another weapon in LA. Continue to use Jansen.

San Diego Padres: Nobody told Mark Melancon in spring that the closer job wasn’t open. He took it and ran with it, and leads MLB with 19 saves. Miguel Diaz has become an interesting arm for them, and holdovers Emilio Pagan and Austin Adams continue to be line for holds, along with Tim Hill. Drew Pomeranz is playing catch up to 120 feet as he recovers from a lat injury.

Distinguished

Texas Rangers: Losing Ian Kennedy is a blow to an already weak Texas team. In his absence, it appears that Joely Rodriguez and maybe Josh Sborz will get opportunities based on the situation. The team also seems to like lefty John King, but he may be better suited to a setup role. It might not matter too much, other than a dress rehearsal for the role should Kennedy be moved before the trade deadline; Kennedy is expected to only miss the minimum ten days, and could be back as soon as midweek. Stay tuned.

Kansas City Royals: Lots of conversation on this one. The Royals have been one of MLB’s streakiest teams, which means this bullpen could help you when they are running hot, but may not give much when they are in the midst of a losing streak. Josh Staumont has been a shaky in his last few outings. I do expect that Staumont will continue to be the top guy, but Greg Holland, Kyle Zimmer and Scott Barlow are all names to know as well.

Oakland Athletics: The Trivino/Diekman time share continues. The advantage right now though is with Trivino, who has nine saves. News on Trevor Rosenthal is that he is healing after his surgery earlier in the season, but he is not expected back until August, meaning this continues. I would lean Trivino now. Yusmeiro Petit is a great option for holds and vulture wins.

New York Mets: Edwin Diaz continues to get the job done in New York. He’s got 12 saves and has no competition for the job right now with five saves in his last seven outings. Aaron Loup has eight holds, Jeurys Familia six and Miguel Castro and Trevor May five each. Watch Seth Lugo, who is back and could have a multiple inning role and also vulture saves, holds and wins. He has been very valuable in years past.

Washington Nationals: Brad Hand just quietly keeps the job in D.C. There are higher octane performers, but Hand has 11 saves and rights the ship every time it appears he is in trouble. The injury to Daniel Hudson takes away his competition, and may also leave you with a hole if looking for holds from him. Look for Kyle Finnegan and Sam Clay to get those chances now; a return to previous form of Tanner Rainey would be really helpful as well. He’s been awful, but is a name to watch.

Proficient

Colorado Rockies: I cast off Daniel Bard and as soon as I did, voila!  He’s back. Perhaps the discussion of Carlos Estevez maybe getting a crack at it got him going? Either way, Bard has eight saves now and has his ERA down to 3.60 after being over 5.00 for a long stretch. HE’s 2-0 with four saves in his last seven games. Thing is, he might not get too many chances on a terrible Rockies team. But if you are desperate for saves, you could look here. I continue to root for Bard as he is a tremendous story of perseverance.

Miami Marlins: The hold Yimi Garcia has on the job is tenuous. He’s got 11 saves but has been less than stellar.  Anthony Bass is there too, but he hasn’t been much better. Could Dylan Floro sneak in here? Stay tuned but I think Yimi keeps the job for now.

Toronto Blue Jays: As discussed all over, Jordan Romano is the best arm in this bullpen. Rafael Dolis looks very hittable right now with a 4.79 ERA, Julian Merryweather, remains out, and Tyler Chatwood has imploded again. It’s Romano or no one for me.

Los Angeles Angels: Tip of the cap to Raisel Iglesias, who has been stellar in the last two weeks, helping lead the Angels back to .500. He has 11 saves now, four wins, and has whittled the ERA down to 4.15. The 39 punchouts in 26 innings help too. Keep in mind he doesn’t have much competition for the job which makes him attractive to roster in our game. Mike Mayers has 11 holds.

Atlanta Braves: Will Smith has been shaky, but here is another example of why context matters: he has the contract and paycheck to be anointed the closer, and he will be. As mentioned above, he has been pitching in some bad luck but continues to be the top guy. Looking for holds? Try AJ Minter, Tyler Matzek and even Luke Jackson.

Philadelphia Phillies: Hector Neris gets lots of bad publicity, but he has nine saves on the year. But it’s important to note that he had two bad appearances in a row, which could lead to more questions in the city of Brotherly Love. There are quite a few guys in their pen who would love a chance:  Archie Bradley, Sam Coonrod, and Jose Alvarado being three of them.  Also Connor Brogdon and Ranger Suarez. Expect Neris to keep the job for now but do not be surprised if Bradley and Alvarado get their names tossed into the hat.

Pittsburgh Pirates: Richard Rodriguez must be lonely. Nobody talks about him but when he gets the chance he often converts; he has seven saves. This bullpen could get more interesting if he is traded as expected in the coming weeks. Kyle Crick, Sam Howard and David Bednar have all been good and could vie for the role. My bet is that once Rodriguez is traded this becomes a committee.

Marginal

Cincinnati Reds: Some people stress over their daily jobs or their kids, maybe their marriages and relationships. I stress over the Cincinnati bullpen. Week after week. They have been the worst bullpen ins baseball with a 5.88 ERA. Now that Tejay Antone is shelved on the IL, they have lost their best arm. I know you tire of me saying it, but Lucas Sims is the guy to own here. Yes he gives up too many hits and walks, but his last seven outings have yielded five saves and a 1.35 ERA with 10 KS in 6.2 innings. He is coming around. Grab him while you still can.

Detroit Tigers: Yawn. Jose Cisnero. He’s been good but how many opportunities will he get on a 26-38 team? You can do better.

Minnesota Twins: Taylor Rogers and Hansel Robles are duking it out for top reign here. Important to look at context here; Rogers has gotten the last two save chances with Robles pitching the eighth. Here’s the thing: manager Rocco Baldelli is playing matchups, but Rogers is the better arm. This will likely remain a committee for now. Alex Colome lurks but remains a non-factor at this time.

Seattle Mariners: Kendall Graveman is back, thank the Lord or whomever you want to thank. He’s the top guy. Shoutout to Rob DiPietro for calling that one in January!

San Francisco Giants: Tyler Rogers converts, but he doesn’t get you the high volume of Ks you would hope for in your closer, hence the lower ranking. Jake McGee has 12 saves but this is a bullpen crying out for an upgrade.

Unacceptable

Arizona Diamondbacks: Kevin Ginkel has six holds. So does Jack Carter in the Batavia Youth Baseball league. This is punishment and you don’t need more of that in your life. There is currently nothing worth talking about here.