The only thing that stays the same in the world of bullpens is that there will always be change and with those changes will always come questions. In this week’s “Closing Remarks,”  we take a deeper dive into all things bullpen.

A new feature we are adding this week is incorporating some reader queries into “Closing Remarks.”  I hope to try and answer them, and there were some good ones! I will ask for questions each Friday and try to respond to each one.  Here goes:

Patrick Vereb: Is Feyereisen going to get the majority of save opportunities in Tampa Bay moving forward?  Diego Castillo is seldom used since returning.

Patrick, this is a great question.  Feyereisen got a win and two saves this week and appears to like being in the Tampa Bay bullpen. It seems like Kevin Cash is slowly bringing back Castillo, who did pitch and get the win on Saturday, with Feyereisen getting the save.  Here’s the thing: it’s an exercise in futility to read too far into the Tampa Bay bullpen. You’ll spend FAAB on Feyereisen and next week Pete Fairbanks and Jeffrey Springs will get saves. Context matters, and we know we never know in Tampa Bay.  At this point I would call it a committee but that could change this week. I do think Castillo is the best pitcher in their bullpen, not that my opinion means anything.

Dap Scout: Do you believe in Garrett Crochet long-term in a H + SV league?  The WHIP scares me.

Hey Dap Scout, I am not sure what to believe with Crochet.  Being in the Chicago market, I see him pitch frequently. He has high velocity (over 96 MPH on his fastball) and his slider looks like it could be his out pitch.  Many in Chicago feel his future rests in the rotation, but he will need a third pitch to make that happen.  With options ahead of him like Codi Heuer, Evan Marshall and Aaron Bummer (who has been rotten), the future is murky for him in the bullpen.  He won’t close as long as Liam Hendriks is there.  I think he’s a long shot to provide you holds or saves in the short- or long-term. He’s nasty but the role in very unclear.

Davey Lou (Dave Funnell) Who are some of the best relievers that nobody is talking about but should be, for redraft and dynasty purposes? 

Hey Dave, this could be a whole other article!  But there are a few names I think you may want to file for later:  Andres Munoz, Zach Pop, Jorge Alcala, Bryan Abreu and Damarcus Evans are guys I am watching and waiting for.

inthedugout: Kind of random, but in a H + SV league, would you prioritize one category over the other?

This is an interesting question, and one I have never been asked before.  Do both have the same weight?  I feel like it is easier to find holds on the waiver wire than saves, when you consider that most teams only use one “closer” at a time, which leaves 2-3 other guys for holds in that same bullpen.  And those guys getting holds can step in for vulture saves should the closer need a day off, or get a real opportunity should a closer get injured or become ineffective. He

Euan Leith: Is Will Smith worth rostering in a league where you only have to roster two closers?  Got Kimbrel, Reyes and Castillo as my other options.

Euan, short answer, unless you have a space on your bench for him, or another owner may be desperate for a closer, I like any of your top three options better than Smith.

CK: Thoughts on the KC situation, specifically, what’s up with Kyle Zimmer?

Things became a little clearer when it was revealed that Josh Staumont has been battling a knee injury and hit the IL on Friday night. He could miss more than the minimum; the injury explains his prolonged absence this past week.  Recall that KC has six guys with saves this year, with Zimmer being the most recent.  We could call this a committee, but I could easily see them going back to Greg Holland, even though he’s not the best arm in their bullpen. Zimmer could get opportunities, for sure.  It’s nice to see the former first round pick carving out a role for himself.

Here is our updated closer chart: Closer Workbook 5.30.2021

Here is our list of guys who earned their first saves this week: Tyler Duffey, J.P. Feyereisen, Dylan Floro, Bryan Abreu, Ryan Tepera, Daniel Ponce De Leon, Miguel Diaz, Erik Swanson and Jarlin Garcia. There are 102 pitchers with saves in 2021; we are about one-third of the way through the season. Following bullpens is fraught with peril and makes me want to drink hard liquor (although I do not).

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 has been a revelation. He has a whopping 41 strikeouts in 24 innings and 12 saves while keeping runners off base.  Run with him.

New York Yankees:  Aroldis Chapman was a little banged up this week with an illness, and Chad Green got his second save subbing for him. It does not appear Coivd-19 related and you should use Chapman and his insane numbers (38 Ks in 20 IP, 11 saves) each week.

Tampa Bay Rays:  Another week, another guy closing for Tampa Bay.  As mentioned above, J.P. Feyereisen got two saves and a win this week. Diego Castillo in my opinion is still their top option in high-leverage situations, but you can never put too much stock into any one relief arm in this bullpen.  The ceiling is limited by manager Kevin Cash’s usage patterns.  That said, they almost always get the job done, and the team has won 14 of 15.  Not much to question here.

Chicago White Sox:  Liam Hendriks is back to his old nasty self, earning three saves this week to push his total to 12 on the year.  To add, he has 36 punchouts in 21 innings and a 2.14 ERA.  He’s back and usable in all formats.

Cleveland Indians:  This continues to be an intriguing situation.  Is it James Karinchak and his six saves?  Is it Emmanuel Clase and his eight saves? Both are excellent choices. What it seems like Terry Francona is doing is mixing and matching based on seeing the opposing lineup in the late innings. Karinchak is absolute murder on lefties: 2-50, 14.2 IP, 27 KS. But Clase has done nothing to lose the job with eight saves, .83 ERA,  and 21 Ks ins 21.2 innings. Walks are an issue with 11 in 21.2 innings.  Watch this one, but both have value especially in deeper leagues. Francona had mentioned that he prefers Karinchak in a stopper role, but perhaps the success of Nick Wittgren and a reborn Bryan Shaw have had him reconsider? I am guessing Francona’s choice in the ninth comes down to the handedness of the opposing batting order.

Houston Astros: Pressly was out one night with a stiff neck this week, and youngster Bryan Abreu received and converted his first save of the year. Pressly has seven saves and the job is his, but it is good to see that Abreu may be able to step in and take his place should Pressly miss time.

Texas Rangers: Ian Kennedy continues to be great for Texas: 11 saves, a 1.86 ERA, and .93 WHIP. He’s surely had some luck but his xERA is 2.48, so not that far off his true ERA. His xwOBA is .252, which is in the top 8% of the league.  Keep using him.

Chicago Cubs:  Craig Kimbrel has been excellent with two saves and a win this week, pushing his season total to 12.  A 42.4 K% is absurd.  Ryan Tepera got a save this week when Kimbrel needed a breather.  Andrew Chafin continues to stack up holds, leading MLB with 13.

Milwaukee Brewers: What superlative has not been used to describe Josh Hader? Three wins, 11 saves, 35 Ks in 19.2 innings.  Every team would be thrilled to have him. a 46.7 K%?  Come on, this isn’t a video game.  Don’t look now but quietly Devin Williams has turned his season around and has seven holds, although he did get hit around on Thursday night.

St. Louis Cardinals:  Alex Reyes has 15 saves but continues to walk a frightening number of hitters, 25 in 28 innings.  Egads!  How is he getting it done? He’s only given up two runs and 12 hits all year, so he is limiting the damage so far while chipping in 37 punchouts. Giovanny Gallegos has 10 holds, and Genesis Cabrera eight.

San Diego Padres:  Mark Melancon leads planet Earth in saves with 17. Melancon helps your ratio control but doesn’t help with strikeouts. Miguel Diaz got a save last night, but it was a 12 inning game and I am not reading anything into that. It’s Melancon and will be.

Los Angeles Dodgers:  People keep writing Kenley Jansen off, but he has 12 saves and 27 strikeouts on the year. Victor Gonzalez and Blake Treinen both have 12 holds.

Distinguished

Kansas City Royals: As we noted above, this one is kind of a mess. Josh Staumont had been getting the opportunites, but he’s on the IL.  Who do they go to?  Greg Holland?  Scott Barlow?  Kyle Zimmer?  Zimmer had the chance this week, and converted, but was shaky.  Let’s look at him below:

Oakland Athletics:  Continues to be a committee, and a good one, with Lou Trivino (seven saves)and Jake Diekman (six saves) splitting the chances. Both have shown some signs of overuse, and the team added Cam Bedrosian to the bullpen to get a fresh arm. Jesus Luzardo comes off the IL tomorrow and will be joining the bullpen for now.  This is a tough situation for owners unless you roster both guys.

Miami Marlins: Yimi Garcia continues to be their guy with nine saves, three wins, and a nice 1.66 ERA.  When he gets hit, it gets hit hard, but he’s been most effective.  Dylan Floro did get a save this past week but doesn’t seem to be a threat to Garcia’s job. Floro also has six holds.

New York Mets:  Edwin Diaz continues to power through with nine saves.  He’s had two bad outings in May but has been excellent besides those, and I continue to use him with confidence. Diaz is in the 99th percentile for fastball velocity and the 94th percentile in hard-hit balls.  He’s really good and sometimes flies under the radar even though the Mets are in first place.  Jacob Barnes has gotten two saves on days where Diaz rested, but I do not highly recommend him at this time.

Washington Nationals:  Brad Hand has a rough time two weeks ago, but bounced back this week to earn his seventh and eighth saves. A stretch where he surrendered three homers in a week really hurt him. Don’t expect eye-popping strikeout totals; know that you are getting saves and much else here. Daniel Hudson has 10 holds.

Proficient

Baltimore Orioles:  Well, Cesar Valdez finally crashed. Two horrible outings in a row for a moribund Orioles squad has left us with questions.  We will keep them at proficient simply because Valdez had been doing fine up until last week. But when you’re 17-35, there are not many save opportunities. Manager Brandon Hyde stated after the last shellacking of Valdez that he was going with a “mixed bag” in his closer approach.  Paul Fry?  Tanner Scott (please and finally)? Also, very quietly, Hunter Harvey is on a rehab assignment…

Toronto Blue Jays:  This has been a messy situation but my belief is that Jordan Romano will take this job and move with it. Yes, Rafael Dolis also makes a living out of this bullpen with his three saves, but the bloated 5.06 ERA is not palatable, and you can do better.  Romano adds Ks and has 24 in 17 innings.  Romano was used in a save situation against the Yankees last week and converted.  Simply put, he is their best arm and best option; Tyler Chatwood lurks with his 10 holds, but he gave up four earned runs last Sunday, and had four walks this last week.  Beware.

Atlanta Braves:  Will Smith may be the most vanilla closer in the bunch: he gets the job done but in a non-sexy way.  He has eight saves with a 4.26 ERA. Smith did convert against Boston last week but has given up six runs in his last five outings, and I think you can do better.

Philadelphia Phillies: People seem to love to beat up Hector Neris with a barrage of bad takes, but look at his stats: nine saves, a 1.99 ERA, and 27 Ks in 22.1 innings. In his last seven games, he’s spotless and has earned three saves.  Give the guy his due as he fights off Jose Alvarado, who has four vulture wins and six holds. Note too that Archie Bradley is back but has been used sparingly as he works back from an oblique issue in April.

Pittsburgh Pirates:  Richard Rodriguez is their clear top choice, but he stays stuck on six saves with sparkling ratios; he does not help much with strikeouts, and that is a blemish.  The Hot Stove has been quiet but it feels like just a matter of time until he gets traded from Pittsburgh to a contender, which may hurt his value as he may not close in his next situation.  If he does get moved, the Pirates could choose from Kyle Crick, Sam Howard or David Bednar…maybe a committee approach awaits here?

Marginal

Detroit Tigers:  Hard to sort through what is happening here.  Last week it looked like Michael Fulmer was going to be the guy, and then he crashed and burned.  Gregory Soto earned his fifth save midweek.  In that game, Fulmer got the eighth inning as a series of left-handed batters awaited Soto in the ninth.  Looks like a committee situation in the Motor City.

Minnesota Twins: When the season began, we called this a 60/40 split between Alex Colome and Taylor Rogers.  That obviously did not end up happening as the Twins got off to an epically awful start.  Tyler Duffey picked up a save this week.  Hansel Robles has three and has been a band-aid to stop the bleeding in the Twin Cities.  Colome looked to have worked himself back into the mix by working out some kinks in middle relief, but he has been lousy in his last two outings. Earlier this week, manager Rocco Baldelli used Robles as a stopper in the seventh, and who got the ninth?  The guy I champion, Taylor Rogers.  In his last seven appearances, Rogers has 11 Ks, a win, and two saves. Could we see Rogers getting more opportunities? Stay tuned and watch this one.

Seattle Mariners:  Kendall Graveman is on the IL, and until he gets healthy, this will be a committee.  Do not use Rafael Montero as he is a terrifying roller coaster ride.  Interesting to note: Erik Swanson got a shot this week, converted, and then hit the IL this weekend.  I think Keynan Middleton should draw some mild interest in this situation depending on the length of Graveman’s absence.  Be aware that the Mariners are also protecting Middleton from overuse so he may not get opportunities on consecutive days.

San Francisco Giants:  Please do not do this to yourself; I care about you and want you to be happy.  This situation will hurt you. As documented, Jake McGee got off to a torrid start, and that hit a wall with what seemed to be overused. They have been using Tyler Rogers (twin brother of the previously mentioned Taylor Rogers) in the role, but he’s not best-suited there. He does have six saves but then got shelled with a three-run lead Friday night, leading to a save for Jarlin Garcia. A guy to watch for an expanded role: Zack Littell.

Cincinnati Reds: If you heard me on “Benched with Bubba” last week, we talked quite a bit about the Cincinnati bullpen.  I have held my shares of Lucas Sims in most leagues because I truly feel he will be the closer at the end of this…but when is the end of this coming? I don’t believe in Sean Doolittle as the guy, Tejay Antone has become a mid-game stopper, to use his term, and Amir Garrett seems more intent on fighting than pitching. Who does that leave?  Sims. I know we have talked about him before, and we know walks are his bugaboo.  He has two saves in his last two appearances, and 12 Ks in his last eight innings.  He may be rounding into shape here and has a clear opportunity.  You may want to add him before he takes this job.  Shared before, but look at this:

Unacceptable

Los Angeles Angels:  I can’t have Raisel Iglesias but this may be a good opportunity to buy low on him. He’s got eight saves and looks to be rounding into shape with 13 strikeouts and three saves in his last seven games. More telling: no walks in those last seven outings.  Maybe I will talk myself into it…

Arizona Diamondbacks:  I don’t want to talk about this anymore, so I won’t. Just don’t do this to yourself. Stefan Crichton?  Kevin Ginkel? Joakim Soria?  You may have a better chance with Jack Carter pitching the ninth. 🙂

Colorado Rockies:  Could Carlos Estevez be mounting a challenge to Daniel Bard?  Methinks so.  Note the increase in his changeup usage this year. See below: