NEWS and NOTES for the week of 9/7/2020
- Nick Anderson returned for Tampa Bay Friday night…and immediately earned a save.
- Cole Sulser appears to be on the verge of losing his role due to ineffectiveness. Will Hunter Harvey finally get his opportunity? The Orioles will add him to their ninth inning mix. Tanner Scott could get chances as well.
- In Seattle, Yoshi Hirano has taken the role, or has he…for now. Erstwhile closer Taylor Williams was traded to San Diego this past week.
- Jeremy Jeffress has solidified the closer role for the Chicago Cubs.
- In Cincinnati, is it Archie Bradley or Raisel Iglesias?
- With Bradley being traded, who takes the top spot in Arizona? It looks like Kevin Ginkel after he got the first two save chances in Bradley’s absence.
- Daniel Bard has earned five saves for Colorado while Mychal Givens settles into an eighth inning role.
- With the trade of Trevor Rosenthal in Kansas City, will Greg Holland or Josh Staumont close games? Might we see Scott Barlow as well?
- In Detroit, Gregory Soto was handed the role last week, but struggled. Could we see Jose Cisnero?
As a reminder, here is our rubric to grade the closers if you need 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.
Josh Hader, Milwaukee Brewers
Hader remains the best in the business. Hader has nine saves and 18 strikeouts in 11.2 innings. He is elite, and he is continuing to use his slider more. He has been having issues with his command lately, walking five in this last week. Still he is a must-start.
Liam Hendriks, Oakland Athletics
Hendriks looks fine right now with a 12.7 K/9 rate. Hendriks has a firm grip on the job with ten saves, a 1.10 ERA and a .67 WHIP. He didn’t get any opportunities during the week due to the lack of games for the A’s because of a Covid infection.
Kenley Jansen, Los Angeles Dodgers
Jansen has ten saves and a 1.06 ERA with a 12.5 K/9 rate. He is elite and a top three closer in the game right now.
Brad Hand, Cleveland Indians: moving up
Hand is locked in with ten saves and has quieted the critics. Use him in every league. Hand is throwing his four-seamer slightly more, and the slider less (54-47%), while adding in his sinker (from 3% to almost 9%) a little more. He is holding opposing hitters to a .171 batting average and .278 xwOBA. Use with confidence.
Alex Colome, Chicago White Sox
Colome has been terrific for the Sox and no one is looking over his shoulder with Aaron Bummer still injured. However he looked shaky on Friday night with two hits, two walks and an earned run while turning a non-save situation into one, eventually converting his eighth save. He got his ninth save on Saturday night.
Aroldis Chapman, New York Yankees
Britton was terrific before hitting the IL with a strained hamstring. Chapman came back and in a limited sample size has looked rusty. He should right the ship and become dominant again so long as he retains his health. That much-noted velocity is still there; it’s not too often you see the top of this range be near 100 MPH:
Ryan Pressly, Houston Astros: moving up this week
Pressly has quietly earned seven saves and his ERA back down under 4.00 now, racking up 20 strikeouts in 13 innings. He appears to be back to the guy we have known the last few years. Interestingly, Pressly has changed the pitch mix this year, throwing more sliders and fewer curveballs. It’s effective right now. See below:
Trevor Rosenthal, San Diego Padres
What a mess. Yates goes down with the elbow injury last week. Pomeranz takes over and the Padres don’t miss a beat. Then Pomeranz goes to the IL last week with a shoulder strain. Pagan had some opportunities for a streaking Padres team. We told you to add Pagan. Pomeranz was activated from the IL last night, but the big news was the acquisition of Trevor Rosenthal from the Kansas City Royals. Expect Rosenthal to be the closer with Kirby Yates out for the year even though Pomeranz was very good when he had the chances. This move should bump Pagan and Pomeranz back an inning and solidify the Padres bullpen.
Jeremy Jeffress, Chicago Cubs
Jeffress hammered down the role and earned his fifth save this week. With the gasoline-fueled Craig Kimbrel being ineffective and the wearing down of Rowan Wick, the job is his. He is a closer for a first-place team; grab him if he is available in you league and deploy him. Jeffress is using a split-finger for more often this year, going from 9% to 31% this year. He has lost one MPH velocity on his four-seamer and is thus throwing it less. Nonetheless the new pitch mix has been effective for him:
Rafael Montero, Texas Rangers
Montero quietly has seven saves for a poor Texas team. But he has only earned one in September as the season runs away from Texas. He has a 2.79 ERA and 0.83 WHIP, both very good numbers, but doesn’t help much with Ks, with only 11 in nine innings. He is passable if you need help but keep in mind Texas is 13-25. Egads.
Mark Melancon, Atlanta Braves
Melancon has eight saves and two wins in Atlanta. Will Smith has not looked great so far, so look for Atlanta to continue to give the ball to Melancon in the ninth. He’s been mostly clean thus far even though he won’t help you much with strikeouts either.
Taylor Rogers, Minnesota Twins
Rogers looked bad in his first outing of the week against the White Sox. While none of the runs were earned after an error, he did give up three runs. On Saturday afternoon, he earned his eighth save with a clean ninth against the surprising Detroit Tigers. Interestingly, the Twins have used Matt Wisler to close second games of doubleheaders. I do not think he is worth adding but point this out as a quick fact. On Friday night Trevor May earned his second save in a so-called “bullpen game,” with Sergio Romo picking up the win. Reading the tea leaves, Rogers should continue to get the ninth.
Brandon Kintzler, Miami Marlins: moving up
The veteran has nine saves with a 2.45 ERA and 1.02 WHIP. He’s holding steady for a surprising Miami Marlins squad. They don’t really have anyone else. The 5.2 K/9 rate could spell trouble down the road.
Committee, but leaning Diego Castillo, Tampa Bay Rays
Diego Castillo has been really good for Tampa Bay, but Nick Anderson came off the IL Friday and was immediately thrust into the ninth inning, earning the save for a surging squad. It’s well-documented how Kevin Cash plays matchups and uses hot hands. Look for both to continue to get opportunities.
Daniel Bard, Colorado Rockies
Who doesn’t love this story? Bard has been a revelation in Colorado. He earned his fifth save Saturday, and has solidified the back end of their bullpen with his high velocity pitch mix. Check out the increased velocity this year and the fact that his last data was from 2013:
Committee, Kansas City Royals
Rosenthal had been terrific: seven saves, 13.9 K/9. Then he got traded to the Padres last week. Who will close in KC? Good question. Ian Kennedy is hurt and was ineffective before the injury. Looks like Greg Holland will get the opportunity for now, but I would not be surprised to see Josh Staumont get a chance. Check out Staumont below:
Raisel Iglesias, Cincinnati Reds: still an enigma
Iglesias hurts to own; the stuff is amazing but he has five saves with a bloated ERA. Based on his usage, it looks like he continues to be in the chair, but that seat is hot. Archie Bradley waits for an opportunity, but based on what we saw this week, the job still belongs to Iglesias. Maybe he will get better results with Archie Bradley looking over his shoulder?
It’s Gallegos’ job to lose and he earned his third save in game one of a doubleheader with the Cubs on Saturday. His slider has been especially effective this year, and he pairs that with a four-seam fastball. He should continue to do well. Keep in mind that the Cardinals do odd things with their bullpen at times; guys like Ryan Helsley or Andrew Miller (when healthy) may also get opps.
Daniel Hudson, Washington Nationals: moving down
Daniel Hudson has seven saves this season but with a 6.52 ERA. He’s been getting the job done, mostly, but got hit hard on Friday night giving up two earned runs on a home run by Travis D’Arnaud before getting the save. Could Sean Doolittle o even Tanner Rainey get a shot? Washington is 13-24 right now and they could look at other options considering they look dead in the water right now. Watch closely this week.
Workman has nine saves despite mediocre peripherals. Workman scares me with his 4.50 ERA and 2.00 WHIP. Despite getting saves he hurts your ratios. I would only roster if desperate for saves, and only if you can withstand the ratio hits.
Yoshi Hirano/Yohan Ramirez, Seattle Mariners
Taylor Williams was traded to San Diego to add depth to their bullpen’ he won’t close there. Hirano was my pick to start the year and he is now healthy. I think he will get the role and hold it for the rest of the year. Hirano (still listed as a Diamondback below) does not throw hard but has an effective splitter and four-seamer. See below:
Of course because I picked Hirano, the Mariners have given Yohan Ramirez two opportunities which he has converted. He is walk and homer prone, though, so who knows how long this highwire act will last. There is some promise here:
Kevin Ginkel, Arizona Diamondbacks
Ginkel is next up even though he has been lousy. He did get a save on Friday night. I would watch this one from afar.
Committee, Detroit Tigers: moving down
Gregory Soto stepped in last week and was a mixed bag. Jose Cisnero is likely the next man up. Yet he pitched badly on Saturday, blowing the save while taking the loss, with Soto moved to a middle inning role. Who knows? Committee for now, most likely.
Matt Barnes, Boston Red Sox
Barns is adequate for a moribund Boston team, but he should not be on your team right now if you are contending.
Ty Buttrey, Los Angeles Angels
Buttrey has five saves, but the 3.4 K/9 rate is not good, so Buttrey may actually hurt you more than he helps.
Edwin Diaz, New York Mets
Diaz will drive you to insanity. In a non-save situation Saturday he walked two while striking out three. No doubt the talent is there; do you have the medication and endurance for this, though? HE still has only two saves but the 37 strikeouts are tempting…see what I mean?
Committee, but leaning Hunter Harvey, Baltimore Orioles
Sulser has been lousy. Could Hunter Harvey finally get an opportunity? Baltimore continues to hover around .500. While Cesar Valdez, Travis Lakins and Tanner Scott have gotten opportunities, look for Harvey to get some soon.
Richard Rodriguez, Pittsburgh Pirates
Kela is back on the IL. The Pirates have won only 12 games all year, and some combination of Rodriguez and maybe Kyle Crick will close. Keep an eye on Nik Turley as well.
Committee, San Francisco Giants
Tony Watson got his first save Saturday night. Move along. Nothing to see here.
Anthony Bass (for now), Toronto Blue Jays
Anthony Bass is on again, off again. You should likely stay off again, like permanently. Nice guy with decent stuff but gets hit hard too often to be a reliable asset for your team.