Greg Holland pitched in the 8th inning against the Reds on Saturday afternoon. It was a non-save situation, as the Cardinals had a 6-1 lead. He topped out at 93 mph with his fastball but continued to demonstrate lapses in command on all his offerings. He left his off-speed stuff hanging over the middle of the plate with little life, but he was able to get Billy Hamilton to whiff on one of his hanging sliders for his lone strikeout nonetheless. He did deliver a couple of nice sliders on the outside corner against Devin Mesoraco, as well as a nice fastball on the black against Joey Votto, but at large his command is still a major question mark.
When it was all said and done, he threw 17 pitches, allowed one hit, and struck out one. Jordan Hicks was warming in the pen when Holland was facing Devin Mesoraco (third hitter in the inning), but he didn’t come in until the ninth inning. Hicks allowed a lead-off single to Scooter Gennett – which came on a 98 mph fastball on the outside corner. The following hitter – Adam Duvall – hit a sharp grounder to Yairo Munoz, which he bobbled and ate. It was scored a single, but probably could’ve gone either way. Hicks went on to get Tucker Barnhart to roll over a low-and-away fastball (97 mph) which almost resulted in a double play, but left runners on first-and-third with one out. Phil Ervin came back from 0-2 on Hicks to draw a walk and load the bases. A mound-visit ensued, then Hicks struck out Cliff Pennington looking on a painted 99 mph fastball on the inside corner and jammed Alex Blandino on a fly-out to end the game. With Greg Holland looking like he still needs some polishing, and Hicks continuing to develop, Bud Norris will likely continue to get saves in the short-term.
The Astros/Rangers game had multiple tidbits from a bullpen prospective. On the Houston side, Brad Peacock started the 8th inning to help protect a 5-2 lead. He would get the lead-off man – Shin-Soo Choo – to ground out, before giving up a double to Jurickson Profar. After getting two strikes on Joey Gallo, Peacock floated a slider low-and-in, and watched it bounce off the right field foul pole for a two-run home run. After a mound visit and an Adrian Beltre fly-out, Peacock would yield a game-tying solo-shot to the recently promoted Ronald Guzman. It was astonishingly similar to the Gallo at-bat. 2-2 count, low-and-inside slider, not a ton of movement, and blasted to the right field corner. Peacock was charged with a blown save and removed for Joe Smith. Smith made quick work of Ryan Rua to get out of the inning. Ken Giles got the call in the 9th inning and got three consecutive outs on nine pitches (six strikes). It was the first time he saw game work since Monday. Will Harris came on in the 10th inning to keep things tied. After a Shin-Soo Choo groundout to start the frame, he walked Jurickson Profar, allowed a double to Joey Gallo, and intentionally walked Adrian Beltre. With the bases loaded and one out, Ronald Guzman swatted the first pitch he saw up the middle – deflecting off Harris – giving the Rangers the lead. Harris would get the next two batters via strikeout and groundout to end the frame.
A.J. Hinch has remained consistent when talking about Ken Giles as his closer. He’s made it apparent that he’s going to play the matchups, but expects Giles to lead the team in saves by the end of the season. There isn’t anything wrong with his stuff to this point, the Astros bullpen is just stacked. Fantasy owners should hold onto Giles, Devenski, and Peacock – with Peacock being a guy that’s more suited for a multi-inning role. Despite his lackluster performance on Saturday, Peacock will remain a high-leverage, quality arm for the Astros and fantasy owners alike.
On the Rangers side, Keone Kela was called upon in the 9th inning to hold a tie game and did just that. He did walk Max Stassi and throw a wild pitch to put him on second with two outs, but had a clean inning outside of that. In five appearances he’s yielded only one hit, with five strikeouts and three walks. He’s cemented into the closer’s role. Chris Martin, not Kevin Jepsen, was handed the keys in the 10th inning for a save chance. He proceeded to allow Alex Bregman and Jose Altuve to get on immediately, then was able to make a nice play to get Bregman out at third after a dribbler from Carlos Correa. Yuli Gurriel then lined out for the second out of the inning, and ended Martin’s day. Alex Claudio was called upon to face fellow-southpaw Josh Reddick. He produced a game-ending ground out on four pitches to secure his first save of the season.
The question here is why Kevin Jepsen wasn’t called upon to get the save. Granted he just pitched the day before, but so did Martin. It could be that Jepsen has 4 BB to 3 K over 8 IP (eight appearances). His SwStr% is at 5% and his SIERA sits at 5.43. While Martin’s outing didn’t inspire much confidence, he does have a 2.02 SIERA, 42% GB, 2.57 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, and an 8/1 K:BB ratio over 7.2 IP. SwStr% (10) and F-Strike% (68) currently supports those K/BB numbers. He’s touching 95 mph and Jensen has seen his velocity drop in recent years – this could be a changing of the guard behind Kela.
The Brewers closing situation has certainly been unique to say the least. Last night Chase Anderson had a strong outing that lasted into the 7th inning. With one out, Jeremy Jeffress was called upon. He yielded a single to Todd Frazier, but proceeded to get Amed Rosario to ground into an inning-ending double-play. Josh Hader absolutely slayed the the 8th and 9th innings, as he struck out the first five hitters he faced. Jaun Lagares and Wilmer Flores were victims of 94-95 mph heat, and Michael Conforto could’ve been rung up on an 0-2 fastball that caught the outside corner, but settled to take his seat two pitches later. Hader would come back out for the ninth and strike out Asdrubal Cabrera and Yoenis Cespedes. He ended the game with a fly-out from Jay Bruce en route to his first save. Matt Albers was warming in the pen during the inning, but was never called upon. For fantasy purposes this bullpen will continue to go with a committee approach, with Albers and Hader being the top options.
In the most recent edition of “Scioscia’s Bullpen Extravaganza,” Keynan Middleton threw 9-of-11 pitches for strikes en route to a 1-2-3 9th inning and his fourth-straight save conversion. He didn’t record a strikeout and hitters are making great contact against him (36% Hard), but he’s the guy for now.
Jim Johnson began the 7th inning and got into some trouble. He allowed the first two hitters he saw get on base, before getting a strikeout and force out. With men on first-and-third with two outs, Johnson allowed an RBI-single from Drew Butera to bring the game to 5-2. Scioscia took the ball and gave it to Blake Parker – who subsequently walked Jon Jay before getting Whit Merrifield to fly-out to end the inning. In the eighth Parker quickly got Mike Moustakas into an 0-2 count, but unfortunately hung a breaking ball that he deposited into the right field seats. After the following hitter – Lucas Duda – singled up the middle, Scioscia brought in Blake Wood. Wood needed 13 pitches to get a groundout and a pair of strikeouts to end the inning.
It was a snowy day in Kauffman Stadium today, but Parker has now allowed a run in four-of-his-eight appearances this season. His velocity is down almost two mph from last April, he’s struggling at getting ahead in counts (except for yesterday), and his K%/SwStr% numbers are down significantly. In closing, Parker could either be dealing with an injury, or suffering through some type of phase. He can’t be trusted by fantasy owners in any capacity, and certainly not by the Angels right now. Cam Bedrosian – who’s suffering from a lot of the same issues – did not pitch today. Blake Wood hasn’t been used in a ton of high-leverage situations to date, but is worthy name to keep in the back of fantasy owner’s minds if things were to go south with Middleton and Parker/Bedrosian keep struggling. Based on his skills in the second half of 2017 and his current results thus far, Jim Johnson is likely to remain a MI all year.
Edwin Diaz secured his sixth save of the season against the Athletics. He allowed one hit and struck out one.
Brad Ziegler gave up his sixth run in six appearances to date. He has one save on the year. Drew Steckenrider hasn’t allowed a run in eight appearances, to go along with a 10/2 K:BB ratio and four hits allowed.
Brandon Morrow hurled a scoreless inning with one walk and one strikeout. It was a non-save situation.
Brad Hand struck out all four hitters he encountered and picked up his sixth save.
Felipe Vazquez had a 1-2-3 outing against the Marlins on Saturday en route to his fifth save. He failed to record a strikeout for the second-straight appearance.
Sean Doolittle struck out two in a clean appearance against the Rockies on Saturday. It was a non-save situation.
Fantasy Baseball and Tampa Bay Rays enthusiast. Restaurant manager by day, fantasy analyst by night. Contributor to Rotographs, Baseball HQ, Fantasy Pros, and co-owner of Friends with Fantasy Benefits. Follow me @MikeWernerFWFB.