While so many questions linger regarding how bullpens will be deployed in the middle of April, it can be frustrating to see the quotes by the Mets about how they will use Edwin Diaz, yet, also refreshing. Many outwardly questioned why Diaz did not enter a tied game in the eighth inning with the bases loaded and New York leading by one. Per Mickey Callaway, Diaz will not pitch more than an inning, until the playoffs, nor will he enter a tied game on the road. Plan accordingly.
As to the game itself, Jeurys Familia created the bases loaded mess with the Mets leading by one in the bottom of the eighth. He walked three hitters along with retiring two hitters, but only threw seven strikes of his 23 pitches before being lifted for Robert Gsellman. Gsellman walked in the game tying run, but recovered to toss 1.1 innings with a strikeout while receiving a blown save for his efforts. In a twist of fate, Familia gets credit for a hold.
Diaz notched his sixth save emphatically striking out the side on 11 pitches. He’s been dominant so far with a robust 48.1 strikeout percentage recording a strikeout of 13 of 27 total batters faced. Luis Avilan garners the win in relief working around two hits with a strikeout in the 10th inning.
More questions remain on how the Phillies will navigate high leverage with David Robertson on the injured list with elbow soreness. Recently recalled Drew Anderson helped absorb innings for a tired bullpen working two scoreless innings walking two and striking out two. Adam Morgan also pitched two innings giving up a walk with two strikeouts before Pat Neshek entered in the 11th. Neshek takes the loss on a tough ground ball to Rhys Hoskins which scored Juan Lagares running aggressively. Stay tuned to see if Hector Neris, Victor Arano or Seranthony Dominguez gets the next save chance. Place your bets.
No need to panic, yet. Toronto called on Joe Biagini, though the broadcast crew could not tell the difference calling him Ken Giles for most of his outing. Biagini tossed a scoreless ninth with a strikeout for his first save of the year and first since April of 2017. According to beat writer Ben Nicholson-Smith, Giles did not pitch due to illness. But, the Blue Jays seem to be managing his workload early in the season.
With the Twins usual high leverage triumvirate unavailable, they relied on Ryne Harper and Adalberto Mejia to try and close out a win. Harper worked a clean seventh with two strikeouts for his first hold. Mejia, however, struggled early in his appearance giving up four hits and four earned runs including a three-run home run to Teoscar Hernandez. It’s been tough sledding for Mejia transitioning to the bullpen, but it’s refreshing to see new manager Rocco Baldelli thrust his pitchers into tough situations. He lost the battle on Monday night, but in the long run, could win the divisional war.
More intrigue in who the Royals would call upon in the ninth with a one run lead. But, using Brad Boxberger as the bridge in the eighth proved to be a mistake. Boxberger yielded a lead-off double to Tim Anderson, followed by a home run by Welington Castillo. So, the save chance evaporated along with any clarity to if Ian Kennedy would get the save chance or Wily Peralta. Suffice it to say, the next opportunity will not be Boxberger’s.
Benefiting form the implosion, Alex Colome notched his fourth save allowing a walk with two strikeouts. He’s closed out back-to-back games for the White Sox, so if an save situation presents itself Tuesday night, it could be Kelvin Herrera ready to fill-in. Manny Banuelos garnered the win in relief over a three inning outing giving up an earned run on three walks with a strikeout.
Two relievers recorded one out saves, always a fan favorite. Jose LeClerc entered the top of the ninth with the bases loaded and two outs. He induced a ground out by Zack Cozart to shortstop to close out his fourth save. Wade Davis, last year’s leader in saves in the National League, recorded his first save getting the last out in San Diego. It’s been a slow start for the Rockies, but Davis remains a solid saves option.
In a whirlwind of emotion, the Reds took the lead in the ninth rallying for the go ahead run against Kenley Jansen. Jansen allowed two hits and an earned run with two strikeouts. However, it proved to be short lived. After Robert Stephenson fired two clean innings of relief with two strikeouts. Stephenson’s surging in the bullpen with a 37.5 strikeout percentage, no runs, a 1.15 xFIP and 0.43 WHIP in 9.1 innings. Raisel Iglesias entered for the save, but walked David Freese, who left for pinch runner Chris Taylor. Then, Joc Pederson hit a walk-off two run home run saddling Iglesias with his third loss and first blown save. This also handed Jansen his first win of the year. There will be a quiz.
Quick Hits: Another day, another home run allowed by Drew Steckenrider. He served up a dinger to Willson Contreras. Steckenrider’s served up four this year of the 32 batters he’s faced…Josh Hader made a non-save outing and allowed a home run to Marcell Ozuna. Hader also struck out the side. With the return of Jeremy Jeffress pending, a shared role could ensue by next week. But, Milwaukee will ease Jeffress into high leverage…Save number five for Brad Hand. He fired a clean ninth with two strikeouts. Hand’s been terrific so far, but the bridge to him remains shaky at best. This could have a residual effect on Hand as the season goes forward.
Avid fantasy baseball player and writer. You can find my work here chasing the next save or as the lead fantasy analyst on Fantasy Alarm. Any questions, hit me up on the Twitter machine, @gjewett9