Bullpen Report: April 16, 2021

NEW FEATURE ALERT! We have added an upgraded version of RosterResource’s Closer Depth Chart to FanGraphs. Read more about it here.

We will always include a link to the full Closer Depth Chart at the bottom of the Bullpen Report each day. It’s also accessible from the RosterResource drop-down menu and from any RosterResource page. Please let us know what you think.

The 2021 version of Bullpen Report includes five different sections, as well as the closer chart, which can be found at the bottom of the page.

  1. Notable Workloads: Primary closers or valuable members of a closer committee who have been deemed unavailable or likely unavailable for the current day due to recent workload.
  2. Injury News 
  3. Outlier Saves: Explanation for a non-closer earning a save during the previous day.
  4. Committee Clarity: Notes on a closer committee that clarify a pitcher’s standing in the group.
  5. Losing A Grip: Struggling closers who could be on the hot seat.

The “RosterResource” link will take you to the corresponding team’s RosterResource depth chart, which will give you a better picture of the full bullpen and results of the previous six days (pitch count, save, hold, win, loss, blown save.)

Notable Workloads



Injury News

Jordan Romano, TOR: Placed on 10-Day IL (ulnar neuritis); no timetable for return. | RosterResource

Romano joins Julian Merryweather (strained oblique), Tyler Chatwood (strained biceps), and Kirby Yates (Tommy John surgery) on the Injured List, leaving the Blue Jays’ bullpen in a vulnerable state as they began a nine-game road trip on Thursday.

Rafael Dolis is the leading candidate for save chances with David Phelps and Ryan Borucki in the mix if the Jays go with a committee approach. Anthony Castro, a former Detroit Tigers prospect who had an impressive Spring Training (9.1 IP, 2 ER, 5 H, BB, 15K), could also work his way into the mix if he continues to pitch well. The 26-year-old pitched two scoreless innings in his Blue Jays’ debut on Wednesday,

There is no timetable for Romano’s return. The 27-year-old pitched 2.2 scoreless innings in his first three appearances of 2021 before struggling in his outing on Tuesday (0.2 IP, ER, 2 H, BB). It was a small sample, but he did not appear to be as dominant as he was in 15 appearances last season prior to a season-ending finger injury.

Outlier Saves

David Price, LAD | RosterResource

The Dodgers’ top four relievers — Kenley Jansen, Blake Treinen, Corey Knebel, and Victor Gonzalez — all pitched on Wednesday, although none of them had a high pitch count or had pitched for at least two days prior. In other words, all would’ve been expected to be available on Thursday if needed. But a team as good as the defending World Champion Dodgers, who came into Thursday with a 10-2 record and five consecutive wins, might not have the same definition of “if needed” as most other teams.

With a 7-5 lead over the Rockies in the ninth inning, they didn’t use any of those aforementioned pitchers. It’s possible that they didn’t feel a threat from the Rockies. It’s possible that they just wanted to give Price, who has allowed five runs in his first 4.2 innings with the team, an opportunity to close out a victory and gain some confidence. In any case, the 35-year-old picked up his first career save with a scoreless ninth inning. After allowing back-to-back singles, he struck out Trevor Story and Garrett Hampson before closing things out on a Raimel Tapia groundout.

Keynan Middleton, SEA | RosterResource

Kendall Graveman and Rafael Montero both pitched in game one of Thursday’s double-header win over the Orioles, leaving Middleton as the obvious candidate for a save chance in game two. The 27-year-old did get the ball with a 2-1 lead in the seventh and he converted for his second save of 2021.

With the team’s closing situation a bit unclear all of a sudden — see Committee Clarity — Middleton could become a factor if he continues to be reliable in a high-leverage role. While he allowed four earned runs in his second appearance of the season, he’s pitched a scoreless inning in his other three outings.


Committee Clarity

Scott Barlow, KCR | RosterResource

Going into Thursday’s game, four different pitchers had earned saves for the Royals in 2021 while the team’s most reliable setup men, Barlow and Josh Staumont, had yet to get a save chance. Staumont doesn’t have a save in 46 career appearances. Barlow had only three saves in 104 games since he debuted in 2018. If there is a closer committee, it has seemed that they’re not a part of it. That might be a preference of manager Mike Matheny to keep them in a setup role. But that was not the case on Thursday.

The 28-year-old Barlow, coming off of a poor outing on Monday (0.2 IP, 3 ER), pitched the final two innings to close out a 7-5 win over the Blue Jays and pick up his first save.

Kendall Graveman and Rafael Montero, SEA | RosterResource

If not for Montero’s three blown saves in his first five chances, his usage in the team’s game one win over the Orioles on Thursday might’ve raised fewer questions over how secure his hold is on the closer’s role. He did face the middle of the Orioles’ order with a 4-2 lead in the sixth, which is how some teams use their closer/best reliever these days.

But Graveman, despite getting the easier task against the bottom of the order, extended his scoreless streak to 11.1 innings (6 IP in 2021; last 5.1 IP of 2020). Thus, it’s the 30-year-old Graveman’s effectiveness just as much as Montero’s early struggles that has turned the team’s closing situation into a possible two-man job.


Losing A Grip


Click HERE to view the full Closer Depth Chart.

Not Very Stable
Hot Seat
Bullpen Report — 4/15/2021
Team Closer First Up Second Up Injured List
ARI Stefan Crichton Kevin Ginkel Yoan Lopez Joakim Soria
ATL Will Smith A.J. Minter Tyler Matzek Chris Martin
BAL Cesar Valdez Tanner Scott Dillon Tate Hunter Harvey
BOS Matt Barnes Adam Ottavino Hirokazu Sawamura Ryan Brasier
CHC Craig Kimbrel Andrew Chafin Alec Mills Rowan Wick
CWS Liam Hendriks Aaron Bummer Garrett Crochet
CIN Amir Garrett Lucas Sims Sean Doolittle
CLE Emmanuel Clase James Karinchak Nick Wittgren
COL Daniel Bard Mychal Givens Tyler Kinley
DET Gregory Soto Bryan Garcia Buck Farmer
HOU Ryan Pressly Joe Smith Blake Taylor Enoli Paredes
KC Greg Holland Josh Staumont Scott Barlow Jesse Hahn
LAA Raisel Iglesias Mike Mayers Aaron Slegers Felix Peña
LAD Kenley Jansen Blake Treinen Corey Knebel
MIA Yimi Garcia Dylan Floro Richard Bleier
MIL Josh Hader Brent Suter J.P. Feyereisen
MIN Alex Colome Taylor Rogers Hansel Robles
NYM Edwin Diaz Trevor May Miguel Castro
NYY Aroldis Chapman Chad Green Darren O’Day Zack Britton
OAK Lou Trivino Jake Diekman Sergio Romo Trevor Rosenthal
PHI Hector Neris Jose Alvarado Connor Brogdon Archie Bradley
PIT Richard Rodriguez Chris Stratton David Bednar
STL Alex Reyes Giovanny Gallegos Andrew Miller
SD Mark Melancon Drew Pomeranz Emilio Pagan
SF Jake McGee Tyler Rogers Wandy Peralta Reyes Moronta
SEA Kendall Graveman Rafael Montero Keynan Middleton Anthony Misiewicz
TB Diego Castillo Ryan Thompson Andrew Kittredge Pete Fairbanks
TEX Ian Kennedy Josh Sborz Taylor Hearn Matt Bush
TOR Rafael Dolis David Phelps Ryan Borucki Julian Merryweather
WSH Brad Hand Tanner Rainey Daniel Hudson

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Why do the Indians prefer Clase over Karinchak? I loosely understand it’s the velocity and fewer walks. Is that it, am I missing something?


Higher ground ball rate (which relies on Cleveland’s better infield defense rather than their shaky outfield), lower average EV (he’s in the 92nd percentile, while Karinchak is in the 22nd), and motivation. Clase wants to be the closer. Karinchak doesn’t care.


It’s less about the velo and more about the ground balls and walks. Karinchak has struggled with walks at every level and despite being kind of a ground ball pitcher in the minors, he’s become a pretty extreme fly ball pitcher in the majors who also gives up a lot of line drives. The easiest way to mount a comeback is a walk and a blast or two walks and a blast. Much harder to do it with ground balls – barring a double down the line you’d need a minimum 4 ground balls for 2 runs and 5 for 3 runs and it’s not like Clase isn’t getting his share of Ks as well. Clase’s most obvious comp is being a Zack Britton who throws 3-4 mph harder which should mean more K’s than Britton.

EDIT*** and I will say, that is not a knock on Karinchak. He’s also a great pitcher and I think they could put either one out there and be fine. HIs most obvious comp is Kimbrel – a few more Ks and a few more BB, but very similar. Kimbrel has converted saves at a 90% clip, Britton at a 90% clip. The Indians are in great shape in the late innings for at least the next 4-5 years.