Bullpen Report: April 4, 2019

• Although Jose Alvarado might have a 99 mph screwball he’s not quite the full time closer on the Rays. Last night Alvarado came in 8th inning in a tie game, striking out the side ending with lefty Charlie Blackmon. In the 9th, Diego Castillo came on to face David Dahl, Nolan Arenado, and Trevor Story. This wasn’t quite an obvious lefty/righty situation but Castillo was in there to face the tough right handed hitters on the Rockies. In my first Bullpen Report I suggested that Alvarado was inching towards being the main closer but that certainly doesn’t seem to be the case anymore. Both Alvarado and Castillo are worth owning, almost regardless of if they are receiving saves, but this is a committee situation for the time being.

• Whether or not David Robertson would be used as a traditional closer to reign in Gabe Kapler or not, the Phillies expected better results than he’s providing right now. Robertson entered the game in the 9th with the game tied and proceeded to go single, walk, walk before walking in the winning run. In three appearances this year Robertson has five walks with only one strikeout. It’s definitely still early and there are no velocity concerns but Seranthony Dominguez, who wasn’t effective either blowing the lead in the 8th, could see some more save situations than expected if Robertson doesn’t get on track soon.

Sean Doolittle received his 2nd win of the season, benefiting from Robertson’s blow up but of more interest is Trevor Rosenthal’s struggles. Rosie allowed two runs without recording an out. which has been a common theme as he has now allowed 7 runs without recording an out in his three appearances this year. It’s safe to take him off of the grid and I have added Justin Miller who conversely hasn’t allowed a base runner in his three innings of work.

Arodys Vizcaino saw his first save situation of the year and pitched around a walk with two strikeouts for his first save. Although he’s pitching (obviously), there has been talk about an achy shoulder for Vizcaino and so far this year his fastball velocity is down 2 ticks from last year. A 96 mph fastball is plenty effective but the presumed co-closer A.J. Minter is likely to return today from his own shoulder issues. If everything else is equal I would bet on the righty to get more saves but it’s worth monitoring Vizcaino’s shoulder and how he’s being used, along with Minter’s effectiveness early on. If Vizcaino can’t pitch on back to back days with any regularity then Minter could see more save chances or Vizcaino might find himself on the IL for a period of time.

Jordan Hicks wasn’t available for the Cardinals who turned to Alex Reyes for the save last night but after he allowed three baserunners, Dakota Hudson was called on to get the final two outs for his first save of the year. Alex Reyes has been used as an earlier set up option but his overall usage should be interesting this year. Reyes is a starter by trade but is also having his work load managed this year. Unless things go horribly wrong with Hicks and Miller I woudl expect Reyes to be used as a setup and potentially stretched for some starts this year but so long as he’s pitching in the 7th or later consistently he will remain on the grid. I have also removed the committee tag here. I think Miller could still see some save situations against lefties but my guess is the Cardinals are looking for Hicks to be the primary closer, at least while Miller struggles.

Quick Hits: Josh Hader received a day off and Alex Wilson converted his first save chance for the Brewers, confirming his place in the pecking order. Jeremy Jeffress should return to the mound soon which will have major implications on Josh Hader’s value in saves only leagues. No save situation for the White Sox but Kelvin Herrera pitched in the 8th inning with Nate Jones pitching with a big lead in the 9th, confirming Alex Colome as their closer. Shane Greene improved his league leading save total to four, finishing off the 2-1 victory over the Yankees.  With a 5-0 lead the Blue Jays didn’t bring in Giles in the 9th to start but needed him to get the last two outs for his 2nd save of the year. Similarly, the Mets didn’t want to use Edwin Diaz with a 6-0 lead in the 9th but after Luis Avilan and Robert Gsellman gave up four runs, Diaz got the final out for his 3rd save. Taylor Rogers had the night off after throwing 1.2 innings the game before and Trevor May recorded five outs before handing the ball off to Blake Parker for the one-out save. It’s still hard to get a full read on this situation but I have Parker ahead of Rogers in the committee.

UPDATE: I missed the Red Sox situation in my run down this morning so wanted to quickly address it. Last night Matt Barnes entered the game in the 7th with two out and one man on base with Khris Davis up in a tie game.  He struck out Davis and then pitched a scoreless 8th. In the top half of the 9th the Sox scored three runs and then Ryan Brasier came on for his first save of the year. The Red Sox had a traditional (and great) closer in Craig Kimbrel last year but this year that’s obviously not the case and Cora is choosing to use his best option earlier in the game rather than save for a save situation. Based on usage Barnes is the trusted hand and should end up with more save opportunities than Brasier but he’s nonetheless still in a committee of sorts. Assuming Boston plays well and is competing for the division and the playoffs, they will likely add to the pen during the season. In this scenario, trading Barnes as a “closer” while he’s in somewhat of a job share and might be usurped with a mid-season upgrade could provide some value to a team unless saves are what you need of course.

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When he's not focusing on every team's bullpen situation, Ben can be found blogging at Ben's Baseball Bias and on Twitter @BensBias

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I’m in a 10 team mixed league with Holds and Saves. Do you think getting these committee guys is of higher value in our league since the premier relievers will get me both categories? I’ve got both Hader and Castillo on my roster with Betances waiting to come off the IL