Bullpen Report: April 5, 2021

The 2021 version of the Bullpen Report has arrived. I, along with a few others, will be your guide on this daily roller coaster ride of late-inning drama. There are 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.

 

A sixth section called “Relievers On The Rise”, which was included over the first few weeks of the 2020 season, will not be featured in the Bullpen Report. Instead, it will be a weekly column that focuses on pitchers who could take on a high-leverage bullpen role in the near future.

We are currently working on new and improved versions of the Bullpen Chart and the Closer Depth Chart, which was previously featured at RosterResource. These should be available sometime this week.

Notable Workloads

Craig Kimbrel, CHC: Back-to-back days; 16 pitches on Sunday. | RosterResource

Ryan Tepera and Brandon Workman will be candidates for a save chance on Monday if Kimbrel is not available to pitch for a third consecutive day.

Raisel Iglesias, LAA: 30 pitches on Sunday. | RosterResource

Mike Mayers is the leading candidate for a save chance on Monday if Iglesias is unavailable.

Hector Neris, PHI: Back-to-back days; 3 of last 4 days; 23 pitches on Sunday. | RosterResource

Archie Bradley is the leading candidate for a save chance on Monday if Neris isn’t available to pitch for a third consecutive day.

 

Injury News

Joakim Soria, ARI: Day-to-Day with a calf injury. | RosterResource

Four batters into his 2021 debut, an eighth inning appearance against the middle of the Padres’ order with his team leading 3-0 on Sunday, Soria was removed due to calf discomfort. There should be more information available on Monday.

Chris Martin, ATL: Day-to-Day with an undisclosed injury. | RosterResource

Martin, who is the Braves’ primary setup man, at the least, and possibly in a co-closer role with Will Smith, was removed from Sunday’s game with an injury. Not much information was available. The Braves aren’t scheduled to play again until Tuesday versus the Nationals.

 

Outlier Saves

Brooks Raley, HOU | RosterResource

When Raley entered Saturday’s game in the eighth inning, the bases were loaded with one out and his team ahead 5-1. He quickly ended the threat on a strikeout and flyout. After the Astros added four more runs in the top of the ninth, the 32-year-old Raley remained in the game and retired the A’s in order to pick up his second career save.

It wasn’t a typical save situation, but a five-out appearance with the game on the line wouldn’t be out of the ordinary for a pitcher who recorded more than three outs in six of his 20 relief appearances last season with six holds and a save.

Wade Davis, KCR | RosterResource

Greg Holland couldn’t quite finish up a four-out save chance on Opening Day, but it was fitting that Davis’ first appearance with the Royals since 2016 came in a save situation. And it was also fitting that he was picking up his former teammate, who appeared to be running out of gas after shutting down a bases-loaded rally in the eighth innings.

After striking out Leodys Taveras with the bases loaded and two outs in the eighth to preserve a four-run lead, Holland struggled in the ninth. With two runners on and a run in, the 35-year-old Davis came in to record the final two outs — both on strikeouts — to close out a 14-10 win and pick up his 140th career save.

Two of the team’s top setup men, Scott Barlow and Jesse Hahn, had pitched earlier in the game, so manager Mike Matheny had limited options. It’s too early to know how much Davis will factor into the late-inning mix, but his second appearance of the season came on Sunday in the ninth inning with the Royals losing 6-2 to the Rangers. He allowed a solo homer to Isiah Kiner-Falefa in his one inning of work.

Corey Knebel, LAD | RosterResource

With Kenley Jansen unavailable after throwing 24 pitches on Saturday, the Dodgers went to Knebel in the ninth inning to close out a 4-2 win over the Rockies on Sunday. A 1-2-3 inning, including one strikeout, gave the 29-year-old his first save since 2018.

Chad Green, NYY | RosterResource

Aroldis Chapman’s two-game suspension to begin the season opened the door for Green to pick up the Yankees’ first save of the season in Saturday’s 5-3 win over the Blue Jays. The 29-year-old retired all four batters he faced, including a pair of strikeouts.

Ryan Weathers, SDP | RosterResource

In his major league regular season debut — he pitched in the 2020 playoffs — Weathers pitched three shutout innings to close out a 7-0 win over the Diamondbacks on Saturday. The 21-year-old lefty is now 74 career saves behind his dad.

 

Committee Clarity

Chris Devenski, ARI | RosterResource

It’s unlikely that Soria was being called on for a six-out save on Sunday, so it was likely going to be Devenski in the ninth even if Soria wasn’t injured. In any case, manager Torey Lovullo had recently indicated that he would go with a closer committee.

It was a bit of a surprise that Devenski got the first save chance, but it probably shouldn’t have been after he threw seven shutout innings in Spring Training. The 30-year-old was an elite reliever for Houston in 2016-17, but he wasn’t as effective the following two seasons and missed most of 2020 with an injury.

Cesar Valdez, BAL | RosterResource

After winning their first three games of the season, the Orioles’ closer situation has quickly come into a bit of focus. The same guy who was the closer at the end of 2020 appears to be the closer at the beginning of 2021.

Valdez had an impressive 2020 season with Baltimore, allowing only two earned runs in 14 1/3 innings with three walks and 12 strikeouts. But it was difficult to pencil a 36-year-old journeyman who mostly throws a 78-MPH changeup — he threw it 83% of the time along with an occasional mid-eighties fastball — into the closer’s role for the 2021 season.

With a healthy Hunter Harvey and hard-throwing lefty Tanner Scott leading candidates for saves, a closer committee would’ve seemingly been Valdez’s best-case scenario. But with Harvey landing on the 60-Day IL with an oblique injury, it was Valdez who got a pair of saves against the Red Sox with Scott and Dillon Tate preceding him with a scoreless eighth inning in each game.

Emmanuel ClaseJames Karinchak, and Nick Wittgren, CLE | RosterResource

Cleveland has not committed to one pitcher taking on the closer’s role as of yet and, after three games, we are no nearer to knowing which of the three candidates — Clase, Karinchak, and Wittgren — would get the call in a save situation.

Karinchak pitched a scoreless eighth inning with his team trailing 3-0 on Thursday. Wittgren allowed three runs in the seventh inning of game two, turning a one-run deficit into a 5-1 game. Clase was able to close out Sunday’s 9-3 win in impressive fashion, striking out Willi Castro to end the game on a 99.7 MPH cutter.

Maybe it’s Clase versus Karinchak at this point. Or maybe it’s Clase and Karinchak. Or, considering Wittgren’s track record, manager Terry Francona could be leaning towards the veteran early on to keep the pressure off of the youngsters.

Bryan Garcia and Gregory Soto, DET | RosterResource

Soto had a breakout season in 2020 and is, arguably, the team’s most talented relief pitcher. But even after he dominated over his first 10 appearances (10.1 IP, 0 ER, 14 K), the Tigers only gave him a few save chances — he converted two of three — and didn’t settle on a closer until Garcia appeared to lock down the role late in the season with four saves in his last eight appearances.

A closer tandem in 2021, therefore, seemed plausible. And with Garcia and Soto each picking up a save in the team’s first two wins, it still seems that way.

Mark Melancon, SDP | RosterResource

When the Padres signed Melancon during the offseason, there wasn’t a whole lot of discussion about the possibility that he could be the team’s closer. After all, Drew Pomeranz was really good in 2020. Emilio Pagan finished strong after a shaky start to the season. And the Padres’ bullpen was considered one of the deepest and most talented in the game. If Melancon could stay healthy and be a reliable middle reliever during his age-36 season, he would be worth every bit of his $3 million salary.

But Melancon appears to have emerged as the team’s closer, at least to begin the season. And that’s not because the team has eight relievers on the Injured List. With Pomeranz and Pagan healthy, it was Melancon who got the save opportunity in each of the team’s first two games. He made quick work against the Diamondbacks, utilizing the cutter that made him so effective for most of his career.

While the team could still mix and match with Pomeranz getting save chances on occasion, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Melancon remains their primary closer until he proves he shouldn’t be.

Diego Castillo, TBR | RosterResource

The biggest surprise for the Rays’ bullpen is that there have not really had any surprises through the team’s first three games.

Twelve different pitchers had saves for the Rays during the 2020 regular season and none were Pete Fairbanks, who went on to save three games in the playoffs. So it shouldn’t be a surprise that Fairbanks didn’t get either of the team’s first two regular season saves in 2021. Or that the first two saves went to the same pitcher — Oliver Drake picked up the team’s first two saves in 2020. Or that Castillo got the first two save chances in 2021. He had seven saves last season (4 regular season; 3 post-season) and is one of their best relievers. I won’t pretend, however, that this is an indication of what manager Kevin Cash will do the next game or any of the next 159 games.

Julian Merryweather, TOR | RosterResource

Merryweather’s first big league save came in the 10th inning on Opening Day after top closer candidates Rafael Dolis and Jordan Romano had pitched scoreless innings in the eighth and ninth, respectively, to preserve a 2-2 tie versus the Yankees. As impressive as that was — Merryweather struck out the side on just 11 pitches and finished the game by throwing a 99 MPH fastball past Gleyber Torres —  that one was likely headed for the “Outlier Saves” section.

Three days later, though, Romano was called on to pitch the eighth inning with the Jays leading the Yankees 3-1. This time, Merryweather was the clear choice to pitch the ninth inning in a save situation. The score held and the 29-year-old got the call. Once again, he had no problems setting down the Yankees in order. Instead of Torres, he finished this game by throwing a 99 MPH fastball past Gary Sanchez to pick up save number two.

Losing A Grip

None

 

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





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Love the format and the grid at the end. Nice work!