As the Wild Card standings and divisional races take shape, it’s obvious bullpens will play a part in the final outcomes. A wild night in the National League East featured one save conversion, an implosion in New York and a change in who closes in Atlanta. It’s been a rough transition for Shane Greene and Chris Martin since arriving with their new team. Martin allowed two hits, three earned runs and a walk with one strikeout in two-thirds of an inning in Miami. Shane Greene did record his first hold with the Braves but let an inherited runner from Martin score on a single by Starlin Castro in the bottom of the eighth inning. Bouncing back to strikeout Lewis Brinson, Greene left with his team still ahead by four runs. Mark Melancon pitched the ninth giving up a lead-off single to Jorge Alfaro then striking out two before inducing a game ending ground out to shortstop. However, it’s the post-game quotes by manager Brian Snitker which grabs the attention of those still chasing saves:
Mark Melancon will close games at least for a while, Snitker said.
— David O'Brien (@DOBrienATL) August 10, 2019
Since joining Atlanta, Melancon’s logged four scoreless outings. Going back to the start of July, Melancon’s recorded a 1.80 ERA and 0.73 WHIP with a 60.5 groundball percentage spanning 15 innings with a 15:2 K:BB. There’s no guarantee he will take the role and run with it, but managers like closer’s with experience so it’s Melancon’s job to lose going forward.
It seemed like Sean Doolittle turned a corner in the second half refreshed by the All-Star break. He took the mound with a three-run lead in New York in the midst of converting six straight saves. Momentum turned on Doolittle yielding a game tying three-run home run to Todd Frazier then the walk-off hit to Michael Conforto with two outs in the bottom of the ninth giving the Mets their 14th win in its last 15 played. For Doolittle, he finished giving up six hits and four earned runs resulting in his fifth blown save this season, his first since July seventh. Whether or not its facing the Mets or fatigue, Doolittle’s already surpassed his innings total from last year and on pace for 68.2 this year. He last reached this plateau in 2014. This year against the Mets, Doolittle’s appeared in seven games spanning six innings allowing 10 earned runs and a WHIP of three. There will be better days ahead for Doolittle, but his owners will need to pay attention to his workload and health as the season progresses.
Luis Avilan garnered his third win retiring the only two hitters he faced via strikeout for the Mets. Both Justin Wilson and Robert Gsellman yielded an earned run in relief work leading up to the ninth inning. For Philadelphia, Hector Neris notched his 20th save with a clean ninth inning striking out two. He’s recorded four straight clean appearances with five strikeouts and been scoreless his last eight outings with 12 strikeouts in eight innings of work. It’s a reach to suggest the bullpens could decide the playoffs in the National League East, but they will be a pivotal part of how teams finish the last seven weeks. Stay tuned.
Although the Dodgers remain comfortably ahead in the standings in the National League West, Arizona turned the tide last night with a comeback win on the road. Kenley Jansen suffered his fifth blown save serving up the game tying two-run home run to Carson Kelly in the top of the ninth inning. This marks Jansen’s first blown save since July 16th but he’s only converted three of five save chances in the second half. Julio Urias incurred the loss giving up a second home run to Kelly in the top of the 11th inning. Archie Bradley locked down his third save walking one and striking out one in the bottom of the 11th. Bradley extended his scoreless streak to 13 games spanning 16.1 innings with 20 strikeouts in them. He’s also been unscored upon in 17 of his last 19 appearances. It’s time to remove the shared role in the grid for Arizona.
Seattle’s bullpen has been decimated by trades and injuries. Last night, Anthony Bass started the ninth inning in a tied game in the midst of an eight game scoreless streak. He ended with his fourth loss allowing three runs (two earned) on a hit and three walks against the Rays. With Matt Magill and Sam Tuivailala in setup roles, not sure another pitcher will usurp Bass unless Austin Adams can return from the injured list. Tampa Bay turned to Emilio Pagan who notched his 10th save working around a solo home run to Ryan Court. Pagan’s converted four straight saves. Oliver Drake gets his first win giving up two hits with two strikeouts in a scoreless eighth inning. Nick Anderson fired a clean seventh inning striking out two. Since joining the Rays, Anderson’s pitched four scoreless outings allowing one hit and no walks with eight strikeouts. Things which make you go, hmmmm…
Without being privy to the health of Josh Hader, it’s reasonable to believe it plays a part in his recent performance. Hader gets credit for his second win after a walk-off home run by Eric Thames, but also suffered his fourth blown save coughing up a solo home run to Elvis Andrus with one out in the top of the ninth. Hader recorded four strikeouts during his 1.2 innings while issuing one walk. However, he’s allowed at least a run in his last three games and in four of his last five outings with home runs in three of them. With so many innings being absorbed by the Brewers bullpen, it requires owners to watch how they use Hader, and his teammates, over the last seven weeks.
Quick Hits: Save number 26 for Roberto Osuna giving up a hit with a strikeout. Ryan Pressly returned to action getting his 24th hold working around a hit and a walk with a strikeout…Shawn Anderson appeared in the seventh inning allowing a run on two hits with a strikeout…Marcus Walden recorded his seventh win working 2.1 scoreless with a strikeout for the Red Sox. Nathan Eovaldi gets his second hold allowing a run on a hit and two walks. He’s given up at least a run in three straight appearances…Reds closer Raisel Iglesias notched his 23rd save yielding a hit with a strikeout. He’s converted six straight saves…Steve Cishek gave up a run on two hits and has ceded runs in two straight outings along with allowing runs in four of his last six contests…Joe Jimenez racked up his first save getting one out on Friday night. He stranded two runners for his first save since July sixth of last year…Emmanuel Clase suffered his first loss serving up the game winning home run to Thames. Clase worked 1.2 innings giving up a hit, the run and a walk with a strikeout. Shawn Kelley struggled in his outing allowing three hits, three earned runs and two walks. Woof…Carlos Martinez logged 1.1 scoreless innings for his third win…The dreaded getting in work scenario hurt Scott Oberg owners. Oberg yielded three hits, four earned runs and a walk with two strikeouts pitching for the first time in five days.
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