While the Rockies seek clarity in their bullpen, fantasy owners feel the same. Last night, Adam Ottavino, back from an illness which sidelined him on Thursday, allowed a hit and struck out one batter to record his fifth save of the season. Wade Davis, who suffered his sixth loss on Thursday, did not pitch. There’s no report of an impending changing of the guard, but Colorado could use both Ottavino and Davis in save chances going forward. Ottavino’s within two saves of tying a career high and allowed runs in four of his last 19 outings, has registered multiple strikeout games in 29 of 53 this season and ranks fourth among qualified relievers in the National League in ERA (1.60).
However, before any change occurs, there’s $52 million reasons to use Davis to close games. It’s tough to stomach right now for Rockies fans, especially with him giving up multiple runs in three of his last four appearances. It’s been a rough start to the second half for Davis, sporting a 1-4 record with five saves in 8.2 innings but a 13.50 ERA, 8.34 FIP and WHIP just below two (1.96). Davis feels he’s found a glitch in his delivery after watching video, so it remains to be seen if a mechanical fix can help him improve in the heat of a playoff chase. Colorado will provide him a bit more leash, but consider this a timeshare going forward, but Davis needs to improve his ERA in losses (29.57 in seven innings) and reduce traffic on the bases.
A save for Kirby Yates, his fourth of the season and first since July 23rd. Yates did yield two hits but whiffed two batters as well. Save chances can be boom or bust for relievers, so his win on Thursday along with this save should encourage his owners. He’s also recorded multiple strikeouts his last three outings (Seven strikeouts against 14 total batters faced) and moved ahead of Adam Ottavino for third in ERA in the National League for relievers. Teammate Craig Stammen allowed a hit in a scoreless inning and he’s not given up a run over his last 13.2 innings with 20 strikeouts against two walks in them. Stammen’s registered three holds and a win during the streak.
Blake Parker only needed to get one out for his 11th save, and did so in his second straight clean outing. Parker’s been solid as the closer with a respectable 3.29 ERA, 1.11 WHIP and 58 strikeouts in 52 innings this year but he’s struggled a bit to start the second half. Since the break, Parker’s pitched 7.2 innings with a 4.70 ERA stemming from allowing three home runs. Those looking to the future in this bullpen can key on Justin Anderson, who retired the first four hitters in the Athletics lineup via strikeout en route to an impressive 1.1 inning appearance. After Anderson struck out Khris Davis, Jose Alvarez replaced him to face Matt Olson, then Parker for the last out. It’s noteworthy to see Anderson do the heavy lifting in this game and he’s been scoreless his last five along with striking out seven over his last 3.1 innings of work. Since the onset of the second half, Anderson’s pitched 8.2 innings with a 57.9 ground ball percentage, 1.04 ERA, 2.23 FIP, 1.04 WHP, 15.3 swinging strike percentage and limiting opponents to a 61 percent contact rate.
There’s been little progress for Brandon Morrow. He’s still playing catch on flat ground and no timetable will be set until he can throw off a mound. Pedro Strop’s filled in affably and saved his ninth game on Friday afternoon in a clean ninth with a strikeout. Strop’s recorded a save in six straight appearances and seven-for-eight in save chances since July 19th while Morrow’s been sidelined.
While most of the focus in these columns can be on situations of unrest, a moment to appreciate Edwin Diaz. He notched his 44th save last evening striking out two in another clean outing. Diaz has converted 25 saves in a row and increased his strikeout percentage to 44.7 on the season (96 strikeouts of the 215 total batters faced). Seattle’s now 47-0 in games when Diaz enters with a save chance, they won the three saves he’s blown this year, and Diaz has saved 22 1-run games this year. Playing Robin to Diaz’s Batman, Alex Colome has not allowed a run over his last 17 games (17.1 innings) with 12 holds in this stretch with 19 strikeouts against five walks.
With Kenley Jansen out four-to-six weeks due to his irregular heartbeat, keep tabs on two situations. First, beat writer Andy McCullough reported Kenta Maeda could return to the bullpen after his start on Friday night. This could eventually lead to a combination of Scott Alexander and Maeda closing games in the weeks ahead to bridge the time missed by Jansen. Also, Julio Urias could transition to a more traditional one inning reliever to provide much needed depth in the bullpen as opposed to working on long relief as reported prior to Jansen being sidelined.
Quick Hits: Koda Glover made his season debut retiring the only two hitters he faced on Friday. Glover did record two saves in Triple-A with Syracuse with a 2.25 ERA and 1.13 WHIP in eight innings along with a 10:2 K:BB. He could move up the high leverage opportunity list quickly due to the depleted Nationals bullpen depth.
Save number 24 for Shane Greene who did yield two hits and an earned run. Greene’s notched five straight saves but allowed runs in three of his last eight outings. Joe Jimenez gets his 16th hold in a clean inning. Detroit seems content with its bullpen hierarchy.
Raisel Iglesias registered his 22nd save giving up a hit and striking out one. He’s converted his last six save chances in a row.
A non-save outing for Adam Conley allowing a hit with two strikeouts. He did pitch the top of the ninth in a loss. It remains to be seen how the Marlins handle a save chance with Kyle Barraclough placed on the 10-day disabled list, but a committee with Conley, Drew Steckenrider and Tayron Guerrero seems likely during their rebuild.
Jace Fry garnered his first relief win after giving up a hit and striking out one. He benefited from Daniel Palka’s walk-off home run against Neil Ramirez. Two things, Fry could move up in the bullpen hierarchy with the White Sox, especially with strikeouts versus four of the last seven hitters he’s faced, and Cleveland using Ramirez instead of Cody Allen in a tied game.
Add Daniel Poncedeleon to the list of Cardinals relievers to record a save. He’s the fifth one to do so and it occurred the old fashioned way spanning three innings with him allowing two hits and three walks with a strikeout. Not pretty, but still one more than Greg Holland this season.
After not giving up a home run for 54.2 consecutive innings dating back to 2016, Will Smith has now served up a home run in back-to-back outings. Smith yielded a dinger to Adeiny Hechavarria last night. Smith’s converted seven of nine save chances for the Giants but may be showing signs of fatigue. As Al Melchior mentioned in yesterday’s column, Hunter Strickland’s working his way back and can return next week, but no word on what his and other roles will be in the bullpen upon his return.
Last, Joakim Soria landed on the 10-day disabled list for the Brewers due to the strain in his leg after giving up a home run on Thursday. This weakens an already struggling bullpen.