Sorry for the late entry, received a call to the bullpen to fill-in on short notice, suddenly understanding how a reliever feels. As to the action on Monday night, a small slate of games provided plenty of upheaval. For the third straight game, the Dodgers bullpen cratered giving up a late lead leading to its fourth loss in a row. Scott Alexander, who owns the last save recorded by this bullpen, served up four hits and four runs (three earned) in two-thirds of an inning resulting in his second blown save and first loss of the season. While the team tries to retool the depth in high leverage innings, neither Kenta Maeda nor Ross Stripling have worked since their starts in Colorado. Due to the past performances by Dylan Floro, Alexander and J.T. Chargois, it stands to reason Maeda or Stripling will be available in relief going forward. Do not count out Caleb Ferguson either.
Ferguson’s being prepared to work in back-to-back games and has pitched well as a reliever. In 11 outings as a reliever, Ferguson’s 3-0 with two saves, a 1.14 ERA in 23.2 innings, owns an enticing 28:3 K:BB and a respectable 0.80 WHIP. Also, Julio Urias could rejoin this group soon to add more upside in the late innings. Due to the fluidity, owning a reliever for primary saves could be tough on the Dodgers, so keep focused on how the rest of the week progresses noting how Dave Roberts deploys his new cache of options in order to determine the new hierarchy in high leverage.
Wild night in St. Louis with two bullpens trading late inning leads. Washington ceded the lead first with Sammy Solis giving up a three-run home run to Matt Carpenter to create a save chance for the Cardinals. Enter Bud Norris with a lead in the ninth and riding the coattails of an eight game scoreless streak during which he recorded four straight saves. Norris allowed three hits and a walk resulting in two earned runs in one-third of an inning. Dakota Hudson entered to bail him out retiring the only two hitters he faced, one via strikeout. With the game tied, Koda Glover took over in the bottom of the inning for the Nationals and promptly allowed a walk-off home run to Paul DeJong. Got all that? Here’s the intriguing part, a direct quote from manager Dave Martinez after the game:
Davey Martinez: "I don't know what else to do."
— Barry Svrluga (@barrysvrluga) August 14, 2018
For starters, not pitching to Matt Carpenter, the one Cardinal who should not beat a team right now could be a start. Oddly enough, Solis has been more effective against right-handed hitters (.226 average against, .371 slugging percentage) than left-handed batters (.286 average against, .529 slugging), so walking Carpenter made sense. Of course, one game removed from the David Bote walk-off grand slam may have been on the rookie manager’s mind. This game’s not easy, but second guessing is. As for the fallout in all of this, Norris has pitched in consecutive games, throwing 26 pitches last night, so he could be unavailable on Tuesday, opening the door for Jordan Hicks to be the closer if needed. For Washington, they will hope Ryan Madson’s back will allow him to pitch or if desperate, gulp, Greg Holland? Stay tuned. **Update, it appears Madson will head to the disabled list due to his lingering back issues. He’s not on the lineup card for Tuesday night’s game.
First save of August for Wily Peralta. He walked one and struck out one on Monday. It’s been a tale of two part for Peralta transitioning to the bullpen. In save situations, he’s 7-for-7 converting them with a 1.13 ERA in eight innings. In non-save outings, Peralta’s yielded seven runs in 10.2 innings for a 5.91 ERA with 10 strikeouts against seven walks. Oddly enough, Kelvin Herrera suffered from this same split dilemma last season, so for Peralta owners, hope more saves will be on the docket going forward.
It’s never easy predicting a save for the Mets bullpen. Seth Lugo, who recorded his first career save on Sunday, allowed a two-run home run on Monday night to Miguel Andujar. This paved the way for a Robert Gsellman save, his seventh this season and second this month. Gsellman’s riding the wave of six straight scoreless outings but he’s not registered a strikeout his last three appearances. Hopefully just a glitch, but his owners only seek one thing, the opportunity for saves. Which Gsellman should receive the majority of going forward, though he’s not exclusive to the role.
One of the trade deadline winners, Jose LeClerc, notched his second save in as many chances Monday night. LeClerc’s reeled off seven consecutive scoreless outings yielding only a hit and a walk with nine strikeouts in them. Over his last 19 games, LeClerc’s recorded a 0.96 ERA with 28 strikeouts versus four walks in 18.2 innings and a 0.59 WHIP. Pretty good.
Quick Hits: Another sullied outing for the Yankees by Zach Britton. He allowed three hits and an earned run with a strikeout. He’s given up runs in consecutive appearances, three of his last four and four of his last eight with New York.
Riding an 18-game stretch in which Juan Minaya registered a 2.13 ERA in 12.2 innings, he faltered on Monday permitting three hits, three earned runs and two walks in two-thirds of an inning. He still remains in the mix for saves, but this bullpen continues to evolve and predicting usage patterns seems futile.
Cody Reed returned to the Reds making his first appearance since April 17th with the team. Reed allowed a hit and struck out one. With Amir Garrett struggling of late and looking fatigued, he could move up in the pecking order quickly.
A tale of two halves for Archie Bradley. Bradley allowed a run on two hits last night which raised his second half ERA to 10.13 with a 5.11 FIP and 1.31 WHIP. During the first half, Bradley surged to a 1.97 ERA with a 3.46 FIP and 0.92 WHIP. Tread lightly here until Bradley can turn things around.
Tough night for Jeurys Familia who walked three hitters before being lifted. Blake Treinen’s been terrific this year, but he allowed two hits and all three inherited runners to score. Treinen did notch his 31st save by striking out the side. He’s been scoreless in 22 of his last 24 outings with a 0.64 ERA in them.
Although Blake Parker did not pitch until the 10th inning, Parker stood in line to receive the opportunity if presented. However, Parker allowed a home run to Eric Hosmer, his second since the start of July, and the fourth home run Parker’s allowed during his last nine games. Parker’s propensity to the gopher ball of late could harpoon save chances going forward, so track his upcoming appearances. Justin Anderson retired the only two hitters he faced with a strikeout, has been scoreless his last six games with nine strikeouts in 6.2 innings.
Working around a lead-off double, Kirby Yates struck out the next three batters. Yates has whiffed 13 in his last six games. Tough night for the usually steady Craig Stammen. He gave up three hits, four earned runs and a walk to absorb the loss.
Benefiting from the Dodger implosion, Will Smith converted his ninth save walking one and striking out one. Smith’s 9-for-11 in save chances since taking over as closer. Ray Black garners the win in relief after a clean eighth inning with two strikeouts. Be aware, Hunter Strickland’s slated to pitch tonight and tomorrow with an eye on returning to the Giants later this week. Stay tuned.
Last, but not least, a column by Twins beat writer Mike Berardino outlined how the bullpen could be deployed going forward. With a closer by committee approach looming, how each pitcher performs will determine their role. Personally tracking Trevor May and Gabriel Moya.