Barreling towards the last six weeks of the season, bullpens will continue to play a pivotal role in not only how the pennant races take shape, but which teams will qualify for the playoffs. Due to a combination of injuries and performance, Cubs relievers suffered a walk-off for the second straight game as noted by their beat writer:
First time the Cubs have lost consecutive games in walk-off fashion since May 5-6, 2018 at the Cardinals.
Last time Cubs did that with two different teams was June 7-8, 2012 (lost at Brewers, lost at Twins)
— Jesse Rogers (@ESPNChiCubs) August 17, 2019
Friday night, David Phelps fired a clean eighth inning with two strikeouts for his fifth hold. Kyle Ryan started the ninth getting Adam Frazier to lineout to right field. A single by Bryan Reynolds brought Brandon Kintzler into the game fresh off the injured list. Kintzler induced a ground out by Marte moving up Reynolds into scoring position with two outs. Kintzler then issued an intentional walk to Josh Bell. But, consecutive walks to Colin Moran and Cole Tucker forced in the tying run. After another mound visit, Kintzler remained in the game allowing a game winning single to center field by Kevin Newman. Chicago falls to 23-39 on the road this year and if it does not figure out its high leverage moments, faces a battle for a playoff spot. News about Craig Kimbrel, Steve Cishek and even Brandon Morrow can be found here. Suffice it to say, this will be a fluid situation going forward dependent upon when Kimbrel can return (Tuesday?).
Pittsburgh closer Felipe Vazquez suffered his second blown save of the season entering in the eighth inning. After Joe Musgrove allowed runners on first and third on two hits with one out, Vazquez took over. Chicago’s Tony Kemp greeted Vazquez with a two-RBI triple to right field giving them a one run lead. Vazquez then walked Jason Heyward and recorded an inning ending double play hit into by Nicholas Castellanos. Keone Kela gets his second win working a scoreless top of the ninth giving up a walk and striking out one before the Pirates rally.
Holding a one-run lead entering the top of the seventh inning, Mike Soroka battled the Dodgers in Atlanta. But, in an effort not to expose him to his opponent’s lineup for a fourth time, Sean Newcomb took over with two outs and A.J. Pollock on first after a single versus Soroka. Newcomb issued a walk to Kyle Garlick then served up Max Muncy’s 30th home run ceding the lead. Justin Turner also homered in the next at-bat moving the Dodgers lead to three before Newcomb ended the inning on a strikeout of Cody Bellinger. This outing marks the third time of Newcomb’s last eight appearances he’s allowed three earned runs. In fact, Newcomb’s yielded 10 earned runs his last 6.1 innings including four home runs. Atlanta’s bullpen owns a 7.16 ERA since acquiring Shane Greene, Mark Melancon and Chris Martin. Martin did log a clean ninth inning with two strikeouts Friday night, but some semblance of normalcy needs to take place in the Braves bullpen. For the Dodgers, Julio Urias notched his fourth save working three scoreless innings of relief closing out the win giving up one hit and a walk with a strikeout.
San Francisco outlasted the Diamondbacks over 11 innings on Friday night. Will Smith suffered his fourth blown save, and second in his last three outings, allowing two solo home runs in 1.2 innings of work. Trevor Gott retired Christian Walker for his first save of the season. Smith gets his fifth win despite the blown save but his numbers in the first half compared to the second deserve a look:
- Smith 1H: 36.1 innings, eight earned runs, 53:8 K:BB, three home runs, .168 average and .272 slugging percentage against.
- Smith 2H: 18.1 innings, nine earned runs, 26:7 K:BB, five home runs, .264 average and .514 slugging percentage against.
It can be a dead arm period, especially since Smith did not complete a full season last year. But, heed his performance over the last six weeks. Archie Bradley bounced back with a clean ninth inning in a tied game with two strikeouts. Yoshihisa Hirano allowed a two-run home run to Kevin Pillar in the top of the 10th inning and Yoan Lopez absorbs his fifth loss coughing up the go ahead home run to Mike Yastrzemski in the 11th inning.
There’s no need to panic, but it’s worth noting the Twins used Taylor Rogers in the eighth inning for his 10th hold in Texas last night. Rogers allowed two hits while striking out two. However, he faced the left-handed heavy portion of their lineup including Willie Calhoun, Nomar Mazara and Rougned Odor. Sergio Romo notched his 20th save working around a hit and a walk in a scoreless bottom of the ninth on the road. Sam Dyson recorded his fifth win also giving up a hit and a walk. As far as the Twins hierarchy goes, it’s still Rogers as the primary closer, but Rocco Baldelli will pay attention to late inning match-ups to maximize his bullpen.
Quick Hits: Sean Doolittle secured his 28th save with a scoreless ninth walking one and striking out one. Hunter Strickland gets his first win working a scoreless eighth inning…Junior Guerra suffers his fourth loss allowing the go ahead run in the top of the eighth inning. Keep tabs on Jimmy Nelson. He’s working as a reliever at Triple-A and tossed two scoreless innings Friday night with four strikeouts. Nelson’s been scoreless his last four outings as a reliever spanning 5.2 innings with 12 strikeouts against three walks…Save number 34 for Aroldis Chapman. He issued one walk while striking out two. Chapman’s recorded a save in each of his last eight appearances. Zack Britton gets his 26th hold with a clean eighth inning. Britton’s been scoreless in 29 of 31 home contests…Ken Giles logged a clean ninth with two strikeouts in a non-save outing….Joe Jimenez navigated around a hit and a walk with two strikeouts for his third save…Save number 21 for Ian Kennedy. He yielded two hits and a walk but held the Mets scoreless in the ninth…Scott Oberg preserved Jon Gray’s shutout win with his fifth save striking out one…Lou Trivino gets his fourth win working three scoreless innings versus Houston giving up a hit and a walk with four strikeouts…Cy Sneed takes the loss for the Astros allowing a two-out game winning single to Robbie Grossman. Roberto Osuna logged a clean ninth with two strikeouts…Aaron Bummer notched his 16th hold with two scoreless innings striking out one.
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