• Nothing about José Leclerc has been easy this year as he has dominated away from the closer’s chair and struggled mightily while sitting on the thrown. Last night Jesse Chavez pitched in the 9th inning in a tie game with José Leclerc pitching a perfect inning in the 10th. Leclerc got the W when the Rangers scored on a Rougned Odor walk-off shot. Jesse Chavez in the 9th might suggest he has a slight edge but I’m still keeping Leclerc atop of the grid. The Rangers already have him signed long term so they won’t save any money by limiting his saves and their end game is to have him be their closer in the future, which should start now. Although Leclerc’s struggles have been well discussed, the sum of his seasonal line isn’t as bad as one might expect – 4.53/3.52/4.03/3.58 ERA/FIP/xFIP/SIERA with a 21.5% K-BB%. Leclerc’s walk rate will always be suspect his K-BB% is still top 30 in the league among qualified relievers.
• The Braves had a lead late in the game last night and went to their new bullpen allocation with Mark Melancon pitching the 8th before handing it off to new closer Shane Greene. Greene unfortunately allowed three hits, a walk, and an earned run to blow the one-run lead. Luke Jackson struck out the side in the 10th and received the win after Ronald Acuna knocked in the winning run in the bottom half of the inning. It would be silly to say Shane Greene is close to losing his job but it’s still worth mentioning how Jackson’s numbers look quite good, in spite of his inconsistency with a 2.87 SIERA and 23.1% K-BB%. While Jackson at his best might be the most shutdowny reliever, I still expect the Braves to proceed with Melancon –> Greene and how Jackson and co. fair will just add to their depth.
• There was no save situation in the Dodgers game as Walker Buehler went the full nine with 15 strikeouts but of minor interest is the Padres relief where Michel Baez pitched two scoreless. The Padres aren’t in contention but have called up a trio of young pitchers in Andres Munoz, Adrian Morejon, and Michel Baez. Munoz has cemented himself in the thick of the pecking order with a dominant start to his career. Morejon and Baez a little less so but in his 6.2 innings this year Baez has struck out 7 with 3 walks without allowing a run. In a deeper league with a need for multi-inning outings and raw totals, Baez isn’t a bad target.
• Edwin Diaz struck out three in the 9th but didn’t receive the save as there was a four run lead. Of more importance is the fact that Diaz allowed two runs off of a Starling Marte homer. On the year Diaz has a 5.44 ERA which is obviously bad but a more palatable 2.78 SIERA. Diaz still has elite skills and is far better than the inflated ERA but his struggles are still worth mentioning. Seth Lugo pitched a scoreless 8th for his 18th hold, fresh off of being named the NL Reliever of the Month in July. The chances of Lugo replacing Diaz are very slim but I’m moving Diaz to yellow to call out both his recent struggles (7.36 ERA/3.39 SIERA Since July) as well as Lugo’s recent dominance (0.00 ERA/1.95 SIERA since July).
• Quick Hits: With some of the pen moved at the deadline, the Giants still have Tony Watson –> Will Smith which is how it played out last night with Will Smith striking out three while receiving the win. Mychal Givens pitched four outs in the 7th and 8th which led to a Jace Fry save opportunity that he nailed down, his third of the year. Hector Neris is out serving his suspension which leaves saves open and Nick Pivetta recorded his first save. I have added Pivetta to the grid below. Blake Parker and Juan Nicasio should also see appearances setting up Neris but Pivetta might be finding his new permanent home in the pen. The Rays bolstered bullpen did its job last night with Emilio Pagan getting the call in the 9th for his 9th save. We still expect the Rays to be a committee with Pagan at the top. Nick Anderson struck out a pair in his second Rays appearance in the 8th, which might become a common occurrence. Craig Kimbrel (9) and Aroldis Chapman (29) are two former top tier closers that have had a few struggles this year but both received saves last night. While they are no longer the elite of the elite, closing on top teams will give your teams tons of save chances and strikeouts, but the ratios might not be where we have grown accustomed to.
When he's not focusing on every team's bullpen situation, Ben can be found blogging at Ben's Baseball Bias and on Twitter @BensBias