Just like last Sunday, another meltdown for the Angels ‘pen was the highlight of the day. With a four-run lead and two outs in the eighth, Blake Parker allowed a single to Jed Lowrie, a home run to Khris Davis, and a double to Ryon Healy. With the lead down to two, he was pulled in favor of Bud Norris, who surrendered a run-scoring single to Chad Pinder (the run was charged to Parker), a double to Matt Chapman that put the tying run on third and the go-ahead run on second, and finally he allowed a two-run single to Bruce Maxwell that gave Oakland an 11-10 lead.
Prior to today’s collapse, it was looking like Norris was still the main man in Anaheim (despite his recent struggles), with Parker second in command, and Bedrosian third. Today’s showing by the top two on the depth chart, however, muddles the situation. Norris has been in a definite rut lately, and Parker ends the day charged with three earned runs, including a homer, in two-thirds of an inning. Still, we’ll leave the grid as-is for now, but it’s a situation worth monitoring in the coming days. Yusmeiro Petit is a name to consider as someone who could find his way onto the lower levels of the grid for the Angels in the near future. Although he allowed a solo home run today, he picked up four strikeouts and didn’t allow a walk in two innings as he continued his fine season as a multi-inning reliever for the Halos.
With Brandon Kintzler now on the Nationals, Matt Belisle was called upon in a save situation for the Twins on Sunday, and he responded with a perfect ninth with one strikeout. It was his first save with the Twins and just the sixth in his 14-year big league career. Despite the successful conversion, Belisle boasts uninspiring numbers and projections, so we probably shouldn’t get too excited about his chances of having success as a closer. Belisle’s greatest strength is his ability to limit home runs, even in this high home run environment. In that way, he’s actually a lot like Kintzler in that he enjoys modest success despite a pedestrian strikeout rate.
Owners desperate for saves should by all means target Matt Belisle. Next in line behind him, Taylor Rogers picked up his 25th hold on Sunday, and rookie Trevor Hildenberger picked up his first hold as he pitched a scoreless sixth and seventh. Hildenberger has thrown just 19.1 big-league innings (all coming this year), but his 25 percent strikeout rate and 3.8 percent walk rate thus far have been impressive. He may actually be the more desirable long-term target (ahead of Rogers, even though he’s lower on the grid) as a possible closer-of-the-future for the Twins, assuming the Belisle Era doesn’t last too long.
Felipe Rivero blew his first career save on Sunday. He got the final out of the eighth with little resistance, but labored through the ninth. All told, he threw 41 pitches in the outing, only 23 of which (56 percent) were strikes. He allowed two runs on two walks and two hits. Although it was the second time in three outings Rivero surrendered two runs, his status as one of the game’s most promising closers remains intact. In 56.2 innings this season, Rivero has a 1.27 ERA, 2.42 FIP, and 2.98 xFIP fueled by outstanding rate stats, an excellent ground ball percentage, and an ability to induce weak contact. The league’s .220 expected wOBA against Rivero is the seventh-best in baseball among relievers with a minimum of 50 at-bats against them.
Roberto Osuna blew his seventh save on Sunday. With two outs, runners on the corners, and a run already home, he allowed a game-tying two-run triple to Alex Bregman, followed by a walk-off single to Juan Centeno. While Osuna’s peripherals are off the charts this season (he has a 35.4 percent strikeout rate, a 2.8 percent walk rate, and has allowed just two home runs in 46.2 innings), he has now allowed nine earned runs in his last 4.1 innings after allowing nine in his previous 42.1. Entering today, the league had a .211 expected wOBA against Osuna, good for third-best in baseball against among relievers with a minimum of 50 at-bats against them. His recent struggles aside, Osuna remains one of the highest upside relievers in baseball and could remain so for a long time, as he’s just 22 years old. We’ll continue to watch Osuna closely to make sure he rights ship. At this point in his career, he’s earned a long leash and should be expected to rebound.
Other noteworthy bullpen activity:
- Blake Treinen struck out two and secured a one-run save against the Angels. He’s worth stashing in all formats as he seems to be Oakland’s closer of the future.
- Sean Doolittle wrapped up a five-run win for the Nationals. Kintzler pitched the seventh and Ryan Madson pitched the eighth. That seems to be Dusty Baker’s preferred order moving forward.
- Zach Britton picked up his ninth save on Saturday. Since he returned from the disabled list about a month ago, Britton has a 2.49 FIP, 2.64 xFIP, and ridiculous 81.6 percent ground ball rate in 12.1 innings. He pitched three days in a row in late July, and went 1.1 innings on Saturday. His stock is back on the rise.
- Brad Ziegler allowed a single but finished off a 4-1 victory for the Marlins over the Braves.
- Greg Holland blew a one-run save against the Phillies. It was just the second save he’s blown all year.
- Tyler Lyons struck out all three batters he faced in the eighth with a three-run lead against a lefty-heavy section of the Reds’ lineup on Saturday. He hasn’t necessarily overtaken anyone on the grid, but his dominant outing improved upon an already solid season. He could be in the set-up mix late in games when several lefties are due up. Brett Cecil, who we have listed as second on the grid, pitched three innings (the fourth through sixth) on Sunday.
- Addison Reed pitched the seventh for the Red Sox, but he remains second on the grid because he’s being used (ahead of Matt Barnes) in the highest leverage spots late in games in front of Craig Kimbrel in the ninth.
- Jacob Barnes surrendered a walk-off solo home run to Steven Souza Jr. in the bottom of the ninth in what had been a tie game.
- Carl Edwards Jr. entered an existing eighth inning and allowed a Ryan Zimmerman double, issued an intentional walk, and hit a batter with the bases loaded to force a tie. He then surrendered a game-breaking a grand slam to Matt Wieters.
- The Padres went to Brad Hand with the bases loaded and one out in a tie game in the 10th inning on the road. He induced an inning-ending double play as his run of excellence continued.
- Alex Claudio pitched a scoreless seventh and eighth with the Rangers trailing by one. He struck out one and allowed one hit.
- Edwin Diaz notched his 23rd save. He struck out one and walked one. So much for his slow start: he’s been lights out as of late.
- Hector Neris surrendered a hit and a walk, but got Charlie Blackmon to ground out with two on and two out to secure a one-run victory at Coors Field.
- With a three-run lead, Albert Suarez pitched the final 2.1 innings for the Giants on Sunday. He struck out three. Since George Kontos was claimed by the Pirates on Saturday, Suarez replaces him on the grid for now.
[Green light, yellow light, red light: the colors represent the volatility of the bullpen order.]
Ben Kaspick is the founder of CoveCast, LLC, a sabermetric San Francisco Giants analysis website and podcast featured at CoveCast.net. He has written for RotoGraphs since 2016 and also contributes to SB Nation's Beyond the Box Score. Follow him on Twitter @Cove_Cast.