When Kyle Barraclough had to get bailed out to prevent him from blowing his fourth straight save on Monday, that was the last straw for Don Mattingly. On Tuesday, the Marlins’ manager announced he was removing Barraclough from the closer’s role, though his replacement “was not going to be one guy.” Drew Steckenrider, who has been used consistently as the eighth-inning setup reliever, would be a strong candidate to get the Marlins’ next save chance, though a report from MLB.com beat writer Joe Frisaro cited Adam Conley and Tayron Guerrero as candidates to close as well.
Steckenrider has looked like a top target for saves speculation in recent weeks, but between his own inconsistency and the possibility of having to share save opportunities with Conley and Guerrero, it may be better to turn our attention to Ryan Madson. There is a strong chance he will now be in line to get saves for the Nationals, as Kelvin Herrera was lifted from the second game of Tuesday’s doubleheader with the Braves due to tightness in his right shoulder. We won’t likely know more about the severity of Herrera’s injury until the results from an MRI scheduled for Wednesday morning are released. (Until we get that update, I am keeping Herrera in the closer column of the grid below.) However, it seems likely that Madson’s turn to fill in for Sean Doolittle has come.
After some struggles in June and early July, Madson has bounced back, allowing only one run over his last 10.1 innings. He pitched a perfect eighth inning with two strikeouts on Tuesday, keeping the Nationals and Braves knotted at 1-1, before Ender Inciarte gave the Braves the lead with a two-run triple off Herrera. Over the past four weeks, Madson has dramatically improved his control and, apparently, his command as well, as he is getting swings on pitches in the strike zone at a modest 61.1 percent rate since July 10.
Craig Kimbrel figured to be one of the few closers who would be immune to getting the “Not Very Stable” tag in the grid, but after having allowed runs in four of his last five appearances — a stretch that has produced two blown saves — he has rightfully earned the distinction. Kimbrel’s latest blown save came on Tuesday night when he relinquished the Red Sox’s 5-4 lead against the Blue Jays by allowing Justin Smoak’s solo homer. He cited a lack of command as a source of his struggles, and with a bloated 76.2 percent Z-Swing% and a puny 24.3 percent O-Swing% over his last five appearances, he would seem to be right.
Alex Cora told NESN.com that Kimbrel will get the Red Sox’s next save opportunity, so he is not in jeopardy of losing the closer’s role just yet. It’s still not a bad idea to pick up Matt Barnes, who at minimum can help with strikeouts and ERA.
Kimbrel actually got the win on Tuesday, because the Blue Jays countered in the top of the 10th inning with Ken Giles. In his highest-leverage situation to date with the Jays, Giles allowed five runs in 0.2 innings with all of the runs scoring on a pair of home runs. Toronto’s closer situation is one to avoid now, as Ryan Tepera also imploded on Tuesday, allowing four runs in an inning of work. The bullpen has not recorded a save since July 22, when Tyler Clippard secured a 5-4 victory over the Orioles.
After having thrown 39 pitches in Sunday’s meltdown against the Red Sox, Aroldis Chapman was apparently unavailable to pitch in the Yankees’ 13-inning victory over the White Sox. In a 1-1 tie, Aaron Boone opted to use Dellin Betances in the eighth inning and Jonathan Holder in the ninth. After jumping out to a 3-1 lead in the 10th inning, Boone went with Zach Britton for the save, but he gave the lead right back on Jose Abreu’s two-run homer. Much-maligned Sonny Gray wound up being the hero, tossing three scoreless innings and getting the win in his first relief appearance of the season.
Fernando Rodney had been the subject of trade rumors, but the Twins may keep him around so they can exercise 2019 option. In the event that they have a change of heart, Taylor Rogers is a reliever to keep an eye on. With Trevor Hildenberger having struggled, Addison Reed barely getting used and Trevor May just coming off of his recovery from Tommy John surgery, Rogers has emerged as the team’s most viable closer-in-waiting. Ever since a difficult April, Rogers has been consistently effective, posting a 2.57 ERA, 0.97 WHIP and 33.8 percent strikeout rate since May 1.
Quick hits: One day after Roberto Osuna made his five-pitch Astros debut, he was passed over in a 2-1 win over the Giants. The Astros took the lead in the top of the eighth inning, and Collin McHugh and Ryan Pressly pitched the bottom of the frame, followed by Hector Rondon in the ninth inning. Rondon yielded only a walk, recording his 13th save of the season…Seranthony Dominguez had pitched on three of the previous four days, and Tommy Hunter and Victor Arano both threw 30-plus pitches on Monday, so it was Pat Neshek who got the save for the Phillies on Tuesday night against the Diamondbacks…Neither Hector Santiago nor Thyago Vieira were used in the White Sox’s extra-inning loss to the Yankees. Santiago had thrown 23 pitches in finishing out an 8-7 win over the Rays on Sunday, while Vieira — who got a save on Saturday — tossed 21 pitches on Monday. With the White Sox and Yankees tied, 1-1, Rick Renteria had Juan Minaya pitch the top of the eighth inning and get the first two outs in the ninth. He gave way to Jace Fry, who struck out Neil Walker…The Nationals’ one-year deal with Greg Holland was made official on Tuesday, and then he debuted for his new team by pitching a scoreless seventh inning in the first game of the doubleheader against the Braves. Holland struck out three batters…Shane Carle fared less well in that game, allowing four runs in the sixth inning. On Wednesday morning, the Braves placed Carle on the 10-day disabled list with right shoulder inflammation.
Al Melchior has been writing about Fantasy baseball and sim games since 2000, and his work has appeared at CBSSports.com, BaseballHQ, Ron Shandler's Baseball Forecaster and FanRagSports. He has also participated in Tout Wars' mixed auction league since 2013. You can follow Al on Twitter @almelchiorbb and find more of his work at almelchior.com.