This escalated pretty quickly.
— Jamal Collier (@JamalCollier) July 8, 2018
— Dan Kolko (@masnKolko) July 10, 2018
The pain around Doolittle’s toes had increased, and it turns out he has been dealing with a pinched nerve. So with no specific timetable for the lefty’s return, the closer’s job for the Nationals for the time being belongs to Kelvin Herrera. Since getting traded from the Royals, Herrera has not been as effective, as his 35.4 percent O-Swing% as a National, while still good, is that of a mere mortal.
The Nationals did not have a save opportunity on Tuesday night against the Pirates, but they did bring Herrera in with a four-run lead in the ninth inning. He did have a bit of an adventure, loading the bases with two outs, but Herrera got out of the jam by striking Francisco Cervelli out on three pitches.
Even in CBS leagues, which tend to be deeper, Herrera is available in nearly half of all leagues. It’s worth a look to see if he is available, regardless of which site you play on.
Otherwise, closer situations seem to be eerily stable as we inch towards the All-Star break. Yet things were far from normal for some closers on Tuesday night. The most bizarre finish was in Cleveland, where the Indians cruised into the top of the ninth inning against the Reds with a 4-0 lead. After flailing all night against Trevor Bauer, the Reds found some relief against Cody Allen. The Indians’ closer hit Scooter Gennett to start off the inning and then gave up an infield hit to Eugenio Suarez. After setting down the next two batters, Allen coughed up an RBI single to Jose Peraza and a two-RBI double to Adam Duvall.
Two walks later (the first of which was intentional), Terry Francona got the hook for Allen, and here’s where the fun really started. He called for lefty Oliver Perez to face Joey Votto, but pitching coach Carl Willis thought the manager wanted Dan Otero (“O.T.”) instead of Perez (“O.P.”). The right-handed Otero gave up a bases-clearing double that ultimately landed him with a blown save and Allen with his fourth loss of the season.
Allen was charged with six runs and saw his ERA soar from 3.25 to 4.66. He had not allowed a run in any of his previous eight appearances and had been dominant during that stretch. He will avoid the “Not Very Stable” tag in the closer grid for now.
In an ending that was nearly as bizarre, Blake Treinen snapped his string of 20 consecutive converted saves. The A’s jumped out to a 5-4 lead in the top of the 11th inning against the Astros, and the normally-automatic Treinen began the bottom of the inning by walking Josh Reddick and allowing a Kyle Tucker single. Reddick scored a Tony Kemp grounder, getting under Jonathan Lucroy’s tag at the plate. Treinen looked he had a good shot at keeping the game tied, as he induced a George Springer flyout and an Alex Bregman chopper that traveled just a few feet. However, Bregman evaded Lucroy’s tag and then reached when the A’s catcher threw the ball away trying to get him at first base. Tucker scored on the play, leaving Treinen with his second loss of the season.
Treinen’s services wouldn’t have been needed in the bottom of the 11th if the usually-reliable Collin McHugh hadn’t allowed Stephen Piscotty’s solo homer in the top of the inning. And the game wouldn’t have gone into extra innings, if not for a ninth-inning collapse by Ken Giles and Hector Rondon. Giles entered with a four-run lead, but in getting charged with three runs, his ERA in non-save situations this season increased to 8.20. For Rondon, it was his first blown save since becoming the Astros’ closer.
Treinen was not the only reliever on a roll who allowed an opponent to walk off on Tuesday night. Dellin Betances ended his string of 18 straight scoreless appearances when he loaded the bases and then allowed Jonathan Schoop‘s sharply-hit single, which deflected off Greg Bird’s glove into right field. While Betances was pitching in a 5-5 tie, he could be in line for at least occasional save opportunities with Aroldis Chapman dealing with left knee tendinitis.
Zach Britton also played a key role in the Orioles’ win, as he held the Yankees scoreless in the top of the ninth. After struggling in the initial weeks after coming off the disabled list, Britton has looked better in recent outings. He has not allowed a run in any of his last five appearances while getting swings-and-misses on 10 of his 68 pitches (14.7 percent swinging strike rate). However, he may not be safe to use in shallower leagues, as he has located in the strike zone at a 33.8 percent rate over those appearances.
Quick hits: Jace Fry could be losing his grip on his setup role with the White Sox, as he has allowed eight runs in 3.2 July innings…Joe Kelly has gotten back on track, holding opponents scoreless in each of his last four outings. On Tuesday night, Kelly completed a perfect eighth inning against the Rangers in just nine pitches…A.J. Minter ended a string of nine straight scoreless performances in dramatic fashion, allowing four runs (three earned) while getting just one out against the Blue Jays…Corbin Burnes earned a save in his major league debut against the Marlins by pitching two perfect innings to seal an 8-4 win…Steve Cishek got his third save of the season for the Cubs, pitching a 1-2-3 ninth inning against the Giants. Brandon Morrow was unavailable, having pitched on Saturday and Sunday…The Twins placed Addison Reed on the 10-day disabled list on Wednesday morning with right triceps tightness.
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.