Unfortunately, the second half picked up where the tumultuous first half ended in terms of performances in high leverage. Both Josh Hader and Will Smith suffered blown saves in outings against their respective teams last night. Hader entered in the eighth inning serving up a lead-off home run to Tyler Austin. He settled in striking out Brandon Belt, getting Buster Posey to ground out and then a foul tip strikeout of Evan Longoria. Hader then returned for the ninth, but ceded the lead:
Wow. Lefty-hitting Brandon Crawford, having a tough year with no HRs off a LHP, takes Josh Hader deep with two down in ninth and Giants have 6-5 lead over #Brewers. 2 HRs off Hader tonight.
— Tom (@Haudricourt) July 13, 2019
Not only did Hader yield the go ahead home run to Crawford, but this home run matches the total he allowed all of last season in 36 fewer innings. Yes, the present environment and newly wound baseballs contribute to the home run spike against Hader, but his lingering back issues could prove problematic for his owners going forward. Hoping this will be a blip in another tremendous season.
As for Smith, he entered Friday night in the midst of converting 23 straight saves since the start of the season. A lead-off triple by Christian Yelich and a one out ground out by Mike Moustakas snapped Smith’s streak handing him his first blown save of the year. Smith did garner the win after a Giants rally in the top of the 10th capped by a Buster Posey grand slam off of Matt Albers, so all would not be lost for Smith’s owners. Working up to Smith, San Francisco did use Sam Dyson in the eighth inning, Tony Watson in the seventh and Reyes Moronta in the sixth. Mark Melancon pitched the 10th giving up two hits including a solo home run to Keston Hiura closing out the Giants win.
In Colorado, Wade Davis ended the first half with his hold on the closer job seemingly slipping away. But, Davis notched his 13th save with a clean ninth against the Reds last night. He’s converted his last five save chances dating back to June 19th. Scott Oberg finished the first half with a 1.24 ERA, 0.96 WHIP and three saves, but with no guarantee he will close games after the break. This could be a case of contract dictating who will close, so it will be a situation to monitor going forward with the Rockies pushing for a return to the playoffs. For now, it will move to a committee on our grid with a chance Davis returns to his role as closer depending on usage in the days ahead.
Houston’s Roberto Osuna incurred his second loss of the season allowing the game winning single to Danny Santana in Texas. Osuna retired Willie Calhoun on a liner to Yuli Gurriel, but an opposite field single to Elvis Andrus and ensuing stolen base put the winning run in scoring position. Joey Gallo drew a walk putting two runners on prior to Santana’s single to center field for the walk-off win. Osuna’s been rock solid this year as the Astros closer so no need to panic. Shawn Kelley nets his fifth win after logging a clean top of the ninth in a tied game at home. Jose Leclerc pitched a scoreless eighth striking out one.
Tough night for the bullpen in St. Louis with Andrew Miller coughing up a solo home run to Jake Lamb resulting in Miller’s fourth loss this year. He did not record an out. John Gant also struggled starting the second half giving up a walk and two hits including a two-run home run to Ketel Marte. As a result, Greg Holland secured his 15th save working around a walk with two strikeouts. Walking a fine line as a closer, Holland’s converted his last three saves, and five of his last eight save opportunities yielding runs in five of his last 10 outings. Yoan Lopez ceded an unearned run on two hits with a strikeout for his 12th hold in the eighth inning. Yoshihisa Hirano recorded his eighth hold retiring two batters in the seventh inning.
Cleveland’s bullpen faltered with Nick Goody and Oliver Perez combining to allow three earned runs in the top the seventh leading to a loss to the Twins. Taylor Rogers locked down his 13th save working the last two innings giving up a hit with three strikeouts lowering his ERA to 1.73 this year. He’s converted four saves in a row and recorded four or more outs in four of his last seven appearances with 14 strikeouts over his last 10.2 innings and zero walks. Trevor May pitched 1.1 clean innings with two strikeouts so it could be Blake Parker in the ninth for a save chance if presented on Saturday.
Quick Hits: Craig Kimbrel fired a clean ninth for his third save with the Cubs. Pedro Strop served up a three-run home run during his third blown save in the eighth, but the team rallied giving Randy Rosario his first win…Kyle Crick suffered his fifth loss walking Kris Bryant with one out, then walking Victor Caratini with two outs prior to a two out single by Jason Heyward put the Cubs back on top…Nationals closer Sean Doolittle tossed a scoreless ninth with a four run lead giving up a hit with two strikeouts. Fernando Rodney pitched the eighth for his third hold walking one and Wander Suero struck out two in the seventh for his 10th hold…Since the start of June, Chad Green’s surged to 29 strikeouts versus one walk over his last 18.1 innings spanning 13 contests. Green fired two scoreless innings preserving a Yankees shutout win allowing a hit with three strikeouts…Something to track, Elieser Hernandez will shift to the bullpen for the Marlins. He worked a scoreless inning with two strikeouts and owns a 24.2 strikeout percentage with his slider. If he stays in the bullpen, his role in high leverage could grow in the second half…Save number 12 for Ian Kennedy firing a clean ninth striking out two. Since May 30th, Kennedy’s converted 10 of 11 save chances with an 18:4 K:BB in 13.1 innings and a 2.03 ERA…Liam Hendriks entered Oakland’s game with two runners on and two outs. He stranded both striking out Yoan Moncada for his sixth save. Hendriks extended his scoreless innings streak to 17 and not been scored upon in 29 of his last 31 appearances…Luke Jackson recorded his 15th save last night. Jackson did give up a run issuing a lead-off walk to Manuel Margot, but with two outs and Margot moving up a base on defensive indifference, Eric Hosmer singled to score him…Within this same game, Andres Munoz made his major league debut for the Padres. Munoz walked one and struck out one. Those in keeper formats should keep tabs on how Munoz progresses in the second half since he could be the closer of the future for this franchise.
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