Bullpen Report: July 15, 2019

Emilio Pagan woke up on Monday morning to find himself near the top of the most-added lists for relievers on ESPN, CBS and Yahoo. (I’m actually guessing he probably didn’t check.) Owners were certainly responding to Pagan’s one-out save against the Orioles on Sunday, as well as his growing prominence in high-leverage ninth-inning situations for the Rays.

If there is a reliever in the Rays’ bullpen to own right now, it’s clearly Pagan, who has two saves in the team’s last five games. However, it is premature to assume that Kevin Cash is going to rely solely on him for saves. Diego Castillo is still only four days removed from being activated, and it is not yet clear what his post-IL usage patterns will look like. Especially with Jose Alvarado (oblique) on the IL, it would hardly be surprising to see Cash turn to Colin Poche for save situations that involve left-handed hitters.

Lost in the near-combined perfect game and in the growing hype over Pagan is the emergence of Oliver Drake. Prior to Sunday’s game, Drake’s most recent appearance came on July 6 (the Saturday before the break) against the Yankees, and he came within an out of a two-inning save. Cash turned to Poche to get the final out from switch-hitting Aaron Hicks, who hit a game-tying home run. Again on Sunday, Drake was an out away from a save, but Pagan came in to face Trey Mancini.

If entrusted with more high-leverage situations going forward, Drake could amass some fantasy value. He has a 13.6 percent SwStr% that is in line with his prior rates, and he is inducing ground balls at a career-high 52.9 percent rate.

The committee tag has been removed from the Rockies’ portion of the closer grid. Not only that, but Wade Davis is no longer saddled with the “Not Very Stable” tag. In closing out the Reds for his 14th save, Davis has two saves in the last three days, and he has not allowed a run, hit or walk in any of his last four appearances. Each of his last three innings has been perfect.

Scott Oberg has settled back into the setup role, but even without saves, he has value in deeper leagues for his potential contributions to the strikeout, ERA and WHIP categories. In tossing two scoreless innings on Sunday, Oberg has now made 12 straight appearances spanning 16.1 innings without allowing an earned run. During this stretch, he has struck out 23 batters and walked only three. He is also emerging as a top reliever in saves-plus-holds leagues.

While it is too soon to rule out the possibility that Blake Treinen will close again at some point this season, he has been removed from the closer grid. He did not appear in the Athletics’ 3-2 win over the White Sox on Sunday. Liam Hendriks pitched the top of the ninth inning with the score tied, 2-2, and the A’s won when Chad Pinder scored on Jose Rondon’s throwing error in the bottom of the inning. Joakim Soria, who has 18 strikeouts in his last 11.2 innings, pitched the eighth inning, and Yusmeiro Petit relieved starter Brett Anderson with two outs in the seventh inning. Bob Melvin appears to be settling in with this trio as his late-inning relief corps.

Unless he gets traded, there is no doubt that Kirby Yates will be closing for the Padres. Who winds up setting up for him — and potentially succeeding him as closer — is becoming an increasingly open question. Craig Stammen, who has struggled intermittently throughout the season, pitched the top of the seventh inning in a scoreless tie with the Braves, and for the first time since July 3, he pitched a clean inning. Trey Wingenter, who came in for the eighth inning, was not so fortunate. He allowed the Braves to blow the game open with four runs on four hits (including Freddie Freeman’s three-run homer) and a walk, and ultimately gave way to Andres Munoz with two outs.

Given Stammen’s and Wingenter’s on-again, off-again struggles, one has to wonder if Munoz — who was making his second career appearance on Sunday — will soon be entrusted with higher-leverage work.

The Padres countered with a run in the bottom of the eighth, so the Braves had a save situation in the ninth inning. With Luke Jackson having pitched on Friday and Saturday, Brian Snitker turned to A.J. Minter to close the game out. He allowed only a Fernando Tatis Jr. single, so he easily recorded his fifth save.

Joe Kelly notched his first save of the season, getting the final two outs in the Dodgers’ 7-4, 12-inning win over the Red Sox on Sunday night. Brandon Workman looks to have the strongest hold on save opportunities for the Red Sox until Nathan Eovaldi (elbow) comes back off the IL, as he pitched the top of the ninth inning in a 4-4 tie. He faced the Dodgers’ 9-1-2 hitters and struck out the side. Eovaldi will throw live batting practice on Monday and then go on a rehab assignment.

Quick hits: Aroldis Chapman (25), Brad Hand (24), Hansel Robles (13) and Carlos Martinez (5) each recorded a save on Sunday…Hector Neris rebounded from a pair of rough outings by pitching a perfect top of the ninth inning in a 3-3 tie with the Nationals. He struck out all three batters he faced, and with Maikel Franco hitting a walk-off homer in the bottom of the inning, Neris got his second win for the Phillies this season…Ken Giles was still unavailable for the Blue Jays on Sunday due to nerve inflammation in his right elbow.

Not Very Stable
Hot Seat
Bullpen Report — 7/15/2019
Team Closer First Up Second Up Minors/DL
ARI Greg Holland Yoan Lopez Andrew Chafin
ATL Luke Jackson A.J. Minter Anthony Swarzak
BAL Mychal Givens Miguel Castro Richard Bleier Nathan Karns
BOS Brandon Workman Matt Barnes Heath Hembree Nathan Eovaldi
CHC Craig Kimbrel Pedro Strop Steve Cishek
CWS Alex Colome Aaron Bummer Evan Marshall
CIN Raisel Iglesias Michael Lorenzen David Hernandez Amir Garrett
CLE Brad Hand Nick Wittgren Adam Cimber
COL Wade Davis Scott Oberg Jairo Diaz
DET Shane Greene Joe Jimenez Victor Alcantara
HOU Roberto Osuna Ryan Pressly Will Harris
KC Ian Kennedy Kevin McCarthy Jake Diekman
LAA Hansel Robles Ty Buttrey Cam Bedrosian
LAD Kenley Jansen Pedro Baez Yimi Garcia
MIA Sergio Romo Nick Anderson Jose Quijada Drew Steckenrider
MIL Josh Hader Jeremy Jeffress Junior Guerra
MIN Taylor Rogers Trevor May Blake Parker Trevor Hildenberger
NYM Edwin Diaz Seth Lugo Robert Gsellman
NYY Aroldis Chapman Zack Britton Adam Ottavino Dellin Betances
OAK Liam Hendriks Joakim Soria Yusmeiro Petit
PHI Hector Neris Adam Morgan Tommy Hunter David Robertson
PIT Felipe Vazquez Kyle Crick Francisco Liriano Keone Kela
STL Carlos Martinez John Gant Andrew Miller Jordan Hicks
SD Kirby Yates Craig Stammen Trey Wingenter
SF Will Smith Tony Watson Sam Dyson
SEA Roenis Elias Anthony Bass Cory Gearrin Hunter Strickland
TB Emilio Pagan Colin Poche Diego Castillo Jose Alvarado
TEX Shawn Kelley Chris Martin Jose LeClerc
TOR Ken Giles Daniel Hudson David Phelps
WSH Sean Doolittle Fernando Rodney Wander Suero Kyle Barraclough

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.

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Sorry to be negative but I will never, ever roster a Rockies middle reliever for ratios. That’s just begging for disappointment. Today is as good of an example why as any – we are in mid-July and German Marquez’s ERA just went up 2/3 of a run in one outing. Oberg has been fantastic for a couple years now but remember that Ottavino was good for a few years and then seemingly out of nowhere put up a 5.00 ERA in 2017.


I would agree that there are plenty of other middle relievers to choose from that can help ratios, so Colorado may not be one’s first choice. However, relievers are fickle from year-to-year (ex: Ottavino) so if you find a really good one then ride him as long as you can. Oberg is that kind of guy this year, so unless he proves otherwise come August then he’s as good as any to support a team’s staff.