Bullpen Report: July 23, 2021

NEW FEATURE ALERT! We have added an upgraded version of RosterResource’s Closer Depth Chart to FanGraphs. Read more about it here.

We will always include a link to the full Closer Depth Chart at the bottom of the Bullpen Report each day. It’s also accessible from the RosterResource drop-down menu and from any RosterResource page. Please let us know what you think.

  1. Notable Workloads: Primary closers or valuable members of a closer committee who have been deemed unavailable or likely unavailable for the current day due to recent workload.
  2. Injury News
  3. Outlier Saves: Explanation for a non-closer earning a save during the previous day.
  4. Committee Clarity: Notes on a closer committee that clarify a pitcher’s standing in the group.
  5. Relievers on the Rise: Notes on relievers who are performing well of late, moving up in the bullpen hierarchy.
  6. Losing A Grip: Struggling closers who could be on the hot seat.

The “RosterResource” link will take you to the corresponding team’s RosterResource depth chart, which will give you a better picture of the full bullpen and results of the previous six days (pitch count, save, hold, win, loss, blown save).

Notable Workloads

James Karinchak, CLE: 21 pitches on Thursday; 5 pitches on Wednesday. | RosterResource
Emmanuel Clase, CLE: 
21 pitches on Thursday; 9 pitches on Wednesday. | RosterResource

Bryan Shaw’s also worked back-to-back days, but he’s never been one to shy away from a heavy workload. If he’s not available either, Nick Wittgren, Nick Sandlin or Phil Maton could get a save chance.

Gregory Soto, DET: Three straight days; 12 pitches on Thursday. | RosterResource

Co-closer José Cisnero is likeliest to get a save chance on Friday.

Kenley Jansen, LAD: 33 pitches on Thursday; 27 pitches on Wednesday. | RosterResource

Blake Treinen, Joe Kelly and Victor González are all in play for a save opportunity on Friday.

Injury News


Outlier Saves


Committee Clarity


Relievers on the Rise

This is a new feature with notes on relievers who are performing well of late, moving up in the bullpen hierarchy. Relievers on the Rise will once a week, following Thursday’s games. For more Relievers on the Rise, click HERE to view the full Closer Depth Chart.

Kyle Funkhouser, DET | RosterResource

Funkhouser, 27, has taken a rather tumultuous path to the Tigers bullpen. The righty out of the University of Louisville was selected 35th overall by the Dodgers as a draft-eligible sophomore in 2015, but elected to return to campus for a third year. The bet didn’t pay off, as Funkhouser fell to the fourth round in 2016, signing with the Tigers for $570K, far less than the reported $1.75M bonus the Dodgers had offered him. Funkhouser hit a wall as a starter in Triple-A, putting up a ghastly 8.25 ERA for Toledo across 20 starts. A move to the bullpen didn’t seem to help last year either, as Funkhouser allowed 22 hits and 14 runs in his first 17.1 MLB innings last year. But it’s all clicked for him this year.

Even after allowing a run in two innings of work on Thursday, Funkhouser’s ERA stands at an excellent 2.39. He’s not a big strikeout pitcher, and his walk rate of about 10% isn’t great either. Funkhouser, however, is excellent at inducing grounders, with a grounder rate of 66% ranking seventh-best amongst the 343 pitchers with at least 30 innings of work. He doesn’t have a great path to closing, with Gregory Soto, José Cisnero and (once off the IL) Michael Fulmer ahead of him on the depth chart, but he should continue to get high-leverage work.

Jake Cousins, MIL | RosterResource

Cousins was never a prospect by any definition, a 20th-round pick of the Nationals out of Penn in 2017 who was released by Washington after just two years in the system. He pitched very well in independent ball in 2019, though, which led to the Brewers signing him in July of that year. He put up cartoonish strikeout numbers both there and in independent ball in 2020—the Brewers let him play for the Chicago Dogs of the American Association—and got his first taste of the high minors this year. Between Double-A Biloxi and Triple-A Nashville, Cousins struck out 30 of 73 opponents (41%), and the Brewers simply couldn’t pass up the chance to roster him.

Cousins’ success has continued unabated at the game’s highest level, with his strikeout rate actually improving to 44%, and he’s walked a manageable 11% to go along with it. His .118 BABIP won’t last forever, but the stuff is undeniably flummoxing to hitters, with a wipeout slider that he throws 60% of the time his main offering. And if that wasn’t enough, he averages 96 MPH on his fastball. Cousins isn’t going to usurp Josh Hader as closer anytime soon, but with Devin Williams on the IL with minor elbow soreness, Cousins has strong hold on a top setup role.

Losing A Grip

•Kenley Jansen, LAD | RosterResource

It’s been three straight blown saves for Jansen, who’s allowed eight runs in those appearances, spanning just two innings. Jansen’s ERA stood at 1.24 after a scoreless inning on July 11th; it’s now 3.05. Jansen’s problem this year has been highly uncharacteristic, with a 16% walk rate far higher than it’s ever been, a far cry from the minuscule 3% rate he posted in 2017. That Jansen has been making it work all season despite all those walks and a .247 BABIP probably meant regression was coming, but it’s nonetheless jarring to see things crashing down so swiftly for one of the best closers of the past decade.

If Jansen needs a respite from closing, Blake Treinen would be the likeliest to take his place, though Joe Kelly and Victor González are also options. The Dodgers will surely be monitoring the relief market heavily leading up to July 30th’s Trade Deadline.

Click HERE to view the full Closer Depth Chart.


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