Bullpen Report: July 28, 2020

The 2020 version of the Bullpen Report has arrived. I’ll be your guide on this daily roller coaster ride of late-inning drama. There are six different sections, as well as the closer chart, which can be found at the bottom of the page.

  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. Losing A Grip: Struggling closers who could be on the hot seat.
  6. Reliever On The Rise: Non-closer who is quickly moving up the depth chart based on potential and recent performance.

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

Anthony Bass, TOR: 3 of last 4 days; 17 pitches yesterday. | RosterResource

Jordan Romano and Rafael Dolis have also pitched in back-to-back days and three of the last four. Unless manager Charlie Montoyo wants to go back to Shun Yamaguchi, who struggled in his MLB debut on Sunday, he’ll likely rely on Bass again on Tuesday against the Nationals.

 

Injury News

Ryan Pressly, HOU: Day-to-Day with elbow soreness. | RosterResource

Four games into the season, it was finally revealed why Pressly had yet to pitch. He is listed as day-to-day with elbow soreness, as well as Chris Devenski, who allowed three earned runs on Sunday.

Fortunately, closer Roberto Osuna, who has been brought along slowly after reporting late to camp, pitched scoreless innings on Saturday and Monday. The question now is who is next in line if not Pressly or Devenski. While Bryan Abreu has the potential to be a late-inning reliever, Cy Sneed appears to be the guy that manager Dusty Baker trusts early on. The 27-year-old struck out the side in a scoreless inning on Saturday, then followed up with a scoreless eighth inning ahead of Osuna in the ninth on Monday.

 

Giovanny Gallegos, STL: Will likely be activated from the Injured List on Tuesday July 28. | RosterResource

Gallegos was never going to be handed the closer’s job despite his breakout season in 2019. He was the presumed favorite, however, until he missed most of Summer Camp for undisclosed reasons. By the time he reported to camp six days before Opening Day, he had lost ground in the race. Now, lefty Kwang Hyun Kim has quickly separated himself from the pack.

It’s unclear if Kim will get the lion’s share of the save chances. Gallegos and Ryan Helsley are the team’s best right-handed options if they use a committee.

 

Ken Giles, TOR: Placed on 10-Day IL (elbow discomfort) | RosterResource

Considering that Giles dealt with elbow issues throughout the 2019 season, this isn’t a big surprise. If Tommy John surgery is required for the free-agent-to-be, his chances of pitching in 2021 are slim (if he acts quickly) to none (if he waits until the season is over.) In that case, he could just wait it out and try to return down the stretch if the Jays need him.

For now, they’ll turn to Bass, who saved five games for the Mariners in 2019 and converted his first save chance for the Jays on Monday.

 

Outlier Saves

There have been three outlier saves thus far in 2020 and those were by pitchers on a team with a closer-by-committee. Thus, they are assumed to be a part of the committee for now. These are covered in the following section.

Committee Clarity

Cole Sulser, BAL | RosterResource

With Richard Bleier and Mychal Givens each surpassing 20 pitches to close out a 7-2 victory over the Red Sox on Saturday, the Orioles turned to rookie Cole Sulser with a two-run, eighth inning lead on Sunday. After the O’s extended the lead to 7-4 after Sulser’s first scoreless inning, they left him in to finish the game and earn his first career save.

The 30-year-old Dartmouth graduate has not allowed a run in 9.1 big league innings, although it’s unclear if he has stood out amongst several unknowns in the Orioles’ bullpen or if he was just in the right place at the right time. Givens and Bleier are potential trade targets, however, which would open up an opportunity for someone to take hold of the closer’s job.

Nick Burdi and Michael Feliz, PIT | RosterResource

Keone Kela’s continued absence due to his positive COVID-19 test has the Pirates turning to a talented, yet unproven, group of pitchers to close out games early in the season. Up four runs on Sunday, Feliz pitched a scoreless eighth and Burdi struck out the side in the ninth to close out the 5-1 win over the Cardinals.

On Monday, the Pirates entered the ninth with another four run lead against the Brewers. Feliz started the inning, but didn’t finish it. He left with two outs, two runs in, and two runners on base. Kyle Crick entered and proceeded to allow a game-tying double to Ryan Braun.

It’s a messy situation in Pittsburgh, although Burdi’s debut was promising. They’re unlikely to overwork the 27-year-old, however, considering how little he’s pitched over the last few years while recovering from Tommy John surgery and thoracic outlet syndrome surgery.

Trevor Gott, SFG | RosterResource

In four games, two save opportunities have arisen for the Giants and manager Gabe Kapler has gone to Gott on both occasions. While you can’t trust Kapler to reveal what he’s going to do on a day-to-day basis — he’s even taken the unprecedented approach to not naming his starting pitchers until the day of the game — we know that he trusts Gott and we know that Gott succeeded when given the chance. That’s usually the first step to becoming the primary closer, if there will be one.

Taylor Williams, SEA | RosterResource

When asked about his closing situation shortly before the start of the season, manager Scott Servais mentioned several relievers not named Taylor Williams. But it was Williams who got the call for the team’s first save chance. He allowed a run on two hits, but struck out George Springer, Jose Altuve, and Alex Bregman to close out a 7-6 win over the Astros on Sunday.

Whether it was pre-determined or if it was just a matter of circumstances that put Williams in that spot, he made the most out of it and should continue to be in the mix.

Oliver Drake, TBR | RosterResource

Eleven different Rays pitchers combined for 46 saves in 2019, so it shouldn’t shock you that Oliver Drake picked up the team’s first one in 2020 despite being maybe the fourth or fifth most likely candidate.

But only three pitchers, including Emilio Pagan, Diego Castillo, and Jose Alvarado, accounted for 35 of the 46 saves. It won’t necessarily be a 5-6 man committee. Nick Anderson, just about everyone’s pick to be the leader of the committee, came on in the seventh to shut down a rally with the game tied at one. After a scoreless eighth, the Rays scored three and Drake was called upon for the save. It’s probably more of an outlier, but the journeyman Drake has earned the trust of manager Kevin Cash after a solid 2019 season.

Losing A Grip

Craig Kimbrel, CHC | RosterResource

After a disastrous first season with the Cubs, Kimbrel’s 2020 debut on Monday gave us no indication that things will be any better in year two. Handed an 8-5 lead in the ninth, Kimbrel retired only one of six batters before he was pulled in favor of Jeremy Jeffress, who retired the next two batters to preserve an 8-7 win over the Reds.

If there is any good news aside from the Cubs holding on for the win, it’s that Kimbrel did not allow a hit. He walked four and hit a batter. He also threw a wild pitch. Although he did have a career-high 5.2 BB/9, his problem in 2019 wasn’t that he was walking too many batters. It was the 21 hits, including nine homers, in 20.2 innings that was concerning. Of course, that also has a lot do with a lack of control. But in Kimbrel’s best days, he could get away with missing his spots because batters couldn’t square up on him. Whether that’s still the case is undetermined because it does not appear that Kimbrel was anywhere near the strike zone on Monday.

Manager David Ross isn’t likely to move on from Kimbrel right away. The 32-year-old veteran hadn’t pitched in six days, which is why Ross thinks he might’ve struggled. But if Jeffress looks more like he did during his All-Star season of 2018 rather than how he looked in 2019 before the Brewers released him, he’ll be first in line to take Kimbrel’s job if it becomes available.

 

Edwin Diaz, NYM | RosterResource

Diaz has allowed just one hit in two innings of work, but it was a game-tying homer with two outs against Marcell Ozuna in an eventual 5-3 loss to the Braves on Saturday. He was one strike away from having back-to-back scoreless outings, two saves, five strikeouts, and the media likely declaring him as being back on track after a rough 2019. But it was not meant to be.

Manager Luis Rojas said he was not concerned. But two days later, he decided to stick with Seth Lugo for a four-out save after he recorded the final out in the eighth inning.

Allowing the reliable Lugo to finish the game with a three-run lead isn’t a controversial move. But after the Mets went with a closer committee over the last two months of 2019 due to Diaz’s struggles, this is news. Diaz will likely get a chance to redeem himself, but it’s clear that a short leash has already gotten shorter.

 

Reliever On The Rise

Jordan Romano, TOR | RosterResource

With Giles out, the Jays quickly named Bass as his replacement. It was a bit of a surprise, only because Romano had been the talk of Summer Camp. But keep in mind that the 27-year-old had just 17 big league appearances under his belt and he also wasn’t very good.  Going from camp sensation to closer with no track record of success is quite a jump.

A Rule 5 pick by the Texas Rangers prior to last season, he was returned prior to the start of the season. He had an ERA near 6.00 in Triple-A and allowed at least one run in 10 of 17 big league appearances. There was no reason to pencil Romano in to the team’s 2020 plans.

But whatever he did this past offseason, it’s paying off. His upper nineties fastball and devastating slider has him on the road to late-inning success. He’s pitched a pair of scoreless innings thus far and should get some save chances at some point, especially if Giles misses more than a few weeks.

Here’s a look at that slider.

Not Very Stable
Hot Seat
Committee
Bullpen Report — 7/28/2020
Team Closer First Up Second Up Minors/DL
ARI Archie Bradley Junior Guerra Andrew Chafin
ATL Mark Melancon Shane Greene Luke Jackson Will Smith
BAL Mychal Givens Richard Bleier Cole Sulser Hunter Harvey
BOS Brandon Workman Matt Barnes Heath Hembree
CHC Craig Kimbrel Jeremy Jeffress Rowan Wick
CWS Alex Colome Aaron Bummer Steve Cishek
CIN Raisel Iglesias Amir Garrett Michael Lorenzen
CLE Brad Hand James Karinchak Nick Wittgren
COL Wade Davis Jairo Diaz Carlos Estevez Scott Oberg
DET Joe Jimenez Buck Farmer Jose Cisnero
HOU Roberto Osuna Ryan Pressly Cy Sneed
KC Ian Kennedy Greg Holland Scott Barlow
LAA Hansel Robles Ty Buttrey Keynan Middleton
LAD Kenley Jansen Blake Treinen Joe Kelly
MIA Brandon Kintzler Brad Boxberger Yimi Garcia
MIL Josh Hader Corey Knebel David Phelps
MIN Taylor Rogers Sergio Romo Trevor May
NYM Edwin Diaz Seth Lugo Justin Wilson
NYY Zack Britton Adam Ottavino Tommy Kahnle Aroldis Chapman
OAK Liam Hendriks Joakim Soria Yusmeiro Petit
PHI Hector Neris Tommy Hunter Adam Morgan David Robertson
PIT Kyle Crick Michael Feliz Nick Burdi Keone Kela
STL Kwang Hyun Kim Ryan Helsley Andrew Miller Giovanny Gallegos
SD Kirby Yates Emilio Pagan Drew Pomeranz
SF Trevor Gott Tony Watson Tyler Rogers Reyes Moronta
SEA Matt Magill Taylor Williams Dan Altavilla Austin Adams
TB Nick Anderson Jose Alvarado Diego Castillo
TEX Jose LeClerc Jonathan Hernandez Jesse Chavez Rafael Montero
TOR Anthony Bass Jordan Romano Rafael Dolis Ken Giles
WSH Daniel Hudson Sean Doolittle Will Harris

We hoped you liked reading Bullpen Report: July 28, 2020 by Jason Martinez!

Please support FanGraphs by becoming a member. We publish thousands of articles a year, host multiple podcasts, and have an ever growing database of baseball stats.

FanGraphs does not have a paywall. With your membership, we can continue to offer the content you've come to rely on and add to our unique baseball coverage.

Support FanGraphs




5
Leave a Reply

3 Comment authors
Jason MartinezrossredcayMichael DeYoung Recent comment authors
newest oldest most voted
Michael DeYoung
Member
Member
Michael DeYoung

Great Work and tons of details. We need everything we can get to figure out this dumpster fire of stat this season.