First and foremost, Happy Father’s Day to all the Dads. Like many of our fathers, high leverage never seem to take a break, hence the existence of this column. Starting in New York, once again, Edwin Diaz struggled with traffic, but held on for his 15th save against St. Louis. It started with a one out single Paul DeJong. Diaz bounced back to strikeout Marcell Ozuna and DeJong moved to second uncontested with two outs. Savvy veteran Yadier Molina singled to score DeJong moving the Cardinals within one and departed for pinch runner Jack Flaherty. Kolten Wong then laced a double with the game ending with Flaherty getting thrown out at home. Diaz yielded three hits but only one earned run and he’s allowed runs in back-to-back appearances. His struggled run deeper though giving up eight earned runs over his last 6.2 innings and a 5.06 ERA since May first.
Working in a strictly as a setup reliever, Seth Lugo recorded his 10th hold but also permitted traffic on a hit with two walks while striking out three in a scoreless eighth inning. He’s been the Mets most reliable reliever of late with 8.1 scoreless innings and 12 strikeouts. Over his last 21.2 innings, Lugo owns a 0.42 ERA since April 22nd. There will be no change in the Mets hierarchy, just note how Diaz adjusts going forward. He needs to limit the hits against if he’s going to turn his season around with more consistent outings.
One day removed from lauding Kenley Jansen’s 10.1 inning scoreless streak, he gets his second loss and third blown save against the Cubs on Saturday night. Jansen started the ninth hitting Kris Bryant with a pitch then served up a two-run go ahead home run to Anthony Rizzo, snapping his scoreless stretch. Jansen’s been much better of late, every reliever has nights like this. Chicago’s Pedro Strop notched his eighth save, and first since June ninth, issuing a walk with two strikeouts. Strop should remain atop the bullpen until the return of Craig Kimbrel. Here’s the latest update on Kimbrel’s progress:
Kimbrel to throw another live BP Saturday, which could put him in line to join Iowa after that. At that point maybe 5 or so appearances (including a back-to-back set) to be ready to join Cubs’ pen, if goes as planned.
— Gordon Wittenmyer (@GDubCub) June 15, 2019
Playing for first place in the National League East, once again, the Braves and Phillies bullpens decided the outcome. However, on Saturday, Luke Jackson gets tagged with his sixth blown save giving up two unearned runs on two hits. Scott Kingery led off the ninth with a single then advanced to third when Jackson tossed a fielded bunt away letting bot runners advance. Cesar Hernandez put Philadelphia ahead with a single scoring Kingery and Sean Rodriguez. Jackson’s allowed at least a run in seven of his last 11 outings translating to a 4.97 ERA and .321 batting average against. A far cry from his hot start as a reliever racking up a 0.42 ERA between April 31st through May 17 with a batting average against below two hundred.
Although there’s no official word, either Anthony Swarzak or A.J. Minter could factor in the next save chance for Atlanta. Swarzak’s recorded a 0.73 ERA with the Braves with 16 strikeouts against six walks in 12.1 innings since being acquired. Minter’s back from Triple-A and notched his third hold with a clean seventh inning striking out two on Saturday. For the Phillies, quick redemption for Hector Neris who blew the save on Friday night. He rebounded with his 15th save firing a clean ninth inning. Philadelphia also activated Pat Neshek to provide more depth to an injured ravaged bullpen.
As the Red Sox bullpen turns reared its usual headaches for Matt Barnes owners. He pitched the eighth inning with Boston ahead by two runs for his 11th hold. Barnes did allow a hit and a walk with three strikeouts starting the inning against the Orioles number three batter. This much holds true when predicting Alex Cora’s usage patterns, Barnes invariably gets the heart of the opposition’s order. With Marcus Walden working the seventh inning, it appeared to be a save chance for Brandon Workman, but Boston tacked on three runs in the top of the ninth making it a non-save appearance.
A return to order for the Rangers bullpen who closed out a win in Cincinnati retiring the final eight batters of the game in order. Chris Martin gets his 11th hold facing two batters in the seventh inning. Jose LeClerc secured his fifth hold with a clean eighth striking out two and Shawn Kelley locked down his eighth save with a clean ninth. Although it seems like this unit will be reset at any time, for now, plan on this patter in high leverage until further notice.
Working in back-to-back games, Taylor Rogers gets his eighth save, second in as many days, navigating around a walk and a hit in the ninth inning. Rogers remains one save behind Blake Parker for the team lead this year and tied with Trevor May for the lead in holds in this fluid bullpen. But, with health, it appears Rogers will be the arm to own going forward. Ryne Harper retired one batter for his fifth hold while Blake Parker gets his sixth hold striking out one in two-thirds of an inning. Trevor May pitched the seventh notching his ninth hold with a clean inning striking out one. The real guess, who gets the save chance on Sunday if Rogers proves to be unavailable between Parker, May or Harper?
Quick Hits: Save number 10 for Hansel Robles who fired a clean ninth with a strikeout. He’s 10-for-12 in save chances this year. Ty Buttrey tossed a clean eighth for his 14th hold and Cam Bedrosian logged 1.1 innings allowing a hit with a strikeout for his sixth hold. It appears this will be the upcoming high leverage team going forward with Cody Allen designated for assignment…Keep tabs on Yoan Lopez. He recorded his seventh hold with 1.1 clean innings striking out one. With Archie Bradley working as an opener, Lopez continues to move into more high leverage work which could lead to second half saves if the team trades Greg Holland…Will Smith recorded his 18th save in a row this season, but also served up a home run to Christian Yelich in a rematch from Friday night’s strikeout…Sergio Romo closed out his 12th save starting an inning ending double play against the Pirates. Note, Nick Anderson gets his third hold walking one and striking out two in the eighth inning…Brad Hand continues to surge with his 20th save working around a hit with two strikeouts. Over his last 12 games, Hand’s logged 13 scoreless innings with a 0.62 WHIP and 21 strikeouts against three walks…Getting in work, Aroldis Chapman yielded a hit and struck out one with a four run lead in Chicago.
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