• Instead of waiting until the deadline to improve their bullpen, the Nationals went out and got Kelvin Herrera from the Royals for three minor leaguers. While Herrera was the closer for the Royals (and pitching quite well) he will likely be a setup man in Washington. However, with the lefty Sean Doolittle and now Herrera the Nationals could have a two-headed closing monster as they work towards October. Ryan Madson, Brandon Kintzler (when he’s back from injury), and the recently dominant Justin Miller should all help as well in the setup innings.
As far as Kansas City’s new closer is concerned, the names to consider are Kevin McCarthy, Brandon Maurer, Jason Adam, Tim Hill, and Justin Grimm. In no particular order, let’s go through the options with a few indicators:
- Kevin McCarthy: 30.1 innings pitched, 3.86/3.49/3.38/3.31 ERA/FIP/xFIP/SIERA, 15.7 K%, 5.8 BB%, previously used in the 10th, 7th, and 7th innings. Saved games in the minors.
- Brandon Maurer: Only 5.1 innings pitched, 13.5/12.65/5.96/4.77 ERA/FIP/xFIP/SIERA, 17.9 K%, 10.7 BB%, previously used in the 8th and 8th innings. Closing at AAA this year and the previous two years in San Diego
- Jason Adam: 15.1 innings pitched, 4.70/7.26/4.73/3.53 ERA/FIP/xFIP/SIERA, 25.0 K%, 6.3 BB%, previously used in the 9th on 6/13. No closing experience.
- Tim Hill: 21.1 innings pitched, 4.89/2.81/3.19/3.08, ERA/FIP/xFIP/SIERA, 24.2 K%, 8.4 BB%, previously used in the 8th/9th, 6th, and 8th. Saved games in the minors.
- Justin Grimm: 9.2 innings pitched, 16.76/7.44/7.10/6.57 ERA/FIP/xFIP/SIERA, 13.7 K%, 19.6 BB%, previously used in the 7th, and 8th/9th.
Based on previous experience, Brandon Maurer would be the leading candidate for saves. Looking at production this year, Kevin McCarthy would be the likely candidate. But if one looked at strikeouts and a mixture of the other indicators, Jason Adam and Tim Hill could be in line as well which leads to a total free for all/committee until we see how it plays out.
If I had to rank them I would go McCarthy, Mauerer, Hill, Adam, Grimm but I don’t have much confidence in either that rank or anyone being a particularly good closer moving forward. The Royals are likely to get worse with additional trades so there won’t be too many save opportunities and none of the relievers mentioned, at least at this time, look like potential ace relievers either.
• Hector Neris was demoted to “clear his head” and “work on his command of his split.” With Neris in AAA the Phillies closer situation looks like a committee of Seranthony Dominguez, Edubray Ramos, and Tommy Hunter. Last night, Edubray Ramos came into a tough situation in the 8th, with runners on 2nd and 3rd and only one out but struck out both batters to hold the lead. In the 9th, with Dominguez and Hunter likely unavailable having pitched the previous two days, the Phillies turned to Victor Arano for the save. Arano managed to get three strikeouts and only two outs with one getting by the catcher. He also allowed two base hits and Adam Morgan relieved him in the ninth and blew the save. While Ramos and Hunter might see saves before Arano, he’s been quite effective this year. In 23.1 innings pitched he has a 2.02 FIP and 2.76 SIERA with a 28.9 K% and 6.2 BB% along with an absurd 16.9% SwStr%. It would be nice if Arano didn’t allow two hits in the ninth and secured the save but it’s hard to argue with striking out three batters and only getting two outs.
• The Rays had a save situation last night and turned to Sergio Romo who blew his 4th save on the year, allowing a walk and a base hit before an Alex Bergman walk-off double won the game for the Astros. With another blown save and a 5.60 ERA and a slider that makes it tough for Romo to get out lefties, it’s hard to imagine he will be getting consistent saves in Tampa. However, it’s also impossible to imagine how they will run their pen. Right now I will consider Romo, Chaz Roe, and Jose Alvarado as part of a red hot committee.
• Quick Hits: Felipe Vazquez struck out two in a scoreless ninth for his 14th save. He’s had some struggles of late and a few performances like this should give fantasy owners confidence again. Aroldis Chapman got his 21st save pitching around a hit and a walk but since his job is secure of more interest is Dellin Betances who continued his run of dominance of late. Betances struck out the side and has been the reliable 8th inning guy for the Yankees of late. Since May 12th, Betances has thrown 16 innings allowing 2 hits and one run with a 28/7 K/BB and a 1.28 FIP. On the year Betances has a 2.40 FIP and a 1.66 SIERA as well, suggesting he’s moved back in among the elite set up options in the game. Keone Kela threw a perfect ninth for his 16th save and might enter the second half as one of the better closing options, albeit on a team that isn’t likely to put up gaudy win totals. With Brad Boxberger unavailable after a terrible Sunday night, Archie Bradley got the 4-out save for the Diamondbacks. If Boxberger has another blip or two, it certainly looks like Archie is the man to own in the desert. Greg Holland is also back in St. Louis but before we put him back on the grid we will need to see a better performance than he had in both his first appearances in the majors this year and his subsequent performance in the minors.
When he's not focusing on every team's bullpen situation, Ben can be found blogging at Ben's Baseball Bias and on Twitter @BensBias