Bullpen Report: June 28, 2017

The Cardinals have been teetering on a the cusp of a closer change for awhile, and Mike Matheny may be finally taking the plunge with Trevor Rosenthal. It was Rosenthal, and not Seung Hwan Oh, who came in for the save at Arizona on Wednesday night, even though Oh was clearly available, having warmed up earlier in the game. Rosenthal came close to frittering away a 4-2 lead, as a wild pitch allowed Brandon Drury to score and Chris Herrmann to advance to third base with two outs. He eventually got out of the jam, getting David Peralta to ground into the final out.

Whether Rosenthal is officially the closer, sharing the job with Oh or the recipient of a one-off save chance is not yet known. If he is not the Cardinals’ full-time closer, he is certainly much closer to having that status than he was prior to Wednesday’s win. It’s time to find room to stash him.

Just as the Angels’ closer situation was looking wide open, some order was restored when Mike Scioscia used Cam Bedrosian to get the save against the Dodgers in Wednesday’s Freeway Series showdown. However, Bedrosian may have muddied the situation by failing to preserve the Angels’ 2-1 lead. He was just a strike away from setting the Dodgers down in order, but Yasmani Grandal took a 3-2 slider over the center field wall to tie the game. Ultimately, Bedrosian was credited with the win, as a Grandal passed ball and throwing error allowed the Angels to come back and win the game in the bottom of the ninth.

For the second time in the last five games, Scioscia began the eighth inning with Keynan Middleton and the ninth inning with Bedrosian when there was a lead, so he may be settling into a late-inning pattern with these two relievers. Then again, since both relievers allowed a run in this contest, it’s conceivable that David Hernandez and Blake Parker are still in the ninth-inning mix.

For the second time this season, Mark Melancon has been placed on the DL with a right pronator strain  The San Jose Mercury News reports that Sam Dyson is Bruce Bochy’s “top candidate” to close out games in Melancon’s absence. However, Dyson pitched in each of the first two games of the Giants’ current series with the Rockies, so he did not appear in Wednesday’s save situation. Lefty Steven Okert entered in the eighth inning to face Mike Tauchman and stuck around long enough to get Charlie Blackmon to make the second out of the ninth inning. Then Hunter Strickland induced a flyout from Ian Desmond to end the game and pick up his first save of the season.

Dyson still sports a 9.00 ERA on the season, but since failing to retire any of the four batters he faced in his Giants debut on June 11, he has looked more like the pitcher who saved 38 games for the Rangers in 2016. Over his last seven appearances, Dyson has thrown 67 percent of his pitches for strikes and compiled a 62.5 percent ground ball rate, 43.8 percent soft contact rate, .116 Iso allowed and 2.45 ERA. While that represents just over two weeks worth of work, Dyson is looking like a solid saves target in mixed leagues with more than 12 teams.

Edwin Diaz had also been looking like he was recapturing his 2016 glory up until the Mariners’ two-game series with the Phillies that concluded Wednesday afternoon. In the finale, he blew his first save since May 2, but the game marked his third straight appearance in which he allowed at least one run and at least one home run, and he allowed multiple runs in both games of the Phillies series (though each of the four runs he allowed on Tuesday were unearned).

Though Diaz was in prime form for the latter half of May and most of June, he has now given up a total of eight home runs in 31 innings. Entering Wednesday, he had also allowed flyballs to travel 335 feet on average, as compared to 302 feet last season, according to Baseball Savant. While Diaz has been doing a superb job of avoiding contact over the past month-and-a-half, he appears to be at risk of allowing extremely hard contact when hitters manage to connect. It feels premature to panic over Diaz, but it’s time to watch his upcoming appearances closely.

We also need to think about who might replace Diaz if he continues to get hit around. Nick Vincent has pitched the eighth inning just ahead of Diaz’s last two save chances, and he has not allowed a run over his last 16 appearances totaling 14 innings. James Pazos and Steve Cishek also seem like possible replacement candidates, but right now, Vincent would appear to have the upper hand.

Brandon Kintzler closed out the Red Sox on Wednesday, converting his sixth straight save opportunity, so there is currently no closer controversy in Minnesota. However, there has been a shift in the late-inning pecking order, as Paul Molitor has been going to Taylor Rogers in the eighth inning. Like Vincent, he has been steady of late, allowing just two runs over his last 20 innings. While Rogers doesn’t miss many bats, he has a 51.1 percent ground ball rate and an .085 Iso allowed. When he does allow flyballs, they aren’t often pulled (15.4 percent flyball pull rate prior to Wednesday’s game). For all of these reasons, I’m moving Rogers ahead of Matt Belisle in the grid below.

Koda Glover told reporters he is now dealing with severe inflammation of his rotator cuff. His chances seem more remote than ever that he will return as the Nationals’ closer, as they have been rumored to be looking to trade for a closer. The Nationals did not have a save situation on Wednesday against the Cubs, but Dusty Baker did call on Matt Albers to pitch the ninth inning with a four-run lead.

The Marlins’ bullpen has also been the subject of trade rumors, as Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reports that several teams have interest in A.J. Ramos and David Phelps. If you have room to stash a closer-in-waiting, Kyle Barraclough appears to be the likely successor to Ramos. He has been much more reliable lately, allowing only two runs over his last 13 innings with 15 strikeouts and four walks.

Closer Grid:

Closer First Second DL/Minors
ARI Fernando Rodney Archie Bradley Jorge De La Rosa JJ Hoover
ATL Jim Johnson Arodys Vizcaino Jose Ramirez
BAL Brad Brach Mychal Givens Richard Bleier Zach Britton
BOS Craig Kimbrel Matt Barnes Joe Kelly Carson Smith
CHC Wade Davis Koji Uehara Carl Edwards Jr.
CWS David Robertson Tommy Kahnle Anthony Swarzak Nate Jones
CIN Raisel Iglesias Michael Lorenzen Drew Storen
CLE Andrew Miller Cody Allen Bryan Shaw
COL Greg Holland Adam Ottavino Jake McGee
DET Justin Wilson Alex Wilson Shane Greene
HOU Ken Giles Will Harris Michael Feliz
KC Kelvin Herrera Joakim Soria Mike Minor
LAA Cam Bedrosian Keynan Middleton David Hernandez Bud Norris
LAD Kenley Jansen Pedro Baez Luis Avilan Josh Fields
MIA A.J. Ramos David Phelps Kyle Barraclough
MIL Corey Knebel Jacob Barnes Carlos Torres
MIN Brandon Kintzler Taylor Rogers Matt Belisle Glen Perkins
NYM Addison Reed Jerry Blevins Paul Sewald Jeurys Familia
NYY Aroldis Chapman Dellin Betances Tyler Clippard
OAK Santiago Casilla Sean Doolittle Ryan Madson
PHI Hector Neris Pat Neshek Luis Garcia
PIT Felipe Rivero Juan Nicasio Daniel Hudson
STL Trevor Rosenthal Seung Hwan Oh Matt Bowman
SD Brandon Maurer Brad Hand Ryan Buchter Carter Capps
SF Sam Dyson Hunter Strickland George Kontos Mark Melancon
SEA Edwin Diaz Nick Vincent James Pazos
TB Alex Colome Danny Farquhar Tommy Hunter Brad Boxberger
TEX Matt Bush Keone Kela Jose Leclerc
TOR Roberto Osuna Ryan Tepera Danny Barnes Joe Smith
WSH Enny Romero Matt Albers Blake Treinen Koda Glover

[Green light, yellow light, red light: the colors represent the volatility of the bullpen order.]





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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In addition to the Angels news, Bud Norris started his rehab assignment and might be back by this weekend.