For the second game in a row, an Angels reliever made the ninth inning a little too interesting. On Saturday, closer Blake Parker blew a one-run lead in an eventual 3-2 extra-innings loss to the Rangers. When the Angels pulled into the ninth inning of Sunday’s series finale with a two-run lead, Mike Scioscia turned to Justin Anderson to get the save. Anderson was one pitch away from retiring the side, but Ronald Guzman sat on an inside full-count fastball to give the Rangers a baserunner. Then he walked Joey Gallo on a pitch that appeared to catch the corner of the strike zone and loaded the bases with a third straight full-count walk, this time to Shin-Soo Choo. Scioscia stuck with Anderson, who stranded all three runners by inducing a shallow fly ball from Isiah Kiner-Falefa.
In all likelihood, Parker sat out Sunday’s game due to having pitched on both Friday and Saturday, though he threw all of four pitches in the first of those appearances. It’s probably too early to read anything into Anderson getting the save chance on Sunday, but this situation bears monitoring.
With the Indians having the highest bullpen ERA in the majors (6.02), the last thing they need is for Cody Allen to struggle. Allen has been their most reliable reliever by far, and entering Sunday’s game at Minnesota, he had allowed just a single, a walk and a hit batter over his previous six appearances totaling 5.1 innings. Even this bit of good news came with a couple of ominous signs — namely, a 6.6 percent swinging strike rate and a 57.9 percent strikes-thrown rate over that stretch.
Allen got his comeuppance on Sunday. He walked Brian Dozier to start off the bottom of the ninth inning, putting the potential go-ahead run on first base. While Allen did start Eddie Rosario off with a swinging strike — his only one of the game — three pitches later, he coughed up the slugger’s third home run of the game, which provided the Twins with a walk-off win. Even on a team with a better bullpen, Allen’s performance would not likely cost him his job. On this Indians team, he may get a particularly long leash, especially with Andrew Miller (knee) on the DL. However, if you have reasonable alternatives for saves, it might be best to let Allen sit in fantasy for the coming week.
If it weren’t for Addison Reed’s difficulties, Allen probably would not have had the opportunity to lose this game. Reed pitched the top of the eighth inning with a 5-4 lead, but he allowed a Michael Brantley solo homer that wiped out the Twins’ advantage. Reed has now allowed a run in each of his last three appearances. Over his last 7.1 innings, he has allowed three home runs and compiled a 9.5 percent soft contact rate. Reed is also missing his usual pinpoint control, locating in the strike zone at a career-low 46.9 percent rate for the season. With Zach Duke, Ryan Pressly and Trevor Hildenberger looming as setup options, Reed has been downgraded to “Not Very Stable” in the closer grid.
For the second time in six days, Brad Hand was used in an eighth-inning hold situation to face the heart of the opposing order, rather than be saved for the ninth inning. Whereas Hand set down the Marlins’ trio of J.T. Realmuto, Justin Bour and Brian Anderson on Tuesday, he did not emerge unscathed against the Reds on Sunday. He allowed Scooter Gennett’s solo home run, which cut the Padres’ lead to two runs, and also had to strand Adam Duvall, who notched a two-out single. Kirby Yates pitched the ninth and nailed down his first save of the season, though he had to work around three singles to do it. Fantasy owners should count on Hand to continue to get the bulk of the Padres’ save chances, but in leagues where saves are scarce, it could pay to pick Yates up for the occasional save against the lower portion of the opponent’s batting order.
Mark Melancon was activated on Friday, and on Sunday, he made his long-awaited season debut. With the Giants holding a 5-1 lead against the Phillies, Melancon pitched the top of the seventh inning. Averaging just 90.6 mph on his fastball and 89.7 mph on his cutter, Melancon struck out all three batters he faced. I’m leaving Melancon out of the grid for now, but if he continues to pitch well and get used in higher-leverage situations, he could make an appearance there soon.
Quick hits: The combination of an early exit for Jeremy Hellickson (hamstring) and the unavailability of Ryan Madson and Justin Miller led to Davey Martinez using Tanner Roark in his first relief appearance of the season on Sunday against the Braves. Roark pitched the bottom of the ninth inning in a 2-2 tie, as Martinez was saving Sean Doolittle for a potential save opportunity. The veteran starter took the loss, allowing Charlie Culberson’s two-run walkoff homer…Brandon Morrow had pitched on three consecutive days, so on Sunday, Joe Maddon turned to Brian Duensing to close out a 2-0 win against the Mets. Duensing did his job, getting his first save since 2015, when he was with the Twins…Wade Davis was the pitcher of record in the Rockies’ 10-7 loss to the Dodgers at Coors Field on Sunday. After allowing three runs in an inning of work, Davis now has a 5.91 ERA and .349 wOBA allowed at home this season.
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.