Bullpen Report: June 7, 2018

In Wednesday’s Bullpen Report, I chronicled the apparent changing of the guard that occurred for the White Sox’s closer situation over the course of their Tuesday doubleheader with the Twins. On Wednesday, that transition was made complete.

The White Sox held a 5-2 lead heading into the eighth inning against the Twins, and Nate Jones — who had clearly been the team’s closer just a day-and-a-half earlier — was brought in. He dispensed with his three batters quickly, but despite needing only 13 pitches, it was Joakim Soria who came out for the ninth inning. Soria, who recorded the save in the second game of Tuesday’s doubleheader, yielded only a Brian Dozier single en route to his sixth save of the season.

So it seems clear that the White Sox have flipped their closer, but are the Astros next? Ken Giles has been perfectly fine in save situations, but over his last four non-save situations, he has allowed nine runs over 2.1 innings. Despite the fact that Giles had not pitched in three days and that the Astros were in a save situation, A.J. Hinch opted to bring in Hector Rondon with two outs in the eighth inning and sent him back out for the ninth inning with a 7-5 lead against the Mariners. While Rondon made things interesting when he allowed a pair of two-singles to Jean Segura and Mitch Haniger, he struck out Nelson Cruz — who had homered earlier in the game — to close out the Astros’ win.

Whether Hinch will turn to Rondon for the bulk of future save situations or use him merely to give Giles a break occasionally remains to be seen. For his part, Rondon has been reliable, especially of late. He has not given up a run or an extra-base hit over his last nine appearances, and he has struck out 10 batters while walking only one over that 7.1-inning stretch.

Brandon Morrow has converted 14 of 15 save opportunities this year, and he has not lost a game since 2014, but if not for Jason Heyward, that streak would have ended on Wednesday night. The Cubs’ closer pitched the top of the ninth inning, trying to keep his team in a 3-3 tie with the Phillies. Aaron Altherr hit a ground ball single on the first pitch of the inning, and then Morrow did something he hadn’t done since Sept. 8, 2016: allow a home run. Dylan Cozens‘ two-run smash was the first homer Morrow had allowed in 71.2 innings. After retiring J.P. Crawford, Morrow got into more trouble, hitting Jorge Alfaro with a 96.4 mph fastball and then walking Seranthony Dominguez in his first-ever major league plate appearance. After giving the Phillies’ reliever a free pass, Morrow’s night was over, as he gave way to Cory Mazzoni.

Though Mazzoni prevented further damage by getting the final two outs, the situation looked bad for the Cubs. Not only did Dominguez now have a career 1.000 OBP, but he still had yet to allow a run in his first 15.2 major league innings. Now he was trying to go 3 for 3 in two-inning saves. However, Gabe Kapler pulled Dominguez with one out after a Kyle Schwarber walk and Albert Almora Jr. single left runners on the corners. Adam Morgan walked Ian Happ to load the bases, and two batters later, Heyward pulled a fastball into the right field seats for a walk-off grand slam. Morrow was spared the loss, but Dominguez got charged with the first runs of his career. As for Morrow, his two earned runs snapped a streak of 11 consecutive scoreless appearances.

After a difficult stretch, Felipe Vazquez is trying to start his own string of scoreless outings. On Wednesday night against the Dodgers, he made it two in a row, as he struck out Enrique Hernandez to end an eighth-inning rally and pitched a scoreless ninth inning. Whereas Vazquez’s outing on Tuesday was in a non-save situation, Wednesday’s presented the Pirates’ closer with his 11th save of the season. Though he appears to be getting back on track, it’s worth noting that Vazquez did walk two batters and threw only 17 of 32 pitches for strikes.

For the second time in eight days, Mickey Callaway opted to use Jeurys Familia in the eighth inning and Robert Gsellman in the ninth. Familia entered with the Mets and Orioles embroiled in a scoreless tie, but the O’s unknotted the game on a one-out Manny Machado sacrifice fly. When Callaway used Familia in a hold situation against the Braves last week, it was to face the toughest part of the order. This time, Familia was set to face pinch-hitter Pedro Alvarez, Trey Mancini and Adam Jones, though even in a perfect eighth inning, he could have stayed in to face Machado in the ninth inning.

It didn’t work out this time around, but the takeaway is that Gsellman looks primed to get more save opportunities in situations where tough hitters are due to come in the eighth inning.

Quick hits: Brad Boxberger blew his second save of the season, walking Mac Williamson and then allowing a two-run homer to Alen Hanson. This falls into a long-standing pattern of Boxberger struggling in day games. In 82.1 career innings in day games, Boxberger has allowed 51 walks and 13 home runs…Brad Hand converted his first two-inning save of the season, holding the Braves scoreless and getting four strikeouts. He ranks third among relievers with 49 strikeouts…Fellow Padre Adam Cimber struck out the side in the fifth inning. With 39 strikeouts on the season, he is tied for 12th among relievers…Rays relief prospect Diego Castillo made his major league debut against the Nationals, pitching a perfect seventh inning. He got his final two outs by way of strikeouts and hit 99.5 mph on his fastball.

Not Very Stable
Hot Seat
Bullpen Report — 6/7/2018
Team Closer First Up Second Up Minors/DL
ARI Brad Boxberger Archie Bradley Yoshihisa Hirano
ATL Arodys Vizcaino Dan Winkler A.J. Minter
BAL Brad Brach Mychal Givens Richard Bleier Zach Britton
BOS Craig Kimbrel Joe Kelly Matt Barnes
CHC Brandon Morrow Steve Cishek Justin Wilson Carl Edwards Jr.
CWS Joakim Soria Nate Jones Bruce Rondon Danny Farquhar
CIN Raisel Iglesias Jared Hughes Amir Garrett
CLE Cody Allen Neil Ramirez Zach McAllister Andrew Miller
COL Wade Davis Jake McGee Mike Dunn Adam Ottavino
DET Shane Greene Joe Jimenez Louis Coleman
HOU Ken Giles Hector Rondon Chris Devenski
KC Kelvin Herrera Jason Adam Tim Hill Justin Grimm
LAA Blake Parker Justin Anderson Noe Ramirez Keynan Middleton
LAD Kenley Jansen Tony Cingrani Josh Fields
MIA Kyle Barraclough Brad Ziegler Drew Steckenrider
MIL Corey Knebel Josh Hader Jeremy Jeffress
MIN Fernando Rodney Addison Reed Zach Duke
NYM Jeurys Familia Robert Gsellman Anthony Swarzak AJ Ramos
NYY Aroldis Chapman David Robertson Dellin Betances
OAK Blake Treinen Lou Trivino Yusmeiro Petit Santiago Casilla
PHI Seranthony Dominguez Hector Neris Luis Garcia Pat Neshek
PIT Felipe Vazquez Kyle Crick Edgar Santana
STL Bud Norris Jordan Hicks Sam Tuivailala Greg Holland
SD Brad Hand Kirby Yates Craig Stammen
SF Hunter Strickland Tony Watson Sam Dyson
SEA Edwin Diaz Alex Colome Juan Nicasio Nick Vincent
TB Sergio Romo Chaz Roe Jose Alvarado
TEX Keone Kela Chris Martin Jake Diekman
TOR Ryan Tepera Seung Hwan Oh Tyler Clippard Roberto Osuna
WSH Sean Doolittle Ryan Madson Brandon Kintzler

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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4 years ago

grumble grumble grumble great night to be a Morrow/Boxy/Dominguez owner grumble brumble brumgle