Bullpen Report: March 31, 2019

• Due to a right lat strain, the Seattle Mariners placed closer Hunter Strickland on the Injured List. With Strickland out the Mariners closer job is now up for grabs with manager Scott Servais saying “it could be Zac Rosscup one night, it could be Elias, it could be Gearrin or Festa or Rumbelow. Go down the list. We’re looking for somebody to get us three outs.” This certainly sounds like a committee in the making and we have adjusted the grid accordingly. Right now we have Cory Gearrin leading the list but it’s really anyone’s guess on a given night. Yesterday Rosscup started the 9th inning but was unable to finish with Nick Rumbelow coming on to get the final out and his first save.

It might be worth placing a claim on Gearrin for a couple of saves, although I wouldn’t recommend investing much. Of more interest is Anthony Swarzak who should be returning this week from a shoulder injury. Acquired from the Mets in the big Robinson Cano trade this offseason, Swarzak is both the best and most expensive option in the Mariners pen and I would bet on him floating to the top of the committee over all the other names listed.

• Speaking of committees, the Kansas City Royals are going through one as well and similar to the Mariners, there aren’t too many sexy saves to be had. Brad Boxberger entered the 7th inning yesterday and proceeded to give up three runs. Ned Yost went with Jake Diekman in the 8th and then Ian Kennedy in the 9th who pitched around two hits to record the first save of his career. It feels weird writing Ian Kennedy’s name in the Bullpen Report, but I’m putting him atop the committee list. A majority of relievers are failed starters and maybe Kennedy will find new life in the bullpen. Kennedy’s velocity should tick up (92.3 this year compared to 91.9 last year) and so far this year he’s ditched his change becoming primarily a two-pitch pitcher in the pen with his fastball and curve. It’s worth monitoring in case some real gains are seen with his conversion to the pen but  with all of that said we are still talking about the head of the committee for saves in Kansas City.  With Boxberger’s struggles, I’ve taken him off the list with Wily Peralta and Jake Diekman ahead.

• So I’m beginning to sense a common trend around committees this year which is great for Bullpen Report content but pretty frustrating or fantasy owners. Over in Minnesota we’re working with a Blake Parker/Taylor Rogers/Trevor May situation that is maybe starting to play itself out. Taylor Rogers received the first save of the year throwing 1.1 innings against a majority of lefties and switch hitters and last night he saw the 8th with two lefties due up in the inning. Trevor May entered the game in the 7th, only recording one out and Blake Parker entered the 9th in a tie game where he proceeded to lose the game, giving up the winning run. Rogers is likely the best reliever in the group but it looks like he will be unleashed when there are lefties due up, whether that’s in the 8th or 9th. Although Parker gave up the run in the 9th we’re still putting the righty as the lead in the committee with Rogers and May behind him.

• The Baltimore Orioles aren’t running a committee, but they may not use their closer in the traditional way this year. Up three in the 8th inning with the middle of the Yankees lineup coming up, the Orioles brought in Mychal Givens. In the 9th inning Richard Bleier struggled with Mike Wright getting the final two outs for the save. The Orioles won’t receive many save opportunities this year and if Givens is being brought in early that’s even fewer chances.

Quick Hits: The Rays haven’t officially announced a closer but Jose Alvarado closed his second door this season, striking out two in a perfect 9th. I’ll keep the committee tag for now but by this time next week it might be removed. The back of the Mets pen were unable to make an easy exit last night and Edwin Diaz was called on for the one-out save. I’ll bet the under on Diaz matching last year’s save total of 57 but it’s clear the Mets will call on Diaz a whole lot as they battle in a tough division. Ken Giles struck out a pair for his first save of the year. He’s been so up and down in his Blue Jays career but if he can avoid a bad run this year he should end up as a top 10 closer. There was no save situation in Philadelphia but Seranthony Dominguez pitched a clean 8th before handing it off to David Robertson in the 9th. Robertson gave up two runs on a Charlie Culberson homer but it’s far too early to think this shakes up the pecking order, even considering Gabe Kapler as the manager. No save situation but Drew Steckenrider finished the game up four runs with Sergio Romo, Adam Conley, and Nick Anderson setting up. Josh Hader struck out the side for his second save of the year.  If he stays at closer, something gnarly like 30 saves and 140 strikeouts could be possible. Blake Treinen got five outs for his first save, continuing his amazing run from last year.  Treinen threw 80.2 innings last year which was the most for any fulltime closer. It looks like that trend could continue this year which makes him even more valuable with 80+ innings of great ERA and saves besting the other closers who might only be used for 60-70 innings. Jose Leclerc and Will Smith also picked up their first saves of the year. In a world of terrible teams and committees, anyone who’s a full time closer on the non-Orioles has to be considered a valuable option.

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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

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