Since the grind to find saves never ends, one cannot ignore any bullpen in flux. Atlanta could see more evolution within its high leverage situations with Arodys Vizcaino out for the year and A.J. Minter optioned to Triple-A. Yes, they could be in play for Craig Kimbrel eventually, but, the team’s not willing to lose a draft pick to sign him. Luke Jackson bounced back for his third save Friday night firing a clean ninth with two strikeouts. He did blow the save on Thursday snapping a 15 inning scoreless streak, but, he’s been solid as a reliever. Sean Newcomb appeared in back-to-back games as well giving up a hit and striking out one. However, it’s what his manager said post game which will intrigue fantasy owners:
#Braves' Snitker on using Newcomb for multiple innings: “I didn’t want to run him back out there (for 9th) today because I don’t know if he’s ever been back-to-back (games) before. But he definitely could do that for us. I’ve got no problem pitching him in the ninth inning.”
— David O'Brien (@DOBrienATL) May 11, 2019
Knowing the Braves will match up late in games, Newcomb emerges as a potential former starting pitcher who could benefit from shifting to the bullpen. Over his last two starts in the minors, Newcomb recorded 10 strikeouts against zero walks over 13 innings prior to his promotion. Stay tuned.
Although it did not result in a save opportunity, the Royals did use Ian Kennedy in the ninth to preserve a four run lead. He threw a clean inning needing only 10 pitches to retire the Phillies in order. Jake Diekman gets his fourth hold allowing a walk with two strikeouts in the eighth. But, the arm to track, Scott Barlow registered six strikeouts versus a walk during his two scoreless innings. He’s been scoreless his last four appearances and his last 11 games yields a 1.17 ERA, .135 batting average against and 24 strikeouts in 15.1 innings. Barlow owns a 26.3 strikeouts minus walks percentage along with a 13.5 swinging strike rate so far this year.
Owners holding on to Anthony Swarzak should do so with him on the bench. There’s no clear replacement to complement Roenis Elias, but, Swarzak pitching in the fifth inning of a blowout loss should remove him from the present closing conversation. Swarzak’s allowed at least a run in seven straight outings. Over his last 6.1 innings, he’s allowed 12 hits, 11 runs (eight earned), six home runs, seven walks and struck out four. Either Cory Gearrin or Brandon Brennan could get the next right-handed pitching save chance for the Mariners, but it’s tough to decipher which one will. Deeper league players can keep tabs on Parker Markel. He recorded a five out save Friday night for Triple-A Tacoma with five strikeouts. A former Independent League player and Rays prospect, Markel could be a factor in the bullpen if promoted.
While the Cardinals did not generate a save chance, Andrew Miller incurred his second loss giving up three hits and an earned run to the Pirates last night. It feels like one step up and two steps back for Miller, but he’s going to be a part of their high leverage moments given he remains healthy. Jordan Hicks pitched the ninth working around a hit and a walk with two strikeouts for a scoreless outing. He’s not recorded a save yet in May, but it can be a boom or bust statistic. Carlos Martinez could return in the next 10-to-14 days. He’s rehabbing and his role could be akin to Josh Hader’s last year, as described in this column by beat writer Derrick Goold. With a late start to his season, Martinez will not accrue 100 innings, but, he could get multi-inning saves when providing rest for Hicks going forward. Martinez did touch 98 MPH according to reports in his last minor league appearance.
Fueling the Astros recent surge, its bullpen continues to shine. Roberto Osuna notched his 10th save, and 25th in a row dating back to last year. Osuna yielded a single while striking out one Friday night. He’s only given up five singles and a walk in his 17 appearances this year for a tidy 0.35 WHIP. Ryan Pressly locked down his eighth hold with a clean eighth striking out one. Pressly’s fired 35 straight scoreless innings spanning 36 appearances dating back to August 15th of last year. The last reliever to register 34-plus scoreless innings, Kimbrel with 37.2 scoreless for Atlanta in 2011.
Quick Hits: Save number nine for Ken Giles with a strikeout. He’s recorded five straight clean outings and this marks his 100th career save…Junior Guerra registered his seventh hold walking one and striking out one in 1.1 innings for the Brewers. In May, he’s saved one and recorded two holds with seven strikeouts against one walk in 6.1 innings…Cody Allen turned in his first scoreless outing since April 23rd walking one and striking out one…Aroldis Chapman gets his ninth save working around a hit with two strikeouts versus the Rays. Chapman’s only walked three with 21 strikeouts through 14.2 innings…Felipe Vazquez notched his 11th save with a clean ninth and a strikeout, his 69th (nice) career save. He’s struck out at least one batter in 15 of his 16 appearances this year for 29 strikeouts in 17.2 innings…Brad Hand takes the loss in extra-innings in Oakland allowing his first home run of the season to Matt Chapman…Blake Treinen only needed 12 pitches for two clean innings. Joakim Soria garners the win in relief with two clean innings and three strikeouts…Julio Urias works three innings for his second save this week yielding three hits with one strikeout. He remains very valuable in fantasy if he adds saves to his ratio protection as a reliever.