Bullpen Report: May 2, 2019

• As Al mentioned last night Jose Leclerc is getting a breather from the closer’s role and we expect Shawn Kelley and Chris Martin to fill in for saves as Leclerc is used in lower leverage situations. I have changed the grid to include Kelley and Martin in a committee with Kelley ahead at the moment although we will have to wait for the next save chance to see which direction the Rangers go. Shawn Kelley has been better this year and has saved games in the past so that’s why he’s ahead for the time being. The Rangers signed Leclerc to an extension this offseason and they gave him a long leash through his struggles this year, so they’re not going to give up on him but until he finds his rhythm again, he won’t be seeing saves.

Ty Buttrey got his first save with the Angels this year, pitching a scoreless two innings allowing two hits and striking out a pair as well. Cam Bedrosian threw a scoreless 7th inning for his third hold of the year and committee chair Hansel Robles wasn’t used. Buttrey and Robles will continue to see saves with Cody Allen out and even when he returns as they are definitively better pitchers. However, guessing who gets more saves here is a little tough. Although Robles has been great in his own right this year, Buttrey is the best option but as we have seen in Boston with Matt Barnes and Ryan Brasier, sometimes it’s the second best option that gets the saves. Both are obviously worth owning and only time will tell if this stays as a committee for a while or if it will go in a single direction.

Michael Lorenzen was called on for the save last night for the Reds and he successfully closed the door for his second save this season. Raisel Iglesias had the night off and Jared Hughes pitched in the 7th and 8th innings last night in a tie game. The Reds actually have a pretty deep bullpen with other set up options Amir Garrett and David Hernandez not used likely because they were used in previous games as well. In addition to those, their possible best reliever is Robert Stephenson who has taken kindly to the bullpen. At the moment we have Amir Garrett and David Hernandez as next in line behind Iglesias but this situation is prety fluid with Garrett, Hernandez, Stephenson, Hughes, and Lorenzen all pitching fairly effectively and potentially in line for saves if anything happens with Iglesias.

Hector Neris was called on in the 6th inning to get a tough out with runners on and he finished the inning. After throwing 23 pitches the night before, Neris didn’t get the call for the 7th. We still have him atop the committee for saves in Philly with Robertson still out but it’s clear his usage won’t be completely traditional. Seranthony Dominguez and Pat Neshek both gave up a run in the 7th and 8th innings respectively, not necessarily helping their cases on taking over Neris as the best option in the pen.

• There was no save for Atlanta with a four run lead but A.J. Minter pitched in the 9th, striking out a pair in a perfect inning. Luke Jackson and Jacob Webb have received saves of late but Minter is still the main guy to own. If he can string together a few performances like this it won’t be code red but until then it’s worth keeping an eye on some of the other options.

Jeurys Familia has been very ineffective this year with a miserable 2.9% K-BB% and now he finds himself on the IL with a sore shoulder. Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman will be the main setup options for Edwin Diaz in the meantime and even when Familia returns he will have to prove he’s effective before he is thrown back into high leverage spots. Sticking with the Mets, for the second time this series Edwin Diaz got the loss against the Reds, this time after Jose Iglesias hit a go ahead homer to break the scoreless game in the top of the 9th.

Quick Hits: Sergio Romo saved his 5th game for the Marlins last night and although it wasn’t clean, with Romo allowing a homer to Carlos Santana, Romo has received the last few opportunities and could be shedding the committee label. Ian Kennedy saw a two inning save in the first leg of a doubleheader and now has a 1.15/0.82/2.59/2.36 ERA/FIP/xFIP/SIERA. Kennedy’s SwStr% is right around where he has been the last few years which can dampen some of the love but he looks like a new pitcher in the pen and should be owned even if Wily Peralta could see a few more save chances than him. Mychal Givens got 4 outs and 3 strikeouts for his 2nd save. Paul Fry and others might steal a save opportunity with Givens pitching earlier in the game but he’s their most effective reliever and should be the only man owned in the Baltimore pen. Felipe Vazquez (8) and Greg Holland (7) also saw saves.

Not Very Stable
Hot Seat
Bullpen Report — 5/2/2019
Team Closer First Up Second Up Minors/DL
ARI Greg Holland Archie Bradley Yoshihisa Hirano
ATL A.J. Minter Luke Jackson Jacob Webb
BAL Mychal Givens Paul Fry Evan Phillips Nathan Karns
BOS Ryan Brasier Matt Barnes Colten Brewer Brian Johnson
CHC Pedro Strop Steve Cishek Brandon Kintzler Brandon Morrow
CWS Alex Colome Kelvin Herrera Jace Fry Nate Jones
CIN Raisel Iglesias Amir Garrett David Hernandez
CLE Brad Hand Nick Wittgren Adam Cimber
COL Wade Davis Scott Oberg Carlos Estevez
DET Shane Greene Joe Jimenez Victor Alcantara
HOU Roberto Osuna Ryan Pressly Hector Rondon
KC Wily Peralta Ian Kennedy Jake Diekman
LAA Hansel Robles Ty Buttrey Cam Bedrosian Cody Allen
LAD Kenley Jansen Pedro Baez Joe Kelly Caleb Ferguson
MIA Sergio Romo Drew Steckenrider Adam Conley
MIL Josh Hader Junior Guerra Jeremy Jeffress
MIN Blake Parker Taylor Rogers Trevor Hildenberger
NYM Edwin Diaz Seth Lugo Robert Gsellman Jeurys Familia
NYY Aroldis Chapman Adam Ottavino Zack Britton Dellin Betances
OAK Blake Treinen Lou Trivino Joakim Soria
PHI Hector Neris Pat Neshek Adam Morgan David Robertson
PIT Felipe Vazquez Keone Kela Richard Rodriguez Nick Burdi
STL Jordan Hicks Andrew Miller John Gant
SD Kirby Yates Trey Wingenter Craig Stammen
SF Will Smith Tony Watson Reyes Moronta
SEA Anthony Swarzak Roenis Elias Brandon Brennan Hunter Strickland
TB Jose Alvarado Diego Castillo Emilio Pagan
TEX Shawn Kelley Chris Martin Jose LeClerc
TOR Ken Giles Ryan Tepera Joe Biagini
WSH Sean Doolittle Kyle Barraclough Joe Ross

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Fun facts:
– Shawn Kelley is 35 and has pitched professionally since 2007 debuting in the majors in 2009 at age 25. Prior to this year all but 2 of his years (2013 and 2016) have included minor league stints. He used to be a big-time strikeout guy but his K numbers have fallen off a cliff the last couple years. He was perfectly decent last year but was dreadful in 2017.
– Chris Martin is 32 and debuted in 2014 at age 28. He strikes out nobody even though he throws hard and has a career 5.14 ERA (though FIP and xFIP say he has been all kinds of unlucky in his career)
– Leclerc is 25 and was electric last year when the team made him their full-time closer and signed him to a 4-year extension to be the team’s closer of the future. He has no doubt struggled this year but has still managed to run a decent k%. Statcast says he has been ridiculously unlucky thus far.

Let’s just say I think Leclerc will be closing games again before too long.

jason shure
jason shure

Yes and no. I’ve watched Leclerc fairly closely on Gameday and he has missed the zone pretty badly, and given up baserunners especially at crucial times. It feels (possibly, because who the hell knows) like either he has lost something in the mechanics or actually is spooked by the pressure. So yeah, both of those can be fixed and the dude is several levels above the other options, but I don’t know how much of this is “unlucky” and how even lack of luck can contribute to substantial spirals.


Unlucky per Statcast is simple. They take his K and BB numbers and then add in what you would expect on his batted balls based on EV and launch angle to come up with xwOBA. It’s not a perfect stat since it probably needs a ballpark adjustment and speed adjustment for the hitter and a directional adjustment probably makes sense also. That said, it’s a better estimator than other stats like FIP and xFIP. His xwoBA is .330 while his actual wOBA is .450. That’s a huge gap – the 2nd largest among all pitchers who have faced 50 hitters this year.

Now .330 isn’t any great number either but he would almost certainly still be closer if he was actually putting up a .330 wOBA. Let’s put it this way – Ryan Brasier has put up a .349 xwOBA which is even worse than Leclerc has pitched, however he has been “lucky” to the tune of a .258 wOBA. Brasier is locked in as seemingly the preferred side of a committee in Boston while Leclerc is being removed from the role. (BTW, Brasier’s xqOBA is why I am rostering Barnes instead)

Predicting the future is a fool’s game and Kelley could go out and blow guys away for the next 5 months and continue to be the guy the rest of the year. I just don’t think that’s the most likely way for it to play out. Leclerc has been fantastic the last 3 years. He didn’t suddenly forget how to pitch and the “pressure” didn’t get to him. Unless there is some physical issue (& I don’t think I saw any mention of that), it’s a small sample blip and he’ll be closing again soon.