The Cardinals-Phillies matchup yielded some interesting results on Saturday. Jordan Hicks – who was covered at length by Al Mechior on May 18th – hurled a scoreless seventh frame in a tie game, throwing 10-of-12 pitches for strikes and getting three ground ball outs. Tommy Hunter replaced Luis Garcia (who gave up a home run to Tyler O’Neil in the sixth) in the bottom of the inning. The first hitter to come to the plate – Tommy Pham – hit a slow dribbler to Scott Kingery at third base and he made an errant throw to first base to advance Pham to second base. Matt Carpenter was up next, doubling on the second pitch he saw to give the Cardinals a one-run lead. Hunter was able to escape the inning without giving up another run, but he started behind three-of-the-five hitters he faced and didn’t record a strikeout. With the Cardinals up a run, they turned to Greg Holland in the eighth to hold the lead. He was unable to oblige. After getting Carlos Santana and Aaron Altherr to ground out and strike out to start the frame, he yielded a walk, triple, and single to give the Phillies a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
His final line was 0.2 IP, 2 ER, 2 H, 1 BB, 1 K. Bud Norris came in and walked Pedro Florimon before striking out Cesar Hernandez on three pitches to end the inning. The Phillies gave the ball to Seranthony Dominguez in the bottom of the eighth. Entering the game, he had not allowed a hit or a run in 4.2 IP (five games), with 5 K and 0 BB. In addition, he’s pumping 98 mph heat and getting ahead in counts (73% F-Strike). On Saturday he hit 99 mph on the radar gun multiple times, sitting between 86-88 mph with the slider, and mixing in a change-up a couple times. He spun a clean eighth and ninth for his first major league save. Before we dive deeper into Dominguez, it should be noted that Bud Norris is cemented as the closer for the Cardinals and retired four-straight after walking Pedro Florimon in the eighth. Now back to Dominguez – per baseball reference, he’s the first pitcher since 1908 to not allow a run, hit, or walk in his first five appearances while recording at least two outs per appearance. After Saturday’s clean two innings, he’s now at 6.2 “baserunner-less” IP with 7 K. He was moved to the bullpen full-time this season in the minors, working as the closer for Double-A Reading, and made it through two levels of the minor leagues in short order (1.62 ERA, 0.66 WHIP, 21/3 K:BB ratio, 16.2 IP). After throwing 21 pitches on Thursday, Edubray Ramos has remained idle. Hector Neris only threw five pitches in one appearance (Wednesday) this week. It’s likely he or Ramos receive today’s save chance if there is one, but as of right now Dominguez is being swapped into the “committee” among these three guys in the chart below. If I had to choose one to take a flier on it’d be Dominguez.
The Blue Jays closer situation may not see a lot of changes coming, but the back-end of the bullpen had a rough day. With a 4-0 lead in the eighth inning, Toronto called upon John Axford – who gave up 2 ER against OAK on Thursday. On Saturday, Axford walked Matt Chapman and then allowed Khris Davis to rip a single to RF. With men on first-and-third with no outs, Axford was able to strike out Matt Olson before yielding an RBI-single to Stephen Piscotty to get the Athletics on the board (He wouldn’t have allowed the single if Russell Martin held on to a foul-tip strike three the pitch prior). The Blue Jays removed Axford and brought in Tyler Clippard –who came in having not allowed a run in 13-straight appearances. That streak came to an end on Saturday. After walking the first hitter he saw (Jed Lowrie) to load the bases, Chad Pinder launched a high fastball over the right-center field wall for a grand slam to give Oakland the lead. Blake Treinen would later strike out two and walk one in his 10th save conversion of the season. As far as the Blue Jays closer situation goes, Clippard should still receive the bulk of the save chances. Seung-Hwan Oh has been used in high-leverage situations earlier in the game recently, but if the Jays were to make a change, it’d likely go to Ryan Tepera. He had thrown in back-to-back days coming into Saturday, but if he receives a save chance today then he might get a shot for a while. After yielding 3 ER between two appearances on May 3rd-6th, Tepera has allowed just 1 ER on 3 H with 7 K and 0 BB over his last 5 IP (five appearances).
Raisel Iglesias blew his second save of the season against the Cubs in Game 1 of their double-header on Saturday. He’s in no danger of losing his job and Jared Hughes continues to be the handcuff of choice. Amir Garrett upped his scoreless streak to eight appearances. He allowed one base runner via walk and tallied a very “exciting” strikeout.
— Barstool Cincinnati (@UCBarstool) May 19, 2018
Speaking of shaky performances, Sean Doolittle blew his first save of the season after allowing 2 ER to the Dodgers in Game 2 of their double-header. Doolittle had five days of rest coming into the outing and hadn’t allowed a run since April 15th – he’s fine. Brandon Kintzler converted his 10th hold in front of him, and Ryan Madson hasn’t pitched since last Sunday.
Kenley Jansen went 2-for-2 in save conversions on Saturday against the Nationals – yielding zero baserunners and striking out one between his two innings of work. Since giving up 2 ER to the Padres on April 17th he’s converted all six of his save opportunities, allowing 1 ER on 8 H to go along with a 12/3 K:BB ratio spanning 13 IP. His average FB velocity for this month sits at 93 mph – last May it was at 93.2 mph. His F-Strike% (65% for his career) has continued to sit around 62%, which in tandem with less movement on his cutter has led to more contact inside-and-outside the zone. He’s also compiled a 3.55 SIERA during his strong stretch here, which is a long way off the 1.69 mark he’s posted for his career. Josh Fields was used in front of Jansen for the more “traditional” deployment of late-inning relievers in Game 1, but the Dodgers have been mixing-and-matching on the back-end. I changed things on the table the way I see it right now, but things will surely change.
In Sunday’s edition of “The Scoscia Show” the Angels yet again did not have a save chance for us to analyze. Jim Johnson was used in the ninth inning on Saturday over Justin Anderson, but the Rays were ahead by two runs and Anderson helped get them out of a jam in the seventh. Once again, this has been covered the last two days in the Bullpen Report. In the table I still have Anderson and Parker included, but I swapped out Bedrosian for Johnson. This will continue to be a headache for fantasy owners, but Anderson showed some really good command with his off-speed stuff last night and throws the best fastball of the group (98 mph). He’s my pick for LAA.
Cody Allen allowed a home run to Marwin Gonzalez in the ninth inning against the Astros on Saturday but was able to secure his sixth save of the season. Andrew Miller was unavailable due to a back issue. The Indians haven’t provided much info on the injury as of yet, but Tyler Olson is the only southpaw reliever other than Miller at the moment.
Alex Colome had to be brought in for a save opportunity after Ryne Stanek allowed a two-run home run to Mike Trout to begin the home-half of the ninth inning. Colome recorded all three outs in succession – compiling two ground outs and a strikeout. Sergio Romo remains the handcuff on the table but he’ll be starting his second game in-a-row for the Rays today.
Craig Kimbrel converted his 13th save of the season against the Orioles. All of his outs came via the air.
With Bruce Rondon and Jace Fry handling the seventh and eighth innings, Nate Jones was brought on to record two outs in the ninth for his second save in as many days and third overall for the season. That’s four-straight scoreless appearances for Jones – who’s allowed only one hit with a 4/1 K:BB ratio during that time. He looks to be the lead candidate for saves here with Joakim Soria fading into the mist.
Archie Bradley blew his second save chance in four tries against the Mets on Saturday. There is no indication that Brad Boxberger has lost his job, but he hasn’t pitched since Tuesday. Jeurys Familia hurled his second scoreless outing in a row, resulting in his second win of the season.
Josh Hader forced 15 swings-and-misses off his fastball en route to his second win of the season. He allowed one baserunner via walk in two innings to go along with six strikeouts. Jeremy Jeffress logged two strikeouts in a clean frame before him. Addison Reed took his third loss of the season after allowing a go-ahead home run to Christian Yelich in the eighth inning on Saturday. It was the first time he allowed a run since May 3rd.
Fantasy Baseball and Tampa Bay Rays enthusiast. Restaurant manager by day, fantasy analyst by night. Contributor to Rotographs, Baseball HQ, Fantasy Pros, and co-owner of Friends with Fantasy Benefits. Follow me @MikeWernerFWFB.