• Shawn Kelley received the first save opportunity since Leclerc was removed from closer, and he it was a success with Kelley throwing a scorless inning for his 2nd save of the year. Chris Martin pitched a scoreless 8th and our old friend Leclerc was used in the 7th and looked pretty effective, stirking out a pair in a perfect inning. One successful inning won’t put Leclerc back as the closer but the fact he’s still pitching in higher leverage innings and in the very short term, is looking better, bodes well for him taking back the 9th at some point. In the meantime, the Rangers are still saying this is a committee but I would continue to bet on Kelley as the main provider of saves while Leclerc works his way back.
• With Trevor Hildenberger struggling in the 7th inning last night, Blake Parker was called on to get the final out of the inning and then pitched in the 8th. Parker allowed two hits a run when Gary Sanchez got him with a long ball. Taylor Rogers then pitched the 9th but with a four run lead, there was no save opportunity. Right when we start to think Blake Parker is shedding the committee label, something like this happens. Parker has a shiny 1.69 ERA and hasn’t blown a save but his 4.26 FIP, 4.78 xFIP, and 4.68 SIERA tell a different story. Parker has just 8 strikeouts and 6 walks in his 10.2 innings pitched with a .185 BABIP and 93.8% LOB% helping his ERA. Parker has a .241 wOBA against but Statcast says it should be closer to .314. Parker has been pretty steady and I don’t expect him to fully crater, as he was decent last year, but Taylor Rogers is clearly their best option and as yesterday showed, he should continue to see some 9th inning opportunities with a chance for more if Parker’s ERA starts to match his estimators.
• Pedro Strop threw a perfect 9th for his 4th save and now has a very nice 2.53/2.85/3.03/2.63 ERA/FIP/xFIP/SIERA. Strop was initially thought as more of a band-aid fix until Brandon Morrow returned but he was just shifted to the 60-day IL and I would expect Strop to hold the job all year unless the Cubs make a mid-season upgrade to the bullpen. As we have mentioned all year, between all of the poor teams and teams using committees, a regular old closer is harder to find and this all makes Strop one of the better options for saves moving forward.
• Nick Anderson has been incredible for the Marlins but he gave up five runs last night against the Braves, raising his ERA to 4.91. Anderson’s 1.32 SIERA and insane 42.6% K-BB% are still worth owning and he’s still the best option in their pen, but a performance like last night sets him back from entering the grid. The Marlins are still going with Sergio Romo, Drew Steckenrider, and Adam Conley to end games and while that order will likely change before the year is over, Anderson will have to avoid another blow up to creep back in.
• Quick Hits: Everything around him in Cleveland might be collapsing but Brad Hand continues to thrive, striking out three for his 10th save of the year and lowering his ERA to 1.15 with an impressive 24 strikeouts in 15.2 innings. Mychal Givens pitched a scoreless 9th for his third save of the year. Givens was being used more as a relief ace/non-closer earlier in the season but seems to be shedding that label now. Felipe Vazquez (9), Sean Doolittle (5), and Kenley Jansen (12) also saw saves yesterday.
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