Entering the ninth inning with a win potential of just under 93 percent, the Giants bullpen coughed up a chance to preserve a home win for Madison Bumgarner versus the Pirates. It started rather innocuously with Tyler Rogers returning to the mound with a two run lead in the top of the ninth after retiring the side in order in the eighth inning. However, a lead-off single by Kevin Newman chased Rogers from the game with San Francisco bringing in Fernando Abad to face Cole Tucker. Abad induced a fielder’s choice groundout allowing Newman to reach second base, then walked Josh Bell before giving up a single to Elias Diaz loading the bases with one out.
This prompted Bruce Bochy to bring Jandel Gustave into the game for the save chance fresh off his first on on Saturday getting the game ending double play versus the Dodgers. It also sounded the alarms for Will Smith owners who remains out due to back tightness. He last pitched on September sixth with very little news about when Smith will return. Tony Watson also remains sidelined with a wrist injury last working on September fourth. Kevin Newman greeted Gustave with a game tying single scoring two runs then Bryan Reynolds gained a measure of revenge versus his former franchise hitting a single driving in the go ahead run for Pittsburgh. A fielder’s choice ground out allowed Melky Cabrera to reach first again loading the bases and Jose Osuna drove in a run with a sacrifice fly. Pablo Reyes popped out ending the inning but not before Gustave suffered a blown save leading to an eventual loss to Abad, his second of the season.
If Smith and Watson remain sidelined, saves chasers should keep an eye on Shaun Anderson. During the last 14 days he’s recorded eight strikeouts against one walk with a .143 batting average against, 0.75 WHIP and 46.7 strikeouts minus walks percentage. Anderson notched his first hold on September seventh versus the Dodgers with a clean inning and two strikeouts. It’s purely speculation but something to monitor going forward if Anderson gets an expanded role due to injuries atop the Giants bullpen hierarchy.
Unlike the Giants, Pittsburgh possessed a veteran ready for the save chance in the bottom of the inning. Felipe Vazquez racked up his 26th save retiring the side in order while striking out two. He’s been scoreless in 18 of his last 20 appearances with a 0.86 ERA in them converting seven of nine save chances in them. More impressive, Vazquez has issued only one walk over his last 18.2 innings spanning 18 contests with 26 strikeouts, a 0.96 ERA, .177 weighted on-base plus slugging average (wOBA) against and robust 39.7 strikeouts minus walks percentage. He’s also recorded seven saves requiring more than three outs this year and with one more will be the first Pittsburgh reliever with eight such saves since Stan Belinda in 1991 (h/t MLB.com game notes). Richard Rodriguez worked around a hit for a scoreless eighth inning gets his fourth win working before the Pirates rally.
Not taking any chances preserving a win for Jacob deGrom, Mickey Callaway turned to Seth Lugo for a two inning save chance on Monday night. Lugo responded with two clean innings striking out four for his fifth save looking sharp after receiving five days rest. After the outing, Lugo moved into a tie for third among qualified National League relievers with 91 strikeouts. He’s been scoreless in 43 of his 54 appearances this year with 15 of his 26 runs against occurring in four outings. Over his last eight contests, Lugo’s been unscored upon giving up four hits and two walks with 16 strikeouts in 13 innings accruing three saves with two holds in them.
With Milwaukee searching for a right handed complement to Josh Hader in the absence of Jeremy Jeffress, perhaps Ray Black could be the enema. Black retired all four batters he faced on Monday, three via strikeout, in Miami for his first hold of the season. He’s fired six consecutive scoreless outings spanning 6.2 innings with six strikeouts. Command can be an issue for Black but he owns upside in his fastball velocity and slider combination. Last night, Black recorded three swinging strikes and four called of his 15 pitches. Matt Albers vultured his sixth win stranding two inherited runners from Jordan Lyles in the fifth inning.
Quick Hits: Another rough outing for Jose Quijada giving up three hits, four earned runs and two walks with two strikeouts in two-thirds of an inning. Jose Urena pitched the top of the ninth allowing a hit while striking out two…Nick Pivetta yielded three earned runs on a home run to Josh Donaldson during his inning last night…Trying to transition to the bullpen, Carlos Carrasco coughed up a solo home run to Jared Walsh along with striking out two in Los Angeles Monday night.
Avid fantasy baseball player and writer. You can find my work here chasing the next save or as the lead fantasy analyst on Fantasy Alarm. Any questions, hit me up on the Twitter machine, @gjewett9