Bullpen Report: September 12, 2018

Torey Lovullo did not have to wait long to test out his new closer committee. One night after Lovullo told reporters that he was replacing Brad Boxberger with a group of relievers, the Diamondbacks’ bullpen worked on preserving a one-run lead against the Rockies with two outs in the seventh inning. That’s when Zack Greinke departed with a runner on second base. Lovullo began with lefty Andrew Chafin, who was set to face Gerardo Parra and Charlie Blackmon. Chafin failed to get the final out against both pinch-hitter Chris Iannetta and Blackmon, as he walked them both. Brad Ziegler had to come in against DJ LeMahieu and do what Brad Ziegler does — get a ground ball out.

Ziegler came back out for the eighth inning with a more comfortable three-run lead and got three more ground ball outs, including a double-play ball from Trevor Story. That ultimately paved the way for Jake Diekman to kick off the ninth inning by facing a pair of left-handed hitters: Carlos Gonzalez and Ryan McMahon. As with Chafin before him, Diekman did not retire either batter he faced, but Yoshihisa Hirano bailed him out by getting three outs in succession.

While it’s just one game, Lovullo appears to be standing by his word that he will play the matchups in save situations (and likely in hold situations, too). Over the last three weeks, Hirano had been Lovullo’s primary option as a right-handed setup reliever, so with Boxberger out of the picture, he would appear to be in line for more save opportunities over the remainder of the season. Chafin and Diekman have struggled recently, so it’s not unthinkable that T.J. McFarland might eventually be used to face lefties in save situations. McFarland just has one save and one hold this season, so that scenario is probably not imminent.

Ziegler and Archie Bradley also loom as options against righties, but Bradley has allowed five runs on nine hits and three walks over his last 3.2 innings, so he is probably more of a last resort.

While Mike Scioscia has not announced it, the Angels appear to have a committee situation of their own. Ty Buttrey got a save for the second time in five days, as he got the last four outs of the Angels’ 1-0 win over the Rangers. Since making his major league debut on Aug. 16, Buttrey has been on a roll. He has allowed one run over 11.2 innings, and he has been succeeding through a combination of missing bats (15.1 percent swinging strike rate) and inducing soft ground ball contact (58.1 percent ground ball rate, 78.1 mph average exit velocity on grounders, per Baseball Savant).

Blake Parker, who gave up two singles in the eighth inning on Tuesday night before giving way to Buttrey, figures to remain in the mix, possibly along with Justin Anderson and Jose Alvarez. Incidentally, the two singles allowed by Parker were the only hits allowed by the Angels’ staff in a bullpen game that saw eight different relievers make an appearance.

The Phillies have been using a closer committee for awhile, but Seranthony Dominguez had not been a part of it. Since Dominguez took a loss against the Blue Jays on Aug. 25, the Phillies had only three final inning save opportunities entering Tuesday’s doubleheader against the Nationals, and none had gone to him. Dominguez got a chance for a two-inning save in the nightcap, but after a smooth eighth inning, he started off the ninth with back-to-back walks and a wild pitch. A pair of RBI singles and a walk later, Dominguez was replaced by Luis Garcia.

Prior to Tuesday, Dominguez had appeared to be regaining his footing, having tossed 5.2 scoreless innings with nine strikeouts over a string of five appearances, so maybe he will get another save chance over the season’s final weeks. Tommy Hunter and Hector Neris have been effective, so they appear to be the strongest candidates for saves going forward.

In the first game of the doubleheader, Sean Doolittle got his first save since returning from the DL, preserving a 3-1 Nationals victory. He did give up a run, but fantasy owners can be encouraged that his average fastball velocity rebounded to 93.0 mph, after he had averaged only 91.7 mph back on Saturday.

With the Nationals surging ahead in the 10th inning of the second game on Juan Soto’s solo homer, Greg Holland came in for the bottom of the inning, and he worked around two walks to record the save.

Drew Steckenrider has received each of the Marlins’ last four final-inning save opportunities, but one has to wonder if that streak will continue. He started September off well enough with a pair of uneventful saves, but he had a difficult end to August, and on Tuesday night, Steckenrider gave up a two-run homer to Kevin Plawecki in the ninth inning, allowing the Mets to shave two runs off a 5-1 Marlins lead. In pitching 1.2 perfect innings while setting up for Steckenrider, perhaps Adam Conley has earned the chance at getting a save opportunity in the near future.

Quick hits: Edwin Diaz, he of the major-league leading 54 saves, proved to be fallible on Tuesday night, taking the loss against the Padres. He allowed three hits, tying a season high…Blake Treinen, who has been Diaz’s peer in terms of effectiveness and workload, got Tuesday night off against the Orioles, after he had pitched in all three games of the Athletics’ weekend series against the Rangers. Jeurys Familia was called in for fill-in closer duty, and he pitched a 1-2-3 inning in a 3-2 victory…Just as it appeared that Brad Hand might be settling in as the Indians’ sole closer, Terry Francona has gone back to a seesaw approach to the ninth inning. Cody Allen got the save in a 2-0 win over the Rays, with Hand setting up for him. Allen has now received two of the team’s last three save opportunities…The White Sox activated Nate Jones on Tuesday, and then he pitched a scoreless seventh inning with a five-run deficit against the Royals. It is not yet known if Jones will be employed in higher-leverage situations…The Pirates will probably not use Keone Kela again this season, as they want to manage his workload. Kela last pitched on Sept. 3 against the Reds.

Not Very Stable
Hot Seat

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Al Melchior has been writing about Fantasy baseball and sim games since 2000, and his work has appeared at CBSSports.com, BaseballHQ, Ron Shandler's Baseball Forecaster and FanRagSports. He has also participated in Tout Wars' mixed auction league since 2013. You can follow Al on Twitter @almelchiorbb and find more of his work at almelchior.com.

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Great work as always.

You guys should write an article exploring current non-closers who may sign as closers in the off-season(ex. Morrow last season). Would be good info for us rebuilding in keeper leagues.

Thanks for all you do!

Pirates Hurdles
Pirates Hurdles

Familia, Ottavino, Robertson, Herrera, Miller, Britton, Holland, Allen would all be worth speculative adds.


Good stuff. i’d like to see it go even deeper though. Most of those guys are established high end relievers that are already owned (except Holland and maybe Herrera).