Bullpen Report: September 12, 2019

Brad Hand wasn’t available to pitch last night with an arm injury that demanded a MRI which thankfully came back clean but it might be several days until Hand is back in his familiar role in the 9th. A save situation arrived for the Indians last night though and they went with a three-headed committee with Nick Wittgren, Oliver Perez, and Adam Cimber each recording an out in the 9th. Although Hand hasn’t been too dominant of late and is dealing with an injury, he’s still their closer. In his place while he gets back should be a committee of the aforementioned along with Tyler Clippard and Nick Goody who pitched in the 7th and 8th innings respectively last night.

• After a rough introduction to Atlanta, Mark Melancon has really calmed down the 9th inning turmoil of late, pitching a scoreless inning for his 11th save last night. Since his 4 run implosion in early August, Melancon has pitched 12 innings, recording 10 saves with a 15/1 K/BB. Melancon isn’t among the elite whiff artists but he continues to destroy worms with a 62% GB% this year and as the closer for the Braves, he should continue to gobble up saves in the final weeks. Pitching ahead of Melancon last night was Chris Martin and Shane Green who each recorded holds in perfect innings. Melancon, Martin, and Greene were all brought in at the deadline to solidfy the pen and while they all struggled at first, they’re starting to role now with Shane Greene only allowing 2 runs in his last 15 innings pitched.

• Huge surprise in Milwaukee as Josh Hader recorded three strikeouts in a save situation!  Hader now has 30 saves and an insane 124 strikeouts. His fly ball preference and elevated home run rate (21.% HR/FB%) inflates his ERA to 2.55 which is still great but not as impressive looking as the peripheral 1.73 SIERA. Hader’s extreme fly ball rate (56.4%) might keep him from a Kirby Yatesian type season this year but so long as he’s the closer in Milwaukee he should remain the top closing option.

• I thought that Sean Doolittle might have been closer to saves after his previous outing but last night he was used for just one out, getting the final batter in the 7th. The Nationals scored a run in the top of the 9th removing any save situation but Fernando Rodney pitched a scoreless 8th with Daniel Hudson pitching around two hits for a scoreless 9th. Rodney, Hudson and Hunter Strickland could all continue to see potential save situations but this should be Doolittle’s job soon. The Nationals will be careful not to overwork Doolittle though as they will want him fresh for a playoff run and I’m going to make this a committee for now.

Jose Leclerc recorded his 12th save last night but gave up two hits and a homer before finally closing the door. Leclerc has largely disappointed this season but he’s at least found himself back in the 9th with a pretty long leash from this point forward. Leclerc has been unable to get on a particularly impressive run but since August 3rd, he has a 2.57 ERA albeit with the control issues (13.3% BB%) that have continued to plague him. Moving forward for this year, Leclcerc should continue to get save chances and strikeouts but in assessing his future I would work under the assumption that his control will continue to prevent him from being a relief ace. Drafting him with any expectations that his 1.56 ERA in 2018 could be a potential outcome would be a fool’s errand in 2020.

• At 30 years old, Liam Hendriks is no doubt having his career year, closing his 20th door last night against the Astros while lowering his ERA to 1.63. Hendriks gets a ton of whiffs (16.6% SwStr%) and since he pitches in Oakland, his fly ball tendencies (50.6% FB%) are less problematic although his 4.8% HR/FB% is still unsustainable, even in the Coliseum. Even though he hasn’t been the closer all year, Hendriks has had an incredibly valuable year and should finish with around 25 saves and 125+ strikeouts. Blake Treinen’s fall from grace this year should limit our expectations for a repeat year out of Hendriks, but enjoy his production while you can.

Quick Hits: No save situation for Mychal Givens but he pitched in the 9th, allowing a run but otherwise securing the lead for the Orioles. Whoever had the over on Ian Kennedy 27 saves this year just hit with his 28th save. Jairo Diaz continues to see saves in Colorado, bagging his 3rd of the year. It’s hard to promise clean saves with a Colorado Closer but Diaz gets whiffs without walking too many batters. The Rockies still have Wade Davis on the books next year so I wouldn’t rely on Diaz for consistent saves in 2020, even if he’s profiling as the best option. Felipe Vazquez closed out the Giants for his 27th save. The price for Vazquez at the deadline was too high for the Pirates to let him go, and unless something changes on that front look for him to continue to be a top closer in 2020 in Pittsburgh as he remains one for this year. Sam Tuivailala got the first out of the 9th with Bass getting the final two for his 4th save of the year. The committee remains strong in Seattle and expect Bass, Matt Magill, and Tuivailala to all see the 9th.

Not Very Stable
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Bullpen Report — 9/12/2019
Team Closer First Up Second Up Minors/DL
ARI Archie Bradley Kevin Ginkel Andrew Chafin Yoshihisa Hirano
ATL Mark Melancon Shane Greene Luke Jackson
BAL Mychal Givens Richard Bleier Hunter Harvey
BOS Brandon Workman Matt Barnes Marcus Walden
CHC Rowan Wick Brandon Kintzler Steve Cishek Craig Kimbrel
CWS Alex Colome Aaron Bummer Evan Marshall
CIN Raisel Iglesias Michael Lorenzen Robert Stephenson
CLE Brad Hand Tyler Clippard Nick Wittgren
COL Jairo Diaz Carlos Estevez Bryan Shaw Scott Oberg
DET Joe Jimenez Bryan Garcia Jose Cisnero
HOU Roberto Osuna Will Harris Joe Smith Ryan Pressly
KC Ian Kennedy Scott Barlow Kevin McCarthy
LAA Hansel Robles Ty Buttrey Luis Garcia Cam Bedrosian
LAD Kenley Jansen Pedro Baez Casey Sadler
MIA Jose Urena Adam Conley Ryne Stanek
MIL Josh Hader Drew Pomeranz Junior Guerra
MIN Taylor Rogers Sergio Romo Tyler Duffey
NYM Seth Lugo Justin Wilson Edwin Diaz
NYY Aroldis Chapman Zack Britton Adam Ottavino Dellin Betances
OAK Liam Hendriks Joakim Soria Yusmeiro Petit
PHI Hector Neris Blake Parker Jared Hughes Adam Morgan
PIT Felipe Vazquez Keone Kela Francisco Liriano
STL Carlos Martinez Andrew Miller Giovanny Gallegos Jordan Hicks
SD Kirby Yates Andres Munoz Craig Stammen
SF Will Smith Shaun Anderson Jandel Gustave Reyes Moronta
SEA Matt Magill Anthony Bass Sam Tuivailala
TB Emilio Pagan Nick Anderson Colin Poche Jose Alvarado
TEX Jose LeClerc Emmanuel Clase Rafael Montero Jesse Chavez
TOR Ken Giles Jordan Romano Derek Law
WSH Daniel Hudson Fernando Rodney Sean Doolittle

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

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Hader’s season turned IMO in Washington in August. he had blown the save and had the bases loaded. Trea Turner hit a fly ball deep that was just foul. He proceded to strike out the side.

Since then, he’s thrown 10.1 innings. 0 runs. 18 k’s. 3 hits, 1 walk. ERA 0.00. FIP 0.01. Not given up more than 1 baserunner in that period.