With Hurricane Florence nearing landfall, please be safe if in its path. Bullpens continue to be volatile as the season approaches the final 16 games for most teams. Some good news regarding the return of injured relievers Aroldis Chapman and Brandon Morrow could cheer up their owners, but in varying degrees. Chapman threw an encouraging side session according to reports detailed in this article by Bryan Hoch. With the Yankees heading home, Chapman will meet the team to throw another side session and the simulated game hoping to return to action next week. This would allow the Yankees to reset their bullpen hierarchy and return Dellin Betances to the eighth inning where he dominates. Stay tuned. As for Morrow, he threw 35 pitches in a bullpen session and details it in this video courtesy of Jessie Rogers. Given the delay in Morrow’s return along with how well Pedro Strop’s pitched, there’s no guarantee Morrow would return to the ninth inning if he makes it back.
One day after recording his first major league save, Yoshihisa Hirano allowed a two-run walk-off home run to D.J. LeMahieu. Baseball’s an unforgiving game. This snapped Hirano’s eight game scoreless streak and became the first earned runs he’s yielded since August 21st. On a positive note, it seems as though Hirano’s the new preferred option in Arizona’s fluid bullpen, so he should bounce back from this outing. Hirano does not own any glaring splits within his batted ball profile, just the occasional gopher ball which occurred in Colorado last night. He’s working in a setup role, but Brad Ziegler did secure his seventh hold with Arizona last night. Ziegler’s been scoreless his last eight (6.2 innings) and owns a 1.31 ERA his last 20 appearances.
Save number eight for Jose Alvarado in a clean outing with two strikeouts. Alvarado’s given up only one hit his last 12 games (9.2 innings) with 16 strikeouts versus only three walks. In the second half, Alvarado’s worked 20.2 innings with a 1.30 ERA and has a 1.14 ERA over his last 37 contests dating back to June 12th. While our chart will still consider this a committee, Sergio Romo’s only pitched once over the last 15 games for Tampa Bay. It’s probably too late to handcuff Romo with Alvarado, but keeper league owners and those preparing for drafts next season should not ignore Alvarado’s recent surge in performance.
Not akin, but worth noting, Atlanta used Jonny Venters for the save on Wednesday despite A.J. Minter’s last outing being on Monday. Minter’s been battling back soreness and may not have been available, so his owners should track this closely. As for Venters, he remains one of the best comeback stories of 2018 notching his third save of the year, and second since joining the Braves with a 1.66 ERA in 20 games. Dan Winkler garnered the win in relief walking one and striking out one.
After intimating a committee in Minnesota following the Fernando Rodney trade, it’s been Trevor Hildenberger working as the primary closing option. Hildenberger notched his sixth save last night giving up a hit and striking out during a 1.1 inning appearance. He’s been scoreless his last seven games and converted six straight save chances. Teammate Taylor Rogers struck out the only batter he faced extending his scoreless streak to 19.2 innings spanning 18 games. During his streak, Rogers has seven holds, two saves and 18 strikeouts.
Former Twins reliever, Ryan Pressly, recorded his first save with Houston firing a clean ninth inning with a strikeout. Flying below the radar due to Roberto Osuna’s arrival, Pressly’s been scoreless his last 15 outings with a win, seven holds and this save in them. As an Astro, Pressly owns an impressive 0.96 ERA, 1.50 FIP, 0.54 WHIP, 25:1 K:BB, 59 percent ground ball rate, a swinging strike percentage of 16.9 and 64.1 percent contact allowed. If anything were to happen with Osuna in the future, keep Pressly in the memory bank.
In a pivotal match-up with the Cubs, the Brewers bullpen thrived on Wednesday night. Corey Knebel allowed his first hit since his recall on September second but struck out two in 1.1 innings of work. Knebel’s retired 20 of 21 hitters faced over his last six outings with 12 strikeouts. Josh Hader did yield a hit while striking out the side. He faced 10 hitters in three innings in Chicago with nine strikeouts and raised his season total to 130 strikeouts in 74.2 innings. For perspective, Jake Arrieta has 127 strikeouts in 159.2 innings this year. Jeremy Jeffress did not get a save chance when Milwaukee added to its lead in the ninth inning, but he did throw a clean ninth with a strikeout as he remains entrenched as the primary closer in a surging bullpen.
Quick Hits: A return to action for Kenley Jansen, a clean inning with a strikeout. It’s been a week since he pitched in a live game and has been scoreless his last five appearances with six strikeouts.
A much needed scoreless outing by Shane Greene with only a walk against him. Greene’s struggled of late giving up runs in three of his last five contests.
Felipe Vazquez held on for his 22nd consecutive save, and 32nd of the season, allowing three hits, an earned run and striking out two in St. Louis. Vazquez now owns the longest save streak in the National League this year, breaking a tie with Jansen, and owns a 1.36 ERA over his last 39.2 innings with 56 strikeouts.
Once again, a non-save appearance for Will Smith and he yielded two hits and an earned run to take the loss. This snaps a four game scoreless streak for Smith who lacks a save in September.
Save number nine for Kirby Yates despite giving up two hits, including a home run, with a strikeout. Yates has converted nine of 10 save chances since the Brad Hand trade, including his last four in a row. Hopefully he will be able to mitigate the gopher ball which plagued him in late August.
While Boston continues to audition pitchers for the eighth inning, Craig Kimbrel’s rounding into form. Kimbrel notched his 39th save and has only allowed one hit over his last eight appearances (31 total batters faced). He’s only given up one run over his last nine games and struck out 25 in his last 13 appearances.
Benefiting from Hirano’s walk-off home run, Wade Davis won his third decision of the year throwing a clean ninth inning with two strikeouts. Davis has only yielded one earned run his last 12 games on five hits and two walks with 17 strikeouts.
Still no clarity in the White Sox bullpen but, Hector Santiago recorded his second save in extra innings. Juan Minaya gets his second win working two innings giving up a hit and a walk with two strikeouts. Ian Hamilton pitched a clean eighth inning and Jace Fry struck out two in the ninth. It seems like they prefer Minaya’s ability to work multiple innings, so hone in on the Hamilton to Fry bridge but nothing’s guaranteed with this bullpen.