On the surface, Joe Jimenez secured his seventh save in eight chances last night. He survived loading the bases on three consecutive hits with two outs by striking out Trey Mancini. Delving into his splits since ascending to closing for the Tigers, Jimenez owns a 15:6 K:BB, 3.09 ERA, 1.71 WHIP and 5.10 xFIP in 11.2 innings since August ninth. He’s yielded a 53.1 fly ball rate and 17.6 home run per fly ball percentage resulting in three home runs along with a .292/.370/.521 slash line against. Less than optimal. Fantasy owners will take the production of seven saves over his last 13 appearances but should proceed with caution due to the inflated WHIP and xFIP predicting some regression to the mean.
It’s been a rough ride for Sean Doolittle owners since the All-Star break. He’s missed time to injury and not recorded a save since August 16th. Doolittle appeared in the seventh inning during a tied game in St. Louis. He suffered the loss issuing a walk with one out to Dexter Fowler but also struck out Jose Martinez and Kolten Wong before exiting the game with two outs in the inning. Hunter Strickland walked Paul Goldschmidt after Fowler stole second base, then fired a wild pitch before giving up the go ahead two-run double by Marcell Ozuna. With the Nationals bullpen marked as a timeshare, it’s going to be tough to keep Doolittle active for saves since he’s been used in the seventh inning in two of his last three outings. In fact, it could make sense to avoid this situation down the stretch unless desperate for saves which could mean Daniel Hudson gets the next save chance?
As for the Cardinals, Andrew Miller retired all four batters he faced for his 27th hold then Carlos Martinez notched his 20th save getting the last out of the game facing Ryan Zimmerman. Martinez missed games with a respiratory illness which landed him in the hospital, but with health, remains the arm to own in this bullpen down the stretch.
In a bit of a surprise, Kevin Ginkel locked down his first career save with a clean ninth inning and a strikeout. Ginkel’s been a stabilizing force in the Diamondbacks bullpen since his promotion and tied for second in the majors with seven holds since August 19th. With nine of his last 10 appearances scoreless and only allowing one earned run against his last 10 innings, Ginkel makes for intriguing stash if any injury issues linger with Archie Bradley. Here’s why Bradley did not receive the save chance on Monday:
Archie Bradley had a back spasm earlier today and was unavailable. Expected to be back tomorrow
— Jody Jackson (@Jody_Jackson) September 17, 2019
Back injuries can be tricky, so Bradley owners know who to handcuff their closer with in Arizona in the event of a relapse. Yoshihisa Hirano garnered his fifth win giving up a hit during a scoreless seventh inning but he did allow both inherited runners to score. Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good.
Although a save chance did not present itself, the Cubs might have revealed its plans until Craig Kimbrel returns. Rowan Wick worked two scoreless frames with a strikeout for his fifth hold while Kyle Ryan started the ninth inning. Ryan recorded two outs but also allowed two hits along with a walk. This brought David Phelps into the game and he stranded all three runners getting Aristides Aquino to ground into a game ending ground out to shortstop. Since Steve Cishek appeared in the fourth inning, the Cubs hierarchy in high leverage reflects the change with last night’s usage patterns. With Joe Maddon at the helm, it remains to be seen who will get the next save chance. As for Kimbrel:
Cubs closer Craig Kimbrel (elbow) is scheduled for live BP/simulated game tomorrow.
— Patrick Mooney (@PJ_Mooney) September 16, 2019
Signs point to his activation as soon as this weekend if all goes well during his simulated game on Tuesday afternoon. Stay tuned.
In a microcosm of the tumultuous world of high leverage, Liam Hendriks suffered his third loss and sixth blown save allowing two runs (one earned) in the top of the ninth inning versus the Royals. Hendriks remains one of the top closers since taking over on June 21st with a 1.89 ERA over his last 38 innings with 66 strikeouts against four walks. A solo home run served up to Brett Phillips and a costly error by Ramon Laureano contributed to last night’s transgression. As for the Royals, Ian Kennedy notched his 30th save working around a hit with two strikeouts in a scoreless ninth inning. This marks his 19th save in the second half, two more than Hendriks and Kennedy’s 28th save since May 30th which leads the majors. Kennedy also joins John Smoltz and Dennis Eckersley as the only ones in history to win at least 20 games in a season as a starter and record at least 30 saves in a different season as a closer.
Quick Hits: It’s tough to trust Freddy Peralta, but he’s pitched well since his promotion from Triple-A. Peralta logged scoreless innings for his fifth hold last night with four strikeouts. So far in September, he’s pitched 7.1 innings with a robust 15:2 K:BB, 2.45 ERA and 0.82 WHIP in them…Save number 27 for Taylor Rogers retiring the only two hitters he faced on Monday night, one via strikeout. He’s converted his last 11 save chances dating back to August fourth and his last 15.1 innings yields a 23:2 K:BB. Tyler Duffey notched his 13th hold and has stranded 20 of the last 24 inherited runners this year. In 21 appearances since July 28th, Duffey’s not allowed an earned run with 30 strikeouts if searching for strikeouts and ratio help down the stretch.
Pirates Update: Since this posted after publish, please note the following investigation surrounding Pirates closer Felipe Vazquez:
Pittsburgh Pirates closer Felipe Vazquez has been arrested and charged with one count of computer pornography, solicitation of a child and one count of providing obscene material to minors, according to police in Lee County, Florida.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) September 17, 2019
It will speculation, but those seeking saves from the Pirates can speculate on Keone Kela. He’s turned in back-to-back clean appearances and over the last 30 days owns a 1.13 ERA, 2.21 xFIP, 0.63 WHIP with a 34.5 strikeouts minus walks percentage along with a 53.3 ground ball rate. Francisco Liriano could also share high leverage situations with Kela if Pittsburgh plays match-ups.
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