Bullpen Report: September 24, 2019

With a playoff spot on the line, Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash did not hesitate lifting Emilio Pagan from a save situation after giving up consecutive singles to Mookie Betts and Rafael Devers before striking out J.D. Martinez. Colin Poche entered with Mitch Moreland and Jackie Bradley Jr. due to hit. However, Boston countered with Christian Vazquez pinch hitting for Moreland and striking out. Then Xander Bogaerts entered the fray for Bradley Jr., also striking out ending the game. Poche notched his second save stranding both inherited runners. Pagan gets credit for his eighth hold and remains the top closing option for the Rays going forward but he’s struggled at times versus the Red Sox and with every game carrying extra meaning, Cash will do whatever it takes to ensure a victory.

Prior to Pagan, Oliver Drake fired two clean innings with two strikeouts for his 12th hold spanning the fifth and sixth innings. Nick Anderson recorded his 15th hold working around a hit with two strikeouts. His 41.4 strikeout percentage translates to 109 strikeouts in 64.2 innings this year. Diego Castillo continues to surge in September logging a clean eighth inning striking out one. Through 12 innings this month, Castillo’s yielded one earned run, four hits and three walks with 17 strikeouts resulting in two holds along with three wins. Bullpen depth remains a strength of this team as the season winds down.

On the other end of the spectrum, both Baltimore and Toronto’s bullpens can be leaky at times. Paul Fry suffered his fifth blown save serving up a home run to Cavan Biggio in the seventh inning. Mychal Givens, drifting from his former closing duties, recorded the last two outs of the seventh inning keeping the game tied. After getting a two run lead in the top of the eighth, the Orioles turned to Shawn Armstrong for the save chance. He hit the first batter he faced then recovered striking out Danny Jansen. Billy McKinney singled with one out putting runners on the corners preceding a Biggio sacrifice fly putting the Blue Jays within a run. Then back-to-back singles by Randal Grichuk and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. with two outs tied the game handing Armstrong his fourth blown save of the season. Ryan Eades absorbs his first loss working the last 2.2 innings allowing the winning run in the bottom of the 16th on a walk-off home run by Anthony Alford.

Sometimes fill-in closer Derek Law ceded the two runs in the top of the eighth handing Baltimore the lead. Law’s given up at least a run in two of his last three outings. Ryan Tepera logged 1.1 clean innings of relief and Ken Giles navigated around a Chris Davis single leading off the inning erasing him with an inning ending double play by Pedro Severino. Giles owners will wait and see if a save chance goes to him on Tuesday since he rarely works in consecutive games. The last time he did was on August 31st and September first. Giles yielded a two-run home run working in his second game in a row and has not appeared in back-to-back games since.

With St. Louis on the precipice of clinching the National League Central, with a magic number of three, their bullpen seems to be overlooked. Giovanny Gallegos may be the MVP of this bullpen and logged a clean seventh inning en route to his 18th hold. He leads his fellow relievers on the Cardinals with 93 strikeouts over 71 innings. Gallegos also ranks fourth among qualified National League relievers in ERA (2.28), gives up the second fewest hits and baserunners per nine innings on average along with with second best WHIP (0.79). His ability to strand runners makes him a pivotal part of this bullpen since Gallegos ranks second in terms of inherited runners incurred in his outing letting only 15.9 percent of them to score.

Cardinals relievers also rank first in the majors with 52 combined saves with at least nine recording one this year. Carlos Martinez notched his 24th save prompted to action when John Brebbia returned for the ninth inning giving up a leadoff home run to Nick Ahmed then walking Carson Kelly. Martinez allowed a run scoring double to Josh Rojas, but the run was charged to Brebbia’s ledger. As for Martinez, he’s secured 24 saves since taking over as closer on July fourth. Since the All-Star break, Martinez has appeared in 30 of 69 games along with converting his last 13 save chances fueled by a career best 58.5 ground ball rate. St. Louis owns a 34-2 record in the last 36 games Martinez worked in.

One of the most intriguing players this winter will be how fantasy owners value Edwin Diaz going forward. Despite his struggles this year, he’s registered a 39.1 strikeout percentage which ranks tied for fourth among qualified relievers. Only Josh Hader (48.7), Kirby Yates (41.6) and Nick Anderson rate higher. There’s been some lingering injury issues with Diaz’s elbow and some bad luck evidenced in his .387 batting average on balls in play along with a strand rate almost five percentage points below his career average. For reference, Diaz owns a swinging strike percentage of 18 percent with a contact rate of 65 percent for a 3.07 xFIP. Liam Hendriks almost aligns with Diaz with a 17.9 swinging strike percentage, 65.3 contact rate allowed and a 3.25 xFIP. However, Diaz will be much cheaper in 2020 drafts. Note if the Mets make a change at pitching coach and if Diaz gets his elbow cleaned up this off-season. If things break right, he will tumble to a second or third tier closer in preseason drafts with a chance to rebound at a bargain to risk averse owners.

Quick Hits: Although not a save chance, Daniel Hudson entered last night’s game with a six run lead but against the heart of the Phillies order retiring Bryce Harper, Scott Kingery and Rhys Hoskins in the eighth inning. Fernando Rodney also logged a clean seventh inning…Miami used Ryne Stanek in the ninth inning with a four run lead in New York. He allowed a hit and struck out one. Jose Quijada walked one along with striking out one in a scoreless eighth inning. This sets up either Jeff Brigham for Jose Urena for the next Marlins save chance. It’s been a pleasure working on the Bullpen Report all season with Al Melchior and Ben Pasinkoff. If this marks my last one of the season, I hope it’s helped all the saves chasers in fantasy. Best of luck this weekend and get those championships in your leagues.

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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

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stever20
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stever20

Hudson entered the Phillies/Nats game with the score 5-1…

I’d be nervous to own Hudson as I think Doolittle is going to get chances here this week. He was warming in the pen for the 9th- in a situation where Hudson was due up 3rd in the bottom of the 8th.

Either way, think Doolittle at least has passed up Rodney- I’d probably remove him from the “committee”.

HappyFunBall
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HappyFunBall

Yeah, Rodney is not in the committee. He might throw 7s and 8s all this last week or until his arm detaches from his body, but I don’t think he gets a save chance unless neither Doo nor Hudson are available.

stever20
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stever20

Yep. looking he’s thrown in the 9th inning exactly twice in the last 50 games- both of those home games where he pitched in a losing situation to keep it close.