Bullpen Report: September 25, 2019

Saves had been scarce for the Nationals in September, but heading into Tuesday’s doubleheader against the Phillies, Daniel Hudson had both of the team’s saves this month. By the end of the twin bill, Hudson had doubled the Nationals’ saves total — and his own — for September by closing out both games of the sweep. Hudson tossed 1-2-3 innings in both games, even though he did not get a strikeout in either outing. That has been his norm this month, as he has pitched 8.2 inning while allowing three unearned runs on eight hits and a walk but with only three strikeouts. Hudson’s 4.8 percent SwStr% is the third-lowest among 209 qualified relievers in September.

Nonetheless, Davey Martinez says he trusts both Hudson and Sean Doolittle to take on high-leverage situations. Doolittle has been inconsistent in getting swings-and-misses since returning from right knee tendinitis earlier this month, but he has allowed one run over six innings over seven September appearances. He pitched a perfect eighth inning in the first game of Tuesday’s doubleheader, and Martinez said that he plans on using Doolittle and Hudson as his eighth and ninth inning relievers. It was not completely clear if Martinez meant that Doolittle would pitch the eighth and Hudson would get the ninth, but given their recent usage patterns, it seems safe to assume that those will be their respective roles over the season’s final five games.

In Monday’s Bullpen Report, I noted that José Ureña would be likely to get the Marlins’ next save chance, and that he should be better going forward than his recent results would have suggested. At least as far as the Marlins’ extra-innings loss to the Mets on Tuesday night goes, I was only half right. Ureña did pitch the bottom of the ninth inning with a 4-2 lead, but he had his second rough outing in a row and his fourth appearance this month in which he was charged with multiple runs. You could argue that, once again, Ureña was the victim of some bad luck, as J.D. Davis led off with a ground ball single that had a 20 percent chance of becoming a base hit (per Baseball Savant). However, four pitches later, Ureña delivered a belt-high two-seamer to Michael Conforto, which he drilled for a no-doubt home run to right center field.

Don Mattingly has yet to signal that he is moving away from Ureña as the Marlins’ closer, but with five games left in the Marlins’ schedule, there is little reason to turn to him for saves in fantasy.

Hansel Robles tallied his 23rd save of the season on Tuesday night against the Athletics, which is a low total for someone who has been the Angels’ closer since May. He has picked up his pace of late, notching seven saves since Aug. 15, and he has been nearly untouchable over that period. Robles gave up a run in the first of those outings with a save, but over 17.1 innings since then, he has not allowed a run while giving up five singles and three walks. Suddenly, he is a whiff machine, posting a 17.5 percent SwStr% after averaging 10.8 percent through his first 54.1 innings this season. Robles has 20 strikeouts for a 33.9 percent K% during his scoreless streak. It’s probably not mere coincidence that, during this recent period, Robles has been far more reliant on his changeup, which is his best swing-and-miss pitch (18.6 percent SwStr%). If he is available in your daily lineup leagues, he is worth an add, even though the Angels finish with one more game against the A’s and four games against the Astros.

Ty Buttrey has been better for the Angels lately as well, even though he is still struggling to get whiffs. In setting up for Robles on Tuesday night, Buttrey did not get a single swing-and-miss, but he did wind up with two strikeouts. That equals the number of strikeouts Buttrey recorded over his previous six innings, but over that stretch, he has a 61.9 percent ground ball rate. He has not seen a notable change in pitch mix, velocity or fastball spin rate, so this could just be a small sample artifact.

Carlos Martínez was not among the 10 Cardinal relievers used in a 19-inning loss to the Diamondbacks, as he was presumably getting rested due to his recent heavy workload. Andrew Miller had a chance to give the Cardinals a win in regulation, as he pitched the bottom of the ninth inning with a 1-0 lead. In giving up Ildemaro Vargas‘ solo homer, Miller blew his fifth save of the season and ushered in 10 more innings of baseball. Vargas got to be the hero again in the 19th, as his bases-loaded single off John Brebbia finally put an end to the marathon contest.

The Giants and Rockies also played deep into Tuesday night, going 16 inning before the Rockies emerged as winnners on Charlie Blackmon’s three-run homer off Dereck Rodríguez. Bryan Shaw pitched a perfect bottom of the 16th inning for his first save of the season. The Giants used 12 relievers,but Tyler Rogers wasn’t one of them, as he had thrown 39 pitches on Sunday against the Braves. If the Giants have a slim, late lead against the Rockies on Wednesday night, Rogers will almost certainly have a chance to get a hold.

Quick hits: Roberto Osuna (37), Josh Hader (36), Kenley Jansen (31), Taylor Rogers (29) and Brandon Workman (16) also recorded saves on Tuesday night…Joe Kelly has not pitched for the Dodgers since Sept. 18 due to an undisclosed health issue, but Dave Roberts said he could be available by ThursdayChad Green struck out five batters in two scoreless innings against the Rays. The Yankees’ righty has been in a groove for over a month, striking out 32 batters over his last 16.2 innings…Brent Suter continued his triumphant return from Tommy John surgery, pitching three scoreless innings of relief in the Brewers’ 4-2 win over the Reds. He has allowed one run over 17.1 innings with 14 strikeouts and one walk.

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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