Bullpen Report: September 26, 2019

There are only four days left in the regular season and the only playoff spot yet to be decided is the AL Wild Card so this will be the last of the Bullpen Reports for the season. We will continue to have coverage specific to bullpens throughout the offseason and we thank you again for checking in here on the regular for your bullpen and closer carousel coverage!

• There was no save situation in Minnesota last night but the Twins went with Tyler Duffey ->Trevor May -> Zack Littell to secure the win and their AL Central title. Taylor Rogers has a hold on the 9th inning with Sergio Romo as a helpful addition in the pen but behind them, Tyler Duffey has really become quite a force with an impressive 2.22./2.90/2.95/2.76 ERA/FIP/xFIP/SIERA pitching line this year. Duffey has been out of the rotation for a couple of years but he’s really starting to flourish in the bullpen this season with a career high velocity of 94 mph  an a fairly insane 28.3% K-BB% and a 15.1% SwStr%. David Laurila spoke with Duffey about how he crafted his curveball earlier this week and it’s worth your time.  Duffey’s curve has become a huge weapon as he’s ditched his other offerings and while Tyler Duffey Relief Ace sounds like a weird statement it’s been true this year and the Twins should enter the post season and 2020 with a far more impressive pen than they had on Opening Day.

Sean Doolittle has only been used as a set up since his return from the IL but he was called on for the save last night and struck out three for his 29th save. The Nationals have clinched a spot in the NL Wild Card game but home field is yet to be decided. Whether Doolittle receives the next save opportunities is likely a toss up but he’s starting to look like his old self with velos around 94 mph which is back to normal after a blip earlier in August. If Doolittle isn’t called on for a save in the remaining games, look for Dan Hudson to continue in his familiarish role but I am going to change the grid to a two-headed committee.

• While Archie Bradley has often seen save opportunities for more than three outs, he received a two-out save last night against the Cardinals. Jimmie Sherfy started the 9th in a non-save situation and after allowing a couple of runs, Bradley recorded the final two outs for his 17th save. Ever since Bradley entered the pen full time in 2017 he’s been teased as a potential closer and that finally came to fruition in the 2nd half of this year. Should additional save opportunities arise in the remaining games for Arizona, expect Bradley to get the save, as well as being the leading candidate for all of 2020.

Keone Kela recorded his first save of the year for the Pirates and should receive the remaining opportunities should they arise in the final days. Felipe Vazquez won’t be seeing a mound in quite some time Kela should be considered the leading candidate for saves heading into next year as well. Francisco Liriano has been effective out of the pen but he’s both a not a particularly strong threat and a Free Agent. Michael Feliz, Richard Rodriguez and when they return from injury Kyle Crick and Nick Burdi should also be in the mix but Kela has a head start and as mentioned, will definitely continue be the top choice in the remaining games this year.

Ken Giles‘ elbow was a cause for some concern this year, needing some IL trips and extended rest but he’s also been quite incredible when he’s pitched which continued last night as he recorded his 22nd save. Giles’ production and health hasn’t been particularly reliable but he’s had a career year with a 1.90 ERA and 2.50 SIERA along with an insane 18.8% SwStr%, 40% K%, and 31.7% K-BB%. Of all pitchers with 50 IP this year, Giles’ K% ranks 4th and his K-BB% ranks 6th. If Giles can survive the offseason and enter next year able to pitch more often and on back-to-backs he could be a top closing option. Of course we have seen this story before with Giles but he also has a more secure job in Toronto’s pen compared to the Astros who always had equitable options behind him when he would struggle. Relying on someone with elbow concerns might be a naive move but Giles will likely be one of the earlier closers taken in drafts.

Quick Hits: Will Smith struck out the side in the 9th and got his 6th win when the Giants scored in the bottom half of the inning. As we end the year of more interest is Smith’s role next season. As a free agent will he sign as a closer or set up with an established pecking order already in place? Where he goes will determine if he’s taken in the top 100 or in the last few rounds. Liam Hendriks continues his fantastic season, closing his 24th save after the A’s took a lead in dramatic fashion off of a Matt Chapman homer in the 9th. He will enter 2020 as one of the top closers. Hansel Robles has been on a terrific run himself, cementing his role in Anaheim but he gave up the homer to Matt Chapman, blowing his 4th save. In spite of the blown save, Robles job is secure as he also enters 2020 with a job in hand. Zack Greinke was close to the no-no but couldn’t quite make it as Will Harris got the final two outs for his 3rd save. Kenley Jansen provided a clean 9th inning for his 32nd save but didn’t record a strike out either. We might harp too much on Jansen as he will finish this year with 32+ saves and around 80 strike outs but it’s at least likely true that he’s left the elite closer company. Whether the warning signs mean 2020 might look worse will be determined, but his job is still secure on the best team in the NL.

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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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I’d say with the Cubs eliminated we’ve probably seen the last of Kimbrel this season.