It was a fairly quiet week by bullpen standards. A.J Minter picked up a save in Atlanta, Fernando Rodney and Brad Ziegler are both going through a rough patch, which is no surprise at all, and Ken Giles picked up a save after a short hiatus from closing. I’ll touch on all of these things and more in this week’s Bullpen Briefing. Lets begin.
The big news in Atlanta this week was the promotion of top prospect Ronald Acuna to the big leagues Wednesday, but in reliever news, A.J. Minter picked up his first save on Wednesday night as well. Minter, a lefty, was brought in to face Joey Votto and Scooter Gennett in the 9th, both of whom are lefty’s. It seems that Minter will share save opportunities with right-hander Arodys Vizcaino based on match-ups, and that proved true immediately when Viz recoded his second save of the season yesterday afternoon against the Reds. Both Minter and Viz are off to good starts in 2018. Viz has a 1.54 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, and 12 Ks in 11.2 innings. Minter owns a 2.19 ERA, 1.22 WHIP and 11 Ks in 12.1 innings.
Actions to take: Vizcaino owners should stand pat, as there are more right-handed batters than lefty-handed which will skew the number of save chances Vizcaino’s way. This will, however, slightly reduce the save chances for him going forward. A.J. Minter is worth an add in saves leagues. He was always the CLEW (Closer En Waiting), but now the prospect of a handful of saves boosts his value. He’s still the next man up should anything happen to Vizcaino.
Fernando Rodney blew his third save in his last three chances yesterday against the Yankees, allowing a 3-run home run to Gary Sanchez. It was also Rodney’s 3rd home run allowed in 2018. His ERA now sits at 6.75 and his WHIP at 2.10. Addison Reed also gave up a run against the Yankees yesterday, but still picked up a hold. The run boosted Reed’s ERA and WHIP to 2.77 and 1.00, respectively.
Middle reliever Ryan Pressly is quietly off to a tremendous start to the season. In 12 innings pitched he’s struck out 16 (11 of those in the last week), and is yet to allow a run. He also sports a 0.83 WHIP. Pressly has been a decent arm in the past for the twins but struggled with consistency in his mechanics. He seems to have figured it out at least in the early goings of 2018. Pressly has 1 hold so far but picked up 14 in 2016. With Rodney, Trevor Hildenberger (4.66 ERA) and Taylor Rodgers (6.23 ERA) all off to poor starts, Pressly could see increased high leverage situations.
Actions to take: If you drafted Rodney, you knew what you were getting into. Rodney has a knack for going through rough patches, evidenced by a 4+ ERA in 2 of the last 3 seasons. Rodney owners should hold on, but it’s also a good time to add CLEW Addison Reed if he’s available. The Twins are reeling after losing 7 straight. They cannot afford to give games away if they expect to contend for the division, which I think they are capable of. On the holds side, Pressly is heading up and may be worth an add if you want to stay ahead of the curve. We’ll see how things shake out, but at the current rate Reed will be closing games and Pressly setting him up.
Darren O’Day picked up a save last Friday, his first of the season. The O’s haven’t had many save opportunities recently, but it seems that manager Buck Showalter is content to play the matchups for now. On the season, O’Day has a 4.15 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, and 11 strikeouts in 8.2 innings. His main competition for saves, Brad Brach, owns a 5.19 ERA, 1.73 WHIP, and 9 strikeouts in 8.2 innings. I think we may see a few more save opportunities go to O’Day in the short term.
The one shining star in the O’s pen this year turned out to be Richard Bleier, a lefty who’s been used quite frequently. This season already he’s accumulated 15.2 innings, the most in the O’s pen. His ratios are excellent thus far including a 0.57 ERA and 0.89 WHIP, but with just 7 strikeouts to 3 walks, he’s not a total package. He’s yet to notch a hold, but he’s stranded 11 runners this year and the way the other RPs in the O’s bullpen are going, Bleier is likely to see some hold opportunities in the near future.
Actions to take: O’Day is worth an add if you’re looking for saves, but don’t expect too much as he should still split opportunities with Brach. We are also creeping toward Zach Britton’s return, which is expected in late May or early June. Now might be the time to stash Britton on your DL if he’s available. Bleier makes a nice add for holds leagues. Since he’s yet to actually pick up a hold, he may be under the radar, but that should change in the near future.
Ken Giles’ back must be feeling better, because he picked up his second save of the year on Wednesday, pitching a clean 9th inning with 1 K. Chris Devenski pitched the 8th ahead of Giles to record his 3rd hold of the season.
Actions to take: Hopefully you did not panic and held onto Giles in your leagues. The back injury that kept him on the shelf is still a concern, but Giles’ performance has been strong and if he’s healthy he should see the majority of saves in Houston. Chris Devenski and Brad Peacock remain elite middle relievers. If Giles does struggle in the future, Astros’ manager AJ Hinch may shorten the leash as he knows he can turn to either of these two with confidence.
The Marlins bested the Dodgers on Wednesday with Brad Ziegler pitching the ninth. It was not smooth sailing for Ziegler though, who came in with a 5-run lead and gave 3 back before finishing the inning. Ziegler’s ERA is a whopping 8.44, but what concerns me more is that he’s already allowed 2 home runs this season after allowing just 1 in 2017 and 2 in 2016. Ziegler doesn’t strike many batters out (K/9 of 5.9), so it is his ability to keep the ball in the park where his success comes from. Without that, the 37 year old reliever’s days may be numbered.
Action to take: Ziegler hasn’t lost the closer role yet, but even with the job title he has just 2 saves to his name. He has provided little value and if better options come along, feel free to cut bait. In the event that Ziegler continues to give up the long ball, Kyle Barraclough and Drew Steckenrider are both options to close. Barraclough, age 27, has 16 Ks in 9.2 innings this season. He’s struggled with command in the past, but his walk rate so far in 2018 is a manageable 3.7/9 innings, down from 5.2 BB/9 last season. Steckenrider, also 27, sports 15 Ks in 11.2 innings. He’s got a 1.54 ERA and 0.94 WHIP, and is yet to allow a home run. I prefer Steckenrider myself, but Barraclough is the veteran and may get the first option should Ziegler vacate the closer role.
Andrew Miller left Wednesday’s game against the Cubs with hamstring tightness and was placed on the 10-Day DL yesterday.
Actions to take: Indians’ reliever Nick Goody will see an increased role in the late innings. He’s got a 1.13 ERA and 0.88 WHIP on the season. Additionally, Tyler Olson moves up a peg in the hierarchy. Olson has 12 strikeouts in 8 innings this year, to go along with a 3.38 ERA and 0.50 WHIP. Both are worth consideration in holds leagues if you need a replacement for Miller.
Three Stars of the Week
Juan Nicasio, Sea – Nicasio pitched 3.0 innings, picking up 2 holds and a win. He did not allow a run and struck out 4.
Matt Albers, Mil – Albers pitched 4.1 innings in 4 appearances. He struck out 4, notched 2 holds, and did not allow a run.
Chasen Shreve, NYY – Shreve pitched 4 innings, striking out 5, recording a hold, and stranding 4 runners. He allowed two hits and one run.
That’s all for this week. Thank you for reading and feel free to drop a question or comment below.