This week the Angels return to the bullpen briefing, followed by some other familiar bullpens in Houston, St. Louis, and Milwaukee. I’ll also touch on the Rays’ pen, which hasn’t been all that good this season, as well as one pitcher to keep an eye on down in Miami. As always, I’ll finish with the three stars of the week.
Los Angeles Angels
Keynan Middleton gave me a few weeks off from having to talk about the Angels’ bullpen situation, but he landed on the DL earlier in the week with elbow inflammation, so LA is back to a committee for the time being. Middleton’s DL stint is expected to be a short one, but I’ve heard that too many times to be fooled into thinking the minimum 10 days is all any player will miss.
In Middleton’s absence, Cam Bedrosian was given the first save chance Tuesday night, which he promptly blew, allowing 2 earned runs on 3 hits. Luckily for Bedrosian owners, he ended up with the win after the Angels walked off Brad Brach in the bottom of the 9th.
Aside from the usual suspects Cam Bedrosian, Blake Parker, and Jim Johnson, Justin Anderson is also in the mix for saves. Anderson was called up just two weeks ago and has already recorded 4 holds in 5 appearances. He’s yet to allow a run and has 7 strikeouts and 3 walks in 5.0 innings. He’s been used in some high leverage situations. The small sample looks great so far, but Anderson was not a big strikeout guy in the minors. In 58.2 innings in double-A ball last year he struck out just 5.5 batters per 9.
It’s also worth mentioning Jose Alvarez due to his 0.66 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, and 15/3 K/BB in 13.2 innings pitched. His numbers speak to his performance, but he is the only lefty in the Angels’ bullpen and has been used heavily in left on left matchups. It is unlikely Alvarez would see consistent save chances, but I could see him getting one or two while Middleton is out if the matchups line up.
Actions to take: Middleton owners need to be sitting pat. Stash him on your DL or bench, and hope that the DL stint is in fact a short one. For saves speculators, I’d take a shot on Anderson as he is the hot hand. My second choice would be Jim Johnson, who’s got closing experience as well as 14 Ks in 16 innings along with a 3.38 ERA and a 1.19 WHIP. Bedrosian or Parker will be in the mix, but both have ERAs over 4 and both have allowed 3 home runs on the season in a tick over 14 innings. I don’t think they are worth investing in at this time. In holds leagues, I’d give Jose Alvarez a look.
Ken Giles took the loss Tuesday night after allowing a three-run homer to Gary Sanchez in a 0-0 game. It was a questionable managerial decision to pitch to the scorching hot Sanchez with a base open and Aaron Hicks on deck. After allowing the home run, Ken Giles was visibly unsettled and even punched himself in the face. I guess it’s better to punch your own face than something hard like a wall. Giles clearly wants to succeed, but this type of emotional display is not something I like to see from my closer. A closer must be in control of his emotions, as he is expected to pitch the high leverage situations when the game is on the line. It doesn’t always work out, but Giles’ response to failure is reason to question his mental capacity for closing games in the future.
The Astros’ next save situation came on Thursday afternoon, as they took a 5-3 lead into the top of the 9th against the Yankees. Chris Devenski pitched the 8th against the heart of the Yankee order, striking out the side that included Gregorius, Stanton, and Sanchez. In the ninth, it was Will Harris who got the save opportunity. After allowing a walk and two singles, he was relieved by Brad Peacock who went on to blow the save, allowing all three inherited runners to score.
Actions to take: Blown saves happen. The three-run homer was Giles’ second of the season and came in just 10.2 innings, which is cause for concern, but I am most concerned with the mental aspect of Giles right now. I wouldn’t cut bait just yet, but if Chris Devenski is available on your wire, I would absolutely add him right now. He is the only pitcher I trust in Houston right now with Brad Peacock looking rather pedestrian of late.
Tampa Bay Rays
Jose Alvarado picked up a save on Monday. He’s been solid on the season, including a 2.45 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, and 165 K/BB in 14.2 innings. Alvarado’s save opportunity also came on the heels of both Alex Colome and Sergio Romo, pitching in 3 of 4 games, thus both due for a day off. Neither Colome nor Romo has been all that good this season, with ERAs of 6.00 and 5.06, respectively.
Actions to take: It doesn’t appear a closer change has occurred or is imminent, but the fact that Alvarado was able to convert his save chance shows he can handle such situations. If I owned shares of Colome I would be concerned. Besides his gaudy ERA, Colome also issued 7 walks in just 12.0 innings. On the flip side, Avarado’s 5 walks are not much better, but I think he’s worth an add for save speculators.
St. Louis Cardinals
After four straight appearances without allowing a run, Greg Holland allowed runs in his last two outings, including a blown save in which he failed to record an out. That marks the second such outing without recording an out in 2018, plus his debut outing where he recorded just one out. When Holland has been bad this year, it hasn’t been pretty.
With Holland still not in form, Bud Norris continues to get save chances. He picked one up on Tuesday night, and on the season he’s got 22 strikeouts to 3 walks, to go along with a 1.72 ERA and 0.89 WHIP. He’ll retain closing duty for the foreseeable future.
Actions to take: Holland has been on the most dropped list since his most recent blown save. It’s fair to drop him at this point based on his poor performance and Bud Norris’ great performance. I am not convinced that this is the end of the discussion though. Norris had significant splits last season, posting a 2.23 ERA in the first half and a 7.01 ERA in the second half. I think if Holland can straighten things out, he’ll be the first option to take over. I’ll continue to monitor the situation, and I suggest keeping both guys on your watch list.
The Committee remains intact in Milwaukee, with Jeremy Jeffress picking up the team’s last two saves, both multi-inning appearances. On the season, Jeffress pitched 17.2 innings with a 0.51 ERA, 0.74 WHIP, 4 holds, 2 saves, 2 wins, and 13 strikeouts. He’s checked off all the stat categories in just over a month of baseball. More impressive than Jeffress is the ludicrous season Josh Hader continues to put up. He had only one appearance this week, which was a 2.2 inning save in which he struck out 8 batters, allowing one baserunner via a walk. That’s just absurd.
Actions to take: If Jeffress is available, he is worth an add in holds and saves leagues alike, though I suspect he is surely owned in holds leagues by now. Hader should be owned in all leagues right now the way he is going; I don’t care if there are only 6 teams you should roster him. The other action you should take if you haven’t already, is to sit back and marvel at what Josh Hader is doing because this type of performance does not happen very often.
In the last two weeks, Tayron Guerrero pitched 5.2 scoreless innings in 6 relief appearances, striking out 12 and picking up his first hold of the season last Saturday. On the season, Guerrero has 29 Ks in 15.1 innings, which is eye catching. He’s also issued 9 walks and has an ERA of 4.11 and a WHIP of 1.43, but his recent performance noted above makes him worth keeping an eye on.
Actions to take: Guerrero may be worth an add in holds leagues. His strikeout ability is for real, and while the walk rate is high, he has been better of late and relievers with K rates north of 12 and can handle giving out a few additional free passes. If his recent performance continues he’ll see increased hold opportunities.
Three Stars of the Week
Josh Hader, MIL – As noted above, Hader recorded an 8-out save, all via the strikeout. On the season, Hader has 39 Ks in 18.0 innings. Pure dominance.
Aroldis Chapman, NYY – After a down season by Chapman’s standards, he has bounced back in a big way. In the last week Chapman had 4 one inning appearances. He picked up 3 saves, struck out 8, and allowed just 3 hits and 2 walks. On the season Chapman has pitched 14.0 innings with 27 strikeouts and 5 walks, and 7 hits, good for a 1.29 ERA and 0.86 WHIP.
Bud Norris, STL – Norris pitched 4.1 innings striking out 4 and recording a win, a save, and a hold. He did not allow an earned run.
That’s all for this week. Thank you for reading and feel free to drop a question or comment below.
Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio Show: Join host Brian Roach, Jr, and Cole Freel live on Sunday May 6th, 2018 from 8-9:30pm EST for episode #119 of Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio. We are a live broadcast that will take callers at 323-870-4395. Press 1 to speak with the host. We will discuss the latest information in the world of fantasy baseball.
Our guest this week is Kyle Klinker. Kyle has been an owner in MLFS baseball, and basketball leagues for over 5 years. He also has a couple of championships under his belt over that span in some tough leagues. We loving refer to him as “The Red Rocket.”