It’s been a fairly low-key week for bullpens. The biggest news was the Phillies announcing they are going to a closer committee. I’ll take a deep dive into that bullpen today, then I’ll get an update from a few other bullpens around the league including LAA, ATL, TOR, and TEX.
Hector Neris is 8 for 11 in save chances on the season and although he’s recorded the bulk of the Phillies’ saves, he also has a 5.06 ERA on the season. This likely played a part in Phils’ manager Gabe Kapler announcing that he does not have a defined closer and the 9th inning would be up for grabs.
Over the last month the only other Phillies reliever with a save was Edubray Ramos, so it stands to reason he’s in the mix for saves. On the season, Ramos has pitched 17.2 innings to a 1.02 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 11.2 K/9 and 4.1 BB/9. In addition to one save, Ramos also has 5 holds and a win. Ramos’ K-rate and BB-rate are both in line with his 2016 season, as is his ground ball rate at 34%. Ramos is out-performing his 3.48 FIP by over 2 runs, so he’s likely to regress. This is further supported by a 99% LOB rate, meaning that almost all the runners Ramos leaves on base for the next guy don’t come around to score. All in all, there is more to like about Ramos than dislike, and he projects for a mid-3s ERA and a K-rate north of 10.5.
Also in the mix for saves is Seranthony Dominguez, a rookie with just 4.2 career innings and 5 strikeouts. He has a plus fastball in the upper 90s, along with a slider and changeup which grade as average. He has the potential to be a top bullpen arm, but is too green to see consistent save opportunities just yet.
Luis Garcia hasn’t recorded a save but he does have 9 holds, a 3.24 ERA, and 0.90 WHIP in 16.2 innings this season. His ratios are consistent with his 2017 season. The only thing lacking with Garcia is the strikeouts. His K/9 has historically been around 7 – 8, and never above 8.5 K/9. He seems more suitable in the middle innings than the 9th, but could see some save chances nonetheless.
With 7 holds on the season, and the last Phillies RP I’ll write about today, is veteran Tommy Hunter. Hunter missed the first part of the season on the DL and since returning has picked up 7 saves in 8.2 innings, recording a 9.3 K/9, 2.1 BB/9, 4.15 ERA and 1.62 WHIP. Hunter had success out of the bullpen the last two seasons, recording ERAs of 2.61 and 3.18 in 2017 and 2016, respectively. He has 17 saves to his career.
Actions to take: For saves, I still think Neris gets the majority of opportunities the rest of the way, so definitely hold onto him if you own him. Ramos is the next in line, as he’s performed well and has also been used in late innings and save situations. Dominguez may be a closer of the future, but right now he’s too unproven to take over the role. He will be very useful in holds leagues though, so definitely worth an add if he is available. Garcia has also been good, but due to the low K-rate I don’t think he will be the top option in the 9th anytime soon. Finally, Hunter is an intriguing option and I put him 3rd in line for saves. He’s had success out of the pen after some mediocre seasons as a starter. Sometimes the veteran has an edge when it comes to high pressure situations too.
Los Angeles Angels
Keynan Middleton returned last week briefly before being shut down with elbow pain. An MRI revealed damage to his UCL. Tommy John surgery was confirmed yesterday, so Middleton will be out for quite some time.
Justin Anderson has recorded the only save for the Angels since Middleton went down. This occurred on Monday. It is notable that both Cam Bedrosian and Blake Parker pitched the previous two games. Anderson, a rookie, has pitched 10.1 innings on the season, striking out 15 batters. He also has 6 walks, allowed 2 home runs, and has a 5.23 ERA and 1.55 WHIP. It’s a small sample and digging into his game log reveals the walks are scattered across his appearances. His ERA is the result of two outings where he allowed 3 earned runs; the other 8 outings he did not allow a run.
This one will most certainly be a committee for the time being. In addition to Justin Anderson, the usual suspects will be in the mix for saves including Bedrosian, Parker, and Jim Johnson. In the last 30 days, Parker has been the best of the bunch going 13.1 innings with a 1.35 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, and a 15/3 K/BB ratio. Bedrosian and Johnson haven’t been bad at all, but both have walked 6 in 13.0 and 13.1 innings, respectively.
Actions to take: It’s tough to say how this one will shake out. I’m buying into Blake Parker’s resurgence after a poor spring training that poured into the first couple weeks of the regular season. He is my first choice for saves speculators, however if he’s not available you would be fine to grab any of the other options noted above. With the Angels contending for a wild card playoff spot, there is a chance they seek RP help from outside the organization at the trade deadline. We’ll monitor the situation as the dog days of summer approach.
AJ Minter picked up a save this past Monday, his second of the season. Arodys Vizcaino had the night off after pitching the previous two nights. The Braves went right back to Viz on Tuesday night, but he blew the save and took the loss against the Cubs in a 9th inning that featured two controversial calls, one at home and one at third base. Both calls went the wrong way for the Braves. Viz bounced back on Wednesday, nailing down his 8th save in 10 opportunities.
Actions to take: Vizcaino owners need not be worried, he’ll continue to see the bulk of the saves. AJ Minter will notch a couple here and there.
Toronto Blue Jays
Roberto Osuna’s administrative leave was extended by MLB through May 21 as they continue their investigation into his domestic violence charge. Until we know more details it’s tough to predict if a suspension will come down, and if so how long it will be for. Since last week, no one recorded a save for the Blue Jays, so there is not much to update for the active relief pitchers.
Actions to take: Closer candidates for the Blue Jays include Tyler Clippard, Ryan Tepara, and John Axford. Check out last week’s article for a little more detail on each.
Tim Lincecum is in the midst of a rehab assignment at Rangers’ Triple-A affiliate Round Rock. Assuming no set-backs, he’s about 2 weeks away from returning. Keone Kela has been adequate in the closer role for Texas, going 8/8 in save chances and striking out 19 batters over 16 innings, but he does have an ERA over 5. I don’t think the job will be Lincecum’s immediately upon activation, but he could see some saves at some point during the year with Kela not exactly dominating.
Actions to take: There is no reason to drop Kela and I don’t think his job is in immediate jeopardy. Lincecum may be worth a stash on your DL if you are desperate for saves and have DL spots available.
Three Stars of the Week
Raisel Iglesias, CIN – Iglesias pitched 4 innings picking up 4 saves while striking out 6. He did not allow a run and only allowed one baserunner via a hit.
Kyle Barraclough, MIA – Barraclough pitched 4 innings and recorded 3 holds to go along with 3 Ks, 1 BB, and 0 runs or hits.
Pierce Johnson, SFG – Johnson pitched 3 innings, striking out 3 and recording 1 hold, 1 win, and did not allow a baserunner. On the season he has a 5.7 K/9 and 4.79 ERA, so it seems like he just had a good week.
Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio Show: Join host Brian Roach, Jr, and Cole Freel live on Sunday May 13th, 2018 from 8-9:30pm EST for episode #120 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 Kevin Bzdek. Kevin is a writer and editor with majorleaguefantasysports.com. His articles publish every Friday morning and his focus is on bullpens.