The one thing you can always count on while covering bullpens is unrest. Both for you as the writer, and each of the thirty MLB teams. Even the most certain of situations can go completely haywire due to injuries or ineffectiveness. Bullpens change every week, hierarchies are in constant flux and you need a plan to work through these tumultuous times. Here’s hoping that you find a nugget here to help you this weekend. My DMs are always open if you have questions @mdrc0508. Let’s hunt for saves.
MLB Bullpen Depth Charts
In Boston, sometimes closer Hansel Robles hit the IL this week with back spasms. There does not seem to be a timetable for his return yet. Look for this to remain a committee with Jake Diekman and John Schreiber getting the opportunities with a sprinkle of Matt Strahm, Wherefore art thou, Matt Barnes?
New York has been hit with significant injury news this week, including losing closer Aroldis Chapman to an Achilles injury. Their Opening Day trio of Chapman, Chad Green, and Jonathan Loaisiga are all on the shelf. Best guess here: Clay Holmes get the bulk of the chances, with Michael King also in the mix. The depth is going to be tested in the coming weeks.
You are a better person than me (most likely true in any case) if you can roster Tampa Bay relievers. With Andrew Kittredge out, the “logical” choice seemed to be Brooks Raley. We mentioned it would likely be a committee approach based on Kevin Cash’s preferred use of every arm in the bullpen. Lo and behold, he used Colin Poche to get the last two saves. Good luck here. I am not sure I would speculate on Poche; predicting this bullpen is an exercise in futility. It’s hard to read too much into any usage as there is very little pattern to how Tampa uses their bullpen. They are 27-19 and right in the middle of things, as usual. Fascinating team to watch.
It still looks like committee work in Kansas City where Scott Barlow and Josh Staumont share the role in some capacity. Barlow has five saves, Staumont three.
Surprising news in Seattle: the struggling Drew Steckenrider was sent down to AAA. It would appear that Paul Sewald would be the most likely to get save chances here now, but Diego Castillo and Andres Munoz lurk here, too. That said both have had their struggles of late. If Sewald is available in your league, grab him tonight as he could turn you a nice profit on a relatively small bid.
Anthony Bender hit the IL with back stiffness this week, giving him a break from his struggles as the closer. This would seemingly open up some opportunities for Dylan Floro, Cole Sulser, and maybe Tanner Scott. Sulser got the opportunity yesterday in relief of Sandy Alcantara, who had 14 strikeouts yesterday and continues his mastery. Sulser is likely the best option but I wouldn’t be surprised if Don Mattingly uses a committee approach here, even after Bender comes back. Also don’t forget about Anthony Bass, who always seems to surface for a handful of saves each season.
Don’t look now but Cincinnati is improving each week. Tony Santillan picked up his third save last night, but Art Warren remains a slight favorite to remain the closer. Personally, I am not touching this one until Lucas Sims comes back, and even then, I am likely to steer clear. Alexis Diaz is a name to watch; as he gains more experience, he could push into a higher role.
Josh Hader was out dealing with some family issues this week which opened up an opportunity for Devin Williams. Hader is back now, and we are hopeful that al is well with his family. Family always comes first before anything. Hader did nail down hos 16th save on Thursday night.
Things have gotten murky in St. Louis, where Ryan Helsley was given save opportunities twice in the last week over erstwhile closer Giovanny Gallegos. This isn’t a slight to Gallegos, who has been very good, but more a nod to Helsley, who has been lights out all year. Could this be turning into a committee situation? Could be, although it’s important to note that Gallegos has only pitched back-to-back nights once all season, and did throw on Thursday before Helsley got the opp on Friday. One to watch but both are worth rostering in most formats right now.
In Arizona, Mark Melancon got the dreaded vote of confidence this week from Torey Lovullo. Melancon has 10 saves on the year, but also five losses and an ERA over 7.00, with an 11% K rate, which is by far the lowest of his career. Melancon always seems to be able to hold on, but he’s 37 now and his best days may behind him. Speculate here on Ian Kennedy. There is some chatter here about Joe Mantiply too, but managers seem to prefer the more experienced hand. That would be Kennedy.
This isn’t a change, just something to watch in Los Angeles: Daniel Hudson picked up his third save of the year last night. He seems firmly planted for vulture saves on nights that Craig Kimbrel needs a night off. Plan accordingly.