Word to the wise: if you’re going to get a tattoo, make sure you don’t miss work time due to getting an infection.
All kidding aside, we are entering the final month of the baseball season and there are many bullpens still up in the air. Let’s dive in and see what has happened this past week and what we anticipate happening this coming week as we grind to the playoffs in our respective leagues.
MLB Bullpen Updates
Garrett Whitlock continues to be the first choice in Boston, not that he has had many opportunities lately with the Red Sox sinking to last place. Sometimes closer Tanner Houck is on the IL with back problems still, although he did throw from flat ground this week (as did I ha) and felt good after the session. He remains without a firm timeline but does hope to avoid surgery and return this season. John Schreiber earned his fifth save last night against Tampa.
Let’s check in on the New York Yankees. It’s a mess. Manager Aaron Boone told reporters earlier this week he was leery of using former closer Aroldis Chapman in a high leverage spot, which was ok when Clay Holmes was around. Holmes is on the IL but hopes to return early next week, likely Monday. The best guess is that Boone inserts Holmes right back into the ninth inning slot. He’s really grasping at straws to fill the gap left by him, using Wandy Peralta the other night to get out of a jam started by Clarke Schmidt, who had been tasked with the ninth. Add setup man Scott Effross to the IL this last week with a shoulder strain. It doesn’t look like Chapman will be pitching the ninth anytime soon; he went on the IL yesterday due to an infection in his leg from a new tattoo and will be out through mid-September. It’s been a rough season for Chapman. Luckily the Yankees have an 8.5 game lead and have some wiggle room to sort this mess out.
In my weekly let’s pull what is left of my hair out, Jason Adam seems to still be the top choice in Tampa…except he got the eighth earlier this week and left the ninth to the vaunted Shawn Armstrong, who did convert the save. I am promising myself right now that I will not draft a supposed Tampa Bay closer next year. I say this now and will probably talk myself out of it, although I should not talk myself out of it. This could be a new issue to discuss with my therapist.
Emmanuel Clase earned his 30th save last night for the Cleveland Guardians. He’s been terrific all season with a 1.17 ERA and minuscule .65 WHIP. Looking ahead, could Clase be one of the first two closers taken in next year’s drafts? That will be a discussion this winter.
Josh Staumont hit the IL with biceps tendinitis. Look for Dylan Coleman to be pushed into a higher leverage role in his absence, backing up Scott Barlow as the closer.
Ryan Pressly is on the IL due to his ongoing neck issues. In his absence, Rafael Montero converted his eighth save on Thursday night. Move Hector Neris into the eighth inning setup role.
Jimmy Herget earned his third save last night pitching two innings in relief of Shohei Ohtani. Lefty Jose Quijada has had the most opportunities here but perhaps this becomes something of a timeshare.
Oakland placed Dany Jimenez on the 60-day IL with a right shoulder strain that will end his season. Jimenez led the team this year with 11 saves and a was a pleasant discovery during a difficult year in Oakland. The best guess here is a committee of Zach Jackson and AJ Puk.
It might seem odd to point this out, but the Mets’ Edwin Diaz came on in the eighth inning Thursday night which left Adam Ottavino for the ninth, and Ottavino did convert the opportunity. And then Ottavino was called on again Saturday night and converted his second save in three days. Something to watch here? Unlikely. Diaz had the night off Saturday and has been the best closer in baseball this year. Still…
I honestly did not think we would discuss the Chicago Cubs bullpen much after their early August fire sale of late-inning arms, but things are rather interesting here. While pundits all figured that Rowan Wick would be the last man standing, lefty Brandon Hughes has earned the last three saves for the North Siders. Granted, it appears that skipper David Ross is playing matchups here, but three saves in a row merits our attention. One of the recent saves was also the second game of a doubleheader. I would still place Wick slightly ahead of Hughes, but if you have room on your roster for vulture saves, Hughes could get some the rest of the way. Or he could get none. Isn’t this fun? Erich Uelmen is in the mix for holds for the Cubs, who are actually playing far better baseball in Chicago than my White Sox.
Milwaukee announced that recent acquisition Trevor Rosenthal was not likely to pitch this year due to a lat injury while rehabbing both thoracic outlet surgery and a hamstring strain. He had been close to a return before this setback.
A sure sign that you follow bullpens closely is when you type the name “David Bednar” and begin a Google search. Egads. The Pittsburgh closer has been out for almost four weeks with a balky back. However he began a throwing program on Friday, and manager Derek Shelton reported that the team hopes to have him back before the end of the season. Wil Crowe remains the best option for the scant saves available in Pittsburgh.
In St. Louis, closer Ryan Helsley was on the paternity list last weekend but then was placed on the restricted list so he could spend more time with his wife and newborn son. Congratulations! Helsley was reinstated on Friday night and might need an appearance or two to shake off any rust, but should return to the closer’s role held by Giovanny Gallegos while he was out. Gallegos earned his 12th save of the season this last week.
If you care to know who is closing for the Arizona Diamondbacks, it’s Ian Kennedy. Or Mark Melancon. Or Joe Mantiply. My advice? Look elsewhere.
As many of you have been, I’ve been taking a look at the San Diego situation. There hasn’t been much action for this bullpen with save chances; that being said, Nick Martinez has gotten the last two in six days, and converted both, with Robert Suarez pitching ahead of him in the eighth. Luis Garcia has not pitched in five days.