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Don’t Be a Hader…Terrible Pun Sunday! Bullpen Update 8.21.22

I don’t have anything cute to say today on this foggy day outside of Chicago.  Let’s get right to these crazy bullpens.  Be sure to follow @fantrax and @mdrc0508 (worst Twitter handle ever) for bullpen notes and tales of Jack Carter escapades.

MLB Bullpen Updates

AL East

Raise your hand if you saw Matt Barnes getting another save chance for Boston this year. Yet he did earn his third save this week on a night when Garrett Whitlock was unavailable due to a sore hip.  The money here is still on Whitlock, but John Schreiber and Barnes could get looks on nights where Whitlock needs a rest.  Tanner Houck remains on the IL with a back issue.

The once unsinkable Yankees are taking on water. They still have an eight-game lead in the AL East battleground but are only 2-8 in their last ten games, and they are having bullpen issues.  Clay Holmes hit the IL with a back injury and Aroldis Chapman, the closer with nine lives, ascended back to the top of the hierarchy.  But all has not been well: Chapman has 12 walks in his last 16.1 innings, and he has given up three runs in his last two outings. And Holmes was struggling before his IL stint. Tread carefully if you think Chapman is fully back and his dominant self. Those speculating might want to grab Scott Effross and stash him; if things remain difficult here, Effross or Lou Trivino could get chances.  The once airtight Yankees bullpen is showing some cracks here.

I cringe to type the words “Tampa Bay” in this piece every week because I know how much stress it causes not only me but our fantasy baseball community. But again we have the mix and match Rays hanging around the playoff race. We know how manager Kevin Cash uses his bullpen, and anyone down there who is breathing might get a save chance, including Jason Adam, Colin Poche, and Pete Fairbanks. Adam and Poche have seven saves, Brooks Raley six, and the injured Andrew Kittredge five.  Nine different pitchers have saves for the Rays.  A remarkable thing to watch each week; even as it causes me pain as a bullpen watcher, how cool is it that they do this annually and are always competitive?

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AL Central

While the AL Central boasts some mediocre teams, all have fairly stout bullpens and there has not been much to update lately.

In Cleveland, Emmanuel Clase continues to be the closer, but there has been some movement in the pecking order behind him. Trevor Stephan has been solid all year, but James Karinchak has been terrific with 34 strikeouts in 19.1 innings since his July return.  In fact, Karinchak gave up runs in his first two outings, but remains unscored upon in his last 15 outings and has given up only three hits this month.

Quick update in Minnesota, where Jorge Lopez has the closer role even though there have not been plentiful save chances in the Twin Cities. Jhoan Duran is still here, but looks to be the eighth-inning guy for now. I know this is not new news, just reminding everyone.

AL West

For right now, it appears that lefty Jose Quijada is the closer in Los Angeles. Not that anyone cares that much except those of us chasing saves like maniacs until the bitter end, like yours truly… Ryan Tepera gives them another option in the bullpen as well.

Who’s the closer in Oakland?  I am not sure I can answer that as the A’s have had zero save chances in almost two weeks. Based on their game yesterday, they used Zach Jackson in the eighth and Dany Jimenez in the ninth of a tie game.  Maybe that is the pecking order for now. I apologize to those of you who may have picked up AJ Puk due to my advice.

The Texas bullpen has taken on some interesting turns in the last month, and with GM Jon Daniels and manager Chris Woodward both relieved of their duties this week, who knows what the future will bring?  Right now, the job rightfully belongs to Jonathan Hernandez and Matt Moore has been their top setup guy. But as suggested a couple of weeks ago, even amidst his struggle to shake off the rust from his injury, Jose Leclerc is lurking and even earned a save last weekend.  Most telling on Leclerc: only two walks in eight appearances This is one to keep an eye on in the waning weeks of the season.

NL East

Seranthony Dominguez is going for an MRI today on his right triceps.  That doesn’t sound promising.

Who would have thought we would ever say that the bullpen in Washington has become an interesting one these days?  Is it a sign of my demise as a human being that I am watching this one?  Maybe I should get a life?  Either way, Carl Edwards, Jr. has earned his way into the pecking order here.  Brandon Finnegan should get the bulk of the opportunities as we suggested when Tanner Rainey went down, but Edwards, Jr. could also get some opps and at the very least is a candidate for holds, at least as many holds as a 41-80 team can have.  He has two saves and two wins in August.  Take a look if you need bullpen depth.

NL Central

Rowan Wick has been solid with four saves since the August 2 fire sale  in the Cubs’ bullpen, but he appears to have company at the top of the food chain: lefty Brandon Hughes has gotten the last two save opportunities here.  Before we read too much into that, both saves appear to be based on matchups, where Hughes faced left-handed hitters. Hughes is primarily a four-seam fastball and slider guy, with both pitches having been very effective for him this year, resulting in the aforementioned two saves and a nice 49 punchouts in 39.2 innings.  Hughes could be a sneaky add especially if this turns into a time share.

Don’t get too excited if Giovanny Gallegos earns a save chance this weekend; Ryan Helsley is on the paternity list.  Gallegos pitched the eighth yesterday in a one-run game, but the Cardinals scored eight in the top of the ninth, and JoJo Romero then pitched the ninth in a laugher.

NL West

The Los Angeles Dodgers are the best team in baseball.  Again. But they too have issues, and one right now is the overuse of closer Craig Kimbrel.  Last night manager Dave Roberts used Evan Phillips to close, stating after the game that Kimbrel needed a break; he had pitched four times this week already. Kimbrel has been susceptible to being arm weary at times due to his maximum effort mechanics and velocity.  Kimbrel has been a bit shaky lately as well: he has 21 saves and 56 strikeouts in 42.1 innings, but he’s given up runs in three of his last four outings and has surrendered eight hits and four walks in 6.1 August innings even as he has earned three saves.  It’s a tightrope act with Kimbrel, as those who roster him are aware of these days. With a big lead in the NL West, look for the Dodgers to give Kimbrel every opportunity to work through it while also getting him rest where they can.  Phillips is a good candidate for holds and vulture saves.

Josh Hader has really struggled since hooking up with the San Diego Padres.  Hader had not pitched in nine days when he inherited a two-run lead and let two runners score to tie up the game. Speaking of blowing a save, he did that in his last appearance the week before.  Then last night, he gave up three more runs without getting an out.  His ERA is now a bloated 5.30 and he has no saves since joining the Padres. Manager Bob Melvin announced on Saturday that he was going to give Hader a break from closing for an undisclosed period of time while using a committee approach. Luis Garcia, who earned his third save on Saturday, would seem to have a slight edge over the other bullpen arms; guys like Adrian Morejon, Robert Suarez and Nick Martinez could all see chances. What’s the issue with Hader?  At a quick glance, it’s home runs and walks; six home runs since July 4 covering 14 appearances to go along with 21 hits and 10 walks in 12.2 innings.  Yikes! He’s too good to be this bad so you wonder if a mechanical breakdown is happening; those in the know in San Diego are suggesting a change in arm slot is the potential issue. But those in playoff races might want to stash an extra arm (if you can find one) to insure themselves.

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