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Romano, Kittredge, Harvey Activated: Bullpen Hierarchies Update

We are officially in the dog days of summer, which means I am back in my full-time day job at school and toiling away at schedules and disciplinary referrals.  I do enjoy my work before anyone thinks I am complaining. Our school is year-round, but I was able to enjoy a short break in July and we are back at it now! I hope you had a great week!

What else is at it again?  Wacky bullpens.  We saw several well-known arms get activated this week: Jordan Romano in Toronto, Andrew Kittredge in Tampa Bay, and Hunter Harvey in Washington. How will those activations play out in real time?  Romano will close in Toronto, but we aren’t fully sure yet how the others will be deployed, despite the “manager speak” we will get.

Let’s dive in and check the action this past week in MLB bullpens.

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Fantasy Baseball Bullpen Report

AL East


Many probably did not see this yet, but Tampa Bay activated former closer Andrew Kittredge on Thursday.  Guess who got the save on Friday?  Kittredge.  Controversy?  I don’t think so.  Jason Adam came on to pitch the seventh with a one run lead and gave up the tying run.  Robert Stephenson pitched the eighth (he’s a guy to earmark here; big arm) before Pete Fairbanks pitched the ninth in what remained a tie game. Kittredge came on for the tenth after the Rays scored three runs in the top of that inning. My money is still on Fairbanks, but this is Tampa…ah, we know that story already.  Continue to ride Fairbanks until we have any different information.

Toronto activated Jordan Romano from the IL this week, and he immediately took back his role and closed out the ninth for his 29th save.  Continue to use him without reservations. Erik Swanson and Jordan Hicks take a step back into setup roles here.

AL Central


Yes, I am painfully aware that Gregory Santos got shelled in his last outing against the Chicago Cubs in the Crosstown Series this week.  Yes, I am also painfully aware that the horrific White Sox have no other real options.  Santos should remain the closer here and, in all honesty, had pitched well in the role since the trade deadline.  Santos should retain the role; manager Pedro Grifol gave him a vote of confidence after the Wednesday night shellacking.  As an aside, Nick Madrigal (traded by the White Sox to the Cubs two years ago) hit his second home run that night against would-be stopper Aaron Bummer; he’s got one more home run than suspended shortstop Tim Anderson this year.  Egads!

Detroit looks to be a full-blown committee with Alex Lange, Beau Brieske and Jason Foley trading chances.  Foley got the save on Friday night.

Kansas City has a similar issue to Chicago with their closer Carlos Hernandez: he’s not been very good lately, but they do not have a ready-made option for anyone else.  Austin Cox is in the mix too.  There won’t be many save chances on the Royals, methinks, but Hernandez should continue to get them based on the fact that management doesn’t seem too keen on any of their options at this point. Dylan Coleman and the freshly activated Taylor Clarke could see some scant chances too. Hernandez did earn a save on Friday night.

AL West


Things are certainly interesting in Seattle right now.  Andres Munoz is the closer and highest leverage reliever in the bullpen, but Matt Brash is an intriguing guy to roster; he gets the save chances on nights where Munoz needs rest. Munoz has only pitched in back-to-back games seven times since his return from injury in June. Brash had two saves this past week and now has eight wins, four saves and 86 strikeouts in 53 innings pitched in 2023. The 36.9 K% is nice.  Many fantasy players are starting to learn that high-leverage relief arms can really help your pitching staff more than a team’s fifth starter.  Brash would be one of those guys.  Even though Munoz will get the lion’s share of chances, he could also be used earlier in games, too.  One to watch here.

NL East


New York: on Friday night, both Adam Ottavino and Brooks Raley had the night off.  Trevor Gott stepped in and got his first save of the season.  Not looking for any big changes here.

Washington activated sometimes closer Hunter Harvey this week. Manager Davy Martinez headed off any speculation by telling beat reporters that Harvey would come back to an eighth inning setup role working ahead of current closer Kyle Finnegan.  I am still shocked that Finnegan was not moved at the trade deadline.  Still, we will keep an eye on this one and the usage patterns as we know things can change by the day in major league bullpens.

NL Central


NL West


In Arizona, Paul Sewald had three saves this week. A name to earmark here is lefty Kyle Nelson, who has gotten himself into a higher leverage role and has been quietly very effective.

Scott Barlow had really struggled since moving to San Diego from Kansas City, but he seems to be rounding back into shape now.  Barlow had given up nine runs but settled down this week with three scoreless outings. He’s no threat to close for the Padres as long as Josh Hader is there, but he’s been used in lower leverage spots since he got there.  Will be interesting to see how this hierarchy plays out there.

As always, DMs are open if you have any questions @mdrc0508.  Also, if you are feeling down and need someone to talk to, those same DMs are open.  Do not suffer in silence with mental health issues.  Let’s work on being there for each other more.

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