Each weekend, we discuss the saves situations for each and every one of the 30 teams in the league, with a special emphasis on who is trending up and who is slipping.
This weekend, we examine Heath Hembree and his ascent to undisputed closer status in Cincinnati, while Scott Barlow’s failed bid to get a hold on the role. Yankees’ stopper Aroldis Chapman still can’t be trusted and his manager is going away from him.
Heath Hembree, Cincinnati Reds
The Reds’ bullpen has been a roller-coaster ride all season long. Lots of relievers have been trusted with ninth-inning duties at some point, but it appears Heath Hembree is the last man standing in a battle with injuries and ineffectiveness.
With Saturday’s save against the Milwaukee Brewers, he is up to six on the season, with three of them coming this week, on Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday. His ERA for the year is still high at 4.80, but he has a 1.03 WHIP and 51 strikeouts in 30 innings. He’s a clear hold.
Joakim Soria, Arizona Diamondbacks
Veteran reliever Joakim Soria is finally getting into a groove, pitching six straight scoreless innings since June 26 and earning three saves in the process. He should have at least a few more weeks saving games before he is (likely) traded.
Until then, you may be able to flip him for extra help on your roster, or take advantage of a few more saves if you need them. Right now, Soria is the man to own in the D-Backs bullpen.
Scott Barlow, Kansas City Royals
We all thought Barlow was going to be “the guy” in Kansas City last weekend, when he earned saves in consecutive days. On Thursday, he was called upon with a lead but in the eighth inning, and he proceeded to allow three runs. Fellow closer candidate Greg Holland conceded three more in the ninth, so he didn’t do much better.
A day before, he also entered the game earlier than expected, in the seventh, and also let in a couple of runs. His competition, Kyle Zimmer and Holland, also allowed runs of their own. The Royals’ situation is a mess.
If, and only if, you can afford the roster spot on your team, you can keep Barlow around to see if he can regain his composure. He has been having a good season even after this week’s struggles, with a 2.95 ERA and a 1.29 WHIP.
Aroldis Chapman, New York Yankees
Aroldis Chapman’s ERA is up to 4.55 after yet another week of not being able to find the strike zone. He pitched only once, completing an inning of work on Tuesday against the Seattle Mariners in which he didn’t allow any runs for the first time in his last four outings, but walked two hitters anyway.
He hasn’t earned a successful save since June 19, and simply can’t be trusted right now. Manager Aaron Boone has given save chances to Jonathan Loaisiga and Chad Green, and he preferred to let Cole go to 129 pitches on Saturday rather than going with him in a one-run game.
Situations to monitor
Yimi Garcia recently allowed four earned runs in an outing, but should remain the closer. Keep an eye on Anthony Bender, though, who racked up a save on Monday but has conceded runs in his last two appearances, including a blown save against the Dodgers on Wednesday.
Kendall Graveman had pitched two days in a row and Saturday’s save chance went to Paul Sewald. Graveman is still the man to own, though.
Now is the perfect time to trade Texas closer Ian Kennedy, who will surely be flipped to a contender and likely moved to a setup role or a committee. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.
- New York Yankees: Committee between Chad Green and Jonathan Loaisiga until Aroldis Chapman reclaims his role
- Baltimore Orioles: Cole Sulser (first option), Paul Fry, Tanner Scott
- Tampa Bay Rays: Diego Castillo (first option), JP Feyereisen, Pete Fairbanks, Jeffrey Springs
- Toronto Blue Jays: Jordan Romano (first option), Rafael Dolis
- Boston Red Sox: Matt Barnes (secure), Adam Ottavino
- Chicago White Sox: Liam Hendriks (secure)
- Minnesota Twins: Committee between Hansel Robles and Taylor Rogers
- Cleveland: Committee between Emmanuel Clase and James Karinchak
- Detroit Tigers: Committee: Jose Cisnero, Gregory Soto, Michael Fulmer (injured)
- Kansas City Royals: Committee between Greg Holland, Kyle Zimmer and Scott Barlow
- Houston Astros: Ryan Pressly (secure)
- Oakland Athletics: Committee between Lou Trivino and Jake Diekman
- Los Angeles Angels: Raisel Iglesias (secure)
- Seattle Mariners: Kendall Graveman (first option), Rafael Montero, Drew Steckenrider, Paul Sewald
- Texas Rangers: Ian Kennedy (secure)
- Atlanta Braves: Will Smith (secure), Chris Martin
- New York Mets: Edwin Diaz (secure)
- Philadelphia Phillies: Committee: Ranger Suarez, Hector Neris, Jose Alvarado
- Washington Nationals: Brad Hand (secure)
- Miami Marlins: Yimi Garcia (first option), Anthony Bender, Dylan Floro, Anthony Bass
- Cincinnati Reds: Heath Hembree (secure)
- St. Louis Cardinals: Alex Reyes (secure)
- Milwaukee Brewers: Josh Hader (secure)
- Chicago Cubs: Craig Kimbrel (secure)
- Pittsburgh Pirates: Richard Rodriguez (secure)
- Los Angeles Dodgers: Kenley Jansen (secure)
- San Diego Padres: Mark Melancon (secure)
- Colorado Rockies: Daniel Bard (secure)
- San Francisco Giants: Committee between Jake McGee and Tyler Rogers
- Arizona Diamondbacks: Joakim Soria (secure)