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 a trio of unexpected relievers who may be about to claim full ownership of the ninth inning on their respective teams, so pay attention and take your notes before your FAAB run!
Scott Barlow, Kansas City Royals
The Kansas City Royals have tried several men in the ninth inning this season, and Josh Staumont appeared to have a hold of the job until he got injured in late May. After that, Greg Holland was a roller coaster as the primary closer, and the whole situation was generally one to avoid.
Now, while we can’t say he will run away with the job and has already been named as the Royals’ closer, Scott Barlow did something that positions himself to get the bulk of the chances going forward: he converted two save chances in consecutive days, on Friday and Saturday.
He did it with no major issues, too, and makes for a fine investment in your FAAB round if available in your league. For the season, he has a very good 2.04 ERA and a 1.21 WHIP.
Cole Sulser, Baltimore Orioles
After Cesar Valdez was demoted from the closer role several weeks ago, Baltimore Orioles’ manager Brandon Hyde said that Paul Fry was an option to succeed him. He was recommended in this very space, but he only has two saves on the year and the last one came on June 4. He has allowed eight earned runs in his last six appearances, too.
There has been no official change, but Cole Sulser, whose ERA is down to 2.05 with a nifty 1.08 WHIP, has two saves in his last three appearances and is trending up as an option for saves. He closed the door on June 25 in Toronto (Buffalo) and on June 30 in Houston, two extremely difficult venues, and is working on a 6.1-inning scoreless run. Go grab him.
Heath Hembree, Cincinnati Reds
Is it possible that we, at long last, are about to get some clarity about the Cincinnati Reds’ bullpen for the long-term? It certainly appears so, because Heath Hembree received and converted save chances on Friday and Saturday.
Hembree can certainly strike guys out, and while his ERA is a tad high at 5.26, he has been unscored upon in his last four games and has a much more palatable 1.05 WHIP, which could actually be a sign that better days are ahead.
Other options for saves such as Sean Doolittle, Amir Garrett, and Brad Brach actually set up for him over the weekend. The Reds have burned us before, but Hembree is worth a speculative add.
Jose Alvarado, Philadelphia Phillies
Last week, Phillies manager Joe Girardi removed Hector Neris from the closer role and Alvarado got a shot. He has relinquished lead after lead since that moment, and has conceded runs in his last three appearances.
The last one came on Friday, when he blew a three-run lead in the ninth against the San Diego Padres and spoiled a beautiful start by Zack Wheeler.
One day later, on Saturday, the Phils generated another save opportunity and Ranger Suarez, who has a 0.85 ERA and a 0.66 WHIP, nailed it. It’s fair to say Alvarado won’t see another chance come his way for a while, and Suarez makes for a fine add.
Aroldis Chapman, New York Yankees
Chapman recently appeared in this space as a ‘trending up’ closer because he had regained his fastball velocity after experiencing a dip. However, it’s his command that is abandoning him and making him look like a minor leaguer in his last couple of weeks.
He had one of the worst nights of his life on Wednesday, when he allowed his first ever grand slam to Jared Walsh and evaporated a four-run lead en route to a loss. Yankees’ manager Aaron Boone gave him a vote of confidence before the Mets series, but we need to see him string together a few scoreless appearances before trusting him again.
Situations to monitor:
Joakim Soria pitched a clean ninth inning and got a save. He should be the primary source of the stat for the Snakes, but they won’t generate too many opportunities.
Matt Barnes blew a save this week against Oakland, and Adam Ottavino is up to six saves. The former is still the closer, but monitor the situation.
Daniel Bard’s inconsistent season continues in Colorado, but he’s still the top saves source on that roster.
- New York Yankees: Aroldis Chapman (secure)
- 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: Emmanuel Clase (first option), James Karinchak
- Detroit Tigers: Three-man committee: Gregory Soto, Michael Fulmer, and Jose Cisnero
- Kansas City Royals: Scott Barlow (first option), Greg Holland, Josh Staumont
- 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
- 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), Dylan Floro, Anthony Bass
- Cincinnati Reds: Heath Hembree (first option), Brad Brach, Amir Garrett, Sean Doolittle
- 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 (first option), Stefan Crichton