“On Bzdek” Bullpen Briefing: Week 13
Last week, I speculated that Matt Bush would no longer be closing games for the Rangers. That speculation came to fruition, so we’ll start this week’s Bullpen Briefing in Texas. From there we’ll discuss a couple of closers returning from the DL, one closer hitting the DL, and some other events of the week. We’ll wrap up as always with the week’s three stars.
Matt Bush blew his 5th save of the season on Friday night. Next in line is Keone Kela, however Kela is battling some shoulder soreness and is considered day-to-day, so Jose LeClerc or Alex Claudio could get a save opportunity in the interim. Despite the day-to-day status, Kela has been fine in his last three outings, striking out 5 and allowing no runs in three innings of work. Jose Leclerc had a couple rough outings last Tuesday, allowing 4 runs in 0.2 innings, but responded with 2.1 perfect innings in his next two outings.
On Sunday afternoon, Bush recorded a hold pitching the 7th inning without allowing a run. Leclerc came in to pitch the 8th, with presumably Kela getting the bottom of the 9th for the save. Unfortunately for Texas, Leclerc allowed a two run homer to Yolmer Sanchez, thereby blowing the lead and taking the loss. The key bullpen pieces for Texas are struggling or injured. Bush, Kela, and Leclerc all could see save opportunities this week, as well as newly acquired Jason Grilli. Grilli can strike guys out with the best of them, but he’s also quite hittable, hence the reason he was designated for assignment and traded by the Toronto Blue Jays. A change of scenery could help his cause, but my money is on Kela to emerge as the closer. We’ll need a few more close games to see how things play out.
Baltimore reliever Zach Britton is eligible to return from the DL this Wednesday, and reports are he should be activated when he is eligible. This is Britton’s second attempt to return from injury this season; the first attempt failing after Britton returned too quickly. Hopefully the 60+ days was enough time for his forearm to heal. Interim closer Brad Brach has performed adequately in Britton’s absence. I expect Britton to take over closing duties upon return since he hasn’t blown a save since September 20, 2015, but hang onto Brach until Britton proves he is healthy and able.
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Bud Norris returned was activated from the DL this past Saturday. The Angels have been using a committee in Norris’ absence, though there have not been many save situations for a true replacement closer to emerge. Norris pitched the 7th inning on Sunday, however I suspect Norris regains the role in short order due to how well he handled it in his first go-round. I will begrudgingly hold Cam Bedrosian, as I still fancy him the best reliever on the Angels’ pen and it’s worth it to wait and see that Norris’ knee inflammation is in the past.
San Francisco Giants
Mark Melancon hit the DL this week with elbow inflammation, the second elbow related DL-stint this year. The Giants are going with Sam Dyson as their closer for the time being. Dyson pitched himself out of Texas earlier this year, and I wonder if the out of contention Giants will try to get his value up before flipping him for whatever they can get for him. Nonetheless, if you need saves badly he’s worth an add, plus the change of scenery and more pitcher-friendly ballpark should help. Dyson recorded two saves in the last two days; he will be followed by Hunter Strickland and George Kontos in the Giants’ hierarchy.
St. Louis Cardinals
After a few recent rough outings, Seung Hwan Oh could be demoted from the closer role. He struggled earlier this season and similar speculation surfaced, but Oh righted the ship. We’ll see if he can do that again this time. Oh was used in the 8th inning Saturday night, recording 2 outs and a hold. Trevor Rosenthal, who recorded a save on Wednesday, came in for the save again Saturday. He recorded 2 outs but was removed in favor of Matt Bowman after loading the bases in the 2-1 ballgame. Bowman got the strikeout to end the game and earned his first save of the season.
Oh’s successor was originally thought to be Rosenthal, who closed for the Cardinals as recently as last year, however Rosenthal has not been any better than Oh as of late. Matt Bowman has been pitching well, and deserves consideration for saves speculators, especially since he was able to put out the fire on Saturday night. Right now, I would prefer owning Oh until he proves incapable of closing and officially loses the job.
New York Yankees
Dellin Betances took his second loss in as many appearances Saturday night. He only lasted 0.2 innings in those two appearances, walking 2 and 3 respectively, and recording just one strikeout. His ERA has jumped from 1.09 to 3.12 due to allowing 6 earned runs. Meanwhile, Chad Green is on a roll, striking out 6 batters in his last 3.1 innings. Betances owners should hang tight for now, but those of you in holds leagues should add Chad Green. He’s taken 7th inning duties from Tyler Clippard already, and could see some 8th inning work if Betances continues to struggle.
Three Stars of the Week
Justin Wilson, Det – in 3.1 innings of work, Wilson recorded seven strikeouts and three saves, allowing neither a hit nor a walk.
Anthony Swarzak, CWS – Swarzack threw 4.1 innings this week and recorded two holds and a win. He allowed three hits and struck out seven.
Chad Green, NYY – Chad Green threw a 5.1 innings this week in three separate multi-inning appearances. He struck out 8 batters and recorded one hold, while also allowing two hits and a walk. Chad Green was acquired by the Yankees from Detroit prior to the 2016 season for Justin Wilson. Looks like the trade is working out for both franchises so far.
That wraps up this week’s Bullpen Briefing. Thanks for reading and enjoy the 4th of July holiday.
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