MLB Bullpen Updates: Consistent Inconsistency

I had a friend reach out to me this week via Twitter and suggest that the reason I love covering bullpen so much is because of the “consistent inconsistency.” I guess it is fair to say that one can become addicted to chaos.

I have honestly never thought once about why I enjoy it so much, but he may be correct. I will say it is a labor of love and that I do really enjoy the twists and turns that bullpens take each week and find it fascinating how managers use their tools in each game. I am an old box score guy, and love mapping out the game in that way. I remember scouring the daily sports page when newspapers were delivered to your front door each morning. Now this information is readily available at your fingertips, with an Internet connection and a screen. Yet it’s still the same concept for me, albeit with far more coffee and a need for space to be able to do these exercises. I do love that my weekend mornings start this way, on my front porch with my coffee, and am beyond grateful to everyone who reads my work. Let’s get to it.

MLB Bullpen Updates

AL East

Boston: what a headache. Matt Barnes is on the IL now, joining Hansel Robles there. Save opportunities have been few and far between for the Red Sox in recent weeks. We will call this a committee for now with Jake Diekman and the interesting John Schreiber right now. Tanner Huck has been used in a piggyback role and is quietly rounding back into shape; could he become the closer at some point again?

Clay Holmes is very quietly getting the job done in the Bronx, with seven saves for the New York Yankees. He’s been dazzling with a .35 ERA and 27 strikeouts. A closer look shows that he has cut his walk rate from 9.9% to 3.2% this season, while posting the best strikeout rate of his career at 28.4%. He’s throwing the sinker an astounding 78% of the time. Add in his four wins and you have one of the most valuable relief pitchers in the game, both fantasy and real, at this time.

Another week, another bullpen shuffle in Tampa Bay. Colin Poche just earned his third save last night. It’s important to note that current stopper JP Feyereisen just hit the IL with a shoulder impingement, joining erstwhile closer Andrew Kittredge there. Not to worry, Rays fans; the bullpen is like a clown car full of options that just keep getting the job done. Bump Jason Adam up your list of relievers with potential value as well, especially if you are in a saves + holds list. Poche is a guy you may want to add in the short term to get those valuable saves, but do keep in mind that Kittredge just started a rehab assignment yesterday and may only need 2-3 appearances to shake off the rust from his balky back and reclaim his position as closer next week. That’s my hope as I roster him in several higher stakes leagues.

AL Central

Bullpens 6-5-2022 AL Central

The timeshare continues in Kansas City between Scott Barlow and Josh Staumontwho have not had many opportunities of late with an underperforming Royals squad.

Word to the wise: Minnesota has placed Emilio Pagan on the restricted list, which means the closer in the short term will be Jhoan Duran. Unfortunately, Duran had a tough outing last week but the stuff is there to be able to wrest this job away from Pagan with a couple of good showings. Those of you that roster him should be prepared to use him; If you are in a 12- or 15-team league and he is available, this could be your last chance to roster him on the cheap.

AL West

Bullpens 6-5-2022 AL WEST

Watching Seattle closely to see what happens in this bullpen each week. With Drew Steckenrider being sent to AAA last week, Paul Sewald seems to have the top seat right now. Andres Munoz and Diego Castillo Both reside here, too, but have bots of ineffectiveness this season. Ken Giles is at AAA Tacoma on rehab for his finger injury, and his return could further throw this bullpen into a messy situation. Someone asked my gut on this and this is what I shared: I could see any other guy in this bullpen in a stopper or setup role, but I don’t think Giles can do any other job except closer. That isn’t meant to be a slight to anyone. Pitchers like Sewald, Castillo, and Munoz have value in other roles and I would not be surprised at all (especially with the trade deadline looming, Giles in the last year of his contract, and Seattle underperforming thus far) to see Giles get the shot to build up potential trade value. Stay tuned here.

NL East

Bullpens 6-5-2022 NL EAST

Miami has been a situation we have been following all year. We uneasily suggested Anthony Bender early on, but he faded and had also become ineffective. Last week we suggested that this one was wide open, but to keep an eye on Anthony Bass, who always seems to resurface for a handful of saves each year. Lo and behold look who is in the driver’s seat this week? That said, Tanner Scott did get a vulture save this week too. For now Bass is at the top of the hierarchy.

We haven’t said much about it here this season, but the Philadelphia Phillies are having bullpen issues again. Cory Knebel got shelled in his last outing, and Seranthony Dominguez and Brad Hand have been excellent, leading to speculation that this job could be up in the air. We will need to keep an eye on this one, especially as manager Joe Girardi was fired yesterday. Interim manager Rob Thomson may have some other ideas here.

NL Central

Bullpens 6-5-2022 NL Central

Cincinnati had nowhere to go but up, and they are competing and winning games again. Tony Santillan has gotten the last two save opportunities, and we are presuming that Art Warren is healthy. Santillan appears to be the closer in Cincy right now. Lucas Sims remains on the IL with a bulging disc in his back, and as of this week, had not yet started a throwing program, so this could be Santillan’s job for the near term.

Things are murky in St. Louis, where we are going to call this a timeshare for now between Giovanny Gallegos and Ryan Helsley. In a game on Wednesday, Gallegos pitched the eighth, surrendering two runs, and Helsley got the ninth. The game went into extras and neither got the win or the save. The thing is, it’s not so much that Gallegos has been ineffective as much as it has been that Helsley has been unhittable. And we need to listen to managers more often; Oli Marmol suggested last week that he was going to be more prone to play matchups rather than have firmly assigned roles. Both relievers are likely to retain value all season if Marmol keeps that promise.

NL West

Bullpens 6-5-2022 NL WEST

We reported here last week that the situation in Arizona may bear watching as Mark Melancon had fallen on some rough times in the desert. Melancon was called on last night against Pittsburgh and recorded the save. That said, his ERA remains a Little League-ish 5.89, and his 11 strikeouts for the season do not move the needle for you. He used to help with ratios but that isn’t the case right now. Let’s face it: if you are rostering him, you are getting what my good friend Michael Simione refers to as “painful” saves.

There has been some grumbling in San Diego over the recent struggles of Taylor Rogers. Two of his last three outings have been nothing short of a disaster, but we also need to recognize that every pitcher in MLB will have these issues periodically. He’s also recorded 17 saves. I do not think he is in danger of losing the job, but guys like Robert Suarez could get vulture opportunities in the short term. Rogers is second in MLB in saves, one behind leader Josh Hader.

Not sure what to make of it yet, but Jake McGee is back in San Francisco. Camilo Doval appears to have the job but anticipate some vulture save chances when Doval needs a rest or when the lineup is lefty-heavy in the ninth.

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