Welcome back to the latest edition of our Reliever Ranks series! This will bring you up-to-date bullpen depth charts every morning for the day’s games and makes for an excellent tool for those looking to stream saves or wins. This series runs seven days a week, so check in every morning to get your daily bullpen fix!
Transaction and Schedule Notes
- I’d like to issue an apology for the April 22nd version of the Reliever Ranks not getting published. Here are the bullpen transactions you missed in its absence:
- The Cubs optioned Javier Assad and recalled Jeremiah Estrada (37.7% career K% in the minors).
- The Guardians reinstated Enyel De Los Santos from the paternity list.
- The Angels DFAd Justin Garza and optioned Jimmy Herget to the minors. Austin Warren’s contract was selected (0.00 ERA in 7 IP @ AAA).
- The Dodgers selected Jake Reed’s contract after placing Michael Grove on the 15-day IL.
- The Marlins activated Steven Okert from the 15-day IL after placing Trevor Rogers on the 15-day IL.
- The Twins optioned Jorge Alcala and recalled top prospect Simeon Woods Richardson to work as a swingman.
- The Mets optioned John Curtiss to make room for Joey Lucchesi’s season debut.
- As well as the saves, holds, and wins recorded around the league by relievers:
- Saves – David Bednar (7), José Alvarado (3), Ryan Pressly (1), Jeurys Familia (1), Kyle Finnegan (4), Kenley Jansen (5), José Quijada (4), Paul Sewald (5)
- Holds – Robert Stephenson (3), Colin Holderman (7), Jimmy Lambert (3), Kendall Graveman (5), Aaron Bummer (5), Bryan Baker (4), Erik Swanson (7), Hunter Harvey (5), Caleb Thielbar (5), Josh Winckowski (2), Carlos Estévez (2), Miguel Castro (2), Trevor Gott (4), Justin Topa (3)
- Wins – Kevin Kelly (2), Félix Bautista (2), Seranthony Domínguez (1), Hector Neris (1), Zach Jackson (1), Erasmo Ramírez (1)
- There was an extra game on Saturday as the Marlins and Guardians took part in a doubleheader. We’ll have the regularly scheduled set of 15 games on Sunday to close out the weekend.
- The Tigers placed Trey Wingenter on the 15-day IL with right shoulder tendinitis. Will Vest was recalled and could factor into holds opportunities given the current state of the Tigers’ bullpen.
- The Dodgers designated Jake Reed for assignment and recalled Victor González from AAA in a corresponding move. As recently as 2021, the 27-year-old southpaw recorded 16 holds, so it’s not out of the question that he could factor into the late innings with Evan Phillips sidelined.
- The Phillies placed Andrew Bellatti on the 15-day IL with right triceps tendinitis and activated Cristopher Sánchez from the 15-day IL to start on Saturday.
- The Padres optioned Reiss Knehr to make room for Joe Musgrove’s IL activation.
- The Rays optioned Cooper Criswell and selected Hector Perez’s contract. As is Rays’ custom, the journeyman is likely to become an All-Star out of nowhere and is guaranteed at least one save opportunity.
TOR 2 – NYY 3
W: Jimmy Cordero (1)
L: Jordan Romano (1)
- A bounce-back performance from Alek Manoah didn’t hold up across the final two frames. Yimi García served up a two-run bomb to Anthony Volpe to break the tie in the eighth. Fortunately, the Bluebird offense had his back, countering with a two-run homer of their own. Tied in the ninth, manager John Schneider turned to closer Jordan Romano to push the game to extras, but the AL saves leader gave up two straight hits and a free pass before DJ LeMahieu walked it off with a game-winning single. Using a closer outside of save situations is always perilous and nights like these are just part of the job, a job which is not in jeopardy for Romano. It’s worth noting that both Romano and Garcia were sitting 1.5+ mph down on their heaters.
- The Yankees’ pitching staff maintained a shutout until southpaw Wandy Peralta was extended past the eighth inning in order to secure the newfound lead. He served up that aforementioned game-tying dinger to Danny Jansen in the ninth and needed Jimmy Cordero’s help to escape the inning with the score still tied. Despite having all four of the team’s saves, Clay Holmes has been oft-used in a high-leverage role. The sinkerballer pitched in parts of the seventh and eighth innings but did his job in spite of the unorthodox usage. Ron Marinaccio was the only other Yankees reliever to take the mound and he held the Blue Jays bats scoreless.
WSN 10 – MIN 4
W: Mason Thompson (2)
- Hanging on to a comfortable lead throughout, Mason Thompson vultured a win with seven successful outs after the starter exited in the fourth. Hobie Harris gave up two runs, but Carl Edwards Jr. and Anthony Banda were able to keep the final two frames quiet to guarantee the victory.
- A weak Nationals lineup phased the Twins’ pitching staff. The starter struggled and Simeon Woods Richardson followed suit. In his 2023 debut, the top prospect surrendered five runs across 4.2 innings with the big blow coming on a three-run shot by CJ Abrams. Brent Headrick was the only arm to escape unscathed, and that can be entirely pinned on the fact he recorded just one out.
LAD 9 – CHC 4
- The Dodgers got revenge after their drubbing on Friday. Outside of Yency Almonte serving up a two-run homer to Nico Hoerner, the rest of the LA arm barn was lights out. Alex Vesia and Caleb Ferguson each recorded their first hold of the campaign. Shelby Miller finished things off with a scoreless ninth and now sports a 1.80 ERA with 10 Ks across 10 IP.
- Six different Cubs relievers were needed to complete this game. Brandon Hughes, Mark Leiter Jr., and Brad Boxberger (the top three options outside of and successors to Michael Fulmer) were the three arms to permit runs as they combined to allow six runs across 2.2 innings. Michael Rucker, Adbert Alzolay, and Julian Merryweather made scoreless appearances to offset their contemporaries’ struggles.
COL 3 – PHI 4
W: Connor Brogdon (1)
SV: Craig Kimbrel (2)
- Daniel Bard and Jake Bird have nearly identical last names and had identical outings on Saturday, tossing a scoreless inning apiece with one hit and two punchouts. The former hasn’t allowed a run since returning from the IL and should reclaim the closer role, but his 2.5+ mph drop in fastball velocity is concerning.
- Nobody could push a run across against the Philly arm barn. Every reliever that appeared was rewarded with a decision. After Connor Brogdon vultured a win with five scoreless outs, Gregory Soto and Seranthony Domínguez came on to set up for the closer and earned holds. With José Alvarado having pitched in three of the past four days, the team called upon Craig Kimbrel to shut things down in the ninth. He was perfect in locking down his first save of the year, needing just eight pitches to do so. It seems as though Alvarado is the go-to ninth-inning option and that Kimbrel is the first arm the team will turn to in the ninth when Alvarado needs a break.
MIA 6 – CLE 1 (Game 1)
W: Andrew Nardi (2)
H: Huascar Brazoban (2)
- Taking both halves of the doubleheader, the Marlins rested their top arms in the first game. Outside of Andrew Nardi vulturing a win with four flawless outs, and Huascar Brazoban doing the same across five outs for a hold, two other arms took the mound. Matt Barnes and Steven Okert kept the scoreless streak alive across the final two frames. It was the latter’s season debut and he’ll likely need a few outings to ramp up before factoring into high-leverage situations.
- Nick Sandlin and Tim Herrin helped put the game out of reach for the Guardians, giving up three runs while recording just two outs. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Enyel De Los Santos got two outs without allowing a run, and 27th man Hunter Gaddis pitched two perfect innings. The back end of the arm barn was reserved for game two.
MIA 3 – CLE 2 (Game 2)
SV: A.J. Puk (4)
- The stars came out in game two as the top setup options and the closer appeared to complete the two-game sweep. Tanner Scott got away with a hold despite allowing a run while Dylan Floro was unscored upon across five outs. Neither of them shone a light on A.J. Puk who locked down his fourth save with a hitless ninth. Having allowed just one run and recorded 80% of the team’s saves thus far, his role is secure.
- In a battle that was much more competitive, the Guardians used their best arms to keep the game close. James Karinchak surprisingly struck out no one in his scoreless sixth, and Eli Morgan continued his hot start with two zeroes posted across the seventh and eighth. The latter has yet to surrender a run across 10.1 innings this year and his 12/2 K/BB ratio suggests sustainable success. Emmanuel Clase got some work in, tossing a perfect ninth. His early velocity scare is long forgotten.
NYM 4 – SFG 7
- Just Edwin Uceta pitched for the Mets. He covered the final three frames without giving up a hit. His changeup was a lethal weapon, inducing seven whiffs across 23 offerings for a 39% CSW. Performances like this one will net him higher leverage opportunities in the future.
- The final score suggests a save situation, but the bullpen created that illusion. Scott Alexander permitted a run on three hits in the eighth and closer Camilo Doval appeared with a four-run lead to close things out, only to surrender another run on two hits. He should be available Sunday after tossing 23 pitches on Saturday. There isn’t any noticeable competition for his ninth-inning job.
CHW 3 – TBR 4
W: Garrett Cleavinger (1)
L: Jimmy Lambert (1)
H: Colin Poche (3)
BS: Jason Adam (1)
- If not for the zombie runner, we may be looking at the South Side bullpen in a different light. Prior to Jimmy Lambert allowing Randy Arozarena to walk it off with a single in the 10th, the relief corps was untouchable. Keynan Middleton tossed a scoreless fifth and Gregory Santos put up zeroes across the next two innings. The latter unleashed the top velocity on the day – a 103.1 mph four-seamer. I believe Santos should be a dark horse breakout candidate with that velocity alone. The next two frames were pitched flawlessly by Kendall Graveman and Reynaldo López. Graveman induced three whiffs on just five sinkers while fanning two. It was nice to see López bounce back after another blown save on Friday. Both have pitched on back-to-back days, so Aaron Bummer is the most likely candidate to vulture a save on Sunday.
- Extra innings would have been avoided if not for Jason Adam serving up a game-tying homer to Gavin Sheets in the eighth. It forced Pete Fairbanks into action in a tie game in the ninth, and he kept it that way so that Garrett Cleavinger could vulture a win with a perfect 10th. I’d be remiss not to mention Colin Poche’s scoreless seventh and his spectacular 1.23 ERA (7.1 IP).
CIN 1 – PIT 2
H: Yohan Ramirez (1)
SV: Duane Underwood Jr. (2)
- With little action across the last week, Alexis Díaz got some work in a tight deficit. He got two outs in the eighth after Lucas Sims got the first out and the last out of the seventh. Sims induced six whiffs on just 15 pitches while his fastball came in 1.3 mph hotter. After two years devastated by injuries and underperformance, it’s easy to forget how good he was in 2020 when he pitched to a 2.45 ERA with a 33% strikeout rate. He should quickly work himself back into the setup role. Alex Young recorded the previous four outs and Buck Farmer the two before that. Young’s changeup was missing bats, forcing swings and misses on half of its eight offerings. All in all, the Cincy arm barn combined for 3.1 innings of scoreless baseball with five punchouts.
- Both Pirates relievers pitched a pair of innings. Yohan Ramirez racked up four strikeouts in his two innings with a whopping nine whiffs on 32 sinkers for 50% CSW. Duane Underwood Jr. didn’t have the same bat-missing stuff, but he didn’t allow a single baserunner while covering for an exhausted David Bednar. The yinzer closer should be back in the ninth on Sunday after the much-needed rest.
DET 1 – BAL 5
- Will Vest and Tyler Alexander were unhittable, but it didn’t have any effect on the unfortunate outcome of the game for the Tigers. The reliever duo tossed a pair of hitless innings apiece. Vest fanned four in his outing looking good in his 2023 debut. Bereft of promising talent, the Detroit bullpen could use an effective Vest.
- The pair of Orioles’ arms were also unhittable in their 2.2 innings of work. Yennier Cano struck out three across five flawless outs while Danny Coulombe continued his late-career breakout with three whiffs on eight sliders. Cano is quickly moving up the depth chart with a 41.2% K rate through his first six scoreless innings.
OAK 3 – TEX 18
- Based on the score, you shouldn’t be surprised about the lack of unactionable bullpen usage. The A’s used two long relief arms and both were terrible. Adrián Martínez surrendered five runs on two dingers across 3.2 innings and James Kaprielian permitted three runs in his lone inning of work. The enormous deficit paved the way for Jace Peterson to toss a two-run eighth.
- On the other side, the Rangers needed just three innings covered by their pen. They let Ian Kennedy pitch the seventh before allowing Josh Sborz to finish off the final two frames. Neither was particularly spectacular.
BOS 4 – MIL 5
SV: Devin Williams (3)
- Never holding a lead, the Red Sox still turned to their most trusted setup option to keep it close. John Schreiber pitched a perfect sixth sandwiched in between a flawless fifth for Richard Bleier and two scoreless innings from Kutter Crawford. Schreiber should be one of the top holds options in baseball even when Chris Martin returns from the IL.
- Every Brewers pitcher recorded a decision. Each of Joel Payamps, Peter Strzelecki, and Hoby Milner recorded holds. Payamps was the only one to permit a run. Devin Williams closed things out in the ninth and maintained his pristine ERA across his first seven innings.
HOU 6 – ATL 3
H: Rafael Montero (1)
SV: Bryan Abreu (1)
- It was nice to see manager Dusty Baker trust Bryan Abreu to vulture a save for once. He’s been the team’s best reliever for more than a year now and will need the experience as the closer of the future. He induced whiffs on half of his eight sliders and has allowed just one run across 11.1 IP with a 42.9% K rate this year. Watch out Ryan Pressly! Rafael Montero also pitched, setting up with a clean eighth for his first hold of many more to come.
- The whiffs were plentiful out of the Atlanta pen as Michael Tonkin, Kirby Yates, and Joe Jiménez combined to induce 12 swings and misses across four innings of work. Remember when Yates had 41 saves and a 1.19 ERA in 2019?
SDP 5 – ARI 3
SV: Josh Hader (7)
BS: Kyle Nelson (1)
- Four scoreless innings are about the most you can ask of a bullpen. Steven Wilson, Ryan Weathers, and Tim Hill set up for the closer, each earning a hold. Wilson has quietly been of the best setup options in baseball this year with just one run allowed across 13.2 innings with a 30.6% K rate. Josh Hader did his thing in the ninth and is now tied with Jordan Romano and David Bednar for the Major League lead in saves. I think he’s shaken off whatever plagued him last year. Having pitched in three of the past four days, there’s a chance manager Bob Melvin turns to someone else to give Hader a rest. That someone could be Wilson, Luis Garcia, or even Brent Honeywell Jr.
- Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo deemed the game close enough to deploy plenty of back-end relievers. After Kyle Nelson surrendered an inherited runner to blow a save, Scott McGough allowed a run across five outs as he tries to regain the trust of his manager. His splitter was working wonders, inducing four whiffs on ten pitches. He was followed by a one-out appearance by Andrew Chafin and a clean ninth from Kevin Ginkel.
KCR 11 – LAA 8
W: Jose Cuas (1)
L: José Quijada (1)
SV: Scott Barlow (2)
- It was an exciting back-and-forth game that resulted in up-and-down bullpen performances. The Royals nearly screwed things up twice. The first was when Carlos Hernández gave up two runs to blow the lead in the sixth. After a promising start to the season, he has surrendered seven runs in his past three appearances. The second was when Jose Cuas allowed two runs to score to break the tie in the eighth. The offense picked him up, gave him a win, and set up Scott Barlow for just his second save opportunity. I’m still worried about his job, especially with Aroldis Chapman pitching in this one and maintaining his perfect ERA (8.0 IP) while averaging 100.2 mph on his fastball and topping out at 102.9 mph.
- The Angels sort of did the opposite, staying strong until the ninth when José Quijada fell apart. The big lefty surrendered five runs in a disaster of an outing. Outside of that, Andrew Wantz was unluckily tagged with a blown save after allowing an inherited runner to score and Matt Moore and Austin Warren had scoreless outings. Quijada has pitched on consecutive days, so look for Carlos Estévez to get a shot at a save on Sunday.
STL 4 – SEA 5
W: Matt Brash (2)
L: Zack Thompson (1)
H: Justin Topa (4)
SV: Paul Sewald (6)
- After exhibiting one of the most egregious inabilities to avoid walks, Génesis Cabrera continued his streak of not dolling out a free pass. It now sits at 7.2 innings, and I don’t think the boldest of preseason predictions could’ve seen this coming. His 44.4% K rate combined with a pared-down BB% should make Cabrera incredible moving forward. The Cardinals also got some maintenance work for Giovanny Gallegos after Zack Thompson netted his team a loss. Ryan Helsley should be the next arm to receive a maintenance outing.
- Capitalizing on the Cardinals’ mid-game mistake, the Mariners attacked with their best weapons. Penn Murfee completed a perfect sixth, Matt Brash struck out the side in order in the seventh to vulture the win, and Justin Topa set up for the closer with a scoreless eighth. This is Brash’s first full season as a reliever and despite an inflated ERA, he’s striking out just about everyone (43.5% K rate). Topa has also intrigued me as an out-of-the-blue late-career breakout. He is unscored upon across eight innings but his K-BB% isn’t great (16.1%) and could forecast a fit of coughing up runs in the near future. Paul Sewald worked around a solo shot to secure the save and should get Sunday off after pitching on back-to-back days. Diego Castillo would usually be the first one up, but we haven’t heard from him in days, so I think Brash is your best bet at a vulture save.
Bullpen Depth Charts
Also, if you’re looking for a detailed list or ranking of RPs, check out Rick Graham’s weekly pieces:
(Photos by Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Doug Carlin (@Bdougals on Twitter)