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
- We saw 16 games played on Sunday including the suspended Mets-Nationals game which picked up in the 3rd. It’s a relatively busy Monday with only six teams getting scheduled off days: TBR, CLE, DET, CWS, MIA, and PIT.
- A.J. Puk was placed on the IL by the Marlins for a “nerve irritation” in his elbow. He was previously held out a few days with what they called “dead arm,” but that apparently wasn’t a final diagnosis. There isn’t much information on a timeline for return right now, but Dylan Floro and Tanner Scott seem to be the favorites to attempt to close out games for the Marlins in his absence.
- The Mets activated Brooks Raley from the IL and he immediately saw action on Sunday. Raley was a key 7th/8th inning figure for the Mets before his injury, so he could step right back into being a source of holds.
- Ryan Tepera was designated for assignment by the Angels on Sunday and replaced on the roster by Zack Weiss. Tepera was certainly struggling to start the year, but not all of his underlying metrics looked too bad, so it would be surprising if he didn’t find his way onto another major league roster before the month is over.
LAA 3 – CLE 4
- Carlos Estévez was the only Angels reliever to see the field today and he allowed a go-ahead three-run homer to the first batter he faced in the bottom of the 8th. He wasn’t credited with the loss as an inherited runner was technically the go-ahead run, but he certainly earned one. It was the first earned run he had allowed since April 17th, a stretch of eleven appearances. Today was a bit of a setback, but the norm for Estevez so far this year has been dominance as his ERA now sits at 1.42 through his first 19 IPs of the season in which he’s racked up 24 punchouts. Underlying numbers support a bit of regression from here, but there seems to be support for a K-rate between 26-28% and an ERA from 2.50-3.00 the rest of the way which would almost certainly keep him in the 9th inning the rest of the year.
- James Karinchak vultured a win as he finished the last out of the 8th inning on just five pitches. Emmanuel Clase came on for the 9th and struggled for the second straight outing allowing two runs on three hits, but he eventually closed out his fourteenth save of the year. I’ve written a few times this year about how Clase is getting outs slightly differently this year than he did last year. His K-rate has sharply fallen to 15% and he’s been relying on a lot of ground ball outs to get through his innings. The batted balls he gives up are still generally weak and on the ground, but in this post-shift ban run environment, giving up more contact, regardless of the quality of that contact, is something that eventually leads to runs. His velocity was up over 100 mph on Friday, but it was back closer to where he has been so far this year on Sunday, sitting 98.4 mph on fifteen cutters. Clase is still one of the best relievers in the game, but until the strikeouts come back, we may see a few more outings like this where he gets an unlucky hit or two which keeps his ERA from the sub-1.50 levels we’ve seen the past two years.
NYM 2 – WSH 3 (Game 1)
- This game started in the top of the 3rd and the Mets treated it like a bullpen game with Stephen Nogosek and Dominic Leone each handling multiple innings to get them through this one. These are both long/bulk relievers who likely won’t see too many high-leverage situations.
- The Nationals also exclusively used relievers to get through the rest of this game and they started with Erasmo Ramírez for 2.2 IPs and ended with Hunter Harvey, who secured his second win of the year, and Kyle Finnegan who logged his eighth save. Harvey continues to look like the best reliever in this bullpen to me and Finnegan continues to look like a guy who has the chance to blow any save chance you give him. He gave up two more hits in this one which is the fourth straight outing in which he’s allowed two or more baserunners. He’s struggled to strike people out, avoid walks, and keep the ball in the park, so he’ll have to quickly and drastically improve to keep the 9th inning.
NYM 8 – WSH 2 (Game 2)
- Brooks Raley returned from the IL to work the 6th inning in this game. He struggled a lot with control, but he still leads this team with eight holds despite his brief absence and he figures to immediately slot into a high-leverage role again with plenty of holds.
- The Nationals were out of this one by the time the starter left the game, but they did bring on Mason Thompson to try to stop the bleeding before turning it over to their long guys. Thompson had an amazing April and had a 1.89 ERA with seventeen punchouts to just one walk at the end of the month. May, however, has been a disaster for him as he allowed his sixth and seventh earned runs of the month on Sunday to bring his season ERA up to 4.43. He has the skills to compete for the 9th inning, on this team at least, but the lack of consistency will likely keep the young righty in a mid-relief role for the time being.
PIT 4 – BAL 0
- Despite the four-run lead, the Pirates opted to use their top two bullpen arms, Colin Holderman and David Bednar, to close out the final two frames of this one since they each had had three days of rest and the team has a scheduled off-day on Monday. They’ve each played their roles spectacularly this year and with the Pirates’ emergence as a decent team, Bednar looks to be one of the best fantasy values at closer so far.
- The Orioles bullpen combined to give up just one baserunner in four scoreless innings, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the Pirates pitching mastery. The team is 3rd in the majors in bullpen ERA and features one of the most dynamic 7-8-9 combinations in the league, which has forced Cionel Pérez down the leverage ladder, but he’s still the preferred lefty out of the pen and has pitched a bit better than the 4.30 ERA he’s currently sporting would have you believe. He could still be a good source of holds the rest of the way.
TBR 8 – NYY 7
- Jason Adam picked up his fifth save of the season as he continues to look like an elite closer in the absence of Pete Fairbanks. The Rays seem to have two guys they trust above all others in Fairbanks and Adam, so Adam seems to be the surefire 9th-inning guy while Fairbanks is out. Unfortunately for Adam, Fairbanks had a successful rehab outing on Friday and looks poised to be activated from the IL when first eligible on Tuesday. It’s likely that the two will share the 9th in some way given the propensity of the Rays to play matchups, but it’s worth noting that Adam didn’t get his first save until May 2nd after Fairbanks went down.
- The Yankees were down big and resigned to use their low-leverage guys until the offense stormed back in the 7th and 8th and nearly tied the game, leading them to throw Ron Marinaccio in the 9th to give the offense one last chance to get that final run. With the team’s turmoil in the closer role, one would think that their bullpen was struggling as a whole, but they’re fourth in the majors in bullpen ERA. Marinaccio may not be one of the several currently in the mix for saves, but he leads the team in holds and is a stalwart of the back end of this pen.
ATL 5 – TOR 6
- Three holds were given out to Atlanta relievers including to reclamation projects Kirby Yates and Nick Anderson. Both of these guys have been dominant pitchers in the recent past, but have gone through long recoveries from multiple injuries over the past few years. Yates seems to be gaining a bit of trust as A.J. Minter continues to struggle, but he hasn’t seemed like the Kirby Yates of old and might not stick around. Anderson, however, looks to have regained some of his former dominance and is now tied for second on this team with six holds. He could be an interesting option in SVHD leagues moving forward. Raisel Iglesias followed these two in the 9th and blew his first save of the year, allowing two runs to score on three hits and a walk. It was the second straight rough outing for him as he sat two ticks slower on his fastball compared to 2022 and his first few outings of this year. It’s certainly concerning to see a drop in velocity like that, but Atlanta has a lot of rope to give him as he works his way into the season. Keep an eye on this, though.
- Nate Pearson was in the right place at the right time on Sunday as the Blue Jays’ walk-off win gave him his first win of the season. Pearson had been dominating as a reliever at AAA when he was called up and he’s continued to show great stuff, but this time with serviceable command. He hasn’t earned his first hold yet, but I would imagine it is coming soon as he gains the trust of Toronto’s coaches.
SEA 3 – DET 5
- Gabe Speier took his first loss on Sunday, allowing two runs in the bottom of the 7th to raise his ERA to 1.84. Speier allowed his first earned run of the year on May 7th after a scoreless April with 11.1 IPs and now he’s allowed his second and third earned runs a week later. Speier, along with Justin Topa and Trevor Gott, have had to take on some extra leverage with the extended absence of Andrés Muñoz which seems poised to continue until early June. He’s not a pitcher who will get you many strikeouts, though, so the upside remains pretty tame especially compared to teammate Matt Brash. If you find yourself considering trying to figure out who takes extra holds while Munoz remains out, I’d be much more likely to take a chance on the upside of Brash.
- Jason Foley picked up the relief win while Alex Lange worked around a pair of walks to earn his seventh save. Lange sports a ridiculous 50% K-rate over his past ten appearances (36 batters faced) as his early-season struggles seem to be well into the rearview mirror.
CIN 1 – MIA 3
- Kevin Herget took the loss as the Reds used some recent call-ups from AAA to get their heavily worked back-of-the-bullpen guys some extra rest. With Alexis Díaz having thrown 56 pitches across two outings on Friday and Saturday, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him given another off day on Monday. Given his strong performance of late, Lucas Sims may be the one to pick up the slack in a save situation.
- With A.J. Puk’s injury, Dylan Floro took the 9th inning and earned his second save. It’s the same story as last year with Floro and Tanner Scott, who worked the 7th inning of this game and picked up a win, as the most likely candidates to earn saves in Puk’s absence. Scott ended up providing more saves last year, but with considerably worse ratios as he still has stretches where he simply can’t locate his pitches. Floro doesn’t sport the same strikeout upside but has historically had much better ratios. With the Marlins looking like a basement dweller yet again, it’s possible that neither player ends up providing much fantasy value.
CHC 3 – MIN 16
- It was a rough day for Cubs pitchers in general who needed their backup shortstop to come in to finish the game for them. Anyone besides Mark Leiter Jr. and Adbert Alzolay likely shouldn’t be on any fantasy rosters right now.
- The Twins were up big, so they could have phoned it in if they wanted to, but they decided to throw Jorge López anyway. Lopez leads the team with nine SV+HD and, despite not having eye-popping strikeout numbers, seems to be delivering a sustainable level of performance.
HOU 4 – CWS 3
- Ryan Pressly notched his seventh save while Bryan Abreu, Hector Neris, and Seth Martinez were all credited with holds. Abreu has been among the most dominant pitchers in the league this year, but Pressly is the veteran presence and has done enough to hold the job. It would likely take an injury or prolonged stretch of poor performance for Abreu to take over, but he can provide strikeouts and ratio help to any league even as a setup man.
- Reynaldo López and Aaron Bummer each delivered a scoreless appearance as they attempt to turn around disappointing starts to the year. Both of these guys came into the year with high expectations, but both have struggled with control in the early season. Lopez, in particular, seemingly alternates between not being able to find the zone and grooving his fastball down the middle which has led to an impressive 32% K-rate, but a disastrous 19% barrel rate and six home runs allowed. Lopez’s command has looked better the past few outings and there is still the potential for a dominant reliever in there somewhere. It will take several more good outings to convince me that he’s found that groove again, though.
KCR 6 – MIL 9
- The Royals needed lots of guys to chip in after their starter got them just seven outs with long man, Max Castillo, still unavailable after tossing 81 pitches on Friday. I’m not interested in this bullpen for fantasy purposes right now, but I’m curious to see how things shake out if Scott Barlow and Aroldis Chapman are both moved this summer. Josh Staumont has been touted as a potential closer of the future for several years, but his performance has never quite lived up to the hype while Carlos Hernández has exhibited some interesting improvements that haven’t quite translated to the final stat line yet. It could just end up being a bullpen to stack against all year.
- Eric Lauer threw 5.1 IPs in relief as the Brewers employed the double-starter approach to get through this game. The team will have their full set of relievers available to them on Monday.
PHI 0 – COL 4
- Philadelphia needed just one inning in relief from Andrew Vasquez to complete the game in this one. We’ll have to wait at least one more day to get some clarity on what the leverage ladder looks like now without José Alvarado.
- Jake Bird took the 7th while Justin Lawrence worked the 8th and 9th for the Rockies here. No holds or saves were distributed as the lead held steady at four runs throughout the late innings. The Rockies have had a surprisingly serviceable bullpen so far this year ranking 20th in ERA, but 4th in FIP on the season with the Coors factor certainly affecting that ERA. I’m not sure how long that will last, but Lawrence, at the very least, seems to be the real deal.
TEX 11 – OAK 3
- Could this be a sign of life from José Leclerc? He threw thirteen of sixteen pitches for strikes and struck out three in his first appearance since May 7th. His fastball velocity was a tick up as well, close to the velocity he was at for his dominant 2018 season. Will Smith has been pretty effective as the Rangers’ closer, so he isn’t exactly close to losing the job, but the Rangers exercised a $6 million option on him this year, so they must see something they like here. With a stretch of success, he may find his way into the 9th again.
- Oakland continues to add to their league-worst bullpen ERA as three pitchers combined to allow eight earned runs in the 8th inning. Stack your batters against Oakland. Every single time.
SDP 0 – LAD 4
- So nice to see Brent Honeywell Jr. stick around for a while in the majors. He’s not going to rack up a ton of holds or strikeouts, but it’s good to see a guy who fought through so many injuries get a chance to spend some time on a major league roster.
- It was a four-run game throughout the late innings, but I get the feeling that the Dodgers are full-on Raysing right now. Brusdar Graterol came on for one batter in the 8th and Justin Bruihl worked the 9th. Yes, Evan Phillips does seem to have the hold of the lion’s share of saves, but I feel like that could change as they get a sense of what matchups they like this year. Based on their recent usage and what the team has been saying since this offseason, I wouldn’t put money on Evan Phillips getting seven of the team’s next ten saves.
SFG 1 – ARI 2
- Tyler Rogers worked a clean 8th to maintain the tie game but gave up a walk, then a walk-off double to take the loss. Rogers has been the oasis in the storm getting the ball to closer Camilo Doval in a bullpen that has surprisingly been among the worst in the league. For that reason, Rogers figures to continue to lead this team in holds.
- Miguel Castro worked the top of the 9th and fell into a win with the walk-off in the bottom of the 9th. If Andrew Chafin continues to struggle, Castro could be the main beneficiary as he’s tied for the team lead with eight SV+HD and has the team’s most recent save. Nothing in his profile indicates that he’d be a dominant closer if he were to take over the job, but he could be a decent low-end RP2.
STL 9 – BOS 1
- Chris Stratton delivered a scoreless 9th to finish out this blowout and tacked on two strikeouts to bring his May totals to 7 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 10 K. He hasn’t earned his first hold of the year yet, but he has to be gaining the faith of the coaching staff with a run like that especially given the continued control problems of Jordan Hicks.
- Ryan Brasier was lit up for three runs on Sunday night to raise his season ERA to 7.29. He never had a huge upside and now it seems that his time with the Red Sox could be coming to an end. He’s out of options and if he doesn’t show improvement by the time Garrett Whitlock returns from injury, the corresponding roster move may be his DFA.
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)