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
- There were just 13 games as the matchup between the Atlanta Braves and Washington Nationals as well as the game featuring the Arizona Diamondbacks and New York Yankees were postponed due to rain. The Braves and Nats will play a doubleheader today while the D-Backs and the Yanks will play their makeup game on Monday. We’ll have a full slate of games on Sunday.
- The Boston Red Sox activated closer Kenley Jansen from the COVID-related IL. He’ll reclaim the closer role, moving Chris Martin back into a setup role, and kicking Brennan Bernardino off the chart.
- The Chicago Cubs placed Brad Boxberger on the 15-day IL with a right forearm strain. His season is over and he’ll be replaced on the chart by Luke Little.
- The Los Angeles Angels activated Jaime Barría from the 15-day IL after he recovered from right hamstring tightness. He’ll replace Jhonathan Diaz as the team’s bulk reliever.
- The Tampa Bay Rays placed Jason Adam on the 15-day IL with a left oblique strain. He won’t return again this season.
DET 1 – OAK 4
SV: Trevor May (20)
- Jason Foley continued his September swoon. He surrendered two runs while striking out nobody and now has a 4.15 ERA on the month. The bigger concern is that he’s struck out just two batters in 8.2 innings. Heavy reliance on balls in play can be disastrous for any pitcher, but Foley has the ability to make it work because he induces so many ground balls. Even still, he’ll need to start fanning more batters if he wants to maintain the success he had in the season’s first five months.
- Trevor May can’t be stopped. He’s pitched above his means all year, but that hasn’t stopped him from sporting a 3.43 ERA (44.2 IP) and reaching the 20-save threshold. His 5.94 xFIP and 3.6% K-BB% suggest that he won’t be someone to target next year if he somehow gets a shot to close for whatever team signs him. I touted him as a late-round target during draft season, and while it’s worked out pretty well, it hasn’t come in the fashion I would’ve expected.
TOR 6 – TBR 7
- With a newfound lead, Jordan Romano got the call in the ninth, but couldn’t get the job done. He surrendered the walk-off run, blowing a one-run lead, and taking his sixth loss. He’s not at risk of losing his job, but his struggles with control in September have been notable. Romano has now pitched on consecutive days, so Erik Swanson or Jordan Hicks should get a shot at a save on Sunday.
- Pete Fairbanks was brought on in the eighth to get the final out of the frame, but he forgot how to throw strikes. He handed out three free passes and hit a batter, failed to record an out, and ceded pitching duties to Chris Devenski. Fairbanks blew the save, but his offense bailed him out in the ninth. This makes consecutive appearances in which Fairbanks has given up at least a run, but with the way he’s pitched in the second half and without the presence of Jason Adam, he should hold onto the closer role through the season’s completion.
MIL 4 – MIA 5
SV: Tanner Scott (10)
- Joel Payamps has fallen off in September. After pitching to a 2.05 ERA (61.1 IP) through August, he’s struggled to a 7.36 ERA (7.1 IP) in the season’s final month. An increased walk rate is the likely culprit as he’s walked five batters in the month. Luckily, Abner Uribe has stepped up to take the pressure off. He debuted in early August and owns a 1.26 ERA (28.2 IP) and a 31% strikeout rate in his first year in the big leagues. Devin Williams isn’t a free agent for two more years, but Uribe is clearly the closer of the future.
- Tanner Scott hasn’t missed a beat since taking over the closer role in September. He had a brief hiccup during the week but got back on track on Saturday. The Marlins have the most impressive group of left-handed relievers in the game. Scott, Andrew Nardi, and A.J. Puk all tout strikeout rates north of 30%, while Scott, Nardi, and Matt Moore own ERAs south of 3.00. That doesn’t even include Steven Okert and his 29.2% strikeout rate. They clearly have a type.
PIT 13 – CIN 12
SV: Carmen Mlodzinski (1)
- With David Bednar resting after back-to-back appearances, Carmen Mlodzinski got a shot to close out a game. He worked around a run on his way to the first save of his career. The 24-year-old right-hander owns a 2.14 ERA (33.2 IP), but is he someone to keep an eye on for next year? His slider is pretty solid with an 88th percentile called strike rate and an 83rd percentile PLV, but the rest of his arsenal is underwhelming. He struggles to induce whiffs and relies mostly on weak contact and grounders. Without a sinker, I’m not sure that’s something that will continue, and with an xFIP north of 4.00, it’s easy to confirm that he’s been lucky this year.
- The Reds called upon Alexis Díaz in the eighth and he didn’t take too kindly to the change. He surrendered four runs on five hits while failing to complete the inning and took his sixth loss as a result. He’s really fallen off a cliff in the season’s final two months. Splitting his season into thirds, he pitched to a 1.69 ERA (21.1 IP) with a 36.9% K-BB% through May, suggesting he had reached a new level. Then in the middle third of the season from June through July, his strikeouts disappeared but he still posted a 2.42 ERA (26 IP) and a 15.6% K-BB%. Then in the final third from August until the present, he was unable to find those strikeouts and has begun handing out tons of free passes. His ERA in this span was an unsightly 5.50 (18 IP) and his K-BB% plummeted to 6.2%, and it could’ve been worse as he’s allowed six unearned runs. I don’t know if he’s been dealing with an injury or if the league just figured him out, but there’s clearly something wrong and it peaked on Saturday.
KCR 3 – HOU 2
SV: Taylor Clarke (3)
- Just as it seemed like the Royals had settled on James McArthur as the closer, they turned to Taylor Clarke for the final five outs on Saturday. They haven’t shied away from using McArthur on back-to-back days, so it wasn’t a workload issue, but I think they’re just going with a full-on committee. I’d expect McArthur to get the bulk of their few save chances going forward as Clarke has struggled in September and McArthur is working on a 12.1-inning scoreless streak that features 13 strikeouts and no walks.
- Bryan Abreu struck out the side in order in the eighth. I feel like he isn’t discussed enough as one of the best relievers in the league despite having so much success over the past two years. It’s most likely because he’s never closed, but he is fantastic. On the surface, he sports a 1.84 ERA (68.1 IP), a 1.02 WHIP, and a 34.6% strikeout rate. If that doesn’t sell you, go take a look at his Pitcher List player page. He ranks inside the top 50 in all of the bar graph stats outside of walk rate, ground ball rate, and PLV. His slider owns a 92nd-percentile 38.1% CSW, and his fastball sits in the upper 90s. Whenever Ryan Pressly is done closing in Houston, Abreu is the next man up.
STL 5 – SD 2
- Ryan Helsley got the final out of the eighth then went back out for the ninth only to blow the save as he was unable to throw strikes. The Cardinals won in extras, but Helsley made it more stressful than it had to be. He’s actually been great since returning on September 1st. Prior to this blowup, he had gone 8.1 innings without being scored upon and sported a 41.4% strikeout rate. Those numbers are reminiscent of his 2022 breakout and should inspire hope for fantasy managers drafting him next year.
- Josh Hader pitched the ninth in the tie game created by Ryan Helsley’s blown save. Scott Barlow wound up losing the game in the 11th after being stretched for two frames. That performance wasn’t indicative of his time in San Diego thus far. He’s had a return to form, pitching to a 3.42 ERA (26.1 IP) prior to Saturday’s game as he’s cut his walk rate by nearly 3.5%. He’s done so while maintaining his usually solid rate of punchouts (26.4%) and has been the top setup option in San Diego in September.
Best of the Rest
- Carlos Estévez struck out two in a scoreless ninth to earn his 31st save. Jimmy Herget (6th hold), Ben Joyce (4th hold), and José Soriano (15th hold) set him up for the save. Estévez has pitched in three of the past four days but didn’t pitch on Friday, so there’s no guarantee he’s off today. If he is, Soriano or Herget could get the call in the ninth on Sunday.
- Jose Cuas recorded his first save of the season as Julian Merryweather pitched the eighth for his 17th hold. It seems Merryweather is being deployed as the team’s high-leverage reliever, but he should be the favorite for saves until Adbert Alzolay returns later this week.
- José Alvarado earned save number 10 as Gregory Soto set up and notched his 23rd hold. Craig Kimbrel had pitched on three consecutive days, so he was off on Saturday, but he’s struggled in the second half, so Alvarado should be the top choice for saves in the season’s final week. Alvarado has pitched in three of the past four days but Kimbrel may still be recovering from his high usage during the week, so Alvarado may still be available on Sunday.
- Bryan Shaw worked around two hits to notch his third save of the year. Without Gregory Santos, it’s been difficult to determine who the closer on the South Side is. Shaw and Garrett Crochet pitched the seventh and eighth on Friday, but Aaron Bummer pitched the eighth on Saturday. It’s a true committee. Shaw has pitched on consecutive days, so Crochet or Bummer should be the favorite on Sunday.
- Instead of using him as the closer, Yennier Cano set up in the eighth and became the first pitcher to 30 holds. That allowed Cionel Pérez to pitch the ninth on his way to his third save. This doesn’t seem to be a changing of the guard, but Félix Bautista is due back soon, so Cano’s value in save-only leagues is set to drop precipitously. Cano has pitched on back-to-back days, so Danny Coulombe could get the ball in the ninth on Sunday.
- It seems as though Will Smith has officially lost the closer role. José Leclerc pitched the eighth and got the first out of the ninth on his way to his seventh hold. That set up Aroldis Chapman for his sixth save. Chapman has now pitched on back-to-back days, so Leclerc may get a shot on Sunday unless the Rangers are feeling trustworthy and turn back to Smith.
Bullpen Depth Charts
(Photos by Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Doug Carlin (@Bdougals on Twitter)