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
- Sixteen games were played on Sunday including a doubleheader between ATL and WSH. It’s an extremely light Monday with just eight teams in action. They are: NYY, TEX, HOU, SEA, LAA, ARZ, SDP, and SFG.
- Josh Winder was sent to the minors and replaced on the Twins roster by Chris Paddack. Paddack has the chance to be an interesting two or three inning guy for the Twins in the playoffs.
- In general, teams who are still in the playoff race will be extremely aggressive with their top arms in the final week of the year while teams who have their playoff seed locked up will likely be extra cautious. Teams still fighting for their fate and, therefore, likely to use their top bullpen arms often are: BAL, TBR, TOR, TEX, SEA, HOU, MIA, CHC, CIN, and ARZ. Milwaukee and Philadelphia could lock things up as soon as Tuesday, so they may be aggressive for the first couple of games, but quickly shut things down after that. Everyone else there is at least a couple games from taking their foot off the gas pedal. Teams with their playoff situation pretty much locked up include MIN, ATL, and LAD.
TOR 9 – TBR 5
- Jordan Romano likely wouldn’t have been available after throwing 43 pitches between Friday and Saturday, but the Blue Jays offense was able to put up enough firepower to avoid the save situation. Jordan Hicks was still tapped to close this one out, but with a scheduled day off on Monday, both should be available for their key series against the Yankees as they try to lock up the WC2 slot.
- The Rays only needed two innings of relief here, but they came with three insurance runs that allowed the Blue Jays to operate with a lot more security. Colin Poche allowed his first run of the month in 11.1 IPs. He will be the key setup option with Jason Adam being lost for the rest of the year, but also look for Andrew Kittredge to start being put in high leverage situations now that he has a few innings under his belt this year.
ATL 2 – WSN 3 (GM1)
SV: Kyle Finnegan (27)
- Kyle Wright piggybacked for three innings here as Atlanta continues to work to get everyone consistent, but light work. With their playoff seed sealed, they’ll continue to take their foot off the gas pedal in the final week, so I wouldn’t expect to see more than two appearances for any key reliever in the final week.
- Kyle Finnegan continues to show a knack for the dirty save as he allowed a solo home run, but still managed to close out his 27th of the year. He has a 5.24 ERA since August 1st, but is still somehow twelve-for-thirteen in saves in that stretch. Hunter Harvey has been the more consistent arm all year when healthy, but it’s way too late in the season for the team to make a change and mess with the solid momentum this rebuilding club has going into the offseason.
ATL 8 – WSN 5 (GM2)
HD: Jesse Chavez (14)
- The 40-year old Jesse Chavez had an excellent first half derailed by injury and his presence could be important for this Atlanta team in the playoffs. Raisel Iglesias was down about a tick to a tick and a half on all his pitches and has now allowed thirteen hits in eight innings of work in September including three homers. There is certainly an argument that he’s just taking it easy with nothing in the regular season left to play for, but I feel like Atlanta’s going to want to see one more dry run of Iglesias going 100% before the playoffs to make sure that he’s OK. Who knows if we’re going to get that, though.
- The Nationals used their top three relievers in game one of this doubleheader, so we saw five pitchers combine to cover the final 5.1 IPS of this game and allow four earned runs on five hits.
CHW 3 – BOS 2 (F/6)
- The remnants of Hurricane Ophelia shortened this game as Boston was hit with a lengthy rain storm. No White Sox reliever entered the game.
- Chris Murphy did record two outs in relief for the Red Sox before this game was postponed and eventually called, but they are not consequential in any way.
BAL 5 – CLE 1
- Danny Coulombe and DL Hall took the only two innings of relief for Baltimore here and logged two perfect innings. Coulombe is going to be an important pitcher for Baltimore in the playoffs and Hall will almost certainly have a spot on the roster. More outings like this will help him get meaningful innings in the playoffs as the Orioles seek to leverage all the talent they can to make up for their lack of established, top end starting pitchers.
- This turned into a bullpen game after Triston McKenzie couldn’t find the strike zone and six pitchers combined for 7.1 IPs with two earned runs and eight strikeouts. It’s been a rough end to the season for Cleveland’s bullpen as they started out as one of the strongest in the league, but have dropped to 25th in ERA in September as the team was trying to claw for a wildcard spot.
ARZ 7 – NYY 1
- Ryan Thompson continues to be the stabilizing force in the middle innings that this team desperately needed as he’s now started his Diamondbacks career with ten straight scoreless innings. His presence and the emergence of Kevin Ginkel allows guys like Joe Mantiply and Kyle Nelson to be used in much more favorable situations and just sets everyone else in that bullpen up for success.
- Randy Vásquez took most of the bullpen work as the team was trailing and he just allowed a couple of extra runs while recording seven outs. The Yankees have been reluctant to use their top bullpen arms lately and, with them now officially eliminated, don’t look for them to push any one pitcher too hard in the season’s final week.
PIT 2 – CIN 4
HD: Alexis Díaz (2)
SV: Ian Gibaut (3)
- After a couple days of heavy bullpen work, the Pirates were willing to throw long reliever Andre Jackson in the bottom 7th of a close game to save the rest of their arms. I say that and Jose Hernandez was used for the third straight day and threw 20 pitches this time, so they’re clearly not thinking about protecting all of their arms.
- Alexis Díaz had thrown seventeen pitches on Saturday and I imagine there was a hope that he’d be able to get all six outs to complete the save when he came on in the 8th. However, two walks and 24 pitches later, he managed to get out of the 8th inning without allowing the tying run, but also without enough bullets to get through the 9th. The team opted for Ian Gibaut here as previous ancillary save receivers had either already been used that day or had already been used both Friday and Saturday. They had already used Lucas Sims and Buck Farmer for the third straight day and having a third reliever with three days of work in a row would put them in too difficult a spot in terms of roster management. The team can’t afford to punt a game in the final week to get their bullpen back in order, so look for all these guys to be available again on Tuesday.
MIL 1 – MIA 6
- Julio Teheran and J.B. Bukauskas combined to work the five innings of relief Milwaukee needed here as the Brewers are almost in the part of the year where their playoff seed is set and they can just focus on getting their rotation where they want it to be. With a magic number of one, it would take six straight losses from the Brew Crew and six straight wins from the Cubs to reverse their positions in the division standings and I’m sur ethe Brewers are just as happy to give sealing the division a go at home. Look for Devin Williams to be used once more as they’re locking up the game, then only possibly for a maintenance inning after that.
- Four scoreless innings with six punchouts for this suddenly formidable Marlins bullpen as the switch to Tanner Scott in the 9th inning has helped everything come into place. Scott has a 1.08 ERA with 30 strikeouts in 25 IPs since August 1st and has recorded eight saves and five wins in that time frame. With how he’s pitching now, I have to believe he’s the Marlins closer going into 2024, his final year of arbitration, but I can understand some hesitancy both on the part of the Marlins and, if he is chosen, fantasy owners given how common it is to see a formerly wild reliever get “hot” with control like this and then to see it fall apart as quickly as it came together.
KCR 6 – HOU 5
SV: James McArthur (3)
- Who would have predicted three saves in three days for this Royals bullpen at Houston this weekend as James McArthur picked up his second of the series and third of the year. Despite these results, the Royals are employing a committee which spreads out the few opportunities they get that don’t always come at the times you expect them. It would be tough to trust any Royals reliever for fantasy purposes in the final week.
- The Astros bullpen combined for six hitless innings, but it wasn’t enough and the offense was unable to complete the comeback for the third straight game. The upcoming series in Seattle is huge for them, so I’d expect Ryan Pressly and Hector Neris to pitch every day they’re available which will likely be two of the three games of the series given they’re going into the series having worked the previous day. Bryan Abreu is likely to be the ancillary guy for the day that Pressly isn’t available.
LAA 3 – MIN 9
HD: Louis Varland (2)
- Typical late season bullpen management here as the Angels don’t have too many interesting things going on in the late innings if Jimmy Herget or Ben Joyce aren’t out there. Just some bulk relief and then garbage time innings.
- The most interesting story out of the bullpen for Minnesota in this one was from a guy who didn’t throw a pitch. A rain delay in the 6th inning caused his appearance to be cut short before he even threw a pitch, but Chris Paddack looked pretty good in his final rehab start in AAA and could make this playoff roster and play a role as a two-three inning guy. It’s a role that is definitely open for the Twins and may suit Paddack’s skills more than a traditional starter.
COL 3 – CHC 4
SV: Julian Merryweather (2)
- It’s been a rough first half for Brent Suter after an unbelievable first half. The Rockies weren’t exactly cautious with his usage and I can’t help but think that played a role in his performance down the stretch.
- Julian Merryweather walked the first two batters he faced, but was able to get out of the inning to escape with his second save. This bullpen is still in flux after Adbert Alzolay went on the IL and, while Merryweather has the stuff to take over the 9th, he’s yet to show he has the consistency to hold the role for the long term. The playoffs are fast approaching, so this bullpen is going to be heavily used in the final as they try to solidify their spot, so I’d expect Merriweather to get at least one more shot to stake his claim on the 9th.
SEA 8 – TEX 9
SV: José Leclerc (4)
- The Mariners deployed their two most reliable arms in the 7th and 8th, Andrés Muñoz and Justin Topa, to keep the deficit at one as the offense desperately tried to tie the game. If they had taken the lead, I imagine they would have made Matt Brash available to secure the save. The Mariners will be in desperation mode in the final week which means they’ll use Munoz at what they think will be the highest leverage inning which won’t necessarily be the 9th. The Mariners don’t have an off day on Monday before their pivotal series against Houston, but Topa is likely still available for a third straight day of work in the right context.
- It’s extremely telling that, in these two close and important games the past two games, Will Smith was nowhere to be seen. Aroldis Chapman had been used two straight games, so Texas opted for José Leclerc in the 9th as these two seem to be the most trusted relievers in the bullpen for the Rangers right now. Beyond those two, I don’t know who I’d go to. Maybe Chris Stratton, but he’s already at 82 IPs this year. The Rangers also don’t have an off day, so expect them to be all hands on deck in LA on Monday as they try to lock up the AL West.
DET 2 – OAK 0
HD: Jason Foley (28)
SV: Alex Lange (25)
- Nothing like facing the A’s to give you a nice boost in confidence. Alex Lange seems to be finding his control again as he has one walk compared to ten punchouts in his past seven appearances. As we’ve seen, though, he can go a month and be nearly untouchable, then walk ten guys in his next three appearances. Jason Foley continues to be the much safer play if your league rewards holds.
- Adrián Martínez seems like he could be a decent long reliever. Kyle Muller continues to struggle in the bullpen, albeit less so than as a starter. None of it is very exciting right now.
STL 2 – SDP 12
- St. Louis pitching allowed runs in each of the first six innings and this quickly turned to garbage time. Given how much they used their bullpen on Saturday, the Cardinals were more than happy to punt this one and get two days of rest for most of their arms before their next game on Tuesday.
- Congratulations to Jose Espada on his scoreless inning in his MLB debut! Nothing else of note here.
NYM 2 – PHI 5
HD: Orion Kerkering (1)
SV: Michael Lorenzen (1)
- Trevor Gott continues his solid September to bring his ERA down to 1.93 in ten appearances in the month. New York was down four runs when their starter exited the game and never got closer than three, so most of their top arms got the night off.
- A hold in his first career appearance for intriguing prospect Orion Kerkering who has absolutely rocketed up the Phillies system this year after starting in A-ball in April. He put up a 1.51 ERA and 0.89 WHIP over 53.2 IPs with a whopping 79 Ks across four levels in the minors. He only needed twelve pitches on Sunday to get through a perfect inning striking out two. His slider accounted for ten of those twelve and was devastating, generating three whiffs and three more called strikes. He hit 99.8 mph with his sinker which didn’t look like a bad option in its own right. Honestly, this guy could be a game changer, and I could absolutely see him making a name for himself in the playoffs and competing for high-leverage innings in Philadelphia in 2024 and even save chances given Craig Kimbrel’s imminent departure. The Phillies are still trying to lock up the WC1, which they’re very likely to do, so I’d expect to see their top bullpen arms utilized against Pittsburgh which, in my opinion, now includes Kerkering.
SFG 2 – LAD 3 (F/10)
- A tough luck loss for Camilo Doval, but a loss nonetheless as he allowed a base hit in the bottom of the 10th which scored the ghost runner. He’s only twelve for eighteen on save chances since the All-Star Break, but there has been some bad luck involved. His velocity isn’t down and his K-BB% is only slightly down in the second half. I think he is doing slightly worse, but this stretch has been more luck-driven than skill-driven in my opinion.
- Five pitchers combined to deliver four scoreless innings for the Dodgers culminating with Shelby Miller holding the Giants scoreless in the top of the 10th and earning the win. Since returning from injury on August 31st, Miller has provided ten scoreless innings with ten punchouts and one walk, which was intentional. I think he’s going to play a key middle innings role for this team in the playoffs.
Bullpen Depth Charts
(Photos by Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Doug Carlin (@Bdougals on Twitter)