With the MLB season in its final stretch run, some bullpen hierarchies have stayed steady, while others have become more and more muddled. Though some managers may keep fantasy owners guessing, it is important to at least have an idea of who has a chance at a save, and who is most likely not even going to appear in a game today. Don’t sleep on saves! In a shortened season, they all count that much more.
- It’s Monday and with that comes a slew of teams with scheduled off days. You can avoid the following bullpens today while they get some rest: Red Sox, Yankees, Blue Jays, Rays, Indians, Royals, Tigers, Astros, Rangers, Angels, Mets, Nationals, Cubs, Giants, Rockies, and Diamondbacks.
- Cody Ponce starts the first game of the Pirates’ doubleheader versus the Reds. This will be Ponce’s third start of the season and with the game only scheduled to go seven innings it may be tempting to pull him before he has a chance to hit the five-inning mark. In the second game, Mitch Keller makes his return from the IL and shouldn’t be expected to go the full five himself. Look for Derek Holland or possibly Chris Stratton to come in relief. Ponce faces off against Trevor Bauer while Keller is up against Anthony DeSclafani in the second game, so the biggest opportunity for a vulture win probably comes in the latter.
- Another possible vulture win possibilities come in Baltimore with Orioles’ starter Jorge López who has recently joined the rotation. He’s made three straight starts but has only made it through the fifth inning in one of those outings. Going up against Touki Toussaint and the Braves poses a challenge to guess who might get a vulture win out of this, however, but I might be looking at Carson Fulmer to take the ball first.
- Daniel Ponce de Leon has made five starts for the Cardinals this season and has yet to make it through the fifth inning, while only making it through the fourth inning once. If we see more of the same on Monday look for Seth Elledge to be the first up out of the pen.
- The Padres won both games of their doubleheader on Sunday, and while Mike Clevinger made sure no relievers would be needed in the first game, Drew Pomeranz set up closer Trevor Rosenthal in the second game, as Rosenthal recorded his 10th save on the season. Barring any new injuries, this should continue to be the expected usage pattern in high leverage situations in San Diego.
- Kenley Jansen was used for the second straight night, despite coming into the game with a seven-run lead. Perhaps the Dodgers wanted him to get his head right after a brutal outing on Saturday. He recorded one strikeout while pitching a clean ninth to end the game. I would expect Jansen to have Monday off after throwing a combined 36 pitches between Saturday and Sunday’s outings. Look for Blake Treinen to take the hill in the ninth if the save opportunity arises for the Dodgers on Monday.
- Heading into the bottom of the eighth inning of the Seattle-Arizona game, the Mariners still found themselves with a three-run lead. At that point, they chose to go with Yohan Ramírez, who pitched a relatively uneventful inning. After scoring an insurance run in the top of the ninth, Yoshihisa Hirano came in to close out the game, pitching a perfect ninth inning. One has to assume this is how it would have played out regardless of the four-run difference. That’s two straight for Hirano, though he only needed 10 pitches on Saturday and 12 on Sunday, so he very well may be available on Monday if needed in one of their doubleheader matchups. If not, look for Ramírez and possibly Kendall Graveman to get late-inning looks.
- Two wins for the Angels in two days and both saved by Matt Andriese. Sunday’s victory came in the form of a two-inning save, but Andriese only needed 25 total pitches to record four strikeouts and the save. Ty Buttrey had pitched in each of the previous three games, while Felix Peña had been seen in the last two—though Pena only threw a combined 16 pitches in his two outings. With Monday being an off day for the Angels, look for a rested bullpen on Tuesday.
- Both Rafael Montero and set up man Jonathan Hernández gave up a run each during their outings on Sunday, but still sealed the victory for the Rangers. Both will get some rest on Monday with the Rangers’ off day, after pitching in two straight.
- Archie Bradley picked up his second win on the year, pitching two perfect innings while setting up for Raisel Iglesias, who pitched two uneventful innings of his own for his seventh save of the season. Even with both pitchers going two innings, neither threw more than 25 pitches and should be available for either game of their Monday doubleheader if needed.
- John Gant left his outing on Sunday after just five pitches and is considered day-to-day with a groin injury. Andrew Miller gave up a run on a wild pitch after giving up a walk and hitting a batter in relief of Gant, and should be considered the favorite for saves in St. Louis, if he wasn’t already.
- Alex Colomé picked up his 11th save on the season for the AL-best White Sox. He only needed 11 pitches during his perfect ninth inning and should easily be made available on Monday if needed.
- Brad Hand was used at the end of the Cleveland loss to Minnesota on Sunday, mostly due to the fact he had not seen any time on the hill since September 7th and needed to get some game action. On the other side, Sergio Romo picked up his fourth save of the season after serving his one-game suspension on Saturday. Taylor Rogers had gone in each of the previous two games, so this wasn’t much more than an opportunity to rest Rogers with a more than capable Romo fully rested.
- Aroldis Chapman picked up just his second save on the season, pitching a perfect ninth inning with two strikeouts. That makes two games in a row for Chapman, but luckily the Yankees have Monday off. Chapman should be readily available on Tuesday.
- Matt Barnes recorded his sixth save for the Red Sox after throwing a one-hit, two-strikeout ninth inning on Sunday. Barnes will continue to be the late-inning option for Boston for the remainder of the season.
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