A.J. Minter has a long window to prove his worth in the ninth after Aroldis Vizcaino landed back on the DL with a bum right shoulder. Minter has a 2.41 ERA and 0.64 WHIP over his last 18.2 innings with two walks, 22 Ks, and three saves, which includes one lousy outing (three runs and three baserunners over one-third of an inning). A.J. has the talent to take the closing job and run with it. Dan Winkler struggled in two of his last three outings (two runs, three hits, and two home runs over three innings with two Ks). Shane Carle threw the ball well over his last five games (one run and three hits over 7.1 innings with five Ks).
With the Orioles trading Zach Britton to the Yankees, Brad Brach gets another shot at saves. His arm hasn’t been closer-worthy in July (eight runs and 15 baserunners over 6.2 innings with five Ks, one win, and one save). On the year, Brad has two blown saves in 13 opportunities. 2018 hasn’t been good for Mychal Givens, but he does have the stuff to close with better command. Over his last eight games, Givens allowed three runs and six hits over 7.2 innings with no walks and eight Ks. Mychal may emerge as the closer in Baltimore if he can avoid his disaster outings shown over the first three months of the year. Mike Wright has a 1.59 ERA over his last 17 innings with two walks and 15 Ks.
A second trip to the DL for Brandon Morrow can’t be a good thing long term. He’s battling a biceps issue after missing ten days in June with a back issue. Morrow has two failed saves in 22 chances with an excellent ERA (1.47). Steve Cishek has three saves on the year, but he didn’t pitch well in his last two games (two runs and six baserunners over 1.1 innings with one K). Carl Edwards has a 3.86 ERA and 1.07 WHIP over his first 4.2 innings with eight Ks since returning from the DL. Pedro Strop is in the mix for saves as well despite struggles in two of his last three games (two runs and six baserunners over 2.2 innings with two Ks). I like Edwards the best long-term if Morrow doesn’t make it back to the field.
The Indians made a much-needed move over the last week when they acquired Brad Hand to improve the depth in their bullpen. Hand struggled over his last 11 innings (nine runs and 17 baserunners with one walk and 14 Ks) leading to three blown saves in six chances. Brad is 24-for-29 in save opportunities. Cody Allen will remain the top closer even with a poor run over his last six games (nine runs, 13 baserunners, and three home runs over five innings). Allen has two failed saves in 22 chances with risk in his ERA (4.83). Andrew Miller made three appearances in the minors over the last week (one over three innings with no walks and four Ks), but he struggled on Tuesday night (four runs over one-third of an innings).
Over his last 19 games, Wade Davis has a 7.50 ERA and 1.50 WHIP over 18 innings with 20 Ks while converting ten of 12 saves. Overall, Davis has four blown saves in 32 tries with a fading ERA (4.61). Adam Ottavino pitched at a high level over his last nine innings (no runs, three walks, and 12 Ks) to put himself in position to earn saves if Davis lands on the DL. Scott Oberg allowed two runs over his last 18 innings with three walks and 13 Ks leading to five wins.
In his four games after returning from the DL, Shane Greene gave up one run over four innings with no walks, three Ks, and one save. Greene has been successful in 20 of his 23 save chances. Joe Jimenez threw the ball well over his last five innings (no runs, two hits, no walks, and eight Ks). Alex Wilson has a 1.00 ERA over his last nine innings with four Ks.
Over nine appearances in July, Kyle Barraclough allowed eight runs, 20 baserunners, and three home runs over 7.2 innings with 11 Ks while blowing two of his four save chances. His job is at risk. Barraclough is 9-for-11 in save conversions since the beginning of June. Drew Steckenrider regressed as well over his last six games (four runs and ten baserunners over 5.1 innings). Brad Ziegler has been the Marlins’ best reliever since losing his closer job (0.68 ERA, 0.91 WHIP, and 20 Ks over 26.1 innings).
New York Mets
After the trade of Jeurys Familia, Robert Gsellman earned the last save chance for the Mets. His arm doesn’t look closer-worthy over his last 13 games (13 runs, 25 baserunners, and four home runs over 15.1 innings with 12 Ks). It’s tough for me to believe in Gsellman in the 9th inning going forward. Seth Lugo lost his way after his move to starting rotation (4.62 ERA and 1.70 WHIP over his last 25.1 innings with 27 Ks). Lugo does have a 2.34 ERA as a reliever in 2018 over 50 innings with 48 Ks. Anthony Swarzak pitched poorly over his last five games as well (seven runs and ten baserunners over 2.2 innings). This bullpen is going to be a disaster going forward. Lugo looks like best swing at saves in this bullpen over the last two months of the year.
Seranthony Dominguez only has one save over the last three weeks. Over a nine-game stretch, Dominguez tossed 10.1 shutout innings with three hits, two walks, 12 Ks, and five save. Seranthony did struggle in his last game (two runs and four baserunners over one-third of an inning). He has one failed save in ten chances. Victor Arano allowed one run over his last six innings with four walks and seven Ks. His last save came on July 9th. Pat Neshek didn’t allow a run over eight innings in July with six Ks.
Since June 15th, Felipe Vazquez pitched 15.2 shutout innings with two walks, 29 Ks, and 11 saves. His ERA (2.98) is now in a favorable area. Vazquez has been successful in 23 of his 27 save conversions. Kyle Crickimproved his shutout run to 15.1 innings with nine hits, three walks, and 18 Ks. His growth in command gives him a chance of pitching in the 9th inning in the future. Edgar Santana threw the ball well in July (one run over 10.2 innings with one walk and 13 Ks), which is another reason for the recent push by the Pirates.
San Diego Padres
Kirby Yates gains the 9th inning role in San Diego with Brad Hand shipped to the Indians. Over his last 18.2 innings, Yates posted a 1.45 ERA and 0.75 WHIP with 24 Ks and three saves. Craig Stammen did struggle at times in July (four runs and 17 baserunners over 10.2 innings with 12 Ks). Matt Strahm didn’t allow a run over his last 8.1 innings with three walks and seven Ks.
St. Louis Cardinals
Over the last four games, Bud Norris blew two of three saves while allowing three runs and ten baserunners over 3.1 innings with three Ks. Norris has four failed saves in 22 chances with some fade in his ERA (3.29). Jordan Hicks threw 3.2 shutout innings after the All-Star break with two Ks, which came after four straight poor games (seven runs and ten baserunners over 3.1 innings with four Ks). Luke Gregerson tossed 3.1 shutout inning with three Ks since returning from the DL.
Toronto Blue Jays
Roberto Osuna has four shutout innings under his belt in the minors with three Ks as he works his way back to the majors in August. Since returning from the DL, Ryan Tepera pitched 2.1 shutout innings with no hits, four Ks, and one save. He has a 2.55 ERA and 1.25 WHIP over 17.2 innings with 21 Ks and seven saves in nine tries as a closing option. Seung Hwan Oh pitched at an elite level over his last 7.2 innings (no runs, three hits, no walks, and eight Ks). Tyler Clippard blew up in two of his last three games (four runs, five hits, and two home runs over 2.2 innings with three Ks) leading to two blown saves in three chances.