Relief pitcher notes: Week 4
- After a tremendous start to the season in place of the injured Raisel Iglesias, the wheels have started to come off for A.J. Minter. First, Minter entered a tie game in the ninth against the Houston Astros and promptly gave up two runs to take the loss. Then, on Sunday, he blew the save by allowing three runs on three hits and a walk. Iglesias is nearing a return from his shoulder ailment, but in the meantime Nick Anderson is making a real run at the closer’s gig in Atlanta — and should remain an integral part of high-leverage situations even when Iglesias does come back.
- On the other side of the ledger last weekend in Atlanta were the Astros, who were thought to have one of the most settled closer situations in baseball with Ryan Pressly on board. Pressly has had a couple bumpy outings this year, though, and while he picked up his first save of the year on Friday night, he watched Bryan Abreu nail down wins on both Saturday and Sunday with two clean ninths. Pressly was unavailable on Saturday, but it’s eyebrow-raising that Abreu was also the choice on Sunday — he probably has the best stuff of any Houston reliever, and with Pressly looking more mortal than in years past, it’s worth monitoring whether Abreu eats into his share of save opportunities.
- Elsewhere in Texas, your guess is as good as ours as to who the guy is. Jose Leclerc was called upon to put out a fire in the eighth inning against the Cincinnati Reds on Monday, but instead he poured gasoline on it — walking three and taking the loss after Will Smith allowed an inherited runner to score. Smith has been the more effective of the two overall and picked up a save on Sunday against the Oakland Athletics, so he’s our bet for now, but who knows.
- Just when we thought David Robertson has staked his claim as Edwin Diaz’s replacement, Adam Ottavino picked up a save last Wednesday against the Los Angeles Dodgers. There were no save opportunities over the weekend in San Francisco, but it seems like this is more of a timeshare than previously thought — with Buck Showalter willing to play matchups and use either of his veteran righties in the ninth.
- Welcome to the Show, Yennier Cano.
Yennier Cano hasn't allowed a baserunner in SEVEN innings #MLBNow | @Orioles | @HannahRKeyser | @CliffFloyd30 pic.twitter.com/tNgwRLDPcE— MLB Now (@MLBNow) April 25, 2023
As if Felix Bautista wasn’t nasty enough, Cano picked up his first career save on Monday night — his seventh straight scoreless outing — while putting his ridiculous changeup on display. Bautista’s job isn’t in jeopardy, but Cano is a must-add in leagues that count holds and will be first up when Bautista is unavailable.
- Jeurys Familia narrowly escaped the Los Angeles Angels with his second save of the season on Monday night. He’s the preferred option with Dany Jimenez and Trevor May injured (and ineffective before that) but he carries real implosion risk himself.
- Scott Barlow seemed to be losing his job to Aroldis Chapman, but he nailed down a much-needed clean save over the weekend while Chapman finally allowed his first run of the year in Monday’s loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks. This remains Barlow’s job for now, although the Kansas City Royals will be motivated to showcase Chapman ahead of the trade deadline.
- Justin Topa hasn’t allowed a run for the Seattle Mariners and appears to have taken Matt Brash’s job as the set-up man to Paul Sewald while Andres Munoz remains out. Munoz is nearing a return, but Topa should still remain viable in holds leagues.
Closer depth chart: Week 5
Closer depth chart for week of 4/24