Gallegos Saves Four

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Giovanny Gallegos took emphatic command of the Cardinals closer role this week. In five appearances (4.2 innings), he posted a week-best four saves with eight strikeouts. He allowed only two hits. Unfortunately, one was a solo home run off the bat of Javier Baez which allowed the Mets to tie the game and ruined a rare five-save week. The Cardinals eventually won in the 11th. Former closer Alex Reyes had himself a tidy week of his own. In four appearances (five innings), he tallied three wins and a hold along with six strikeouts. Both pitchers are probably unavailable today. Luis Garcia could be on deck for any save opportunities. In addition to the big week from Gallegos, Carlos Estevez, Dylan Floro, and Joe Barlow all notched a trio of saves.

Now, shall we go to the tiers?

Closer Tiers

Tier 1: The Elite (7)

Josh Hader, Milwaukee Brewers
Liam Hendriks, Chicago White Sox
Ryan Pressly, Houston Astros
Aroldis Chapman, New York Yankees
Emmanuel Clase, Cleveland Indians
Kenley Jansen, Los Angeles Dodgers
Raisel Iglesias, Los Angeles Angels

Hader, the lord and ruler of all relieverdom, had an uneven week by his lofty standards. In three innings, he issued five free passes including three on Tuesday. Fortunately, he didn’t allow any hits. He recorded a pair of saves and five strikeouts.

Pressly had his worst outing of the season last Wednesday. The Mariners roughed him up for three runs and a loss. They seem to have his number – Seattle also pushed a run across the previous day. He’s since rebounded with a clean appearance.

Chapman’s velocity is slowly trending in the right direction. He had a shaky outing last Wednesday but has since pitched well. He’s pitched three of the last four days so expect Chad Green to work the ninth tonight.

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Tier 2: Nearly Elite (6)

Edwin Diaz, New York Mets
Jordan Romano, Toronto Blue Jays
Jake McGee, San Francisco Giants
Will Smith, Atlanta Braves
Giovanny Gallegos, St. Louis Cardinals
Mark Melancon, San Diego Padres

Melancon struggled in an irrelevant tune-up outing on Tuesday. He hadn’t pitched for a week mostly due to general suckitude on the part of the Padres. Diaz and Smith had little blips worth mentioning. Last Wednesday, Diaz failed to strand an extra-innings bonus runner, leading to a loss. Smith blew a one-run lead last Thursday. The Braves eventually won in the 10th.

Tier 3: Core Performers (3)

Scott Barlow, Kansas City Royals
Adam Ottavino, Boston Red Sox
Andrew Kittredge, Tampa Bay Rays

Barlow had a busy week, pitching four times and picking up two saves. Ominously, Greg Holland is back and nabbed a save last Friday. Don’t fret yet. It was the 11th-inning. Holland hasn’t pitched since then. He could be in line for a save opportunity today. Barlow, Josh Staumont, Jake Brentz, and Domingo Tapia all pitched on Sunday and Tuesday.

Josh Taylor picked up the Red Sox only save this week. Ottavino was unavailable. Matt Barnes is expected to begin a brief rehab stint on Friday. By the time he proves he’s healthy and effective, there won’t be much time left for him to recapture the closer role.

Kittredge still seems to have a surprisingly firm grasp on the closer role for a Rays reliever. He blew a save on Friday and also scuffled on Sunday. He recovered with a flawless save on Tuesday. Former relief ace Nick Anderson is back from the injured list. He’s missing three ticks of velocity. We won’t be seeing him in leveraged work anytime soon.

Tier 4: Acceptable Saves (10)

Gregory Soto, Detroit Tigers
Rowan Wick, Chicago Cubs
Ian Kennedy, Philadelphia Phillies
Alex Colome, Minnesota Twins
Mychal Givens, Cincinnati Reds
Chris Stratton, Pittsburgh Pirates
Dylan Floro, Miami Marlins
Joe Barlow, Texas Rangers
Tyler Clippard, Arizona Diamondbacks
Kyle Finnegan, Washington Nationals

Last Thursday, Kennedy demonstrated why I citing concerns every week. The lowly Rockies roughed him up for three runs on two homers. Woof.

Colome’s little hot streak ended abruptly on Monday courtesy of Aaron Judge. Tyler Duffey walked a couple batters so the Twins called upon Colome for a four-out save. Judge immediately popped a three-run dinger to tie the game. Colome came back to pitch a flawless ninth.

David Bednar is out with an oblique strain. He’s already resumed throwing in an effort to return this season. Stratton isn’t as good as Bednar. On the plus side, there’s no question who’s closing now. Stratton has flashy spin rates, but he struggles to make the most of them. On a better club, he’d be an able middle reliever.

We touched on Floro and Barlow in the intro paragraph. Givens and Finnegan also had clean weeks. Clippard returned from the injured list without issue.

Tier 5: Mess Hall (4)

Carlos Estevez, Colorado Rockies
Cole Sulser, Baltimore Orioles
Paul Sewald, Diego Castillo, Drew Steckenrider, Seattle Mariners
Andrew Chafin, Sergio Romo, Oakland Athletics

Estevez saved three games and isn’t in a committee. He’s ranked this low because he has to contend with Coors Field. It can rear its head at any time such as last Wednesday when he allowed four runs in 0.2 innings.

Sulser is an interesting pitcher who I’d like to rank higher. He also has a whopping two saves since the start of August. Over the same span, he has a middling 4.20 ERA with 8.40 K/9.

Steckenrider has both of the Mariners recent saves. He also melted into a puddle yesterday. Castillo notched a couple wins and a hold while Sewald has allowed a total of four home runs across his last three games. Steck is out for tonight, opening the door for a Castillo or Sewald save.

Speaking of melting, Romo has allowed 11 runs over his last 4.2 innings. Chafin has pitched well despite blowing a save on Saturday. Even Yusmeiro Petit has scuffled. Lou Trivino could climb back into the late-innings picture. Needless to say, it’s not good for a contending club to have the worst closer situation.

Injured

Trevor Rosenthal, Oakland Athletics (out for season)
Julian Merryweather, Toronto Blue Jays (oblique)
Tejay Antone, Cincinnati Reds (elbow)
Taylor Rogers, Minnesota Twins (finger)
Matt Barnes, Boston Red Sox (COVID-IL)
David Bednar, Pittsburgh Pirates (oblique)

Deposed

Anthony Bass, Miami Marlins
Greg Holland, Kansas City Royals
Rafael Montero, Seattle Mariners
Cesar Valdez, Baltimore Orioles
Stefan Crichton, Arizona Diamondbacks
Hector Neris, Philadelphia Phillies
Kendall Graveman, Houston Astros (via trade)
Yimi Garcia, Houston Astros (via trade)
Richard Rodriguez, Atlanta Braves (via trade)
Craig Kimbrel, Chicago White Sox (via trade)
Joakim Soria, Toronto Blue Jays (via trade)
Brad Hand, Toronto Blue Jays (via trade)
Hansel Robles, Boston Red Sox (via trade)
Ranger Suarez, Philadelphia Phillies (promoted to rotation)
Amir Garrett, Cincinnati Reds
Heath Hembree, Cincinnati Reds
Craig Kimbrel, Chicago White Sox (via trade)
Daniel Bard, Colorado Rockies
Alex Reyes, St. Louis Cardinals
Lou Trivino, Oakland Athletics

Steals Department

Weekly Leaderboard

Javier Baez, 3 SB (17 SB total)
Myles Straw, 3 SB (27 total)
Jazz Chisholm, 3 SB (21 total)

Well, this is boring. Three regular runs each compiled a trio of swipes. Straw ranks fifth in the league while Chisholm checks in at 11th and Baez is tied with six others for 16th. Starling Marte (45) and Whit Merrifield (40) have a commanding lead over the field. Next best is Trea Turner with 28 swipes. With only half a month left, Merrifield will need to get on his horse to catch Marte.

Speed Spotlight

With Michael Brantley temporarily sidelined, the Astros have a couple extra outfield reps to pass around. They’ve handed some of those to Jose Siri, a tooled-up former Reds prospect with a history of big stolen base totals. In just 12 plate appearances, he already has two home runs and three steals. Of course, one of those swipes came as a pinch runner, a role he may return to when Brantley’s knee is feeling better.

The Reds discarded Siri due to doubts about his ability to make contact. Sure enough, his current small sample 41.7 percent strikeout rate is backed by a 30.7 percent strikeout rate in Triple-A this season. Remember, minor league pitching is playing down by one to two levels. For what it’s worth, aside from the strikeouts, Siri’s .318/.369/.552 batting line in 397 plate appearances was solid – roughly 25 percent better than league average. He also popped 16 home runs and swiped 24 bases. His success was fueled by a .436 BABIP. While he won’t replicate that in the Majors, his batted ball profile suggests he could post an above average BABIP (say a .335 BABIP) if given the chance.

Chances could be hard to come by. Even with Brantley waylaid, he’s basically rotating with Chas McCormick and Jake Meyers through two spots. Both McCormick and Meyers have proven they can hold their own in a Major League lineup. Luckily, since the Astros have a fairly commanding lead in the AL West, they may have more opportunities to play Siri et al in lieu of Brantley, Yordan Alvarez, and Kyle Tucker in the waning days of the season.