Few would call Minnesota a hotbed for saves. The club dealt a stable asset – Brandon Kintzler – at the trade deadline. Since then, they've subsisted with Matt Belisle and Trevor Hildenberger. The decision to dump Kintzler was due to a mistaken perception that the club was out of the race. Now they're just a half game back from the second Wild Card slot. They could sure use a Kintzler. Meanwhile, former closer Glen Perkins is nearing a return from the disabled list. Will Perkins, Hildenberger, or somebody else finish the season as the closer?
Alex Colome's inexorable climb up the saves leaderboard has finally culminated in a tie with Greg Holland. They both have 35 saves. For Holland, it's the first time since week one he isn't in sole possession of the most saves. Kenley Jansen won the week with four saves. Sean Doolittle and Trevor Rosenthal finished with three apiece.
Billy Hamilton has opened up a commanding 10 save lead on second place Dee Gordon. Trea Turner is still in third place despite sitting on the disabled list since the end of June. He's slowly nearing a rehab stint. Over the last week, Hamilton led the league with six swipes in six attempts. The next best checked in which just three steals.
Tier 1: The Gods (2)
Kenley Jansen, Los Angeles Dodgers
As noted in the intro, Jansen tossed four spotless frames en route to four saves and five strikeouts. Kimbrel won his only outing of the week. Is somebody missing from this tier?
Tier 2: The Elite (6)
Cody Allen, Cleveland Indians
Wade Davis, Chicago Cubs
Felipe Rivero, Pittsburgh Pirates
Roberto Osuna, Toronto Blue Jays
Greg Holland, Colorado Rockies
Chapman had himself a week. On Friday, he allowed an inconsequential run via three walks and zero hits. An appearance on Sunday led to a loss off the bat of Rafael Devers. He allowed two more runs last night and finished the game with a reportedly mild hamstring strain. Look for Dellin Betances to close out the next couple opportunities. As bad as the five-run week was, Chapman still picked up two saves.
Allen began the week with a blown save before he rebounded to close out a couple easy ones against the Rays. Andrew Miller is progressing in his recovery, but he'll likely slide back into setup duties.
Rivero looks to be back on track. He's closed out his last three opportunities including two in the last week. Osuna finished off the one save chance he was handed. Holland also closed one game, dancing around a couple base runners.
Tier 3: The Core Performers (8)
Brad Hand, San Diego Padres
Corey Knebel, Milwaukee Brewers
Ken Giles, Houston Astros
Edwin Diaz, Seattle Mariners
Raisel Iglesias, Cincinnati Reds
Zach Britton, Baltimore Orioles
Alex Colome, Tampa Bay Rays
Sean Doolittle, Washington Nationals
Hand stumbled through an outing last Thursday, but it was merely a blip in an otherwise superb season. He rebounded to record two saves later in the week.
Knebel was needed for four appearances. He recorded a win, two saves, and six strikeouts in five innings. Due to the heavy workload, try Anthony Swarzak for a spot-save in the next few days.
Giles pitched three times. Sandwiched between two strong appearances was a blown save via solo home run.
When I write these articles, I go through each player in order then move everybody around once I have the total picture. Diaz represents roughly the half way point in this exercise. And like several of the guys ahead of him, he blew a save this week. On Thursday, he took the loss while allowing three runs. Fear not, he closed out a couple easy ones on Wednesday and Tuesday.
Iglesias didn't blow any saves, although he did allow a run in two of his three appearances. He came away with two saves and eight strikeouts in 4.2 innings.
Colome had two perfect saves. Britton notched a lone one-out save. He pitched in a couple non-save situations too, allowing one solo home run in the process.
Doolittle is on an eight-inning scoreless streak. And while he hasn't exactly dominated the competition in the process, he also hasn't looked particular beatable. He tallied three saves in four innings.
Tier 4: Steady... Steady... (5)
Kelvin Herrera, Kansas City Royals
Trevor Rosenthal, St. Louis Cardinals
A.J. Ramos, New York Mets
Fernando Rodney, Arizona Diamondbacks
Shane Greene, Detroit Tigers
Rosenthal managed three saves including a nail biter on Saturday. He coughed up a couple unearned runs while defending a three-run lead.
Herrera and Ramos had similar weeks. They both pitched a pair of scoreless innings while locking down one save apiece. Rodney also earned a save, but his other outing was a four-hit, two-run drubbing. It was a non-save situation. Greene's only decision of the week was a win.
Tier 5: Questions/Fluid (4)
Arodys Vizcaino, Atlanta Braves
Blake Treinen, Oakland Athletics
Sam Dyson, San Francisco Giants
Cam Bedrosian, Blake Parker, Los Angeles Angels
Vizcaino was perfect through three innings this week. He earned a couple saves in the process including one at Coors Field. Dyson also tossed a couple perfect innings en route to two saves.
Treinen was tagged for a couple solo home runs in a five-out blown save on Tuesday. He vultured the win. He also snatched a perfect save earlier in the week.
Both Bedrosian and Parker are better than anybody else in this tier. They easily belong in at least the fourth tier. However, the situation is indeed... fluid. Bedrosian is not available on back-to-back days due to groin soreness. Thus, even though he's the preferred closer du jour, Parker and others will receive some opportunities.
Tier 6: These Guys... (5)
Alex Claudio, Texas Rangers
Hector Neris, Philadelphia Phillies
Trevor Hildenberger, Minnesota Twins
Brad Ziegler, Miami Marlins
Juan Minaya, Jake Petricka, Chicago White Sox
Neris began the week with a save before taking a loss on Saturday. He allowed a solo home run in a tie game. Neris continues to be a better fit for setup duties than closer.
Hildenberger is the latest pop-up reliever to own. However, it should be noted that he has a decidedly non-closer skill set. He throws a 88 mph paired with a frequently used changeup. To this point, he's posted a solid 3.13 ERA with 10.17 K/9 and 1.17 BB/9. The stuff doesn't match the peripherals. Don't be shocked to see him collapse. Perkins could enter the picture if he's actually healthy.
Ziegler closed out two games without issue. Notably, Kyle Barraclough has returned from the disabled list. We might see him get a chance to take over in mid-September. Ziegler is a candidate for an August trade too.
Minaya was saddled with the loss last night, but it was Petricka who got allowed five runs (one charged to Minaya). Petricka is having a dreadful season, but Minaya at least shows a hint of promise. He throws 94 mph with 12.07 K/9 and 4.13 BB/9. He throws a decent slider and curve.
Jeurys Familia, New York Mets (blood clot)
Koda Glover, Washington Nationals (lower back stiffness)
Familia is making rehab appearances. It's unclear if he'll oust Ramos.
Jeanmar Gomez, Free Agent
Ryan Madson, Washington Nationals
Joaquin Benoit, Pittsburgh Pirates
Francisco Rodriguez, Free Agent
Neftali Feliz, Free Agent
Derek Law, San Francisco Giants
Tony Watson, Los Angeles Dodgers
Matt Bush, Texas Rangers
Seung-Hwan Oh, St. Louis Cardinals
Santiago Casilla, Oakland Athletics
David Robertson, New York Yankees
Addison Reed, Boston Red Sox
Brandon Maurer, Kansas City Royals
Justin Wilson, Chicago Cubs
Jim Johnson, Atlanta Braves
Bud Norris, Los Angeles Angels
Tyler Clippard, Houston Astros
Hey there Bud! Who could have possibly predicted you would eventually lose the ninth inning gig? Clippard was dealt to the Astros so we can hardly fault him for losing the role. Bedrosian escaped the list.
I'm not including Chapman here until I receive official confirmation. Even then, he's more likely to appear on the injured list. Similarly, I'll give Melancon a week or two before I list him as having lost the job to Dyson.
The Steals Department
This week, let's focus on stealing bases off the White Sox, Braves, and Brewers. We can look to target certain Cubs pitchers too – namely Jake Arrieta and Jon Lester. It should be noted that Alex Avila isn't especially stolen base prone, although Victor Caratini may have some trouble. Lester pitches on Thursday against the Reds. It's a good time to try Jose Peraza for a spot start. Arrieta will pitch over the weekend versus the Blue Jays. Kevin Pillar's the speediest option available.
The White Sox are more uniformly prone to allowing steals. Kevan Smith is terrible at throwing out runners while Omar Narvaez is merely bad. The Rangers have a four game set against the Sox, making it the perfect time to dust off Delino DeShields. Carlos Gomez and Shin-Soo Choo are fine alternatives if you're looking for a wider range of skills.
Atlanta has received a lot of value from their Tyler Flowers – Kurt Suzuki tandem. Where they've been let down is via the running game. Julio Teheran is the most exploitable pitcher of the bunch. He'll see the Reds over the weekend – another good day for Peraza. The Mariners will visit Atlanta early next week. Look for Jarrod Dyson.
Brewers catcher Stephen Vogt is set to return from the disabled list over the week. He's utterly futile when it comes to runners. A visit to Coors Field will be followed by a trip to San Francisco. You can't acquire Charlie Blackmon even if you want to, but you could try taking a stab at Trevor Story. Denard Span is the guy you think will run for the Giants, but he only has seven steals. Kelby Tomlinson is a slightly better bet.