Emmanuel Clase has a 0.83 ERA. He also has a 1.43 WHIP.
You'd think the former would be enough to prevent the latter from costing him his job, especially since he's 7 for 8 in save chances, but when you're sharing a bullpen with arguably the most overpowering reliever in baseball, anything short of impeccable is cause for removal.
Or so it would seem given manager Terry Francona's handling of the Indians bullpen recently. It's one of 10 closer scenarios worth discussing in this week's Bullpen Report.
Note: "Pecking order" refers to rosterability in Fantasy and not necessarily who's first in line for saves (though it's usually one and the same).
It sure seems like Francona has pivoted to James Karinchak, having him record a save on back-to-back days last week and then having him follow Emmanuel Clase in a tie game in his very next appearance. Of course, Karinchak did take a loss in his latest appearance Sunday, serving up two runs in the 10th inning of another tie game, and perhaps it's telling that Clase came in for the save the very next day. But Karinchak needed a day off, and Clase put three runners on with only a one-run lead, which has been the problem for him all along. Bottom line is Karinchak is better and seems to have more of Francona's trust right now.
For three straight appearances (and four of his past five), Hansel Robles has been used exactly like a closer would be, recording a save, preserving a tie and attempting to secure a ninth-inning one-run lead. The only issue is the most recent two of those three appearances were pretty shaky, with the last one resulting in a blown save Sunday. Tyler Duffey ended up getting the save in that one after the Twins rallied in the 10th inning, but he's been mostly ineffective this year. Taylor Rogers and Alex Colome already had a shot in the closer role and blew it. Maybe the Twins turn back to Rogers, who still has the best numbers of the bunch, but Robles' are good enough that I think he gets another shot.
I'm sorry to report that the Rays are up to their old tricks again, having a different pitcher record each of their past five saves. They're all listed above. It didn't help that their designated closer at the start of the year, Diego Castillo, missed time with a strained groin, but after returning, he was asked to work the sixth inning of one game and the eighth of another before finally getting a chance to close one out. Of course, newly acquired J.P. Feyereisen was the latest to get a save, but most likely because Castillo had worked three of the previous four days.
I think they were bringing Castillo along slowly and are basically back to having him close full-time now, but you can never be too sure with the Rays.
What a mess this situation has become. It seemed like the Blue Jays were comfortable turning the reins back over to Rafael Dolis once he returned from a calf strain last week, but he blew his first chance in such epic fashion that he was brought in for the seventh inning next time out. Tyler Chatwood was the latest to get a save chance Sunday and had the numbers to justify it, but as with Dolis, the result was an epic meltdown. Manager Charlie Montoyo keeps going out of his way to avoid sticking Jordan Romano in the role, but he may be running out of options. Or maybe he gives Dolis or Chatwood another shot, but it's a coinflip as to which.
I think Tyler Rogers has just straight up overtaken Jake McGee. I know manager Gabe Kapler likes to mix it up, and by failing to lock down the role, McGee has given him an excuse to do just that. But Rogers has worked the ninth inning or later in five straight appearances now, recording three of the Giants' four saves during that span. McGee actually got the last one, but only because Rogers had worked four of the previous five days. Rogers' submarine delivery allows him to take on a bigger workload than most relievers, which will mean appearances in non-save chances, too, but I think he's the new go-to for saves.
A recent spate of good fortune for the Tigers has driven home the reality that Michael Fulmer is indeed the closer, seeing him record three saves in the span of nine days. Of course, his most recent appearance was a blown save on a two-run homer to Carlos Santana, so it's possible manager A.J. Hinch reassesses the situation. But what else could he do other than go back to left-hander Gregory Soto, who has worse numbers overall? I don't know how useful the Tigers closer will be in the long run or if Fulmer is overpowering enough to stick in the role, but he's the clear front-runner now.
At first, the problem was manager Mike Matheny. Now, it's Josh Staumont himself, who's doing everything he can to squander the gift he's been given. In five straight appearances, he's been brought in to finish the game, twice for a save and three times to preserve a four-run lead. He allowed a combined seven baserunners and three runs in his last two appearances, though. He didn't blow either lead, which is why I hesitate to say his job is in jeopardy, but those who've invested in him can't feel particularly secure with him right now.
It's become abundantly clear that Kendall Graveman is manager Scott Servais' most trusted reliever, which should result in save chances more often than not. But now he's on the COVID-19 IL (though it's unconfirmed whether he has the illness himself), which makes the next in line here vitally important.
It's worth knowing anyway given Servais' tendency to use Graveman prior to the ninth inning, and up until Monday, the answer was Rafael Montero, who actually has five saves as well as five blown saves. That fifth blown save may have been the last straw, though, because Montero has now worked the seventh inning or earlier in three straight appearances. It was actually Keynan Middleton who came in for the save Monday, striking out two in a perfect inning, so it looks like he's the one to handcuff to Graveman moving forward.
The Reds have become a fixture in this space. We haven't known who their closer is since Amir Garrett lost the job in early April, and it's to the point that I see no value in guessing. Tejay Antone indeed secured their most recent save over a week ago and is plenty skilled enough for the role, but he's too valuable as a multi-inning reliever to settle in as a true closer. It wouldn't surprise me if manager David Bell went back to Garrett at some point, but so far, he's shown no inclination.
All I know is that Stefan Crichton hasn't been used like a closer in any of his past three appearances, his ERA swelling to over 6.00, but it doesn't seem like the Diamondbacks are positioning anyone else to step into the role either. Nor is it clear anyone else is up to the task. Joakim Soria has some experience in the role, but he's been used in the seventh and eighth innings almost exclusively. Alex Young has the best numbers of any Diamondbacks reliever, but he's a soft-tossing lefty with the ability to go multiple innings. It feels like a total guess right now, and it doesn't help that the team hasn't had a save since May 10.