We still don't have a clue who's closing for the Reds, but we may be getting one for the Royals finally. Jordan Romano continues to wait his turn for the Blue Jays, and it's looking like a toss-up every night for the Athletics.
But otherwise, things are looking pretty stable on the closer front. Let's examine the 10 situations attracting the most interest.
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).
Is it true? Has the team that saw six different relievers record a save in its first 19 games finally settled on a closer. Well, Josh Staumont, who I've long contended is the Royals most talented reliever, has picked up two saves in three days, and he was warming up for an opportunity that didn't materialize on the day in between. Manager Mike Matheny did eventually settle on Trevor Rosenthal last year when it became clear he was the team's best option, and I'm willing to speculate that's what's happening here.
- We play Fantasy "Would You Rather" and talk Josh Staumont on the Fantasy Baseball Today in 5 Podcast. You can follow us to get the latest episodes on Apple, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.
Even though Jordan Romano (ulnar neuritis) beat Julian Merryweather (strained oblique) back from the IL, he was still forced to work the eighth inning in his return Saturday and sputtered, actually seeing a dip in velocity. Regardless of Romano's effectiveness, though, it seems like the Blue Jays are content to stick with Rafael Dolis, who notched his second save Sunday. He got five saves down the stretch last year, filling in (incidentally) for an injured Romano, and while I do wonder if his control is good enough to last in the role, he does miss his share of bats.
You have to think Monday's game, when Alex Colome served up a two-run homer to Jordan Luplow to suffer a loss in extra innings, is the last straw. He has allowed at least one earned run in four of his past five appearances, blowing two saves and suffering three losses during that time. Though he has a solid track record as a closer, Taylor Rogers does as well and is probably the more talented pitcher. The left-hander handled the Twins' most recent save chance and worked a scoreless ninth Monday, sending it to extras. Maybe the Twins will go back to Colome at some point, but he'll need to string together some successful outings first.
It's looking like Lou Trivino and Jake Diekman are a closing tandem right now. Trivino got consecutive saves, then Diekman got consecutive saves, then the Athletics went back to Trivino for the save Monday, with Diekman working the eighth inning. Neither has done anything to lose ground in the battle, and rest hasn't been a factor in the back-and-forth either. It just seems like the Athletics are content to play matchups for now, having both a righty (Trivino) and a lefty (Diekman) capable of getting the job done.
Amir Garrett is pretty far removed from the role at this point, but no one has stepped up to take his place as of yet. Lucas Sims would seem to make the most sense given that he was a contender for the role in the first place and has pitched well apart from one ugly outing when he was probably overworked. Of course, he pitched the sixth and seventh innings of Monday's game, which doesn't bode well for his chances.
Tejay Antone worked the eighth, ninth and 10th innings Monday, ultimately picking up the win, which shows the level of trust manager David Bell has in him but also reinforces the idea that the Reds want him throwing multiple innings, keeping him stretched out for a possible move to the rotation. Then, there's Sean Doolittle, whose velocity has been much improved this year and who of course has a history in the role, but it's probably telling that he didn't even enter Monday's contest. I still lean Sims here, but it's pretty wide open.
Just when it seemed like Kendall Graveman had all the momentum, seemingly positioning himself to overtake a struggling Rafael Montero, Montero came right back to secure the team's latest save chance, with Graveman working most of the seventh and eighth innings to set him up. Of course, that was over a week ago, but each has made one appearance since then. Graveman worked the eighth inning and Montero the ninth, both in the same game. Montero remains vulnerable, but he hasn't relinquished the role yet.
Aroldis Chapman's role of course isn't in jeopardy -- and in fact, he's looking more dominant than ever thanks to the introduction of a splitter -- but he's been known to miss some time, which is why it's worth pinning down the next in line. Chad Green got a save when Chapman was suspended at the start of the year and has been an effective late-inning reliever for the Yankees for several years now, but it was Jonathan Loaisiga who got the call when Chapman needed a day off Saturday. Of course, Green had worked two straight days himself, but Loaisiga, a former rotation candidate for the Yankees, is emerging as a late-inning guy, having worked the seventh or eighth in four straight appearances.
Stefan Crichton took a comebacker off the hand in his most recent appearance, but X-rays were negative and he hasn't been placed on the IL. Presumably, then, he'll be fine to continue as the Diamondbacks closer, though his grip on the role remains tenuous, especially since he gave up a couple runs in that appearance. Joakim Soria is set to return from a calf injury soon, and recently promoted J.B. Bukauskas might actually be the most talented pitcher in the bullpen. The Diamondbacks may be reluctant to move him to the ninth, though, just for how it might impact future arbitration hearings.
After giving Richard Rodriguez the save chance on opening day, the Pirates went a solid three weeks without another one, giving reason to wonder if they'd stick to just one guy. But two more opportunities came up in the past week, and Rodriguez converted both in fine fashion. Manager Derek Shelton seemed reluctant to commit to Rodriguez in the role this spring even though he handled it capably down the stretch last season, but he's worked the ninth inning almost every time he's pitched this year, with Kyle Crick consistently working the eighth. This team's bullpen roles are looking as straightforward as can be.
Gregory Soto has gotten a save in the past week, tying Bryan Garcia for the team lead with two. Of course, he worked the eighth inning of a loss the very next day. It's clear he's the reliever that manager A.J. Hinch trusts most, though that trust only goes so far given his proclivity for walking batters. Because Soto throws left-handed, it stands to reason he won't be reserved the ninth inning every time, allowing Garcia to jump in and grab a save now and then.
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