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Saves and Steals

Holland's Resurrection

by Brad Johnson
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

Last week, we discussed Greg Holland's rapid fall from major league save leader to struggling veteran. Holland has reclaimed his rightful role as the Rockies closer. He's tossed perfect frames in each of his last four outings, including Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday. Presumably, he'll receive a day of rest today. He picked up a win on Monday and a save on Tuesday.


Holland ranks second with 37 saves. Alex Colome's 42 saves lead all of baseball. Kenley Jansen ranks third. Over the last week, a handful of pitchers picked up three saves including Colome, Ken Giles, Corey Knebel, Cody Allen, and Hector Neris.


Over in stolen base land, Billy Hamilton (58) holds a healthy lead over Dee Gordon (49). Trea Turner ranks third with 38 thefts. Mike Trout outran everybody this week, snatching five bases. Hamilton checked in at second with four steals.


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Tier 1: The Gods (2)


Kenley Jansen, Los Angeles Dodgers

Craig Kimbrel, Boston Red Sox


Jansen and Kimbrel had nearly identical weeks. Both picked up perfect saves on Friday while recording one strikeout. They also faced five batters in non-save situations on Tuesday. Jansen was credited with a hit, a walk, and two strikeouts. Kimbrel had a hit, a walk, and three strikeouts. Yea, they're still good.


Tier 2: The Elite (8)


Cody Allen, Cleveland Indians

Corey Knebel, Milwaukee Brewers

Wade Davis, Chicago Cubs

Felipe Rivero, Pittsburgh Pirates

Ken Giles, Houston Astros

Brad Hand, San Diego Padres

Roberto Osuna, Toronto Blue Jays

Dellin Betances, New York Yankees


Allen filled up the stat sheet, earning a win and three saves in 3.2 innings. He also added five strikeouts. He somehow pitched around four hits on Friday.


Knebel pitched three days in a row starting last Wednesday. He notched three easy saves. Giles fired five no-hit innings, earning three saves in the process.


Rivero allowed a couple runs in a ludicrously lopsided game last week. He was dinged for an unearned run on Sunday. His stuff is comparable in quality to Jansen and Kimbrel, but he doesn't have enough command to claim a spot alongside the gods.


The Padres eked out a win and a couple saves for Hand despite a shaky week. He earned a four-out save last Wednesday before getting dinged for three runs over his next two appearances.


Like Hand, Osuna started the week on a high note by locking down a four-out save. He then blew his next two save opportunities. The good news is that his velocity has crept back to normal levels. His 11.59 K/9 and 1.37 BB/9 are far better than his 3.66 ERA. He could be experiencing some bad luck, or he may be throwing a few too many strikes.


Betances had one of his worst weeks. On Thursday, he surrendered a run despite not allowing a hit. Luckily, he had a five run lead. He coughed up another run in a similar situation on Monday then got clobbered for a blown save loss on Tuesday.


Tier 3: The Core Performers (4)


Raisel Iglesias, Cincinnati Reds

Sean Doolittle, Washington Nationals

Edwin Diaz, Seattle Mariners

Alex Colome, Tampa Bay Rays


The “Core Performers” can make a strong case for inclusion in the second tier. The divide between this group and the next is large. Iglesias claimed a win and a save in three perfect innings. Doolittle managed a pair of saves. He allowed one unearned run. Diaz pitched two scoreless frames. He was credited with a win and a save. Colome was dinged for a solo home run. It didn't matter. He picked up three saves in as many innings.


Tier 4: Steady... Steady... (5)


Kelvin Herrera, Kansas City Royals

A.J. Ramos, New York Mets

Fernando Rodney, Arizona Diamondbacks

Shane Greene, Detroit Tigers

Zach Britton, Baltimore Orioles


Herrera has dealt with a tight forearm recently. He was reportedly available to pitch yesterday. In his absence, Scott Alexander recorded a pair of saves. Technically, Brandon Maurer is probably still the backup to Herrera, but he's pitched poorly since leaving San Diego. He's a streaky reliever.


Rodney had a busy week. He pitched four scoreless innings, good for two saves. You have to wonder how long the 40-year-old can handle this recently heavy workload. He's appeared 16 times since the start of August including 10 of last 17 days.


Greene allowed a run last Wednesday in a lopsided game. He was saddled with the loss on Friday after blowing a tie game against the Indians. There's nobody to take Greene's job. He'd have to pitch incredibly poorly to lose the job. In that sense, he's a very safe asset.


By comparison, Britton has plenty of competition in the Orioles bullpen. While I don't want to react too strongly to one week, he absolutely dominated. He tossed six innings across four appearances, earning a win, a save and four strikeouts. Last week, I commented about his career low ground ball rate. Six innings later and he's back to 72.7 percent grounders.


Tier 5: Questions/Fluid (4)


Blake Parker, Los Angeles Angels

Greg Holland, Colorado Rockies

Arodys Vizcaino, Atlanta Braves

Sam Dyson, San Francisco Giants


We discussed Holland in the intro. Let's wait and see what happens. Hopefully his owners had the patience to hold onto him. It's always wise to delay a cut for non-injury demotions – especially when such a prominent name is involved.


Parker blew the save on Monday. Despite that, it's time to start moving him up the ol' tiers. He's now appeared in five straight save chances for the Angels. He recorded a pair earlier in the week. His 2.36 ERA, 11.21 K/9, and 2.36 BB/9 is comparable to second tier production.


The tiers are feeling a little strained this week. A re-org may be required for the stretch run. Vizcaino is one of the guys stretching the boundaries. I was prepared to promote him before a couple bad outings soured his stat line. He still has strong overall numbers. The Braves don't furnish may save opportunities.


Mark Melancon will require surgery on a forearm issue. He's pitching through the pain for now, but he will not return to ninth inning duties. That's the good news for Dyson owners. The bad news is that he imploded for five runs in just one-third of an inning on Friday. That sure ruins the ol' stat line. He rebounded for a win on Saturday.


Tier 6: These Guys... (7)


Alex Claudio, Texas Rangers

Hector Neris, Philadelphia Phillies

Blake Treinen, Oakland Athletics

Matt Belisle, Minnesota Twins

Brad Ziegler, Miami Marlins

Juan Minaya, Chicago White Sox

Tyler Lyons, Juan Nicasio, St. Louis Cardinals


Pitch-to-contact guys like Claudio will run into hiccups from time to time. He's allowed one earned run in five of his last nine outings, a span of 12.1 innings. The Rangers like to use him for multiple innings which limits his ability to earn bulk saves.


Like many splitter specialists, Neris has hot and cold streaks. He's running hot at the moment. He tabbed three saves and four strikeouts in three innings.


Just when I was gaining confidence in Treinen's impressive stuff, he had an ugly week. He was credited with the loss on Saturday, Monday, and Tuesday. All were of the “tough luck” variety. That's a lot of bad luck – enough to raise questions of a demotion.


Ziegler concluded his scoreless August on Thursday then promptly allowed two runs to the Phillies on September 1. He earned the loss. Ziegler only offers one category of value.


Despite not actually earning a save, Lyons does appear to be positioned as the likeliest closer. It's a true committee situation. St. Louis acquire Juan Nicasio from the Phillies earlier today. He may take the closer role, although it should be noted that he's ineligible for the postseason.






Koda Glover, Washington Nationals (lower back stiffness)

Trevor Rosenthal, St. Louis Cardinals (elbow)

Bud Norris, Los Angeles Angels (knee)


Norris will be activated from the disabled list today, although it's unclear when he'll pitch. It could be immediately.


The Deposed


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

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

Tyler Clippard, Houston Astros

Aroldis Chapman, New York Yankees

Seung-Hwan Oh, St. Louis Cardinals


Nothing to update here. I'm not going to include Jake McGee since it was never really official that he had the job.




The Steals Department


Let's continue to target the White Sox, Blue Jays, and Astros. They're the least successful teams at controlling the running game. Chicago will visit the Giants and host the Royals. Center fielder Gorkys Hernandez is your best bet for a stolen base. Too bad he does nothing else offensively. Denard Span may remember his wheels. For the Royals, Whit Merrifield and Lorenzo Cain are likely to get frisky. Alas, they have high ownership rates.


Toronto will play the Tigers and Orioles. Ian Kinsler, Jose Iglesias, Mikie Mahtook, and Alex Presley will run on occasion, but none of them should be viewed as base thieves. Baltimore offers even less opportunity. The only O's who run are Manny Machado, Joey Rickard, and Craig Gentry. The latter pair are backup outfielders.


The Astros don't allow quite as many steals as the Sox and Jays, but they're just as bad at actually catching runners. A few Athletics could snipe a base – most notably Marcus Semien. He usually bats leadoff too. Franklin Barreto may be eager to show his wheels if he's in the lineup. The Angels represent our best chance for free steals in the form of Ben Revere. Unfortunately, he's playing lineup roulette with Albert Pujols, C.J. Cron, and Kole Calhoun. One of them has to sit – it's usually Revere. Mike Trout and Andrelton Simmons may run too – not that you can find either of them for free.  

Brad Johnson

You can read more from Brad Johnson on NBC Sports Edge, FanGraphs, and RotoFanatic. Find him on Patreon and Twitter @BaseballATeam.