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Saves and Steals

National Disaster

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

As predicted last week, Tony Watson quickly lost his ninth inning role in Pittsburgh. Unforeseen was Koda Glover's latest stint on the disabled list. It's fortunate the rest of the NL East is so bad. The Nationals bullpen ranks 29th in the majors – ahead of only the Twins. The Nationals are fortunate in another way – they have the fewest innings thrown by relievers. It pays to have a couple stud aces.


Greg Holland's lead in the saves category stands at five. He's closed out 23 games. Craig Kimbrel and Alex Colome are tied second with 18 saves. Six relievers tied with three saves for the weekly lead.


Over in stolen base land, Billy Hamilton still has a sizable six steal lead over second place Trea Turner. Dee Gordon is seven back from Hamilton. It was a huge week for base thieves. Cameron Maybin stole six bags. Five others – Turner, Mallex Smith, Delino DeShields, Howie Kendrick, and Eduardo Nunez nabbed four bases. Weird to see Kendrick running.


Tier 1: The Elite (5)


Kenley Jansen, Los Angeles Dodgers

Craig Kimbrel, Boston Red Sox

Cody Allen, Cleveland Indians

Wade Davis, Chicago Cubs

Dellin Betances, New York Yankees


Jansen remains nearly flawless, adding three saves and a win in three appearances. He's still yet to allow a walk. Kimbrel also tossed three perfect innings, albeit for only one save. Allen and Davis earned one save apiece.


Aroldis Chapman is likely to be activated from the disabled list on Sunday. Wave goodbye to Betances.


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Tier 2: The Core Performers (9)


Greg Holland, Colorado Rockies

Roberto Osuna, Toronto Blue Jays

Alex Colome, Tampa Bay Rays

Mark Melancon, San Francisco Giants

Addison Reed, New York Mets

David Robertson, Chicago White Sox

Ken Giles, Houston Astros

Corey Knebel, Milwaukee Brewers

Edwin Diaz, Seattle Mariners


Holland padded his saves lead with two more this week. Of note, he did walk four batters in his two innings, including three on Friday. Maybe keep an eye out for more walk issues in the future.


Osuna has pitched superbly this season. He did allow a run this week, but it didn't affect the outcome of the game. Overall, he saved three games.


Colome blew the save on Saturday while protecting a one-run lead. He managed three other scoreless saves as part of a four appearance week. Opponents reached the bases in each of his outings. Even so, there's no cause for concern.


Melancon blew the save via two-run home run on Thursday. The Giants bailed him out by supplying a vulture win.


Three saves for Reed in a nearly flawless week. Robertson and Giles both saved their only appearance. Diaz pitched well in two outings, good for a save and a win.


I've bumped Knebel up after an excellent three save week. He tossed 3.1 innings with six strikeouts and one hit allowed. The biggest concern is his walk rate, but he issued no free passes in his last four appearances.


Tier 3: Stable Hands (4)


Seung Hwan Oh, St. Louis Cardinals

Matt Bush, Texas Rangers

Kelvin Herrera, Kansas City Royals

Jim Johnson, Atlanta Braves


Tier 3 is becoming endangered. I said I'd move Oh up to the second tier with another clean week. Alas, he allowed a pair of runs to the Phillies. Luckily, the Cardinals had a three run lead at the time so it counts as a save. He pitched three more times – all scoreless.


Bush allowed an unearned run in a tie game last Wednesday. He was saddled with an unfortunate loss. He rebounded from three consecutive bad outings to pick up two saves.


Herrera continued his baffling season. Whilst defending a 1-1 tie, Herrera was touched up for four runs. His other two appearances were great. I keep expecting him to clamp down on the home runs. It just isn't happening.


The Braves don't supply Johnson with many save opportunities, but he converts them. He tallied a win and two saves in three appearances. He allowed one unimportant run on Monday.


Tier 4: Questions (5)


Brad Brach, Baltimore Orioles

A.J. Ramos, Miami Marlins

Bud Norris, Los Angeles Angels

Raisel Iglesias, Cincinnati Reds

Felipe Rivero, Juan Nicasio, Pittsburgh Pirates


The Angels tried to bring Norris into the eighth inning of a tie game to retire Aaron Judge. Instead, Judge rendered, uh, judgment. Norris pitched two other times in non-save situations. With Bedrosian soon to return and Norris looking a tad shaky, this closer role could soon flip.


The Dodgers touched up Iglesias for four runs on Sunday. Three walks and a Corey Seager grand slam did the trick. He saved two games earlier in the week. Even with the terrible outing, he still has a shiny 1.69 ERA.


The Pirates announced that Rivero and Nicasio would share the ninth inning. It's similar to the situation we saw in Oakland earlier this season. Sometimes, it might make sense for the left-handed Rivero to enter before the ninth inning. For the most part, he'll earn most of the save opportunities. He's posted a 0.78 ERA with 9.87 K/9 and 1.82 BB/9. Nicasio has been similarly excellent. Rivero did allow a run on Tuesday while working with a four run lead.


Tier 5: Roller Coasters (7)


Justin Wilson, Detroit Tigers

Hector Neris, Pat Neshek, Philadelphia Phillies

Brandon Maurer, San Diego Padres

Brandon Kintzler, Minnesota Twins

Santiago Casilla, Oakland Athletics

Fernando Rodney, Arizona Diamondbacks

Matt Albers, Shawn Kelley, Washington Nationals


Wilson had a bit of a shaky week, culminating in a loss on Tuesday night. A solo home run did the damage.


Things have gotten interesting in Philadelphia. While there was talk that Neshek might take over for Neris, the sidewinding righty pitched in the seventh inning on Tuesday. The Phillies are winless since Neshek's save on June 6.


On Thursday, with the Padres down 11-3, Maurer entered and promptly allowed four runs. I'm sure his owners loved that. He immediately rebounded with a couple saves. Kintzler was tagged for a loss last Wednesday. He too rebounded with a pair of saves.


Rodney recorded three no-hit saves. He hasn't allowed an earned run since April.


The Nationals bullpen is a nightmare. Both Albers and Kelley coughed up three-run homers this week. I think Albers may still be first in line. It's hard to tell with everybody pitching poorly.






Cam Bedrosian, Los Angeles Angels (groin)

Zach Britton, Baltimore Orioles (forearm strain)

Aroldis Chapman, New York Yankees (shoulder)

Jeurys Familia, New York Mets (blood clot)

Koda Glover, Washington Nationals (lower back stiffness)


Bedrosian's recovery hit a brief hiccup. He resumed his rehab assignment on Tuesday. He should return in a matter of days. Chapman is also on the fast track back to New York. Britton aims to advance to game action next Monday with a quick return from there. Familia hopes to be cleared to begin throwing soon.


Glover is the newest addition to the list. He isn't expected to miss much time.


The Deposed


Jeanmar Gomez, Philadelphia Phillies

Blake Treinen, Washington Nationals

Ryan Madson, Oakland Athletics

Joaquin Benoit, Philadelphia Phillies

Sam Dyson, Texas Rangers

Francisco Rodriguez, Detroit Tigers

Neftali Feliz, Milwaukee Brewers

Derek Law, San Francisco Giants

Tony Watson, Pittsburgh Pirates


See ya Tony Watson.




The Steals Department


This week, it's the Athletics, Cubs, and Astros leading the most stolen base prone teams. Stephen Vogt, Andrew Triggs, Sonny Gray, and a couple relievers are the prime offenders in Oakland. Triggs is on the disabled list with a hip injury so we can't exploit him. Look for Yankees against Gray on Thursday. Brett Gardner and Aaron Hicks are the best options if they're available to you.


In Cubbie-land, Miguel Montero finally caught somebody. Runners are now 23-for-24 against him. Target his opponents any time he starts. The Pirates and Padres have the upcoming matchups. That's a lot of stolen base fodder. In Pittsburgh, Josh Harrison and Adam Frazier can often be found on the waiver wire. Frazier is frequently caught stealing, but Harrison tends to be efficient. Targets among the Padres include Erick Aybar, Cory Spangenberg, Hunter Renfroe, and Jose Pirela. That last name, Pirela, may be in the midst of a breakout season.


In Houston, both Brian McCann and Evan Gattis have struggled to gun down runners. Of the pitchers, Mike Fiers and Chris Devenski are the most preyed upon. The Astros will face Boston and Oakland over the next week. The Red Sox base thieves aren't easy to acquire – Mookie Betts, Andrew Benintendi, and Xander Bogaerts. By comparison, the A's only have one rabbit – Rajai Davis. He's free in most leagues.


Brad Johnson

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