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Saves and Steals

The Return of Oh

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

Alex Colome has trailed Greg Holland on the saves leaderboard for four and a half months. This past week marked the end of Colome's pursuit. He now leads with 37 saves. Holland is stalled at 35 saves. Kenley Jansen has outpitched them both, but he has only 34 saves. The Dodgers win too many lopsided games. Over the most recent seven days, Corey Knebel leads with four saves in 3.1 innings. Three others – all recently minted closers – tied with three saves.


Billy Hamilton is dominating the stolen base leaderboard. His 52 swipes are trailed by Dee Gordon. He's stolen 43 bags. Trea Turner is still comfortably in third place. Delino DeShields had himself a week while taking over as the Rangers leadoff man. He stole five in as many attempts. Ian Kinsler and Wil Myers were 4-for-4.


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Tier 1: The Gods (2)


Kenley Jansen, Los Angeles Dodgers

Craig Kimbrel, Boston Red Sox


Jansen allowed a run *gasp* while protecting a four run lead. No harm, no foul. Overall, he tossed four innings, recording two saves and nine strikeouts in the process. Kimbrel pitched thrice, retiring seven of nine batters faced on strikeouts. He was credited with a win and a save.


Tier 2: The Elite (7)


Dellin Betances, New York Yankees

Cody Allen, Cleveland Indians

Corey Knebel, Milwaukee Brewers

Wade Davis, Chicago Cubs

Felipe Rivero, Pittsburgh Pirates

Roberto Osuna, Toronto Blue Jays

Brad Hand, San Diego Padres


Betances moves straight into Aroldis Chapman's chair as the third best closer in baseball. That's what 15.51 K/9 will do for a guy. Betances has struggled with command at times this year (6.32 BB/9), but he's currently on a good streak. He's walked just one batter over his last seven innings. He earned a couple saves this week. David Robertson was called on to man the ninth last Wednesday because Betances was unavailable.


With Andrew Miller expected to miss a minimum of two weeks, Allen's job security just improved tremendously. He earned a hold and a win in 2.1 innings. Don't read into the hold. He was brought in to protect a four run lead with two outs in the eighth. The Indians then tacked on a couple more runs in their half of the inning, obviating the need for Allen.


I've been warning about Knebel's command all season, and it's yet to burn him. As part of his four save week, he also reached the vaunted 100 strikeout plateau. On the season, he's posted 15.08 K/9 and 4.98 BB/9 – numbers that compare favorably to Betances.


Davis rebounded from a couple iffy weeks by throwing four clean innings. He allowed just two walks while tallying a win, two saves, and three strikeouts.


Rivero was dinged for a solo home run on Saturday. Fortunately, he had a three run lead. He added two more saves and three strikeouts in 2.1 innings.


Osuna's week began on a high note. He closed out a couple easy ones against the Rays. Asked to protect a 10th inning, two run lead against Cubs, he failed in unique fashion. It's easiest if you just watch. Apparently, runners resulting from dropped third strikes are considered “earned.” Tough break Osuna owners.


Although Hand only pitched once, he's easily earned inclusion in this tier. For a moment, I was concerned the Padres would push Carter Capps to take the closer role. As it turns out, his velocity is way down – as is his effectiveness.


Tier 3: The Core Performers (7)


Ken Giles, Houston Astros

Raisel Iglesias, Cincinnati Reds

Sean Doolittle, Washington Nationals

Edwin Diaz, Seattle Mariners

Greg Holland, Colorado Rockies

Alex Colome, Tampa Bay Rays

Zach Britton, Baltimore Orioles


A little shuffling was necessary within this tier. Giles, Iglesias, and Doolittle all had easy weeks. Doolittle performed the best of the bunch with three saves and six strikeouts in three perfect innings. Iglesias nabbed two saves and five strikeouts in two frames. Giles “only” tallied one save and four strikeouts in 2.2 innings.


By comparison, Diaz had a troublesome week. It began last Wednesday when Diaz allowed a pair of runs while attempting to hold a three run lead. Mark Rzepczynski was needed to record the final out. Diaz then allowed a solo home run while saving his next appearance. On Monday, he worked through an easy ninth inning for his second save of the week.


When I moved Holland into the second tier, I figured it was only a matter of time before he migrated back down. I recall saying as much at the time. After allowing three runs in a loss on Saturday, the time has come for that demotion. He's coughed up nine runs over his last 4.1 innings. Notably, he's also allowed five walks.


Britton is posted good results in a Brandon Kintzler kind of way. With just 6.84 K/9 and 4.32 BB/9, he isn't showing off the elite skills he had in the past. I advise patience.


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


Kelvin Herrera, Kansas City Royals

A.J. Ramos, New York Mets

Fernando Rodney, Arizona Diamondbacks

Shane Greene, Detroit Tigers


Herrera has a similar story to Diaz. He was credited with a hold last night after leaving with the bases loaded and two outs. Lefty specialist Scott Alexander recorded the final out. Herrera closed a game out last Wednesday and allowed a run on Sunday in a non-save situation.


Rodney has pitched each of the last two nights, possibly opening the door for David Hernandez or Archie Bradley. Notably, Rodney threw just two pitches on Tuesday. He allowed a solo home run while slamming the door on Monday.


Greene allowed a total of three runs while working in two non-save situations. His job security is as strong as any of the non-elite pitchers. It's not like anybody else can work a save in Detroit.


Tier 5: Questions/Fluid (4)


Arodys Vizcaino, Atlanta Braves

Blake Treinen, Oakland Athletics

Sam Dyson, San Francisco Giants

Seung Hwan Oh, St. Louis Cardinals


Treinen was saddled with the loss last Wednesday after he failed to maintain a tie. The Athletics seem to like using him for multi-inning saves. His two most recent outings were for six and four outs respectively. He has nasty movement and velocity, but he'll occasionally make mistakes.


The Giants are in no rush to push Mark Melancon back to the ninth inning – a symptom of their lost season. From their perspective, there's probably no sense risking their expensive asset. Dyson is performing ably. He notched a couple more saves.


With Trevor Rosenthal sidelined, Oh is getting first crack at the ninth inning. He allowed a couple runs on Thursday but bounced back with a two out save on Friday. Overall, his numbers are rather pedestrian for fantasy purposes. Every time it looks like he's back on track, he tosses a couple meltdowns.


Tier 6: These Guys... (6)


Bud Norris, Cam Bedrosian, Los Angeles Angels

Alex Claudio, Texas Rangers

Hector Neris, Philadelphia Phillies

Matt Belisle, Trevor Hildenberger, Minnesota Twins

Brad Ziegler, Miami Marlins

Juan Minaya, Chicago White Sox


So much for Bedrosian's run as the Angels closer. Despite doing nothing to lose his temporary hold on the ninth inning, he's back to working a setup role. My best guess is that the club feels they can manage his usage more easily without mixing in the added pressure of closing. Bud Norris returned to prominence on Sunday with his 19th save of the season.


Claudio picked up a couple saves in while working more than an inning. He allowed a run in both instances. The Rangers bullpen still feels like it could devolve into a committee.


Neris was shelled in a tune-up outing on Friday. He then returned to record saves on Saturday and Sunday.


As with the Angels bullpen, Hildenberger didn't do anything to specifically lose the Twins closer job. For a moment, it looked like the job was his. Then Belisle swooped back in with a couple saves. The club clearly prefers the veteran influence.


Ziegler has pitched exceptionally since returning from injury on August 1. He's tossed nine scoreless innings and tallied seven saves – three in the last week. Alas, his inability to record strikeouts makes him a risky asset. Kyle Barraclough could rise to prominence.


Minaya had a strong week, notching a hold and three saves in 3.2 inning. The only hit he allowed was a solo home run. Beware his 4.50 ERA and 1.69 HR/9.






Jeurys Familia, New York Mets (blood clot)

Koda Glover, Washington Nationals (lower back stiffness)

Trevor Rosenthal, St. Louis Cardinals (elbow)


Wither Rosenthal. There's a good chance he's out for the season - if not worse. We're still waiting on the Cardinals to release an update. It may come later today. Familia may be activated this weekend.


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

Bud Norris, Los Angeles Angels

Tyler Clippard, Houston Astros

Aroldis Chapman, New York Yankees


Mark my words, Chapman will be back. Hardly a bold prediction, huh? I'm going to wait and see how things play out in Los Angeles and Minnesota.




The Steals Department


Let's focus on the White Sox, Blue Jays, and Braves this week. The tandem of Kevan Smith and Omar Narvaez are the most stolen upon in the league. They're set to face the Twins four times and the Tigers thrice over the next week. Minnesota's top running threat is Byron Buxton. He's around 50 percent owned in Yahoo leagues due to name recognition and a recent hot streak. The Tigers don't have any stand out threats, although perhaps Mikie Mahtook will try to snag a base.


Stick with Buxton over the weekend for his matchup against the Blue Jays. Miguel Montero is the primary catcher these days with Russell Martin nearing a return. They're both a disaster when it comes to controlling the running game. In sufficiently shallow leagues, you may get a chance to roster Eduardo Nunez for their series starting next Monday.


The Rockies are visiting Atlanta where both Tyler Flowers and Kurt Suzuki have their issues. Raimel Tapia is the most available speedster, although he rarely starts. He fits best for owners in same-day moves leagues who can check lineups before making their waiver claims. The Braves visit Philadelphia early next week, a chance for Cesar Hernandez, Odubel Herrera, Freddy Galvis, and Nick Williams to show off their legs. None of them are prolific thieves, but they offer multi-category production.

Brad Johnson

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