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A Four-Way Tie For Saves

Emmanuel Clase

Emmanuel Clase

Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Brandon Hughes has cut in front of Rowan Wick for saves in Chicago. Hughes was the only reliever to record three saves in the last week. He even added a blown save. Wick, for his part, blew one save and took a loss across two appearances. Hughes has interesting traits – particularly a solid 11.41 K/9 and 2.85 BB/9 backed up by half a decade of similar minor league numbers. His tendency to allow fly and line drive contact isn’t indicative of someone who will perform reliably in the Wrigley winds. The good news is the wind rarely gusts out this late in the season.

We now have a four-way tie for the most saves. Emmanuel Clase and Kenley Jansen have joined Taylor Rogers and Josh Hader with 29 saves apiece. Hader recorded yet another inexplicable meltdown last Friday. He’ll be given a “break” from closing. He remains arguably the most talented reliever in the league despite his truly baffling struggles since early June. Meanwhile, Rogers recorded his first save in nearly a month on Sunday. Devin Williams had a shaky outing the previous day and was unavailable.

Closer Tiers

Tier 1: Crème de la Crème (3)

Edwin Diaz, New York Mets
Liam Hendriks, Chicago White Sox
Emmanuel Clase, Cleveland Guardians

Diaz allowed a run to the Phillies on Sunday, but it didn’t matter. He was protecting a two-run lead. Hendriks faced one batter all week and still recorded a save. Clase picked up a couple saves in two scoreless appearances.

Tier 2: The Elite (6)

Ryan Helsley, Giovanny Gallegos, St. Louis Cardinals
Jordan Romano, Toronto Blue Jays
Ryan Pressly, Houston Astros
Camilo Doval, San Francisco Giants
Kenley Jansen, Atlanta Braves
Devin Williams, Milwaukee Brewers

Helsley is presently on the personal list. Gallegos picked up the only save in his absence. Jordan Hicks and Génesis Cabrera are also in the mix.

Pressly coughed up a couple runs while protecting a three-run lead. Doval was stung for an unearned loss via a Manfred Man at Coors Field. He recorded a save on Tuesday. He’s pitched three of the last four days so don’t expect to see him on Wednesday. Jansen rebounded from a bout of walks with three clean, free-pass-less innings. Williams struggled with freebies on Saturday. He blew the save in the ninth. The Brewers eventually lost in 11 frames.

Tier 3: Core Performers (5)

Paul Sewald, Seattle Mariners
Scott Barlow, Kansas City Royals
Felix Bautista, Baltimore Orioles
Gregory Soto, Detroit Tigers
Daniel Bard, Colorado Rockies

Bautista allowed an irrelevant solo home run on Sunday. Interestingly, he hasn’t allowed an earned run by non-homer since April. That certainly qualifies as a type of good luck.

Bard blew a save on Saturday, but the Rockies fought back to win it in the 10th.

Tier 4: Uncertainty with Upside (5)

Garrett Whitlock, Boston Red Sox
David Robertson, Philadelphia Phillies
Jorge Lopez, Minnesota Twins
Kyle Finnegan, Washington Nationals
Jonathan Hernández, Texas Rangers

The Red Sox still haven’t fully committed to Whitlock, in part because they like him as a multi-inning guy. Finnegan picked up another couple of saves while regularly sitting about 97-mph. Hernandez is inducing whiffs but not strikeouts. It’s something to monitor.

Seranthony Domínguez landed on the injured list for Philadelphia. Luckily, Robertson can step right into the ninth-inning role. There’s talk of making this a committee, but that seems like a stretch. Robertson is easily the most reliable choice. He took a blown save loss on Sunday, but he threw 36 pitches the previous day. He probably shouldn’t have been used in the first place.

Tier 5: Pray to the Baseball Gods (8)

Luis Garcia, San Diego Padres
Craig Kimbrel, Evan Phillips, Los Angeles Dodgers
Jonathan Loáisiga, Wandy Peralta, Aroldis Chapman, New York Yankees
Alexis Diaz, Hunter Strickland, Cincinnati Reds
Wil Crowe, Pittsburgh Pirates
Brandon Hughes, Chicago Cubs
Jose Quijada, Ryan Tepera, Jimmy Herget, Los Angeles Angels
Pete Fairbanks, Jason Adam, Brooks Raley, Colin Poche, Tampa Bay Rays

Garcia’s run as the Padres closer is liable to be brief. Nick Martinez, Adrián Morejón, and Robert Suarez are in the mix as well. Kimbrel has been moved to what the Dodgers are calling a regular schedule. He will pitch ninth innings on a regular basis regardless of score. That means saves could find their way to Phillips, Brusdar Graterol, and others. They did something similar with Kenley Jansen last season without announcing it.

Loaisiga and Peralta picked up saves for the Yankees in the last week. The club avoided Chapman in high leverage situations, possibly because he issued four walks with three runs allowed in two appearances (1.0 IP). Lou Trivino, Ron Marinaccio and Clarke Schmidt are also in the mix. Both Clay Holmes and Zack Britton are on the rehab trail. For now, it’s full-blown committee time in the Bronx.

Diaz actually had a bad week, blowing a couple saves and taking a loss. He’d be solid if he weren’t fighting for scraps with Hunter Strickland. In terms of expected results, think of him as similar to a right-handed, unestablished Gregory Soto.

Fairbanks has two of the Rays three most-recent saves. Shawn Armstrong has the other one. Over the last six days, Rays relievers recorded a win, a loss, three saves, and eight holds in 16 appearances. They were all over the scoresheet.

Tier 5: Better Left to Others (3)

Tanner Scott, Miami Marlins
Dany Jiménez, Zach Jackson, A.J. Puk, Oakland Athletics
Ian Kennedy, Mark Melancon, Arizona Diamondbacks

Scott locked down saves for the Marlins on Monday and Tuesday. Presumably, Dylan Floro or Steven Okert will close on Wednesday. Command remains Scott’s fatal flaw.

On Saturday, Jackson pitched the eighth with Jimenez working the ninth and tenth frames. Then on Sunday, Puk and Jackson shared the seventh. Jimenez came on for the eighth then gave way to Sam Moll. This looks like a committee, albeit with Jimenez in position for the most saves going forward.


Andrew Kittredge, Tampa Bay Rays (TJS – out for season)
Lucas Sims, Cincinnati Reds (bulging disc – out for season)
Tanner Rainey, Washington Nationals (UCL sprain – out for season)
David Bednar, Pittsburgh Pirates (back)
Tanner Houck, Boston Red Sox (back)
Clay Holmes, New York Yankees (back)
Seranthony Domínguez, Philadelphia Phillies (triceps)

Steals Department

Adolís Garcia, Bubba Thompson, and Sam Haggerty tied for the weekly lead with three steals apiece. Garcia is the first 20/20 player of 2022. Thompson is up to six steals in 60 plate appearances, albeit with a tepid .255/.305/.273 batting line. Haggerty did his running on just eight plate appearances. Two of his swipes were as a pinch runner. Jon Berti maintains his season lead with 30 steals. Jorge Mateo has closed the distance. He now has 28 steals. Cedric Mullins (25), Ronald Acuña (25), Tommy Edman (24), and Bobby Witt Jr. (24) round out the Top-6.

Speed Spotlight

Although 2022 hasn’t worked out in his favor, Phillies center fielder Matt Vierling actually has some attractive attributes. He hits the ball at an above average exit velocity along a near-ideal 11-degree launch angle. He’s also one of the fastest runners in the league. Statcast credits him with 98th-percentile sprint speed. He doesn’t use that speed particularly well in the outfield or on the basepaths. He gets poor jumps.

With Brandon Marsh on the injured list due to ankle and knee discomfort, Vierling is suiting up most days in center field. A .215/.278/.314 triple-slash doesn’t leave much room for optimism, even with five home runs and six steals in 248 plate appearances. Nor is his recent performance a step up. However, the Phillies are entering a soft portion of their calendar with the Red, Pirates, Diamondbacks, Giants, Marlins, Nationals, and Marlins again composing their next seven series. Vierling could see an uptick in his batting average during this period against lesser foes along with a concurrent increase in stolen base attempts.