Brad Johnson

Saves and Steals

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Street Cleaning

Wednesday, June 1, 2016


It was a week of returns. Not all of them went well. Brad Boxberger pitched in the sixth inning yesterday and promptly strained his “side.” That sounds like another oblique injury to me. The severity is unknown at this time. It's fair to assume Alex Colome has rock solid job security for the near future. I've bumped him up in the tiers.

 

Huston Street's reunion with the Angels was a success. He pitched well last night, earning a win in the process. The Angels bullpen was looking mighty shaky. Street should offer some reliable veterany goodness in the ninth inning. Brewers setup man Will Smith has also been activated from the disabled list, although he's yet to pitch. Smith was a contender for the closer job before injuring his knee during Spring Training.

 

Despite earning just one save in the last two weeks, Jeanmar Gomez still leads the league with 17 saves. He now shares the title with Jeurys Familia. A.J. Ramos and Mark Melancon are nipping on their heels with 16 saves apiece.

 

Jose Altuve remains a very efficient 15-for-16 on the bases, but it's been awhile since he went thieving. Jonathan Villar is now the league leader with 19 steals in 25 attempts. Starling Marte has moved to second with 17 swipes in 22 tries. Altuve is third. Villar jumped to the forefront with a 4-for-4 week on the base paths. Marte went 3-for-5. Nobody else stole three bases.

 
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Tier 1: Elite (5)

 

Aroldis Chapman, New York Yankees

Kenley Jansen, Los Angeles Dodgers

Zach Britton, Baltimore Orioles

Craig Kimbrel, Boston Red Sox

Wade Davis, Kansas City Royals

 

Chapman allowed a run to the Blue Jays in a non-save situation last Thursday. He tallied six strikeouts in 2.1 innings including a two strikeout, one out appearance against the Rays. He converted his only save opportunity.

 

Jansen and Britton recorded two saves apiece while holding opponents scoreless. Davis notched three saves and didn't issue any walks. His 9.78 K/9 and 4.19 BB/9 are non-elite, yet he still has a 0.93 ERA. I expect the strikeout and walk rate to improve. In other words, it looks like he'll survive his slump.

 

The Blue Jays and Red Sox played a wild one on Saturday. First the Blue Jays battled back from an 8-4 deficit then David Ortiz put the Sox back ahead for Kimbrel Time. The Jays managed to push two runs across against Kimbrel. It was his second loss of the season. There's no need for concern.

 

Tier 2: Nearly Elite (7)

 

Roberto Osuna, Toronto Blue Jays

Hector Rondon, Chicago Cubs

Jeurys Familia, New York Mets

Mark Melancon, Pittsburgh Pirates

David Robertson, Chicago White Sox

Trevor Rosenthal, St. Louis Cardinals

Alex Colome, Tampa Bay Rays

 

Osuna pitched five times, allowing only three base runners in 4.2 innings. He saved three of the games and struck out five.

 

I've moved Rondon up to the seventh spot after another strong week. There's plenty of chatter about how the Cubs win too big. Lopsided victories might have a slight negative effect on Rondon's total, but he'll still finish with 30 or more saves. With 14.02 K/9, 1.04 BB/9, and a 1.04 ERA, he'll offer plenty of help in the other categories.

 

Familia had a brutal week. Don't panic. In fact, I'm not even going to bump him down within the tier. He pitched four times in the last week with two good outings book ended around two disasters. He received a vulture win while allowing four runs on Friday then took the loss on Sunday. The Dodgers sure had his number.

 

Robertson also had a season-ruining week. He allowed six runs to the Royals on Saturday in just two-thirds of an inning. He rebounded with a perfect save last night. Robertson is prone to the occasional meltdown which is why he's a Tier 2 guy.

 

I preach “watch the walks” when evaluating Rosenthal. He handed out one free pass in just two innings of work. He also notched five strikeouts with no hits allowed. All-in-all, it was a good week despite zero save opportunities.

 

Colome only pitched once, and in a non-save situation to boot. However, his spot in the fourth tier was the result of Brad Boxberger's impending return. Colome's numbers fit comfortably here in the second tier – 11.86 K/9, 1.64 BB/9, and a 1.23 ERA. Nor do they look fluky.

 

With Boxberger sidelined for an unknown time, Colome's job security looks safe. Given that Boxberger was pitching in the sixth inning yesterday, we also now know there will be a buffer between when he returns and when he steals saves from Colome. My best guess is that the team will commit to Colome now.

 

Tier 3: Good Veterans (4)

 

Cody Allen, Cleveland Indians

A.J. Ramos, Miami Marlins

Jonathan Papelbon, Washington Nationals

Francisco Rodriguez, Detroit Tigers

 

Allen picked up a save and two strikeouts in 1.2 innings this week. Rodriguez pitched once and allowed a run in a non-save situation. Ramos appeared three times. He earned a couple saves and allowed a run last night. He's yet to allow a home run this season. Watch out for his 6.14 BB/9. It's a symptom of his bad fastball and plus offspeed stuff.

 

Papelbon was the busy guy of the tier. He threw four innings with four strikeouts, two saves, and one run allowed. He was used each of the last three nights so Blake Treinen, Shawn Kelley, or Felipe Rivero could be on call tonight.

 


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Brad Johnson is a baseball writer for Rotoworld, FanGraphs, The Hardball Times, MLBTradeRumors and The Fake Baseball. He can be found on Twitter @BaseballATeam.
Email :Brad Johnson



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