Brad Johnson

Saves and Steals

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Jeanmar Gone-mez

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

We're seven or eight games into the season which means there really isn't much to talk about yet. In terms of meaningful statistical analysis, we can talk about pitcher velocity... and that's about it.


Well, there was one notable bit of news, Jeanmar Gomez is finally gone. His transition out of the ninth inning began late last season, and it was finally clinched with a few shaky outings this year. The Phillies bullpen is a great place to speculate. Now that the Phillies have moved on, it's time to turn our speculation to Texas where Sam Dyson is blowing everything.


Greg Holland leads all of baseball with five saves. Fantasy owners who took a risk on him at Coors Field have to be happy. Seven closers are currently tied for second with three saves apiece.


Eduardo Nunez and Brett Gardner share the top of the stolen base leaderboard with five each. Chris Owings and Billy Hamilton are tied for third with four steals. Ten players are tied with three steals including injured Trea Turner. George Springer and Avisail Garcia have both been cause twice in two attempt. I don't know why Garcia was trying to steal a base, let alone two. And I don't want to know.


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Tier 1: The Elite (3)


Aroldis Chapman, New York Yankees

Kenley Jansen, Los Angeles Dodgers

Zach Britton, Baltimore Orioles


The Yankees have produced precisely zero save opportunities for Chapman. This is not what owners were hoping for when they invested top dollar. Don't worry, the saves will come.


Jansen only recorded one save in three appearances. He even allowed a couple runs on Sunday. We'll excuse him for the shaky outing. The Dodgers were visiting Coors Field, and he was protecting a 10-4 lead.


After narrowly skating through a couple shaky outings to start the season, Britton's command appears to have returned. He saved three games in the last week.


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Tier 2: Nearly Elite (9)


Craig Kimbrel, Boston Red Sox

Roberto Osuna, Toronto Blue Jays

Edwin Diaz, Seattle Mariners

Cody Allen, Cleveland Indians

Kelvin Herrera, Kansas City Royals

Mark Melancon, San Francisco Giants

Addison Reed, New York Mets

Alex Colome, Tampa Bay Rays

Seung Hwan Oh, St. Louis Cardinals


Kimbrel remains on the edge between the first and second tier. His most recent outing on Sunday revealed why he's located here. Two walks and a hit led to a run. Luckily, the Red Sox had a three-run lead. He also struck out the side. Without better command – even a small improvement – Kimbrel will be prone to occasional clunkers.


Osuna returned to action yesterday with a clean frame. A healthy Osuna doesn't offer the elite strikeout rates of other top relievers, although close to 10 K/9 is certainly “good enough.” He has established a track record of allowing very few base runners.


After a good start to the week, Diaz ruined his numbers with an ugly Sunday outing. He walked two and allowed three hits en route to the loss. Diaz's failure was simply the cherry on top of an epic collapse.


Allen has struck out the side in three of his four appearances. Perhaps he'll actually shake the early season run bug. He's made a few mistakes over the plate which is why he's allowed a comical 71.4 percent hard contact rate. Remember the sample is nine balls in play.


The Royals finally supplied Herrera with a save opportunity on Sunday. He blew it via solo home run. Meanwhile, Melancon bounced back from his Opening Day disgrace to record two saves. No strikeouts though.


Reed recorded a couple saves in four innings of work. He struck out six and allowed just two hits. One of those was a solo home run.


Colome has transformed himself over the last two seasons. In 2016, he discarded his curve ball and changeup in favor of throwing nearly 50 percent sliders. Through his first 4.1 innings, he's thrown 69.6 percent sliders. You might think the barrage of breaking balls would lead to free passes. He's issued none thus far while recording three saves.


Oh has allowed at least one run in all three of his appearances. While it's too early to react harshly, it's certainly not an encouraging start to the season. His velocity is down nearly two mph. While I'm hopeful enough to leave Oh in this tier, it may make sense to speculate on Trevor Rosenthal. He struck out the side in his return from the disabled list.


Tier 3: The Mid Tier (6)


Ken Giles, Houston Astros

Wade Davis, Chicago Cubs

A.J. Ramos, Miami Marlins

David Robertson, Chicago White Sox

Cam Bedrosian, Los Angeles Angels

Raisel Iglesias, Cincinnati Reds


Well, it looks like Giles' Jekyll and Hyde act is back. His two most recent appearances include three hits, three walks, four runs, and three strikeouts. The stuff remains impressive, but his early season command leaves much to be desired.


Davis has pitched well through four appearances (two saves). He's yet to allow a run. However, the scouting report remains discouraging. The cutter isn't quite what it was in the past, and his velocity is down for a second straight season. I need to see another week or two of success before I feel comfortable promoting him to the second tier.


Ramos is doing his thing. I can't fully endorse a closer without a useful fastball, especially with Kyle Barraclough waiting in the wings. Ramos' offspeed stuff remains superb, and he'll usually get the job done.


Robertson pitched well in two non-save situations – one hit and four strikeouts in two innings. Of greater note is Nate Jones' performance. He has one strikeout, four hits, four walks, and two runs allowed in 3.1 innings.


Bedrosian has opened the season on a high note. He locked down the win yesterday and recorded a five out save on Saturday. Thus far, he's allowed just two hits with five strikeouts in 3.2 innings. Andrew Bailey has yet to allow a run in three innings.


The Red's multi-inning relief ace already has three saves to his name despite a fluid role. He won't be available tonight after recording five outs yesterday. Grab a share of Michael Lorenzen. He went three innings on Monday, but the rest of the bullpen pitched yesterday.


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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.
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