Brad Johnson

Saves and Steals

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Diaz Mio!

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Just when Edwin Diaz looked to be getting back on track, he collapsed on consecutive evenings. The Mariners have already ousted him from the ninth inning after he walked four of five batters on Monday. While his command has never been a plus, this was the only outing in which he's looked utterly lost. When I see something like this, I wonder if there's an injury. His velocity is fine, but that's not always affected. Steve Cishek was probably next in line until he was hammered last night.


Diaz isn't the only shake up in Closerland. Aroldis Chapman hit the disabled list shortly after the last edition of Saves and Steals. Look for Dellin Betances to do all the same things as Chapman. He's set to return in roughly three to four weeks. Elsewhere in New York, Jeurys Familia's season is in jeopardy after needing surgery for a blood clot. The Mets also have a superb fall back option to their first string closer. Last but not least, Neftali Feliz succumbed to his home run issues. Corey Knebel is the guy to own.


Greg Holland built on his saves lead by adding four more. Four others snagged three saves apiece including Matt Bush (finally) and spot-closer Derek Law. Holland's 17 saves on the season far outpaces second place Craig Kimbrel (12). Third place is a six-way tie at 10 saves.


Eduardo Nunez and Cameron Maybin shared the weekly stolen base leaderboard with four swipes each. Xander Bogaerts was next best, going 3-for-3. Billy Hamilton (19 steals) has a comfy six steal lead over A.J. Pollock, Nunez, and Dee Gordon. Unfortunately, Pollock is probably out for a month with a strained groin.



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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


The king is dead. Long live the king! Jansen was already angling to oust Chapman from the top spot. Although he didn't receive any save opportunities this week, he did add three more strikeouts in two innings. He's at to 17.18 K/9, 0.00 BB/9, and a 1.23 ERA.


Kimbrel had an eventful week, adding two saves and a win in 3.2 innings. He also recorded eight strikeouts. Davis' week was less thrilling – a save, three strikeouts, and one unearned run in two frames.


Allen also had a busy week – in a bad way. He was saddled with the loss last Wednesday while defending a tied game. He also allowed a solo home run on Monday. He still earned the save. His 1.72 ERA looks mighty fine when combined with his 16.09 K/9.


It must be nice to be able to replace Chapman with a pitcher of Betances' ability. Since taking over the ninth inning, he allowed one unearned run in his only appearance. A Gary Sanchez passed ball was to blame. It was a simple tune up outing in a blowout game.


Tier 2: The Core Performers (7)


Greg Holland, Colorado Rockies

Roberto Osuna, Toronto Blue Jays

Alex Colome, Tampa Bay Rays

Kelvin Herrera, Kansas City Royals

Addison Reed, New York Mets

David Robertson, Chicago White Sox

Ken Giles, Houston Astros


Even though I remain greatly concerned about the potential for meltdown outings at Coors Field, there's no arguing with Holland's first 17.1 innings as a Rockie. After another four save week in which he allowed just one hit in 3.1 innings to go with six strikeouts, Holland appears to be in full command. He turns to his slider over half the time – a smart adaptation when you have an unimpressive fastball.


Three of Osuna's four appearances were perfect. Unfortunately, he allowed a couple inherited runners plus one of his own to score on Tuesday in one-third of an inning. Overall, he's posted a strong season with a 3.52 ERA, 10.57 K/9, and 0.59 BB/9.


Another clean week for Colome – 2.2 innings, four strikeouts, and one base runner allowed. He even tallied a hold and two saves.


Herrera saved the day on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. He did allow a run on three hits during the final save of the trio. It's the second time he's pitched poorly while working for a third day in a row. Maybe the Royals shouldn't overtax their top trade asset.


I was getting ready to cut Reed loose in my leagues last week when word of Familia's injury was announced. Reed has yet to walk a batter, although his 3.86 ERA is a bit of a disappointment. He's proven homer prone in the early going, but I figure he'll stop coughing up the long balls. If and when he does, he'll be borderline elite. He was tagged with a loss on Sunday due to one of those aforementioned home runs.


The White Sox tried to milk a multi-inning outing from Robertson on Tuesday. It backfired. His previous two appearances were crisp. He remains one of the top trade options on the market even though he's far from foolproof.


Tier 3: Stable Hands (5)


Corey Knebel, Milwaukee Brewers

Seung Hwan Oh, St. Louis Cardinals

Matt Bush, Texas Rangers

Tony Watson, Pittsburgh Pirates

Jim Johnson, Atlanta Braves


Welcome to the closer board Knebel. The Brewers righty has posted Tier 2 quality numbers including a 0.90 ERA, 14.85 K/9, and 4.05 BB/9 through 20 innings. He mixes between a 96 mph fastball and a 80 mph curve. Knebel tossed some clunkers last season. Don't be surprised if that trend carries forward into 2017.


Oh picked up two more saves in shaky fashion. He avoided allowing a run last Wednesday despite coughing up a hit and two walks. His most recent appearance was on Saturday when he was tagged for a lone single. No strikeouts in four of his last five outings.


Bush finally got some action, tallying three saves and five strikeouts in four scoreless appearances. Oddly, he's posted an extreme fly ball rate this season while allowing a 41 percent hard contact rate. They're probably both a small sample blip. If they hold true, he could be in trouble.


Watson allowed a solo home run while saving the day on Saturday. Then he came back for a two-inning win on Sunday. They were his only outings.


Johnson pitched three times, but only one was a save opportunity. He did allow an inconsequential solo home run on Friday – his first of the season. With his high ground ball rate and recently discovered ability to record strikeouts, Johnson makes for a nice low cost patch.


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You can read more from Brad Johnson on Rotoworld, FanGraphs, and RotoBaller. Find him on Patreon and Twitter @BaseballATeam.
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