Brad Johnson

Saves and Steals

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Watchin' Watson

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

A trio of closers are on the hot seat – Tony Watson, Ken Giles, and Hector Neris. While the latter pair will probably bounce back from a bit of bad luck, Watson has looked shaky for most of the season. He began the year with a disastrous Spring Training. Since May 9, he's allowed 10 earned runs in 13 innings. Meanwhile, fellow southpaw Felipe Rivero has coughed up just one run since April 25. It's in the Pirates' best interest for Watson to retain the role until the trade deadline.


Over on the saves leaderboard, Greg Holland's 21 saves gives him a four save buffer over second place Craig Kimbrel and his 17 saves. Three others are tied for third with 15 saves. Over the last week, Kimbrel, Corey Knebel, Roberto Osuna, and Santiago Casilla all closed out three games apiece.


On the stolen base front, Billy Hamilton has maintained an 80 steal pace. He's up to 28 swipes in 247 plate appearances. Second place is shared by Dee Gordon and Trea Turner – both with 18 thefts. The weekly leaderboard was dominated by Turner who took six bags in seven attempts. I recall mentioning last Wednesday that he was in for a big week. Four others stole three bases including Gordon, Taylor Motter, Chris Taylor, and Cody Bellinger.


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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


For a second straight week, Kimbrel recorded more strikeouts than outs in an appearance. He punched out five batters in 1.1 innings on Tuesday night. Overall, he picked up three more saves and 11 strikeouts in 3.2 innings. He did allow a run on Saturday.


Jansen picked up a win and a save in two appearances (three innings). He added five strikeouts. He's still yet to walk a hitter in 23 innings.


Davis saved two easy ones in two appearances. Allen and Betances barely worked. Aroldis Chapman is nearing a rehab assignment. Betances time as a closer is coming to an end.


Tier 2: The Core Performers (8)


Greg Holland, Colorado Rockies

Roberto Osuna, Toronto Blue Jays

Alex Colome, Tampa Bay Rays

Mark Melancon, San Francisco Giants

Kelvin Herrera, Kansas City Royals

Addison Reed, New York Mets

David Robertson, Chicago White Sox

Ken Giles, Houston Astros


It was a weird week for this tier. Let's get the ho-hum performances out of the way. Holland added two more saves to build upon his league lead. Roberto Osuna allowed a solo home run while recording three saves and seven strikeouts in three innings. Reed had a solitary two-inning save.


Of those who had bad weeks, Colome's was the most acceptable. He hung on for the save despite allowing a run in his only appearance. It's been a full week since he last pitched.


Herrera only pitched once too – and in a non-save situation to boot. He was tagged for a two-run home run. He's been strangely homer prone this season. It's an issue that could affect his value and future role at the trade deadline.


Robertson was handed a walkoff loss via a three-run homer. The White Sox have every reason to keep him in the ninth inning. Otherwise, he'll lose trade value. Besides, Robertson has a 3.38 ERA with 12.23 K/9 and 2.95 BB/9. Now is a good time to start rostering Tommy Kahnle.


The Astros tend to have a quick trigger when removing their closers. Giles pitched three times and allowed runs in each of those outings. He wound up with a no decision, save, and loss. I have little doubt he'll be fine moving forward, but another untimely failure could temporarily push him out of the ninth inning.


Tier 3: Stable Hands (6)


Corey Knebel, Milwaukee Brewers

Koda Glover, Washington Nationals

Seung Hwan Oh, St. Louis Cardinals

Edwin Diaz, Seattle Mariners

Matt Bush, Texas Rangers

Jim Johnson, Atlanta Braves


The bad news for Knebel is that he blew the save on Friday when he allowed a solo home run. The good news is that his four innings were generally successful for his owners. He tallied three saves and eight strikeouts.


Glover ruined your ratios in a non-save situation this week. He was tagged for four hits and a walk without recording an out. After leaving with the bases loaded, Shawn Kelley allowed everybody to score via a grand slam. That ended the rally with the Nationals clinging to a 11-10 victory. Glover since rebounded with a fine outing last night.


Oh pitched twice, recording four strikeout and two saves in two innings. After starting the season with a terrible strikeout rate, he's now climbed to 9.00 K/9. Since mid-May, he's posted 15.95 K/9. I will return him to the second tier if he has another good week.


Edwin Diaz allowed a solo home run while working a non-save situation. The Mariners simply haven't been supplying many opportunities. Diaz has suffered from the same issues as Herrera. The stuff and repertoire are perfect fits for ninth inning work, but he's been strangely homer prone. The club has little reason to play musical chairs, hence his promotion back to Tier 3.


Bush had a terrible week. He blew the save last Wednesday via a Kevin Kiermaier solo home run. In a tune up outing last night, he coughed up a couple more home runs. He's in need of a clean frame.


On Friday, Johnson blew the save en route to an eventual Braves loss. The next day, Atlanta returned the favor to Cincinnati, supplying Johnson with a two-inning win.


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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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