Brad Johnson

Saves and Steals

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The Stretch Run Beckons

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

We're entering the stretch run. With a few rare exceptions, bullpen issues must now be solved internally. This can create some ugly situations for fantasy owners. With any luck, you've built up a nice cushion of saves.


Greg Holland remains the league leader in saves despite a bad week. Notably, Alex Colome has closed to within one save of Holland. It's the first time since Week 1 anybody has been this close to the top. Roberto Osuna is third with 29 saves. Fernando Rodney won the week with four saves. Four others had three saves.


On the stolen base front, Billy Hamilton leads with 44 swipes. Dee Gordon trails by a narrow margin – he has 40 steals. Trea Turner remains in second with 35 thefts. The week belongs to Andrew Benintendi and Rajai Davis. They snatched four bags apiece in four attempts.


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Tier 1: The Gods (3)


Kenley Jansen, Los Angeles Dodgers

Craig Kimbrel, Boston Red Sox

Aroldis Chapman, New York Yankees


Jansen and Chapman only appeared once this week. Jansen was his usual self in a non-save situation. Chapman locked down save number 14. By comparison, Kimbrel was busy. He pitched four times, earning three saves and nine strikeouts.


Tier 2: The Elite (5)


Cody Allen, Cleveland Indians

Wade Davis, Chicago Cubs

Felipe Rivero, Pittsburgh Pirates

Roberto Osuna, Toronto Blue Jays

Greg Holland, Colorado Rockies


Well, it was a rough week for the supposedly elite. Allen was the only one to come through unscathed by virtue of working just one non-save situation.


Davis was dinged for the loss last Thursday. He's since rebounded with a couple hit-less saves. Walks have been an issue lately. Since late June (12.2 innings), he's allowed 7.82 BB/9. I'm not yet concerned.


Nor should we worry about Rivero. He's not a sub-1.00 ERA pitcher. It was always a matter of time before he had a couple regression games. They came this week. First, he allowed a couple runs to the Reds while attempting to hold a one-run deficit. Then he blew his first save of the season on Sunday. He tossed a perfect frame last night. Juan Nicasio picked up a save on Monday while Rivero rested.


Osuna mostly rebounded this week except for one dreadful hiccup. On Sunday, he was blasted for four runs and the loss. His other three outings were all perfect saves. Osuna's velocity remains lower than earlier in the season.


Holland's strikeout rate has slowly declined throughout the season. He pitched four times this week, beginning on a high note with a win and a save. The Phillies and Indians both saddled him with a blown save loss. The two games accounted for nearly half the runs he's allowed this year. Remember earlier in the season when I was reluctant to promote him to the second tier? This is why.


Tier 3: The Core Performers (7)


Brad Hand, San Diego Padres

Ken Giles, Houston Astros

Corey Knebel, Milwaukee Brewers

Edwin Diaz, Seattle Mariners

Raisel Iglesias, Cincinnati Reds

Zach Britton, Baltimore Orioles

Alex Colome, Tampa Bay Rays


The third tier outperformed the second tier this week. And in all honesty, not much separates one from the other. Hand pitched three times, although only one of those outings was a save opportunity. He hasn't allowed a run since early June.


Knebel locked down another pair of saves. He's still doing his best vintage Craig Kimbrel impression, combining unhittable stuff, 15.95 K/9, and 5.26 BB/9. Those walks will occasionally burn him.


Diaz tallied three easy saves. Iglesias also had it easy, picking up a pair of saves in three appearances. Colome earned a couple saves in two outings. Britton pitched only once – also a save.


Tier 4: Steady... Steady... (6)


Kelvin Herrera, Kansas City Royals

Trevor Rosenthal, St. Louis Cardinals

A.J. Ramos, New York Mets

Fernando Rodney, Arizona Diamondbacks

Shane Greene, Detroit Tigers

Sean Doolittle, Washington Nationals


Herrera allowed a run in his only save attempt. Brandon Maurer is next in line for the closer job, although Herrera should be viewed as very safe.


Rosenthal is considerably less secure in the ninth inning. Good thing he recorded a couple saves and four strikeouts in two appearances.


Ramos converted his only save chance in three appearances. He did allow a couple runs during the week, but they didn't do any damage. Keep an eye on the return of Jeurys Familia.


What a wild week for Rodney. He began by pitching Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday before returning to finish things on Tuesday night. All told, he allowed zero hits and three walks while recording four saves. He also fanned eight hitters.


Greene had his own three appearance streak, dating back to last Tuesday. He saved all three games without allowing a hit. He hasn't pitched since Thursday.


With Ryan Madson and Brandon Kintzler on hand, Doolittle's job security isn't the best. He keeps piling up saves, including two more this week in three scoreless appearances. As long as he keeps opponents off the board, the job is his to lose. However, before long, the Nationals are going to start thinking about setting things up for the postseason. That may involve a different deployment of Doolittle.


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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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