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Saves and Steals

The Final Sprint

by Brad Johnson
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

Last week we discussed the burgeoning opportunity for Mets reliever Jeurys Familia. He has now officially wrested the role from A.J. Ramos. As it turns out, Ramos is dealing with biceps tendinitis. He'll probably miss the rest of the season. Familia is only owned in 34 percent of Yahoo leagues. There's a chance he can supply you with much needed last minute saves. If Familia is taken, look for Brad Brach or some of the Tier 5 closers.


With five games left in the season, the stolen base crown is up for grabs. Billy Hamilton recently returned to action. He has 58 steals. Dee Gordon trails with 56 swipes. The Reds finish out with the stolen base prone Brewers and Cubs. Miami will host the Braves for a four game set. Julio Teheran is particular prone to thefts. Alas, there is less tension in the battle for saves. Alex Colome has already clinched the top saves total. Greg Holland trails Colome by five saves – and Holland only has four games remaining.


Tier 1: The Gods (2)


Kenley Jansen, Los Angeles Dodgers

Craig Kimbrel, Boston Red Sox


Jansen and Kimbrel both recorded two saves this week. Jansen allowed a solo home run while protecting a three run lead. Overall, Jansen has 40 saves with a 1.36 ERA, 14.32 K/9, and 0.95 BB/9. Kimbrel netted 35 saves to go with a 1.34 ERA, 16.39 K/9 and 1.88 BB/9. Yep, these guys were something special this season.


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Tier 2: The Elite (8)


Cody Allen, Cleveland Indians

Aroldis Chapman, New York Yankees

Corey Knebel, Milwaukee Brewers

Wade Davis, Chicago Cubs

Felipe Rivero, Pittsburgh Pirates

Ken Giles, Houston Astros

Brad Hand, San Diego Padres

Roberto Osuna, Toronto Blue Jays


Our elite tier had a shaky week. First, let's get the easy ones out of the way. Despite ranking at the bottom of this section, Giles, Hand, and Osuna each locked down a save while holding their opponents scoreless. Giles only pitched once while the other pair had two outings apiece. Chapman's only appearance – a scoreless inning – was in a non-save situation.


Allen surrendered a two-run home run in a loss on Friday before recovering for a save on Sunday. Davis tallied a win on Thursday and a loss on Saturday. Both times, he pitched more than one inning.


Knebel was also handed a loss on Friday. He was done in by walks, a potential issue I highlighted earlier in the year. Fear not, his 38 saves, 1.58 ERA, 14.84 K/9, and 4.86 BB/9 are a near match for the Tier 1 folks. Knebel bounced back with a save last night.


Rivero jumped on the blown save bandwagon last Friday, earning himself a loss. Sunday proved to be a day for redemption. He picked up a perfect save.


Tier 3: The Core Performers (5)


Sean Doolittle, Washington Nationals

Edwin Diaz, Seattle Mariners

Alex Colome, Tampa Bay Rays

Raisel Iglesias, Cincinnati Reds

Jeurys Familia, New York Mets


Two more saves for Doolittle. He's up to 24 in just over a half season of work as a closer. Diaz also had a tidy week, earning a win and a save in three scoreless innings. Colome faced one hitter, and he retired him. It was enough to earn an easy save.


It's possible Iglesias is wearing down. After all, he was moved to the bullpen specifically because the Reds didn't think he was durable. On Thursday, the righty allowed a couple runs while attempting to defend a 5-6 deficit. He was saddled with the loss on Sunday while allowing another two runs. He's now surrendered five runs in his last three appearances.


Familia was busy in a successful return to the closer role. He pitched four times for a total of 3.1 innings. He tabbed two saves and win. One of the saves cut it rather fine – he allowed two runs (one earned) while defending a three run lead. More importantly, his velocity continues to sit in his typical 95 to 96 mph range.


Tier 4: Steady... Steady... (8)


Fernando Rodney, Arizona Diamondbacks

Greg Holland, Colorado Rockies

Brad Brach, Baltimore Orioles

Mike Minor, Kansas City Royals

Arodys Vizcaino, Atlanta Braves

Blake Treinen, Oakland Athletics

Shane Greene, Detroit Tigers

Sam Dyson, San Francisco Giants


Rodney locked down another win and a save in two scoreless appearances. Diamondbacks fans should prepare some antacids for the playoffs.


After a brief blip in August, Holland gave up just two runs (one earned) in nine September innings. He pitched twice in the last week, picking up another save and five strikeouts.


Brach pitched ably this season, although his peripherals hint at some good fortune. With Britton likely out for the remainder of the season, Brach will receive any save opportunities. He recorded one on Thursday. Brach is 57 percent owned in Yahoo leagues. You might be able to find him in shallow formats.


I wish Minor had a longer run in the ninth inning role. He's looked like a Tier 3 reliever this season. This week, he added his second and third saves of the season. Overall, he has a 2.64 ERA, 10.20 K/9 and 2.52 BB/9.


Vizcaino had a “fun” appearance last Wednesday. He entered with the bases loaded and proceeded to walk the next three batters. Those runs were charged to Jose Ramirez. Then Rex Brothers relieved Vizcaino and allowed three more runs to score. Vizcaino tossed a couple pristine saves on Thursday and Saturday. He struck out the side in both outings.


Treinen seems to occasionally lose his feel for the strike zone. That's not an uncommon problem for dominant sinker specialists. His heater can have too much movement at times, making it hard to place on the edges of the zone. Not everybody can be Corey Kluber. In any case, he seems to have rebounded from his recent struggles. He notched a couple saves for the Athletics.


Greene allowed an unimportant run in his only appearance. Dyson snagged a save in two scoreless outings.


Tier 5: These Guys... (7)


Alex Claudio, Texas Rangers

Hector Neris, Philadelphia Phillies

Matt Belisle, Minnesota Twins

Juan Nicasio, St. Louis Cardinals

Blake Parker, Yusmeiro Petit, Los Angeles Angels

Kyle Barraclough, Miami Marlins

Juan Minaya, Chicago White Sox


Claudio picked up another two inning save last Wednesday. It was his only opportunity of the week. Neris was fortunate enough to record three saves and seven strikeouts for his owners. That's timely performance in an otherwise middling season.


Belisle earned one save in three scoreless appearances. Nicasio pitched well in two appearances, tallying 3.1 innings, a win, and a save.


Parker was the latest Angel to pitch the ninth inning. It looks like he'll finish the season with the job. Don't be surprised if Mike Scioscia doesn't stick to the script.


Barraclough entered the season as perhaps the most popular sleeper for saves. He's finally in the closer role – it's too little, too late for the owners who drafted him. Bearclaw tossed a couple scoreless frames while earning his first save on Monday. He also pitched the ninth inning on Saturday in a non-save situation.


Minaya had a surprisingly studly week. Any desperate owners looking to scrape the bottom of the barrel were handed three saves and four strikeouts over four innings. It's a reminder that anybody can play hero over a short period of time. Minaya is only 15 percent owned.






Koda Glover, Washington Nationals (lower back stiffness)

Trevor Rosenthal, St. Louis Cardinals (elbow)

A.J. Ramos, New York Mets (bicep tendinitis)

Zach Britton, Baltimore Orioles (knee)


Ramos and Britton weren't placed on the disabled list, but they've lost their jobs to injuries. Ramos was probably on the way out anyway, although the injury sealed his fate.


The Deposed


Jeanmar Gomez, Free Agent

Ryan Madson, Washington Nationals

Joaquin Benoit, Pittsburgh Pirates

Francisco Rodriguez, Free Agent

Neftali Feliz, Free Agent

Derek Law, San Francisco Giants

Tony Watson, Los Angeles Dodgers

Matt Bush, Texas Rangers

Santiago Casilla, Oakland Athletics

David Robertson, New York Yankees

Addison Reed, Boston Red Sox

Brandon Maurer, Kansas City Royals

Justin Wilson, Chicago Cubs

Jim Johnson, Atlanta Braves

Tyler Clippard, Houston Astros

Aroldis Chapman, New York Yankees

Seung-Hwan Oh, St. Louis Cardinals

Tyler Lyons, St. Louis Cardinals

Dellin Betances, New York Yankees

Kelvin Herrera, Kansas City Royals

Blake Parker, Los Angeles Angels

Bud Norris, Los Angeles Angles

Brad Ziegler, Miami Marlins


Ziegler's poor performance leading up to a minor injury was enough of an excuse for the Marlins to evaluate their other options. He's been working the eighth innings lately. Jose Peraza




The Steals Department


With the season winding down, let's take a peek at the most stolen base prone defenses. I'm going to excuse the Cubs even though they've allowed the most steals. Miguel Montero remains responsible for the worst of their work. The Cubs current catchers have allowed 74 steals in 100 attempts. That's a fine success rate. If you have access to Billy Hamilton, it's a good time to use him. Jose Peraza doesn't play enough to recommend him.


The White Sox have surrendered 116 steals in 144 attempts. That's over an 80 percent success rate. Unfortunately, the players most likely to run are universally owned. The Angels are playing them two more times. The Indians get three games against them. Try Mike Trout and Andrelton Simmons if you own them. Brandon Phillips could supply a surprise swipe off the waiver wire. Similarly, if you own Jose Ramirez or Francisco Lindor, make sure you start them.


The Blue Jays are comparably bad. They've allowed 114 steals in 139 attempts. They'll face the Yankees over the weekend. There's a small chance Brett Gardner, Jacoby Ellsbury, or Aaron Hicks are available.


Teams like to run against the Athletics even though they've caught 40 out of 149 would-be base stealers. That's a 26 percent caught stealing rate. Stephen Vogt – now with the Brewers – was the worst offender. Still, if teams are attempting steals, it make sense to take a shot. Look for Delino DeShields, Carlos Gomez, and Shin-Soo Choo. If you happen to own Elvis Andrus or Rougned Odor, make sure you start them too.


Not as many teams attempt to run against the Astros, but they're the very worst at actually catching runners. They've gunned down just 14 of 113 attempts – a pitiful 12 percent caught stealing rate. The Red Sox get a potential postseason preview against Houston. It's too bad Eduardo Nunez tweaked his knee because he was the only option on waivers. We might see Mookie Betts, Andrew Benintendi, or Xander Bogaerts try to take a base.

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