In a potential preview of an upcoming National League playoff series, both the Phillies and Dodgers blew a save on Tuesday night. First, Hector Neris coughed up a three-run home run while defending a one-run lead. The Phillies eked out three runs of their own in the bottom of the ninth after a Bryce Harper “double” that nearly bowled over A.J. Pollock. Not shown in this video of events is a ground ball out off Kenley Jansen’s ankle. It reportedly numbed his leg and could have affected his performance.
We last checked in on the tiers two weeks ago. Since then, Luke Jackson leads the league with four saves. Ten more relievers nabbed three saves. The seasonal lead still belongs to Kirby Yates (30). Brad Hand (25), Aroldis Chapman (25), Will Smith (24), and Kenley Jansen (23) round out the top three.
And now, shall we go to the tiers?
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Tier 1: The Upper Elite (3)
Kirby Yates, San Diego Padres
Aroldis Chapman, New York Yankees
Josh Hader, Milwaukee Brewers
The Padres hung around the pennant race for quite some time. They’re now fading in the NL West. Barring a sudden surge, they’re unlikely to compete for a Wild Card slot. That means Yates is increasingly available in trade talks. With a 1.10 ERA, 14.05 K/9, and 1.98 BB/9, he’s the top reliever on the market.
Both Chapman and Hader were dinged up in their most recent outings. Home runs continue to plague Hader who has allowed just 12 runs on nine homers. Not once has an opponent scored against him without a ball first clearing the fence.
Tier 2: The Lower Elite (8)
Felipe Vazquez, Pittsburgh Pirates
Roberto Osuna, Houston Astros
Kenley Jansen, Los Angeles Dodgers
Will Smith, San Francisco Giants
Ken Giles, Toronto Blue Jays
Edwin Diaz, New York Mets
Brad Hand, Cleveland Indians
Sean Doolittle, Washington Nationals
The Rangers notched a run against Osuna in two consecutive starts. While his job is still very much safe, it won’t take much for the Astros to suddenly prefer Ryan Pressly.
Jansen was perhaps unfairly credited with having allowed three runs on Tuesday. Better fielding from Pollock could have prevented them all.
Smith is in an ill-timed funk, having allowed four runs over his last three innings. Of course, three of those runs came at Coors Field which almost doesn’t count. Unless he has another similarly rough outing at sea level, potential trade partners won’t get cold feet. We’ll likely have to wait right up to the deadline to see where he lands.
Speaking of ill-timed, Giles is currently battling some minor elbow soreness. It’s been rumored he’ll be available tonight, although rain at Fenway may put the kibosh on that plan.
Tier 3: Core Performers (8)
Liam Hendriks, Oakland Athletics
Craig Kimbrel, Chicago Cubs
Luke Jackson, Atlanta Braves
Shane Greene, Detroit Tigers
Hansel Robles, Los Angeles Angels
Carlos Martinez, St. Louis Cardinals
Alex Colome, Chicago White Sox
Treinen is back for the Athletics, but it’s Hendriks who will continue to close out games. He’s in the midst of a superb season with a 1.21 ERA, 11.25 K/9, and 2.94 BB/9. Buyer beware, his 0.17 HR/9 screams fluke.
Kimbrel owners have every reason to be concerned by his strange not-season. However, with every healthy, effective appearance, he moves up the tiers towards his natural home. The old version of Kimbrel was a top five closer. There’s a pretty good chance this edition is too.
Although I remain impressed with Jackson’s basic skill set. The Braves have likely noticed his penchant for allowing runs. He’s coughed up nine in 18.1 innings since the start of June. It’s not like opponents are scalding the ball. In fact, these can be mostly summarized as bad beats. Even so, trade deadline reinforcements will probably kick him into a setup role. It’s a shame, he’s a top 15 closer.
Iglesias is on paternity leave. He’s expected back by the end of the weekend. Lorenzen is the safest bet to fill in for him. He’s posted a 3.54 ERA with 8.94 K/9 and 2.42 BB/9.
Tier 4: Mess Hall (7)
Ian Kennedy, Kansas City Royals
Taylor Rogers, Minnesota Twins
Hector Neris, Philadelphia Phillies
Greg Holland, Arizona Diamondbacks
Shawn Kelley, Texas Rangers
File this under “unexpected.” Kennedy has played his way into trade rumors. A contender is going to acquire him in the next two weeks – probably for a middle relief role. Sure, the Royals will have to eat part of his contract in order to get something worthwhile in return, but even that seemed impossible a month ago.
Rogers is on fire. Since the start of June, he’s posted a 1.02 ERA with 12.23 K/9 and 0.51 BB/9. The performance is reminiscent of Pressly who the Twins practically dumped this time last season. Good fortune including a .152 BABIP mark Rogers’ performance. Yet it’s becoming less certain that the Twins must acquire a closer. Of course, they definitely should if only to improve their odds of winning the World Series. Getting to the postseason is only half the battle.
The Rays continue to run a sort of hybrid committee. Now it’s Pagan who faces the toughest competition in the late-innings. He had a rough outing on Monday. It was his third appearance in as many days. Castillo, Oliver Drake, and Colin Poche may also nab a few saves.
It seems safe to say that Neris is in one of his slumps. He’s allowed nine runs over his last six innings. His 12.25 K/9 remains a source of consolation for his fantasy owners.
On Tuesday, after the Rockies hammered out three runs against Smith, Davis rolled over and gave up four runs (three earned) in just one-third of an inning. He was saddled with the loss. He now was a 9.53 ERA at Coors Field and a 0.79 ERA on the road. Oberg was part of the problem.