Zach Britton returned from the DL on May 2nd when he tossed a shutout inning vs. Boston while allowing a pair of baserunners. In his two rehab outings in the minors, Zach allowed a run and four baserunners in one inning. His fastball came in at 96.7 in his first game back, so Fantasy owner may have dodged a bullet with his left arm. On the year, Britton is 5-for-5 in save conversions. After earning four saves in his first four chances, Brad Brach took a beating against the Yankees on April 28th when he allowed three runs and four baserunners in one inning in a blown save. He rebounded with two shutout innings in his next two games. If I own Britton, I would still hold Brach for multiple weeks until Zach shows he’ll stay healthy. Darren O’Day threw the ball much better over his last 8.2 innings (2.08 ERA with six Ks). The Orioles are 14th in the majors in bullpen ERA (4.11) after 25 games with eight wins, three losses, and 11 saves.
Boston Red Sox
After 26 games, the Red Sox have the third-best bullpen ERA (2.22) in baseball with six wins, one loss, and nine saves. Craig Kimbrel has been successful in nine of his ten save chances with an electric ratio in strikeouts and walks (21:2) over 12.1 innings. He’s yet to allow a hit to a right-hand batter. Heath Hembree allowed three unearned runs in his last game vs. the Orioles on May 1st, but he did extend his shutout streak to 12 innings with 14 Ks. Matt Barnes pitched only one shutout inning over the last week after pitching poorly in his previous two outings (four runs and four baserunners over 2.2 innings). Joe Kelly continues to battle his command (eight walks over 14.1 innings) leading to short Ks.
New York Yankees
Aroldis Chapman allowed his first run of the season on April 26th when he converted his fifth save in as many chances. Over 9.1 innings, Chapman has 15 Ks with a 0.96 ERA and 1.07 WHIP. Dellin Betances improved his scoreless streak to seven innings with 14 Ks. Tyler Clippard threw four shutout innings over his last five games with four strikeouts. New York ranks fourth in bullpen ERA (2.69) after 24 games with four wins, three losses, and six saves.
Tampa Bay Rays
The Rays are in 10th in bullpen ERA (3.48) after 28 games with seven wins, seven losses, and eight saves. Their relievers only have 62 Ks over 93 innings while issuing 36 walks. This bullpen has disaster risk. Alex Colome may have an underlying injury after getting beat for four runs and eight baserunners in two innings in back-to-back games. Also, he’s walked six batters in his last seven innings where he went 3-for-5 in saves. On the year, Alex picked nine saves in 11 opportunities. Erasmo Ramirez may be next in line for saves after spending some time in the starting rotation with Jake Odorizzi on the DL. Over his last ten innings, Ramirez allowed two runs with one walk and eight strikeouts. Danny Farquhar pitched better over his last four games (no runs over 2.1 innings with two Ks).
Toronto Blue Jays
It was good to see Roberto Osuna stabilize in his last two games (two converted saves in two shutout innings). This came after he allowed a run or more in four of his five previous games leading to three blown saves in four chances. I must put Joe Smith next in line for saves based on his career major league resume and his success over his last 10.1 innings (three runs and 16 Ks). Jason Grilli pitched poorly in three of his last five games (eight runs and nine baserunners over three innings). Most would consider Joe Biagini the next option for saves based on his season’s work (2.12 ERA and 0.82 WHIP), but he did allow three runs and four baserunners over his last four innings. Toronto is 19th in bullpen ERA (4.78) after 25 games with four wins, six losses, and six saves.
Chicago White Sox
The magic in the Sox bullpen added another week to their 2017 resume. After 25 games, Chicago has the best bullpen ERA (1.88) in the majors with six wins, one loss, and nine saves. David Robertson started to fade over his last three games (three runs and seven baserunners over four innings with a save and blown save). Robertson is 5-for-6 in saves conversions. Nate Jones has been electric over his last 7.1 innings (no runs, three hits, and 13 Ks). Tommy Kahnle remains the pleasant surprise due to his improved command. Tommy hasn’t allowed a walk or run over his last 6.1 innings with 14 strikeouts. He sure looks closer worthy while remaining behind Jones.
As expected, the Indians have one of the best bullpens in baseball. They rank second in bullpen ERA (1.99) after 25 games with three wins, no losses, and seven saves. Cody Allen hasn’t blown a save in six opportunities while not allowing a run over his last eight innings with one walk and 14 strikeouts. Andrew Miller has 0.00 ERA in 11.2 innings with 16 Ks and a win. Brian Shaw is trying to climb the ERA mountain after struggling in the middle of April. Brian has five shutout innings since April 16th.
Francisco Rodriguez looks to be at the end of his career pitching in the 9th inning after struggling over his last 9.2 innings (six runs and 18 baserunners) leading to two blown saves in eight chances over this stretch. Justin Wilson saw his 9.2 inning shutout streak end on April 29th when he allowed two runs and three baserunners in one inning. His success clearly puts him next in line for saves. Alex Wilson hasn’t allowed a run over his last 4.1 innings with two Ks. Joe Jimenez was shipped back to the minors after getting drilled in three of his four major league appearances (six runs, seven baserunners, and two HRs over 4.1 innings). The Tigers still have the worst bullpen ERA (6.04) in baseball after 26 games with three wins, five losses, and nine saves.
Kansas City Royals
The Royals are 26th in bullpen ERA (5.18) after 25 games with two wins, seven losses, and three saves. After not allowing a run or hit over five innings, Kelvin Herrera gave up a run and two hits in an inning of work in his last outing on April 30th. He only had one save chance over the last two weeks while being 3-for-4 in save chances on the year. The wheels fell off the Joakim Soria bus on April 28th when he allowed three runs and four baserunners over two-thirds of an inning. Walks (7 over 11.2 innings) continue to be an issue for Soria. Matt Strahm has been a much better pitcher since returning from the minors (no runs and no walks over four innings with four Ks).
Brandon Kintzler remains perfect in saves (7-for-7) while allowing his first run of the season on the last day of April. This ended his 10.1-inning scoreless streak. I don’t own Tyler Duffey on any of my 15-team leagues in the high-stakes market, but I have him on my radar once a have an open roster spot to add a possible closer in waiting. Tyler hasn’t allowed a run over his last 4.1 innings with four Ks. On the year, he has a 1.35 ERA with 12 Ks over 13.1 innings. I’m sure he could move into the starting rotation as well, but Jose Berrios will get the first opportunity for Minnesota. Matt Belisle had a face plant in Texas when he allowed five runs and five baserunners over two-thirds of an inning. The Twins slid to 13th in bullpen ERA (4.07) after 23 games with two wins, five losses, and eight saves.
The Astros crept up to 6th in bullpen ERA (2.93) after 26 games with eight wins, three losses, and nine saves. Ken Giles pitched well over the last two weeks of April (no runs, one hit, and five Ks over six innings) leading to five successful saves. Ken is now 7-for-7 in saves. Will Harris struggled in two of his last four games (two runs and seven baserunners over 3.2 innings), but he did earn a save on May 2nd when Giles needed a night off. Chris Devenski allowed a two-run homer on April 27th vs. the Indians. Over his last 7.1 innings, he has a 3.68 ERA with 13 Ks and one walk. Houston called up James Hoyt last week. He responded with 4.2 shutout innings with a walk and 10 Ks. Hoyt is long time minor league. At age 29 at AAA in 2016, James had 29 saves and a 1.64 ERA over 55 innings with 93 Ks.
Los Angeles Angels
Bud Norris blew his first save in six chances on May 2nd when he allowed a run and three baserunners to the Mariners. Over his previous five opportunities, Bud tossed 5.1 shutout innings with two hits allowed and nine Ks. Cam Bedrosian could be out a couple of more weeks with his groin injury. Blake Parker improved his scoreless streak to 6.1 innings with 11 strikeouts to puts himself next in line for saves. David Hernandez has been a nice find for LA. He hasn’t allowed a run over 4.2 innings with one hit, no walks, and five strikeouts. The Angels pushed to 11th in bullpen ERA (3.96) after 28 games with eight wins, four losses, and nine saves.
The A’s are 22nd in the majors in bullpen ERA (4.98) after 26 games with a win, four losses, and six saves. Santiago Casilla has been shaky in three of his last six outing (four runs and seven baserunners over six innings) leading to a loss and one blown save in four chances. Sean Doolittle allowed a home run in his last outing on April 29th ending his shutout streak at 3.2 innings. Two of his five hits allowed over 7.2 innings have left the ballpark. Ryan Madson only pitched one shutout inning over the last week.
Edwin Diaz is 4-for-6 in save conversion with two HRs and six walks allowed over 10.1 innings. His arm has looked better over his last 4.2 innings (1.93 ERA with six Ks). Tony Zych allowed his first run and hit of the year on May 2nd against the Angels ending his scoreless streak at 4.1 innings. Nick Vincent hasn’t allowed a run over his last 8.2 innings with one hit, one walk, and nine Ks. Seattle has the second-worst bullpen (5.84) after 27 games with three wins, six losses, and four saves.
The Rangers are 27th in bullpen ERA (5.36) after 27 games with three wins, seven losses, and only two saves. Matt Bush improved his shutout streak to five innings with no walks and eight Ks, but he’s only pitched one inning over the last nine days. Sam Dyson returned to the last majors last week. He proceeded to allow a run and four baserunners over 4.1 innings with no Ks. You can put a fork in Jeremy Jeffress pitching in the 9th inning. Over his last 4.2 innings, he allowed five runs and 15 baserunners. Jose Leclerc remains the only other stable arm in this pen after pushing his shutout streak to 4.2 innings with seven Ks.