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)
Aroldis Chapman, New York Yankees
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
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
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
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.
Tier 5: The Forgotten (4)
Brandon Workman, Boston Red Sox
Mychal Givens, Baltimore Orioles
Roenis Elias, Seattle Mariners
Sergio Romo, Miami Marlins
Workman is about to be replaced with Nathan Eovaldi. In terms of results, Eovaldi might simply offer more of the same - volatility mixed with mostly palatable results. Since he’s getting paid a healthy-sized contract, the Red Sox likely feel some pressure to use him in an important role.
It’s possible the Orioles will trade Givens – assuming they can find a contender who wants him. Romo and Elias could also find new homes. In all three cases, I have trouble believing anybody will offer enough to coax a deal.
Brandon Morrow, Chicago Cubs (elbow)
Corey Knebel, Milwaukee Brewers (partial UCL tear – out for season)
Hunter Strickland, Seattle Mariners (lat)
Arodys Vizcaino, Seattle Mariners (shoulder inflammation – out for season)
David Robertson, Philadelphia Phillies (flexor strain)
Jordan Hicks, St. Louis Cardinals (torn UCL, out for season)
Ken Giles, Toronto Blue Jays (elbow soreness)
Jose Alvarado, Tampa Bay Rays (oblique)
Giles could return tonight.
Cody Allen, Los Angeles Angels
Jose Leclerc, Texas Rangers
A.J. Minter, Atlanta Braves
Anthony Swarzak, Atlanta Braves (deposed with Mariners)
Ryan Brasier, Boston Red Sox
Chris Martin, Texas Rangers
Steve Cishek, Chicago Cubs
Scott Oberg, Colorado Rockies
Matt Barnes, Boston Red Sox
Pedro Strop, Chicago Cubs
The Steals Department
Over the last two weeks, Christian Yelich paces the league with five steals. Keston Hiura, Mallex Smith, and Adalberto Mondesi all notched four swipes. That means Mondesi (31) still leads the league. Smith (25), Yelich (23), Elvis Andrus (21), and Jarrod Dyson (21) round out the top five.
In other news, pure burner Terrance Gore was traded to the Yankees today where he’ll serve as the Pinch Runner in Chief. This could be a boon to Gore’s value. Albeit, your team will still need very specific circumstances to merit rostering him.
Tier 1: The World Beaters (3)
Adalberto Mondesi, Kansas City Royals
Mallex Smith, Seattle Mariners
Trea Turner, Washington Nationals
Christian Yelich, Milwaukee Brewers
Turner has slowly climbed to seventh on the steals list. Mondesi may have a left shoulder injury. He’s due for an MRI. If he needs another stint on the injured list, it could set back his (hypothetical) aspirations to lead the league in steals.
Tier 2: Consistent Thieves (5)
Jarrod Dyson, Arizona Diamondbacks
Jose Ramirez, Cleveland Indians
Elvis Andrus, Texas Rangers
Fernando Tatis Jr., San Diego Padres
Ronald Acuna, Atlanta Braves
Tatis continues to show off borderline crazy baserunning skills. Even when he’s caught dead to rights, he magically finds a way to evade the tag. In many ways, he’s lucky to be playing in an era with replay.
Acuna is heating up with the summer months. The surprising part of his success has come on the bases where he’s stolen 17 bags in 20 attempts.
Tier 3: Assorted Rabbits (8)
Dee Gordon, Seattle Mariners
Jonathan Villar, Baltimore Orioles
Billy Hamilton, Kansas City Royals
Whit Merrifield, Kansas City Royals
Kevin Kiermaier, Tampa Bay Rays
Starling Marte, Pittsburgh Pirates
Victor Robles, Washington Nationals
Trevor Story, Colorado Rockies
There’s a LOT of speed in this category right now. In some cases, it’s veterans with diminishing opportunities. In others, older guys who may have lost half a step. And in the case of Robles, it’s an elite athlete who isn’t making enough quality contact to produce sufficient opportunities.
Tier 4: Names to Watch (10)
Byron Buxton, Minnesota Twins
Ramon Laureano, Oakland Athletics
Lorenzo Cain, Milwaukee Brewers
Delino DeShields, Texas Rangers
Mookie Betts, Boston Red Sox
Manuel Margot, San Diego Padres
Oscar Mercado, Cleveland Indians
Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels
Tim Anderson, Chicago White Sox
Terrance Gore, New York Yankees
Some minor nagging injuries may encourage Trout to holster his urge to run. Laureano, meanwhile, is surging. Strikeouts remain an issue for him, perhaps signaling this is a hot streak rather than a true breakout.