With the MLB season nearing an end, there’s still some chasing after every save possible. For all who find this statement applicable, there’s hope in Kansas City. To say Kelvin Herrera has been ineffective of late could be too nice for those who owned him, and Scott Alexander made the most of his moment in the role, but the Royals seem best served to finally give Mike Minor a look in the ninth inning.
Minor notched his first save of the season Friday and while chances could be few and far between for his team, adding him for the stretch run could prove valuable. Every save matters, kids. Following a rough transition to the bullpen, Minor has turned things around of late, giving up one earned run over his last 10.2 innings for a tidy 0.84 ERA. He also has 83 strikeouts in 73 innings.
Currently, Minor’s 2.71 ERA, 2.68 FIP and 1.04 WHIP look nice on paper as does his 21.3 strikeout minus walk percentage. Minor also carries a 11.9 swinging strike percentage along with a 35.8 O-Swing (Swings and misses at pitches outside the strike zone). His slider has improved of late and generates whiff per swing rate of 28.38 while getting groundballs as well. It’s his curve (40 percent whiff per swing) and the change (32.88 whiff per swing) that stand out for swings and misses, fueling his recent run of success.
Kansas City kept him in the multiple-inning role until the latest transgressions by Brandon Maurer and Alexander. With Herrera not healthy or effective, it’s time for the team to see what Minor can do over the last week and a half of the season. Plus, it might shed some light on how this bullpen will take shape next year. If desperate for two or three saves, Minor’s the best dart throw left.
- Will Kimbrel finish with a 50+ percentage strikeout percentage?
Fantasy owners who passed over Zach Britton and Aroldis Chapman in favor of waiting for a discounted Craig Kimbrel continue to reap the rewards. Kimbrel is surging at the right time as well. He’s recorded nine straight scoreless outings through Tuesday. Kimbrel leads all major league relievers in WHIP (0.66), strikeouts (121) and opponents batting average (.133). In the American League, he ranks first in ERA (1.38), second in strikeouts to walk ratio (8.64) and third in saves (32).
Most impressive, Kimbrel has struck out 121 of the 240 batters he’s faced this year. Already with his third season of more than 100 strikeouts, Kimbrel will try to best his career high of 127 set in 2011 along with registering another season of whiffing more than half of the hitters he faces this year.
- Other bullpen musings
If an owner’s playing a Los Angeles Angels reliever for saves, be sure it’s Yusmeiro Petit or Blake Parker. Picking one over the other with manager Mike Scioscia’s fickle nature feels fatuous. Despite the return of Keone Kela, Jake Diekman has been the only pitcher to close out a save for the Texas Rangers since. Perhaps Kela is not healthy or the team just does not trust him in the ninth inning. Without an inside source, it’s tough to discern but those who keep hoping for Kela to get a chance as the closer may need to move on if he does not break camp with the job next season.
Word out of Baltimore suggests the team may shut down Britton for the remainder of the season. With lingering knee soreness, an MRI could determine the southpaw’s fate the rest of the season. Brad Brach filled in admirably for Britton earlier this year and should ascend back to the ninth if Britton no longer pitches in 2017. Allowing five runs over his last 2.2 innings, the New York Mets’ A.J. Ramos could pitch his way out of the ninth inning prior to the end of the season. Jeurys Familia could get a chance in the last few games to notch a save this year, but with the Mets, who knows?
Miami has yet to use Brad Ziegler as his back problem seems to fluctuate. Ziegler has not pitched in a game Sept. 7. No one has stepped up in his absence, which could put a damper on the Kyle Barraclough-as-closer hopes for next season, but there’s still some time to see an audition. However, walks and a high WHIP like his predecessor (Ramos) cap his strikeout upside.
Be sure to check back this weekend for Al Melchior’s Sunday stream column to maximize the last day in head-to-head championship matchups and take a look at Jim Finch’s minor league primer featuring how to value Roberto Acuna for next season.
Fangraphs.com, BrooksBaseball.net, ESPN.go.com