MLB Managerial Tendencies: Pitching Roles
Each week, Chris Bouvier provides analysis on the managers around the league. More specifically he breaks down who they are, how they manage their bullpens, how they make their lineups, and how they handle the run game.
Last week we had a look into some questionable lineup spots for a few players and how it affected their fantasy outlook on the season. Since then there has already been changes with Baltimore’s Chris Davis being replaced as the teams leadoff hitter in favor of Trey Mancini and Shohei Ohtani getting slotted in at seventh in the order after beginning the season as the Angels number eight hitter.
This week we are taking a look at the pitching side of things and what their current situation is providing them versus what they could be valued at if their roles were increased. Starting with the Rays “bullpen day” recipient In rookie Yonny Chirinos and rounding things out with Brewers and Astros relievers Josh Hader and Chris Devenski . All of these players are in decent roles with their respective teams but are showing that they deserve and can handle far more superior roles. We’ll break down their situations and what could change for each player moving forward.
Kevin Cash, Tampa Bay Rays
Yonny Chirinos has begun his major league career as the leader of the “bullpen day” that the Rays have implemented with a lack of proven starters at their disposal. Through his first three appearances the rookie has now tossed 14.1 scoreless innings and has a 6:1 K/BB ratio. Strong performances against the White Sox and the Red Sox two times have given Chirinos the confidence to understand that he belongs on this level. A heavy dose of sinkers, splitters and sliders in his arsenal are keeping hitters off balance as he’s only thrown eight fastballs in his first 14.1 innings.
It’s clear that he’s ready for a spot in the rotation whenever manager Kevin Cash decides to end this charade and put Chirinos in the spot he has earned. While Chirinos isn’t the flashy strikeout pitcher fantasy owners covet, he will most certainly eat up innings and be benefitial to your ratios. For now, Chirinos will have to settle for being a sort of filler starter until the Rays make the official move and it’s definitely only a matter of time.
Craig Counsell, Milwaukee Brewers
Josh Hader is entering insane company with his 20.48 K/9 and five base runners allowed through 9.2 innings pitched in 2018. Corey Knebel was named the closer to start the season and has since gone down due to a hamstring injury. This injury could force Knebel to miss at least six weeks and leaves the role up for grabs. Counsell has been using a rotation of relievers to finalize games with Matt Albers , Jacob Barnes and Hader all receiving a save since Knebel went down. Albers nor Barnes are anywhere near the talent level of Josh Hader so the fact that the role hasn’t been given to him already seems kind of absurd.
It seems as though manager Craig Counsell is more comfortable using Hader in a multi inning, high leverage role as opposed to locking him in as the teams closer. While this could be more beneficial for real life team purposes, it is definitely a bad sign for fantasy value. Unless there’s a few disastrous performances from any of them in the ninth inning it could remain a closer by committee approach. If that indeed is what happens, Hader should be the guy that grabs the role and runs with it. Here’s to a Barnes and Albers blowup!
A.J. Hinch, Houston Astros
Chris Devenski has been ultra valuable to Hinch and the Houston Astros since the start of 2016 but has yet to lock down a late inning role. Similar to Josh Hader , Devenski has shown the ability to be a weapon in the multi inning, high leverage situations thus making it a difficult decision to give them the ninth inning role. Devenski, through 7.0 innings has only allowed five base runners and has a 12.86 K/9. Current closer Ken Giles has given up six base runners in 5.0 innings and only has two strikeouts in what has been a very underwhelming start to a season for a player in which some fantasy owners surely invested in on draft day.
So far this season Hinch has given Giles, Brad Peacock and Chris Devenski a save opportunity and with struggles for Giles since the start of the postseason in 2017, a role change could most certainly happen if those struggles continue. Even Peacock has had a rocky start to 2018 allowing four earned runs in 8.1 innings. Devenski is the best reliever on the team and absolutely would succeed in the closer role giving fantasy owners huge upside. As with Hader, it remains to be seen which direction their respective managers will decide to go this season in regards to their roles. If the first few weeks are any indication of where they could end up, they’re at least in extreme consideration for these roles in the very near future. It’s not a good strategy to be on the outside looking in when their value takes a turn for the better so adjust accordingly.