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Fantasy Baseball Closer Report & Draft Guide (2023)

Fantasy Baseball Closer Report & Draft Guide (2023)

With the 2023 season about to begin, we thought it was a good time to check in on the bullpens. This article isn’t a rehash of the rankings, which you can find on the FantasyPros ECR or a review of the latest depth charts. Instead, it’s an attempt to offer up as much clarity as possible on the roles of the relievers that will be on fantasy rosters to start the season.

We divided potential closers into several categories to give you an idea of what to expect from each player at the outset of the 2023 campaign. Whether these players are on your fantasy team or the waiver wire, it’s always helpful to understand how their managers will likely use them on opening day and beyond.

Closers with traditional roles and job security

Emmanuel Clase (RP – CLE) Josh Hader (RP – SD)
Devin Williams (RP – MIL) Jordan Romano (RP – TOR)
Ryan Pressly (RP – HOU) Kenley Jansen (RP – BOS)
David Bednar (RP – PIT) Daniel Bard (RP – COL)

These guys are old school. They typically show up in the ninth inning when their team is up by three runs or less and try to close the game out. All have relatively long track records, and their managers aren’t to abandon them after a few bad outings. Most are among the top options at the position, but a few, such as Bednar and Bard, pitch on teams that may not win many games. Keep an eye on Kenley Jansen. He left last Friday’s game early due to lightheadedness, but it appears he’ll be fine to start the season.

Closers who may not always pitch in save situations

Ryan Helsley (RP – STL) Camilo Doval (RP – SF)
Clay Holmes (RP – NYY) Alexis Diaz (RP – CIN)
Paul Sewald (RP – SEA) Scott Barlow (RP – KC)

It is becoming increasingly common for managers to deploy their best pitchers in key situations rather than always hold them for the ninth. This group of firemen is often used in the seventh or eighth inning if the matchup warrants it. Don’t freak out if you see one of them take the mound early and cede a save to a teammate. It’s going to happen. If you’ve invested in them on draft day, you just have to hope it doesn’t happen often.

Closers who may be on a short leash

Felix Bautista (RP – BAL) Jose Leclerc (RP – TEX)
Kyle Finnegan (RP – WAS) Alex Lange (RP – DET)
Trevor May (RP – OAK)

The pitchers in this group will start the season as the closer but may not get much leeway if things go south. Felix Bautista sticks out here, as he was terrific last year and is by far the top fantasy option of the five. However, remember that he is entering his sophomore season and only closed for the Orioles in August and September after the team traded Jorge Lopez to the Twins. He hasn’t given us any reason to doubt him, but his track record is short.

Injury stashes

Raisel Iglesias (RP – ATL) Daniel Hudson (RP – LAD)
Liam Hendriks (RP – CWS)

Raisel Iglesias and Daniel Hudson should have short stays on the IL and could return by mid-April. Iglesias will slide back into the closer’s role immediately, but Hudson is more likely to join a committee and be eased back since he hasn’t pitched since last June. The status of Liam Hendriks, recovering from non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, is more fluid. He could be back as early as May or miss the entire season.

Head of a committee closers

Pete Fairbanks (RP – TB) Jorge Lopez (RP – MIN)
Seranthony Dominguez (RP – PHI) Kendall Graveman (RP – CWS)
David Robertson (RP – NYM) Carlos Estevez (RP – LAA)

Some organizations, such as the Rays, will mix and match all year. Others will start as committees but could shift to one guy if someone emerges. This scenario is most probable for David Robertson or Kendall Graveman from the list above, as these two will be substituting for an injured closer. Neither is likely to get all of the save opportunities out of the gate, but if they perform well, the job could be theirs in short order.

Committee members worth a roster spot

Jhoan Duran (RP – MIN) Andres Munoz (RP – SEA)
A.J. Minter (RP – ATL) Evan Phillips (RP – LAD)
Giovanny Gallegos (RP – STL) Craig Kimbrel (RP – PHI)
Taylor Rogers (RP – SF) Jason Adam (RP – TBR)
Brandon Hughes (RP – CHI)

Some of these pitchers may be better than the committee leaders but may not see as many save opportunities for one reason or another. Jhoan Duran and Andres Munoz fit this mold as their managers like to move them around depending on the situation. Others, such as Taylor Rogers and Giovanny Gallegos, might generate saves for the opposite reason – because the closer pitched earlier in the game. These hurlers are good, though, and can help you in other categories even if they aren’t recording saves regularly.

A.J. Minter and Craig Kimbrel are a bit different. Minter may be the closer to begin the season due to Iglesias’ injury, while Kimbrel could take the Phillies’ job if he pitches well.

Dart throws and handcuffs

Gregory Soto (RP – PHI) Aroldis Chapman (RP – KC)
Chris Martin (RP – BOS) Adam Ottavino (RP – NYM)
James Karinchak (RP – CLE) Brusdar Graterol (RP – LAD)
Rafael Montero (RP – HOU) Matt Moore (RP – LAA)
Brooks Raley (RP – NYM) Diego Castillo (RP – SEA)
Jonathan Hernandez (RP – TEX) Jimmy Herget (RP – LAA)

Are you feeling lucky? If so, grab and stash one of these relievers and hope for the best. Each needs to pitch well and get an opportunity to emerge as a reliable source of saves. This could happen if their team’s closer gets injured or is ineffective or if they rise to the top of their committee’s cream. In most leagues, these guys should remain on the waiver wire until something happens, but keeping tabs on them is a good idea.

The Arizona conundrum

Kevin Ginkel (RP – ARI) Scott McGough (RP – ARI)
Mark Melancon (RP – ARI) Andrew Chafin (RP – ARI)
Joe Mantiply (RP – ARI) Miguel Castro (RP – ARI)

Someone on the D’backs will probably emerge, but it’s hard to handicap who. Scott McGough has the most momentum right now, but after four years in Japan, it’s hard to trust that he’ll work out. If you are desperate for saves, you could take a flier on one of these guys but don’t choose Mark Melancon, who will probably be out until June.

The Miami mess

Dylan Floro (RP – MIA) A.J. Puk (RP – MIA)
Matt Barnes (RP – MIA) Tanner Scott (RP – MIA)

Similar to the situation in Arizona, Miami’s bullpen appears wide-open. Newcomers Matt Barnes and A.J. Puk are battling incumbents Dylan Floro and Tanner Scott for ninth-inning supremacy. Perhaps none will win the job outright, and the Marlins will go with a committee all season. It’s probably wise to leave these guys on the waiver wire until we get some clarity.

Beyond our fantasy baseball content, be sure to check out our award-winning slate of Fantasy Baseball Tools as you prepare for your draft this season. From our free mock Draft Simulator – which allows you to mock draft against realistic opponents – to our Draft Assistant – which optimizes your picks with expert advice – we’ve got you covered this fantasy baseball draft season.

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