I’ve been writing DFS articles for years now, but I’m ecstatic to get into some season-long pieces! I’ve been tasked to cover saves and holds for this upcoming season, and this is something I follow every day. As someone who manages over 30 fantasy teams, I’m looking for closers every single day. That means this article should help me just as much as you, and I can’t wait to dive into some of these situations. There’s obviously a lot to discuss with half of the teams not having a designated closer, so let’s start by looking at the unknown bullpens!
Closer Situations to Watch
Arizona Diamondbacks (AVOID)
This might be the most challenging bullpen to figure out. There’s nobody we want to roster, but Andrew Chafin, Joe Mantiply, and Kevin Ginkel look like the favorites for saves. With that said, Mark Melancon is still getting paid and might be thrown out there when he’s healthy. Matiply and Chafin are worth keeping an eye on for holds.
Rasiel Iglesias had this job locked up, but he’s on the IL with a shoulder issue. That means Aj Minter and Joe Jimenez are excellent fill-ins until he returns. Minter is the best option, posting a 1.93 ERA and 0.91 WHIP last year. Both guys should be in for a ton of holds and saves with how dominant this Braves team looks.
Chicago Cubs (AVOID)
This is another situation we want to stay away from. Michael Fulmer and Brad Boxberger are favorites for saves, but those journeymen need to stay on your waiver wire. STAY AWAY!
Chicago White Sox
This bullpen intrigues me. Liam Hendriks is one of the best closers in baseball, but his cancer diagnosis has everybody wondering who’s up next. Kendall Graveman and Reynaldo Lopez have been great at times and are speculative pick-ups for saves and holds until Hendriks is ready to return.
Alex Lange has some of the best stuff in baseball and should be the closer. Shoulds don’t pay bills, though, and with how bad the Tigers are, we must keep them in this section. With that said, Lange is a dominant hold/saves guy, posting a 30 percent K rate last year.
Los Angeles Angels
Carlos Estevez has been rumored as the closer, but he’s been getting blown up in Colorado for years. We’ll give him a chance but keep an eye on Ryan Tepera and Jimmy Herget as potential closers and potential holds candidates.
Los Angeles Dodgers
This is the most intriguing situation in fantasy baseball. Being a closer for one of the best teams is a godsend, but nobody knows who will close games for LA. Evan Phillips is expected to be in a fireman role, with Brusdar Graterol and Daniel Hudson as candidates for saves as well. All of these guys are speculative adds until we have a better idea of what to expect, but they are elite options in holds leagues for this potential 100-win team.
Miami Marlins (AVOID)
This is a bullpen we want to fade. Miami should struggle this season, and this bullpen is the primary reason why. With that said, Dylan Floro and AJ Puk look most likely to get saves, with Puk being the only one worthy of picking up in holds leagues behind his solid rates.
Jhoan Duran is one of the best relievers in baseball, but he’s not even the closer (maybe). Jorge Lopez is expected to take the ninth inning, but both guys are must-owns in fantasy until we see what happens. Duran is the better fantasy option in HLDs/SVs leagues.
New York Mets
The Edwin Diaz injury sucks. He was the unanimous top closer, but David Robertson and Adam Ottavino will fill-in in his absence. We’ll bet on Robertson since he had 20 saves last year, but both guys are worth adding in saves and hold leagues.
Oakland Athletics (AVOID)
This is one of the worst teams in MLB, and you should avoid their bullpen altogether. Trevor May is one of their highest-paid players on this team, though, and is a worthy add if you’re in a pinch for saves.
This might be the deepest bullpen in baseball, but nobody knows who will save games. My money is on Craig Kimbrel, but Gregory Soto, Jose Alvarado, and Seranthony Dominguez are all in play. They can all be rostered, too, because of their exceptional rates.
Tampa Bay Rays
I rarely draft Tampa relievers because this team always does the unexpected. Pete Fairbanks is supposed to be the closer, but this club always goes by committee. Jason Adam had a 1.56 ERA and 0.76 WHIP last season and is one of the best holds options in baseball behind him.
Washington Nationals (AVOID)
This is the worst team in baseball. Kyle Finnegan could be the closer, but who cares.
Closer Situations Not to Worry About
These are the teams with clear-cut bullpen plans heading into the 2023 season.
Felix Bautista has this job locked up, and we’re not exactly sure what will happen behind him yet. Cionel Perez is an interesting hold candidate as their lefty specialist.
Boston Red Sox
Kenley Jansen was signed to be the closer, with Chris Martin and John Schreiber next in line. Both of those guys are excellent options in holds leagues.
Alexis Diaz has taken over this job, and we don’t trust anyone behind him.
Emmanuel Clase might be the best closer in the league. James Karinchak and Trevor Stephan should get holds in front of him, and both guys have elite strikeout stuff.
Daniel Bard was a huge surprise last season and has a long leash as the closer. Obviously, don’t trust anyone else in this bullpen.
Ryan Pressly is the closer for one of the best bullpens in MLB. Bryan Abreu and Rafael Montero are great relievers, too, and could be in line for a ton of holds.
Kansas City Royals
Scott Barlow had a 2.18 ERA en route to 24 saves last season and should be the closer in KC. Aroldis Chapman was an expensive signing, though, and he could give Barlow a run for saves. Chapman is a great speculative add in all leagues.
Devin Williams is the top reliever in my rankings, behind his elite rates. Matt Bush is an intriguing eighth-inning guy who could be in line for a ton of holds.
New York Yankees
Clay Holmes broke out last season with 20 saves and a 1.02 WHIP. Look for him to take all the saves unless he starts slow.
David Bednar is one of the best relievers in baseball but will only get limited saves for one of the worst teams in MLB. He’s an elite option in SVs/HLDs leagues but don’t trust anyone else in this bullpen.
San Diego Padres
Josh Hader was horrific at the start last year, but a late-season resurgence earned him the closer gig this year. If he falters, look for Robert Suarez or Luis Garcia to fill in and take the majority of holds until then.
San Francisco Giants
Camilio Doval is the presumed closer with 27 saves last year, but Taylor Rogers is plenty capable behind him. Rogers is a sneaky option in holds formats.
This is the best bullpen in baseball. Andres Munoz might be the best reliever in the sport, but Paul Sewald is expected to take the bulk of saves. Both guys are must-own fantasy players in all formats.
St. Louis Cardinals
Ryan Helsley has some of the nastiest stuff and should remain the Cards closer. With that said, Giovanny Gallegos has been successful in that role in the past and is an elite option in holds leagues.
Jose Leclerc has been this team’s closer for the last few years, but he’s fallen in and out of that role. With little behind him, look for him to take it on the first few saves.
Toronto Blue Jays
Jordan Romano is one of the best relievers and has a stranglehold on this closer gig. Erik Swanson is a solid holds guy behind his 1.68 ERA and 0.91 WHIP from last year.
My Saves/Holds Rankings
On the Border (Holds Options)
Aroldis Chapman, Craig Kimbrel, Jose Alvarado, Trevor Stephan, Daniel Hudson, Brusdar Graterol, Erik Swanson, Trevor May, Taylor Rogers, Kyle Finnegan, Carlos Estevez, Rafael Montero, Liam Hendriks, Joe Jimenez, Robert Suarez, Gregory Soto, Matt Bush, Dylan Floro, AJ Puk, Jimmy Herget, Ryan Tepera, Bryan Abreu, and James Karinchak
Relievers on the Rise
This will be a section that’s more useful once we have some games to examine. What we will say is that this first week is the most important time to keep an eye on these bullpens. Any pitcher being sent out in the seventh, eighth, or ninth innings should be in consideration for holds leagues. It’s also a great time to hop on the waiver wire and add some closers that were overlooked in draft time. The teams you need to follow are the ones mentioned in the Closer Situations to Watch Section. You’ll surely find value from those teams, and it’s worth monitoring box scores every day until we have a better read on how those bullpens will play out.
Potential Closers on the IL
- Rasiel Iglesias (shoulder) – A few weeks
- Liam Hendriks (Hodgkins Lymphoma) – Return unknown
- Edwin Diaz (knee) – Out for the season
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Joel Bartilotta is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Joel, check out his archive.