We’ve had some fascinating developments since last week’s article. While many bullpens have remained the same, we’re finally getting some clarity on others. We love that from a fantasy perspective, and it’s fun to keep track of how these pens play out every day. It takes some time and energy to follow all of these teams so I will miss some things occasionally, but I’ll try my best to share when anyone becomes fantasy relevant!
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Saves + Holds League Guide (2023 Fantasy Baseball)
With lots to cover, let’s start by looking at the questionable bullpens!
Closer Situations to Watch
These are bullpens we need to monitor!
Arizona Diamondbacks (AVOID)
Scott McGough got the first save, but he blew one in epic fashion immediately after. That allowed Drey Jameson to get the most recent save, and he has the best stuff in this pen. That’s why he was moved to the rotation, HA! We don’t know what’s going to happen next, but this pen is one to stay away from no matter what. Andrew Chafin got the most recent save, so he might be the guy.
Rasiel Iglesias had this job locked up, but he’s on the IL and hasn’t resumed throwing. That means A.J. 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 moving forward.
Chicago Cubs (AVOID)
This is another situation we want to stay away from. Michael Fulmer has gotten the first two chances for the Cubs and has pitched in the ninth inning in all but one outing.
Chicago White Sox
Liam Hendriks is one of the best closers in baseball, but he is not playing while undergoing cancer treatment. That has everybody wondering who’s up next. Kendall Graveman and Reynaldo Lopez have been great at times in the past and are speculative pick-ups for saves and holds until Hendriks is ready to return. Lopez has the first two saves for the White Sox, but he’s also really struggled. Try to stay away until Hendriks is ready.
Detroit Tigers (AVOID)
Alex Lange should be this team’s closer, but he’s been regularly pitching in the eighth and ninth inning. This team is so bad that we don’t care anyway.
Los Angeles Angels
Carlos Estevez got the first save of the season and has looked good through his first three appearances. Jose Quijada got a save filling in for him, and he’s a lefty specialist that makes him an interesting option for holds leagues. Don’t forget about Jimmy Herget, who had a 2.48 ERA and 0.91 WHIP last year. He’s also one of the league leaders in holds through the opening two weeks!
Los Angeles Dodgers
Evan Phillips has gotten the first two saves for this team. He’s going to skyrocket up my rankings, especially since the role of Brusdar Graterol is so concerning. He’s barely featured and could lose out even more when Daniel Hudson is back. One more save from Phillips, and we’re moving the Dodgers out of this section!
Miami Marlins (AVOID)
A.J. Puk is the best reliever in Miami, and we saw him grab the first save. He’s a worthy add in holds leagues and needs to be universally rostered if he gets the next save chance. Nobody else in this bullpen should be picked up.
Jhoan Duran got the first save for this club, but Jorge Lopez got the most recent one. Duran is one of the best relievers in baseball, but both players are must-roster in nearly every fantasy league. Griffin Jax also has three holds through the opening week and looks locked into a late-inning role as well.
Oakland Athletics (AVOID)
Dany Jimenez got the first save of the season, and he was warming up in the ninth the other day. He looks like the closer for now, but Trevor May is in play as well. Don’t pick up any of these Oakland relievers.
Craig Kimbrel got the first save of the season. He was our bet all along, but most of these pieces are worth rostering. Seranthony Dominguez, Jose Alvarado, and Gregory Soto should be in for a ton of holds as well.
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 team always goes 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. The Rays are undefeated, but Fairbanks has just one save.
We had to move Texas into this section. We thought Jose Leclerc was the guy, but Will Smith got the first save for the Rangers. Both guys are worthy options in saves and holds leagues because LeClerc picked up the most recent save.
Washington Nationals (AVOID)
This is the worst team in baseball. Kyle Finnegan is probably the closer, but who cares.
Closer Situations Not to Worry About
These are the teams with clear-cut bullpen plans for the 2023 season.
Boston Red Sox
Alexis Diaz has taken over this job, and we don’t trust anyone behind him. Diaz was horrible on Sunday, and we need to keep an eye on him.
Ryan Pressly is the closer for one of the best bullpens in baseball. Bryan Abreu and Rafael Montero are great relievers, too, and could be in line for a ton of holds. Pressly was dealing with some arm fatigue early on, and it allowed Montero to record a save over the weekend. Monitor Pressley’s status.
Kansas City Royals
Scott Barlow had a 2.18 ERA en route to 24 saves last season and should be the closer. 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 with his elite K rate, throwing four scoreless innings in the early going. If Barlow falters, Chapman would move into our top-20.
New York Mets
New York Yankees
Clay Holmes broke out last season with 20 saves and a 1.02 WHIP. He’s got three saves through the opening 10 days and has this job locked down.
David Bednar is one of the best relievers in baseball, but he will only get limited saves for one of the worst teams in MLB. He’s an elite option in SVs/HLDs leagues. Colin Holderman is living up to his name as one of the one of the league leaders in holds!
San Diego Padres
Josh Hader was horrific to start last year, but a late-season resurgence earned him the closer gig. If he falters, look for Robert Suarez or Luis Garcia to fill in and take the majority of holds until then.
San Francisco Giants
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. Helsley struggled in his debut, but look for him to get the next chance anyway.
Toronto Blue Jays
My Saves/Holds Rankings
|Andres Munoz (IL)
|Rasiel Iglesias (IL)
On the Border (Holds Candidates)
Aroldis Chapman, Craig Kimbrel, Jose Alvarado, Trevor Stephan, Daniel Hudson, Erik Swanson, Trevor May, Taylor Rogers, Kyle Finnegan, Adam Ottavino, Liam Hendriks, Joe Jimenez, Robert Suarez, Gregory Soto, Matt Bush, Dylan Floro, A.J. Puk, Jimmy Herget, Ryan Tepera, Bryan Abreu, Scott McGough, Michael Fulmer, and James Karinchak
Relievers on the Rise
Aroldis Chapman (KC)
This former stud has eight Ks through four scoreless innings and could steal saves if Scott Barlow falters. Barlow allowed four runs in the Royals’ most recent game, so look out!
Andrew Chafin (ARI)
Scott McGough’s role as the closer lasted less than a week, and Chafin appears to be next in line. He had a 2.83 ERA and 1.17 WHIP last year and has five scoreless appearances this season.
Potential Closers on the IL
Rasiel Iglesias (shoulder) – 15-Day IL. Hasn’t resumed throwing yet.
Liam Hendriks (Hodgins Lymphoma) – Return unknown, but there’s optimism he could be back within a month or so.
Edwin Diaz (knee) – Out for the season
Daniel Bard (anxiety) – 15-Day IL. It’s tough to know what to expect here, but Bard has been throwing some bullpen sessions.
Andres Munoz (deltoid) – 15-Day IL. Munoz will be out at least two weeks due to a deltoid strain.
If you want to dive deeper into fantasy baseball, be sure to check out our award-winning slate of Fantasy Baseball Tools as you navigate your season. From our Lineup Assistant – which provides your optimal lineup based on accurate consensus projections – to our Waiver Wire Assistant – which allows you to quickly see which available players will improve your team and by how much – we’ve got you covered this fantasy baseball season.
Joel Bartilotta is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Joel, check out his archive.