It’s wild to keep track of these bullpens. It’s my first year doing this piece, but it’s really helped me to pick up closers in all of my leagues. Stumbling into those guys is as important as anything in roto leagues, and I’m hopeful that it’s also helped you. With that in mind, we have many developments to discuss, so let’s get into it!
Week 5 Saves + Holds League Guide
Closer Situations to Watch
These are bullpens we need to monitor!
Chicago Cubs (AVOID)
Chicago White Sox (AVOID, for now)
Liam Hendriks is inching close to a return, starting a rehab assignment this week. This team needs him, because Reynaldo Lopez and Kendall Graveman have been a nightmare at the backend. Don’t roster anybody until Hendriks is back.
Daniel Bard just returned from an IL stint last week, but we haven’t seen him pick up a save. I’m actually starting to wonder if he’ll ever recapture the closer gig, because his anxiety could be an issue as a closer for the Rockies. That’s a harsh reality, but it might be tough for Colorado to put him in that position. Pierce Johnson picked up most of the saves while he was out, but his 1.75 WHIP is scary.
Alex Lange was not getting any chances through the first few weeks, but he now has a 1.42 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, and four saves on the year. He’s the only guy in this pen worth rostering, but he’s also a trade candidate when that eventually comes around.
Kansas City Royals
It looked like Aroldis Chapman was about to steal this job, but Scott Barlow is back! The Royals’ closer from last year has three straight saves in his three most recent appearances, despite sporting a 6.10 ERA and 1.74 WHIP. Chapman has been amazing behind him, and he’s worth keeping an eye on with his ridiculous 67% K rate.
Los Angeles Angels
Jose Quijada had this job locked up two weeks ago, but a five-run shelling earned him a trip to the IL. Carlos Estevez has been incredible since then, recording seven saves since April 11. He’s also allowed just one run in those 11 appearances and looks to have secured this job. Matt Moore has eight holds and looks to be a different player as the lefty specialist in the pen.
Los Angeles Dodgers
This team is fascinating. Evan Phillips needs to be rostered in every league, picking up three saves. He’s not the strict closer, though, because Brusdar Graterol has two saves as well. Both players have elite stuff and are worth rostering in every format.
New York Yankees
Clay Holmes looked like the guy at the beginning of the year, but things have not gone well for him. The righty has a 1.45 WHIP, with Michael King picking up the two most recent saves. One more and this could be King’s job for good!
Oakland Athletics (AVOID)
Dany Jimenez and Trevor May are both on the IL, leaving Jeurys Familia with the job. While he’s picked up two saves, his 6.57 ERA and 1.97 WHIP have us running for the hills. This is the worst team in baseball, and it would be silly to ride anyone from this pen. Zach Jackson got the chance on Wednesday and blew yet another game for the A’s.
Tampa Bay Rays
Jose Leclerc looked like the guy, but a save by Will Smith in the opener had us scratching our heads. Leclerc has blown numerous saves since then, while Smith has four saves on the year. It looks like the Fresh Prince has locked up this job!
Kyle Finnegan is up to six saves, but he has terrible peripherals. He’ll be lucky to get to 25 saves for this team, and I’d advise staying away. But if you’re desperate for saves, he’s worth rostering.
Closer Situations Not to Worry About
These are the teams with clear-cut bullpens so far in the 2023 season.
Rasiel Iglesias is nearing a return and will steal this job when he’s back. A.J. Minter has been filling in and needs to be rostered in holds leagues. Nick Anderson and Kirby Yates are interesting holds options as well, because both used to be two of the best relievers in baseball.
Felix Bautista has this job locked up, and we’re not exactly sure what will happen behind him yet. Bryan Baker looks like the best bet for holds, amassing a 1.88 ERA, 0.77 WHIP, and 42% K rate. Yennier Cano also has two saves filling in for Felix, throwing 11 scoreless innings this year.
Boston Red Sox
Ryan Pressly is the closer for one of the best bullpens in baseball. Bryan Abreu and Rafael Montero are great relievers and should pick up a ton of holds for this scary team. Abreu is the best bet of those, tallying a 0.63 ERA, 0.84 WHIP, and 49% K rate.
New York Mets
David Robertson is up to six saves, while Adam Ottavino has three. Both are worth rostering in every league as both should be in line for a ton of holds and saves. Brooks Raley also has eight holds and is one of the best middle relievers in the sport.
Jose Alvarado is looking like one of the best early-season pick-ups. The lefty has secured this job, picking up five saves over the last few weeks. It’s no surprise when looking at his averages, which sit at a 0.73 ERA, 0.49 WHIP, and 65% K rate.
David Bednar is amazing, and he’s been massive for this overachieving team. If you sniped him late in drafts, congratulations! Colin Holderman is one of the league leaders in holds, which is truly fitting.
San Diego Padres
San Francisco Giants
It’s funny that everyone was so high on Andres Munoz, because Paul Sewald was the closer last year and is clearly the guy again this year. He’s up to eight saves already, but Munoz could come off the IL soon.
St. Louis Cardinals
Ryan Helsley has a 4.50 ERA and 1.60 WHIP in a disappointing start to the year. He was already a tough sell with Giovanny Gallegos behind him, accruing a 1.00 ERA and 0.67 WHIP. If that continues, look for Gio to steal the job. With that said, Gio allowed three runs on Wednesday in a traditional save chance so who knows what’s going to happen next?
Toronto Blue Jays
Jordan Romano is one of the best relievers and has a stranglehold on this closer gig. Erik Swanson is one of the best eighth-inning pitchers in baseball and has seven holds already. He’s a must-roster in holds leagues.
My Saves/Holds Rankings
|Pete Fairbanks (IL)
|Rasiel Iglesias (IL)
Relievers on the Rise
Michael King (NYY)
Clay Holmes had this job at the beginning of the year, but the tides have turned. Holmes has blown two saves already, while King has picked up the two most recent save chances. He’s our best bet to grab the next save and capture this job.
Will Smith (TEX)
We had Smith in here last week, and we’re riding him again since he’s below 50 percent rostered. He got three saves over the last week, while Jose Leclerc has been struggling mightily.
Potential Closers on the IL
Rasiel Iglesias (shoulder) – (15-Day IL) Recently resumed throwing and is about to start a rehab assignment.
Liam Hendriks (Hodgins Lymphoma) – (15-Day IL) Return unknown, but there’s optimism he could return within a month.
Edwin Diaz (knee) – (60-Day IL) Out for the season
Dany Jimenez (shoulder) – (60-Day IL) Out for three months
Andres Munoz (deltoid) – (15-Day IL) Resumed throwing and could be back within a week.
Pete Fairbanks (forearm) – (15-Day IL) Will be out for at least two weeks with an arm issue.
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Joel Bartilotta is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Joel, check out his archive.