The last few weeks have been wild from a bullpen perspective, but this week was slow. We didn’t have too many developments, and it feels like these pens are really settling in.
However, that doesn’t mean things won’t change because these bullpens are always fickle. We also have a few elite arms coming off the IL soon, and that should mix things up a bit.
With that in mind, let’s get into it!
Week 8 Saves + Holds League Guide
Closer Situations to Watch
These are bullpens we need to monitor!
We finally have some clarity on this situation! Miguel Castro has been the best reliever in this pen all season, posting a 2.42 ERA and 1.03 WHIP. That’s moved him into the ninth inning, picking up three saves and two wins over the last two weeks. He’s getting picked up in fantasy everywhere and needs to be rostered in every league. Don’t forget about Andrew Chafin, though, because he also has seven saves.
Chicago Cubs (AVOID)
Michael Fulmer and Brad Boxberger both blew this job, making Mark Leiter Jr. an interesting option. The righty has this team’s two most recent saves, while posting a 1.86 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, and 14.0 K/9 rate on the year. He might be the most exciting reliever on your waiver wire.
Chicago White Sox (AVOID, for now)
We’ve been waiting for Liam Hendriks to make his long-awaited return, but Kendall Graveman has been rolling recently. He’s thrown nine straight scoreless appearances, picking up four saves in that span. As long as Hendriks remains out, Graveman is worth rostering.
Colorado Rockies (AVOID)
Daniel Bard is not the closer it looks like he won’t be anytime soon. Pierce Johnson has all 10 saves for this team, despite generating a 4.95 ERA and 1.70 WHIP. He’s worth rostering if you need saves, but be aware that your peripherals will take a hit.
Kansas City Royals
Scott Barlow has this job, amassing a 1.46 ERA, 0.81 WHIP, and 13.9 K/9 rate across his last 11 outings. He also got five saves in that span with Aroldis Chapman locking up the eighth. AC is an elite option in holds leagues, totaling a ridiculous 40% K rate.
New York Yankees
This is as ugly as it gets. Clay Holmes, Wandy Peralta, and Michael King have all gotten chances this year, and it’s nearly impossible to pick one. Our bet is on Holmes because he was most successful last season, but all three guys are worth holding in holds leagues.
Oakland Athletics (AVOID)
We hate to say this, but don’t worry about this situation. Oakland has just 10 wins this year, and they’ll be lucky to reach 60. We don’t even know who would close if this team could get to that point, making them the easiest team to fade in the MLB.
Jose Alvarado secured this job earlier in the year, but he’s been on the IL for two weeks. There’s some rumors that he’ll be back soon, but we’ve seen Craig Kimbrel pick up three saves without him. CK has been terrible, though, tallying a 6.35 ERA and 1.41 WHIP. Seranthony Dominguez has also struggled, so look for Alvarado to steal this job when he’s back.
Washington Nationals (AVOID)
Kyle Finnegan has 10 saves! We never thought that would happen at this point, especially since he has a 5.00 ERA and 1.72 WHIP. He’s worth holding onto if you’re desperate for saves, but he’ll hurt your ERA and WHIP.
Closer Situations Not to Worry About
These are the teams with clear-cut bullpens.
After a slow start for Rasiel Iglesias, he’s rolling now. He got two saves and one win over his last four outings, accruing a 0.00 ERA and 0.50 WHIP in that span. He will be one of the best closers for the remainder of the season, although Nick Anderson is a sneaky option in holds leagues, picking up eight holds behind his 0.79 WHIP.
This has developed into one of the best pens in baseball. Felix Bautista is a top-notch closer, while Yennier Cano has been the best eighth-inning guy in the sport. Bryan Baker has also been elite in the seventh inning, making Cano and Baker attractive options in holds formats. Cano is worth rostering in every league, allowing just one run all season!
Boston Red Sox
Kenley Jansen has a 1.68 WHIP but is up to 10 saves. He’s got this job locked up, although there are some great options behind him. John Schreiber, Chris Martin, and Josh Winckowski all have ERAs sitting around 2.00 and WHIPs around 1.00.
Alexis Diaz is one of the best closers for one of the worst teams, accumulating a 1.93 ERA, 0.86 WHIP, and 10 saves. However, this team scares us and we wouldn’t trust anyone else in this pen.
Emmanuel Clase leads the league with 16 saves and is running away with the closer crown. He makes some of the guys in front of him excellent holds options, with James Karinchak and Trevor Stephan posting elite K rates in the seventh and eighth innings.
Alex Lange is an elite reliever, and he’s wasting away in Detroit. He’s up to eight saves while posting an ERA and WHIP below 1.00. He’s a must-roster player in all formats, but don’t be surprised if he’s traded near the deadline. That’s why it’s worth keeping an eye on Jason Foley, who is generating a 1.42 ERA and 1.00 WHIP.
Los Angeles Angels
Carlos Estevez has 10 steals since April 23, and he looks like one of the best pickups in fantasy. But don’t forget about a lefty specialist like Matt Moore for holds leagues, as he leads the MLB with 12 of them!
Los Angeles Dodgers
Evan Phillips was running away with seven saves, but we saw him pitch in the fifth inning earlier in the week. It’s hard to understand why, but he’s rostered in every league anyway. If you want to speculate, Brusdar Graterol is up to three saves and could steal this job if Phillips is put in a fireman role.
New York Mets
David Robertson is up to eight saves, while Adam Ottavino has four. Both guys are worth rostering in every league, because they should each be in line for saves and holds all year. Brooks Raley is a sneaky option, too, picking up 10 holds as the southpaw specialist.
David Bednar has a 1.50 ERA, 0.83 WHIP, and nine saves. He’s one of the best pitchers in baseball, but he will be limited for this freefalling team and he’s another guy that could get moved in the coming months. Colin Holderman has nine holds, but this team hasn’t won many games over the last month.
San Diego Padres
Josh Hader has re-established himself as one of the best relievers in MLB. Luis Garcia is also turning his season around, allowing no runs across his last 10 innings. He’s one of the best holds options in the league.
San Francisco Giants
Paul Sewald was one of the best steals in fantasy drafts last year and he’s proving to be a steal again this season! He’s up to 10 saves, but Andres Munoz is expected to return soon. Munoz is one of the best fireman relievers in baseball and is worth picking up if he was dropped in your league.
St. Louis Cardinals
Ryan Helsley has nine scoreless appearances in his last 1o outings, picking up three saves and two wins over his last six appearances. That’s the stud we saw last year, but Giovanny Gallegos has four saves and four holds. Both guys are worth rostering in all leagues.
Tampa Bay Rays
Jason Adam had five saves while Pete Fairbanks was out, but he’s struggled since Fairbanks returned. We expect Fairbanks to reclaim the closer role, but both guys are elite options with how dominant Tampa Bay has been.
Will Smith has been one of the best pickups out there. He’s gotten nine saves since April 23 and obviously has the trust of Bruce Bochy. He’s the only guy worth looking at in this pitiful pen.
Toronto Blue Jays
Jordan Romano is one of the best relievers and he has a stranglehold on this closer gig. Erik Swanson is one of the best eighth-inning pitchers in baseball and has 10 holds already, making him one of the best holds options around.
My Saves/Holds Rankings
Relievers on the Rise
Mark Leiter Jr. (CHC)
We had Leiter in here last week, but we’re putting him back in since nobody picked him up! He recorded a save on Thursday and has a 1.86 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, and 14.0 K/9 rate. Everyone else has struggled in this pen too, so he’s the best bet to keep this job.
Kendall Graveman (CWS)
We expect Liam Hendriks to take this back job in a few weeks, but they will likely ease him in. Graveman has been stepping up in Hendriks’ absence, throwing nine scoreless outings and picking up the last four saves for the Sox.
Potential Closers on the IL
Liam Hendriks (Hodgkin’s Lymphoma) – (15-Day IL) Could be back soon.
Edwin Diaz (knee) – (60-Day IL) Out for the season.
Andres Munoz (deltoid) – (15-Day IL) Resumed throwing and is projected to return in the first week of June.
Jose Alvarado (elbow) – (15-Day IL) Alvarado could be back in the next two weeks.
AJ Puk (elbow) – (15-Day IL) Puk just landed on the IL and will be out for a few weeks.
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Joel Bartilotta is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Joel, check out his archive.