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Saves + Holds Rankings & Targets: Hunter Harvey and Justin Lawrence (2023 Fantasy Baseball)

Saves + Holds Rankings & Targets: Hunter Harvey and Justin Lawrence (2023 Fantasy Baseball)

This is always an interesting time to keep an eye on bullpens. Things will stay pat for the next few weeks, but everything could be thrown into a blender after that. We say that because the trade deadline is just one month away! The week of the trade deadline is the only thing more impactful to closers than the opening week of the season. There’s always a handful of teams that change closers during that time period, and it’s a great time to dive into your waiver wire. We’ll provide a preview the week before to anticipate who could be on the move, but we still have plenty to look at before then!

Saves + Holds League Guide

Closer Situations to Watch

These are bullpens we need to monitor!

Arizona Diamondbacks

We’re close to moving this team into the next section, but we can’t trust Terry Lovullo. He’s on his third closer of the year, but Scott McGough will likely keep this gig. He’s got a save in four straight appearances, posting a 0.35 ERA, 0.78 WHIP, and 11.6 K/9 rate since May 8. He needs to be rostered everywhere. Don’t forget about Andrew Chafin in holds formats, who has collected eight saves and 10 holds.

Chicago Cubs

This team hasn’t had a designated closer all season, but Adbert Alzolay looks like the ninth-inning guy. He’s leading the team with three saves over the last month, maintaining a 1.85 ERA and 0.85 WHIP. Mark Leiter Jr. is the only other guy worth considering, compiling 13 holds behind a 2.48 ERA, 0.86 WHIP, and 13.2 K/9 rate.

Chicago White Sox

Liam Hendriks had one save before landing back on the IL. That’s allowed Kendall Graveman to step back into this role, and he’s been a sneaky add since then. KG is up to six saves, sporting a 1.23 ERA and 0.91 WHIP since May 1. Look for him to keep the job for at least a month.

Colorado Rockies

We’ve removed the avoid tag because we’re finally getting some clarity. Pierce Johnson‘s 6.39 ERA and 1.77 WHIP have removed him as the closer, and it’s been Justin Lawrence as of late. We’ll discuss him more later, but don’t overlook Daniel Bard‘s 1.40 ERA.

Detroit Tigers

Alex Lange is up to 12 saves, but they keep sending him out there in non-save situations. He’s undoubtedly the best reliever in this pen, but saves will be rare for this disastrous Detroit team. Jason Foley has been a pleasant surprise as the setup man, picking up a 2.36 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, and 13 holds.

New York Yankees

Clay Holmes has been unstoppable recently. He’s recorded four saves since June 1, amassing a 0.81 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, and 11.3 K/9 rate since May 5. They do like to use him in a fireman role, though, which will limit his saves because they want him facing the best teams’ opposing bats rather than pitching strictly in the ninth. Michael King and Wandy Peralta are next in line, but neither is worth rostering.

Oakland Athletics (AVOID)

Do we really need to do this? Oakland is the worst club in the league, and they’ll be lucky to finish with 30 saves as a team. With that said, Trevor May looks like the guy, picking up four saves over the last four weeks. He does have a 5.89 ERA and 1.85 WHIP, though, closing for the worst team in the league. Please don’t roster May unless you’re in a 20-team league.

Washington Nationals

Kyle Finnegan had 11 saves through the opening months, but his 1.47 WHIP lost him this job. It’s been Hunter Harvey recently, and we’ll discuss him later!

Closer Situations Not to Worry About

These are the teams with clear-cut bullpens.

Atlanta Braves

Raisel Iglesias has allowed seven runs across his last seven appearances, but he still has 12 saves across just 23 outings. He has a long leash on this job and could be one of the league leaders in saves for one of the best teams. Nick Anderson and AJ Minter are both worth rostering in holds leagues. Anderson is up to 13 holds, while Minter has a 1.98 ERA, 0.37 WHIP, and 11.9 K/9 rate over the last month.

Baltimore Orioles

This is the best bullpen around. Felix Bautista leads the league with an absurd 18.2 K/9 rate, providing a 1.23 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, and 21 saves. Yennier Cano is an elite setup man, amassing a 0.95 ERA and 0.84 WHIP en route to 18 holds. That’s one of the best late-inning duos in baseball, and we didn’t even mention Danny Coulombe, who is one of the league-leaders with 16 holds.

Boston Red Sox

Kenley Jansen has only allowed three runs since May 13, picking up seven saves in that span. Please don’t overlook the guys behind him, though, with Josh Winckowski and Chris Martin both pitching well. Martin is worth a speculative add in holds leagues, accruing a 1.90 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, and 13 holds.

Cincinnati Reds

Alexis Diaz is one of the biggest breakouts at the closer position. He’s up to 21 saves, thanks to his ridiculous 15.3 K/9 rate. Buck Farmer and Lucas Sims have been formidable in front of him, but neither guy is worth rostering.

Cleveland Guardians

Emmanuel Clase led the league in saves last year and is tied this year with 23 saves. He’s one of the best arms around, but the rest of this pen has been disappointing. James Karinchak was demoted to Triple-A and Trevor Stephan is the only other good arm in this bullpen. He’s worth keeping an eye on in holds leagues with Karinchak out of the picture.

Houston Astros

Baltimore has the best bullpen, but Houston isn’t far behind. Ryan Pressly has the ninth inning locked down, while Bryan Abreu and Hector Neris have the seventh and eighth innings. Abreu has amassed a 2.75 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, and 13.8 K/9 rate, while Neris has allowed just one runs across his last 28 appearances.

Los Angeles Dodgers

Evan Phillips went a month without a save, but he now has four over the last nine days. That shows how fickle closers can be, but Phillips is one of the best relievers in the league. The righty has registered a 1.29 ERA and 0.71 WHIP since April 12. They like to keep him in a fireman role, though, which should allow Brusdar Graterol to get the occasional save. Graterol currently has four saves and seven holds, thanks to his 2.12 ERA and 1.15 WHIP.

Los Angeles Angels

Carlos Estevez is up to 20 saves, but he’s got a WHIP north of 2.00 over the last three weeks. He’s got this job locked down, but keep an eye out if the struggles continue. Matt Moore leads the club with 12 holds as the lefty specialist, and he could come off the IL soon.

Kansas City Royals

Scott Barlow has a 7.94 ERA and 1.94 WHIP across his last six outings, blowing a save in his most recent excursion. That’s scary with how Aroldis Chapman has been mowing down batters, accumulating a 2.63 ERA and 16.5 K/9 rate. Don’t be surprised to see Chapman steal this job if Barlow’s struggles continue, but AC is also one of the most likely players to be traded ahead of the deadline.

Miami Marlins

AJ Puk has pitched a scoreless outing in 11 of his last 12 appearances, leading Miami with 12 saves. He had a save earlier in the week, and they have to give him another opportunity with how he secured this job. Since the opening week, Tanner Scott has been sensational as the southpaw specialist, sporting a 2.60 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, and 13.5 K/9 rate. He’s also got 13 holds since then!

Milwaukee Brewers

Devin Williams allowed four runs in a blown save three weeks ago, but he has surrendered just one run all year outside of that. He’s one of the best closers in baseball. Peter Strzelecki leads the club with 14 holds, but he’s been struggling along with the rest of this pen.

Minnesota Twins

Jhoan Duran has some of the nastiest stuff in the sport, producing a 1.45 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, and 12.2 K/9 rate. Jorge Lopez and Griffin Jax are the other backend options, but neither is trustworthy in any format.

New York Mets

David Robertson leads the team with 11 saves behind his 1.59 ERA and 0.97 WHIP. Adam Ottavino has been impressive, collecting five saves and eight holds. Brooks Raley leads the club with 14 holds, and all three can be rostered in holds formats.

Philadelphia Phillies

Craig Kimbrel was nearly out of the league a few years back, but he’s reestablished himself as one of the best closers in the game. CK has 10 saves since the end of April, amassing a 2.83 ERA, 0.84 WHIP, and 15.7 K/9 rate since April 10. He stole that job from Jose Alvarado, who’s been amazing behind his 1.61 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, and 14.5 K/9 rate. Alvarado is droppable in standard leagues but needs to be rostered in holds leagues with peripherals like those.

Pittsburgh Pirates

David Bednar is one of the best closers in the game. He’s been elite for a few years, providing a 1.50 ERA and 0.90 WHIP this year, but he’s always a candidate to be shipped away because Pittsburgh has been freefalling down the standings. Colin Holderman leads the club with 12 holds but remains on the IL.

San Diego Padres

Josh Hader is a beast once again, accumulating a 1.26 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, and 13.2 K/9 rate. Steven Wilson has been the best option in this pen outside of him, leading the team with 16 holds. He’s also got a 2.40 ERA and 1.00 WHIP but was just put on the IL two days ago. They need Luis Garcia to step up without him because he’s struggled all year.

San Francisco Giants

Camilo Doval is creeping near the league lead in saves, picking up 22 already! He’s not the only one in this pen going off, because the Rogers twins have been doing work too. Tyler Rogers is one of the league leaders with 16 holds, but both of these guys have elite peripherals. Tyler has a 1.86 ERA and 1.01 WHIP, while Taylor Rogers has a 2.67 ERA and 1.07 WHIP. How cool is that for the Rogers parents?

Seattle Mariners

Paul Sewald had 14 saves but was inserted in the eighth inning in his most recent outing on Tuesday. He ended up blowing the game, which is strange because Andres Munoz was warming up for the save in the ninth. That’s the first time we’ve seen that this year and it’s worth keeping an eye on because Munoz is one of the best pitchers in baseball. He hasn’t allowed a run this year and is one of the best options in holds leagues.

St. Louis Cardinals

It doesn’t sound like Ryan Helsley is anywhere near a return, making this a fascinating pen to monitor. We thought Giovanny Gallegos would get this job, but Jordan Hicks has all four saves since the injury. He’s clearly the guy now, but Gallegos has eight saves and eight holds in an enticing role. Both players should be rostered universally.

Tampa Bay Rays

Pete Fairbanks has almost all of the saves when he’s been fully healthy. He’s up to nine saves across just 16 innings, but Jason Adam has been excellent filling in for him. Adams has 11 saves and eight holds, establishing himself as one of the best options in holds formats. Both guys need to be rostered everywhere with how dominant this Tampa team can be.

Texas Rangers

Will Smith has 14 saves and a WHIP well below 1.00. He’s been one of the best pickups of the year, but no one else in this pen is worth watching.

Toronto Blue Jays

We love this bullpen for fantasy. Everyone has an established role; Jordan Romano is tied as a league-leader with 23 saves and Erik Swanson leads the league with 18 holds. We love seeing that sort of consistency from bullpens!

My Saves/Holds Rankings

Rank Player Team
1. Felix Bautista BAL
2. Emmanuel Clase CLE
3. Devin Williams MIL
4. Josh Hader SD
5. Jordan Romano TOR
6. Ryan Pressly HOU
7. Jhoan Duran MIN
8. Paul Sewald SEA
9. Rasiel Iglesias ATL
10. David Bednar PIT
11. Alexis Diaz CIN
12. Andres Munoz SEA
13. Camilo Doval SF
14. Kenley Jansen BOS
15. Pete Fairbanks TB
16. Evan Phillips LAD
17. Jason Adam TB
18. Ryan Helsley STL
19. Will Smith TEX
20. David Robertson NYM
21. Alex Lange DET
22. Carlos Estevez LAA
23. Scott Barlow KC
24. Yennier Cano BAL
25. Jordan Hicks STL
26. Clay Holmes NYY
27. Scott McGough ARI
28. Bryan Abreu HOU
29. Giovanny Gallegos STL
30. Erik Swanson TOR

FantasyPros My Playbook

Relievers on the Rise

Hunter Harvey (WAS)

Most good teams have their bullpens figured out, but the bad teams continue to mix things around. The good news is that Harvey has swiped this job from Kyle Finnegan, picking up three saves over the last week. He’s also got a 3.55 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, and 9.8 K/9 rate in what’s turning out to be a stellar season.

Justin Lawrence (COL)

Riding a Rockies closer is like flossing with barbed wire, but some fantasy managers are desperate for saves. J-Law is the one to get on this team, picking up the last five saves for this club. All of those have happened since June 2, and Colorado wants to keep Daniel Bard away from the ninth inning because of his anxiety issues. Lawrence has earned this gig, generating a 3.02 ERA and 1.18 WHIP.

Potential Closers on the IL

Edwin Diaz (knee) – (60-Day IL) Out for the season

Liam Hendriks (arm) – (15-Day IL) Hendriks is close to kickstarting a rehab assignment and could be back in a few weeks.

Ryan Helsley (elbow) – (15-Day IL) Helsley landed on the IL with dreaded forearm tightness. It sounds like he’s not near returning, which should allow the Jordan Hicks resurgence.

Colin Holderman (wrist) – (15-Day IL) Holderman is one of the league leaders in holds but isn’t expected to miss much more than the 15-day minimum.

Daniel Hudson (knee) – (60-Day IL) There’s some chatter that Hudson could make his season debut this weekend. He was the rumored closer in March, so keep an eye on him!

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Joel Bartilotta is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Joel, check out his archive.

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