Last week was one of the wildest bullpen weeks of the season. It felt like we had a handful of teams change hands in the ninth inning. Yet, not much happened this week. We did have an interesting development in St. Louis, but most pens have stayed pat through these dog days of the season.
We still have plenty to discuss, so let’s look at the questionable bullpens!
Closer Situations to Watch
These are bullpens we need to monitor!
Scott McGough is trying to steal this job. The closer to start the year picked up a save on Wednesday and now has three saves in his last five appearances. He also has a 0.42 ERA and 0.69 WHIP across his last 21.2 innings, spanning to May 9. Miguel Castro and Andrew Chafin have a bunch of saves, but McGough is the only pitcher worth rostering.
We’re finally getting some clarity on this situation. Adbert Alzolay has two saves in his last four appearances and showed up in the ninth inning of a four-run game on Tuesday. That’s typically what you see from a closer, and we’ll talk about him more later on. Don’t forget about Mark Leiter, who has a team-high 12 holds thanks to his 2.64 ERA and 0.91 WHIP.
Chicago White Sox
Liam Hendriks is still on the IL, and Kendall Graveman will continue to close. He’s been brilliant in this role, registering a 0.86 ERA and 0.76 WHIP since May 1. Reynaldo Lopez has some ugly averages, but it’s hard to overlook his four saves and eight holds for fantasy.
Colorado Rockies (AVOID)
The Rockies are amid an eight-game losing streak, and they’re simply one of the worst teams in baseball. Daniel Bard is the best reliever, but this team doesn’t want to give him saves with anxiety issues. Justin Lawrence has the two most recent saves, and he’s the reliever worth rostering if you want to take this unnecessary leap.
Los Angeles Dodgers
Evan Phillips didn’t have a save since May 12 before picking two up over the last two days! He’s still a must-roster player in every format because he has the fireman role for one of the best teams in baseball. He’s up to eight saves and six holds, while Caleb Ferguson leads the club with nine holds as the lefty specialist.
New York Yankees
Clay Holmes is running away with this job, and one more good week will move this pen into the safety section. He’s picked up four saves since the beginning of June, generating a 0.44 ERA, 0.92 WHIP and 11.3 K/9 rate since May 6. Willy Peralta and Michael King are still attractive options in holds leagues, picking up for saves a piece earlier in the year.
Oakland Athletics (AVOID)
After looking like the best team in baseball last week, Oakland is back to being terrible. This is the worst team in the league, and it’d be silly to pick up anyone from this pen. If you’re desperate, it looks like Trevor May is the closer. He has the three most recent saves but is providing a 6.23 ERA and 1.90 WHIP this season.
Washington Nationals (AVOID)
Kyle Finnegan had this job locked up early with 11 saves early on, but things are trending toward Hunter Harvey. “Double-H” picked up a save on Wednesday and has a team-high 11 holds. He’s been the better pitcher, with Finnegan compiling a 4.23 ERA and 1.52 WHIP. This is still an awful baseball team, but Harvey is the closer if you’re desperate.
Closer Situations Not to Worry About
These are the teams with clear-cut bullpens.
Rasiel Iglesias has been struggling recently, but he’ll be fine. He still has 10 saves despite missing the opening month and has a long leash on this role. Nick Anderson has been one of the best adds in holds leagues, totaling a 3.38 ERA and 1.06 WHIP en route to 11 holds. Don’t forget about A.J. Minter, who’s posting a 0.84 ERA and 0.28 WHIP across his last 12 appearances.
This is developing into the best bullpen in baseball. Felix Bautista is unstoppable as the closer, collecting 20 saves. He’s also leading the league with a 17.9 K/9 rate, totaling a 1.05 ERA and 0.94 WHIP. Don’t forget about Yennier Cano, who’s second in MLB with 17 holds. Bryan Baker and Daniel Columbe also have a ton of holds, but we’d only roster Felix and Yennier.
Boston Red Sox
Kenley Jansen ended his slump by establishing a 1.64 ERA and 1.09 WHIP across his last 11 outings. The rest of this pen is solid, too, with John Schrieber, Chris Martin, and Josh Winckowski combining for nearly 30 holds, while all of them have ERAs below 2.50. Winckowski is our favorite behind his 2.34 ERA and 1.16 WHIP, pitching 42.1 innings in a workhorse role.
Alexis Diaz has a 2.03 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, and 15.9 K/9 rate. He’s the clear-cut closer and is pitching for one of the hottest teams in the league. We thought he might be on the move, but Cincy will hang around all season. No one else in this pen is worth rostering.
Emmanuel Clase leads the league with 22 saves and is one of the best closers in baseball. It’s tough to figure out the rest of this pen because James Karinchak was demoted. Trevor Stephan has 11 holds and looks like the next-best option behind his 2.37 ERA.
Alex Lange‘s role has been volatile at times, but he’s the best option in this pen. He has an 18.00 ERA across his last seven appearances but leads the club with 11 saves. If this team pivots to someone else, it would be Jason Foley. The righty leads the team with 11 holds and has nine scoreless outings in his last 10 appearances.
Baltimore, Houston and Seattle have the three best pens in baseball. This might be the best of the bunch, with Ryan Pressly, Hector Neris and Bryan Abreu all looking like viable fantasy options. Pressly has been the closer all year, but Abreu and Neris each have double-digit holds and elite peripherals.
Los Angeles Angels
Kansas City Royals
Scott Barlow has been one of the best relievers over the last two months and is secured as the closer. The problem is that this team is terrible, and he could be on the move. Aroldis Chapman could also be traded, posting a ridiculous 16.0 K/9 rate. Both relievers are worth rostering, but don’t be surprised to see them traded next month.
AJ Puk hasn’t allowed a run since coming off the IL, picking up three saves in that span. He’s the obvious closer, but Tanner Scott has developed into an exciting holds option. The lefty has a 1.56 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 14.5 K/9 rate and eight holds since May 14.
Devin Williams had a lousy outing a few weeks ago but has allowed just one run this season outside of that. He’s one of the best closers in baseball, while Peter Strzelecki is one of the best setup men. He has 14 holds this year, despite struggling over the last week.
Jhoan Duran has just nine saves but is unbeatable behind his 1.33 ERA, 0.96 WHIP and 12.0 K/9 rate. Jorge Lopez was the setup man, but he’s been terrible recently and just landed on the IL. Don’t worry about anyone else in this bullpen.
New York Mets
This team is full of fantasy-relevant relievers. David Robertson has 10 saves as the closer, but Adam Ottavino has five saves and seven holds in a fireman role. Brooks Raley has been great at times, accruing 12 holds.
Craig Kimbrel has run away with this job, establishing himself as one of the best closers in the game. He has seven saves since May 9, posting a 1.69 ERA, 0.69 WHIP and 15.2 K/9 rate in that span. That’s sad for Jose Alvarado because he was the closer before landing on the IL. He’s still worth holding in a holds league, accumulating a 1.40 ERA, 0.93 WHIP and 15.4 K.9 rate. This is one of the best backends in MLB.
The Pirates can’t win right now, but David Bednar is still one of the best around. He’s up to 14 saves and has an ERA below 2.00 and a WHIP south of 1.00. He’s always one of the top choices regarding the trade deadline, and this might finally be the year he’s moved. Colin Holderman is on the IL, but he’d be next in line, leading this team with 12 holds.
San Diego Padres
Josh Hader is back to being an elite closer. This pen is tough to figure out outside of him, though, because Luis Garcia has struggled. Steven Wilson is the team leader in holds, picking up 16 holds, thanks to his 2.50 ERA, 0.97 WHIP and 10.9 K/9 rate.
San Francisco Giants
Camilo Doval is up to 20 saves, amassing a 1.93 ERA, 1.07 WHIP and 12.7 K/9 rate. Tyler Rogers has taken over the eighth inning, establishing a 1.56 ERA and 0.98 WHIP. His twin Taylor Rogers hasn’t been so shabby, either, sporting a 2.88 ERA and 1.04 WHIP. Both of the Rogers twins can be roistered in holds leagues.
Paul Sewald is up to 13 saves and has a WHIP below 1.00. He has this job locked up, but the rest of this pen is impressive too. Justin Topa is one of the league leaders with 13 holds, but Andres Munoz is one of the best pure arms in baseball. He hasn’t allowed a run across 8.1 innings since coming off the IL and is one of the best relievers in holds formats.
St. Louis Cardinals
We thought Giovanny Gallegos would steal this job once Ryan Helsley landed on the IL, but Jordan Hicks came out of nowhere to snatch it. He’s struggled for most of the season, but we’ll dive into his numbers later! Gallegos is still worth holding in holds leagues.
Tampa Bay Rays
This looks like a committee between Peter Fairbanks and Jason Adam. Fairbanks has been on and off the IL but has seven saves across 13.1 innings. Jason Adams has 11 saves and seven holds, but both relievers are must-roster players with how dominant this Tampa team is.
Will Smith has a 2.89 ERA, 0.89 WHIP and 12 saves. He’s the only pitcher worth rostering in this pen and is one of the best pickups of the year.
Toronto Blue Jays
We love this bullpen for fantasy. Everyone has an established role, with Jordan Romano collecting 21 saves as one of the best closers in the game. Erik Swanson leads the league with 18 holds, while Trevor Richards has tallied a 3.92 ERA, 1.18 WHIP and 13.9 K/9 rate in front of them.
My Saves/Holds Rankings
|Peter Fairbanks (IL)
|Ryan Helsley (IL)
Relievers on the Rise
Jordan Hicks (STL)
We figured Gallegos would steal this job when Helsley went down, but the Cards had other ideas. Hicks picked up three saves in three days over the last week and might’ve recaptured this closer role. He led the team with 14 saves in 2019 and still has some of the nastiest stuff in baseball behind his elite 14.1 K/9 rate.
Adbert Alzolay (CHC)
It’s been tough to figure out who the Cubs closer would be all season, but Alzolay is starting to look like the pitcher to roster. His 1.97 ERA, 0.88 WHIP and 9.3 K/9 rate has impressed us all season, but we’re really encouraged that he has three saves since May 30. That leads the team, and we’ve also seen Alzolay throw nine straight scoreless appearances.
Potential Closers on the IL
Edwin Diaz (knee) – 60-Day IL. Out for the season
Liam Hendriks (arm) – 15-Day IL. Hendriks is expected to resume throwing sometime this weekend. He’s likely at least two weeks away from a return, but he might not even resume closing.
Ryan Helsley (elbow) – 15-Day IL. Helsley landed on the IL with dreaded forearm tightness. He’s getting a second opinion on imaging, and it’s tough to know when he’ll be ready to go again. Hicks needs to be rostered everywhere.
Colin Holderman (wrist) – 15-Day IL. Holderman is one of the league leaders in holds and isn’t expected to miss much more than the 15-day minimum.
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Joel Bartilotta is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Joel, check out his archive.