We didn’t have many developments last week, but this week was wild. We had numerous closers land on the IL, and additional teams changing things up in the ladder innings. Over half the league is hard to read right now, but we’re hopeful this article will help to clear some things up. We’ve stumbled into gems like Carlos Estevez and Will Smith across the way, and this might be a week to land a couple more bullpen gems.
Saves + Holds League Guide
Closer Situations to Watch
These are bullpens we need to monitor!
This is the most interesting bullpen right now. This team has changed closers every month, with Andrew Chafin handing the job to Miguel Castro last month. Castro is doing his best to hand things off to Scott McGough, allowing six runs across his last three appearances. McGough has been unstoppable with 12 holds, and he might be next in line! We’ll dive into that later!
Chicago Cubs (AVOID)
It’s impossible to know what to expect from this pen. Mark Leiter Jr.and Adbert Alzolay are the clear-cut options, but both guys only have three saves apiece. They’re both worth rostering in holds formats, though, with Alzolay amassing a 2.10 ERA and 0.83 WHIP while Leiter has a 3.04 ERA and 0.98 WHIP.
Chicago White Sox
We were about to move this bullpen into the other section with Liam Hendriks securing the job, but he’s back on the IL. We saw Kendall Graveman pick up all the saves when he was out, and we’re assuming he’ll step right back into that role.
Colorado Rockies (AVOID)
Daniel Bard should have this job behind his 0.87 ERA, but it’s clear Colorado wants to stay clear of that role with his anxiety issues. That put Pierce Johnson in the ninth inning, but his 6.92 ERA and 1.85 WHIP are terrifying. Justin Lawrence picked up the most recent save and is our best bet behind his 2.61 ERA and 1.08 WHIP. However, we would advise staying away no matter who it is because Coors Field is a nightmare, and the Rockies are even worse.
Los Angeles Dodgers
When did Evan Phillips pick up his last save? You’d have to turn the calendar to May 12 because that’s the last time he got one. He’s clearly the best pitcher in this pen, though, posting a 2.55 ERA and 0.85 WHIP. He’ll likely lead the team in saves, but LA will only throw him out there against the opposing team’s best hitters, no matter what inning it is. Brusdar Graterol will get the chance when Phillips is used early.
AJ Puk leads the team with seven saves and picked up the most recent one earlier in the week. He’s also got four scoreless appearances since returning and will have this pen moving sections if he continues to get the save chances. Tanner Scott is a sneaky option in holds leagues, generating a 2.90 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, and 12.8 K/9 rate while recording 10 holds.
New York Yankees
It feels like Clay Holmes is starting to get a hold of this closer’s gig. He’s got three saves over the last two weeks while tallying a 0.47 ERA and 11.4 K/9 rate since May 5. Wandy Peralta and Michael King are good options in holds formats because they also have four saves apiece.
Oakland Athletics (AVOID)
The A’s are the hottest team in baseball! That sounds laughable because this team barely had 10 wins when we published our last article. They haven’t lost a game since then, which is one of the most miraculous accomplishments I’ve ever seen. In any case, Trevor May got two saves during that period, and he’s the highest-paid player in this pen. He’ll get the next chance but don’t be surprised to see this team pumpkin shortly.
Craig Kimbrel has this job (maybe!)! He’s got all the saves over the last month, posting one of the best K rates in baseball in that span. Jose Alvarado was the best reliever in baseball through the opening month and needs to be held in holds leagues.
Washington Nationals (AVOID)
Kyle Finnegan leads the team with 11 saves, but he’s losing this job. The righty has a 4.56 ERA and 1.60 WHIP, while Hunter Harvey has a 3.21 ERA and 0.96 WHIP. He’s also got 11 holds and will likely be the closer in the coming weeks since he’s been featured in the ninth in the last few appearances.
Closer Situations Not to Worry About
These are the teams with clear-cut bullpen plans heading into the 2023 season.
Raisel Iglesias has allowed four runs over his last two outings but had eight saves across his previous 12 appearances. Those were also scoreless, and he’s got a long leash on this gig. Aj Minter and Nick Anderson are intriguing holds options, with Anderson looking like a fantastic add. He’s got a 3.42 ERA and 0.91 WHIP while picking up 10 holds.
Felix Bautista still has the best K rate in baseball, generating a 1.16 ERA and 1.06 WHIP. I’ve moved him to the top spot in the rankings because he’s the most dominant reliever in baseball right now. There are some elite options behind him, with Yennier Cano, Cionel Perez, and Bryan Baker all locking down the ladder innings. All of those guys can be rostered in holds leagues.
Boston Red Sox
After a rough stretch, Jansen has nine scoreless appearances in his last 10 outings. He’s the clear-cut closer, but John Schreiber, Chris Martin, and Josh Winckowski all have ERAs below 2.50 as well. Winckowski is up to nearly 40 innings and becoming this pen’s workhorse.
Alexis Diaz has a 1.65 ERA, 0.80 WHIP, and 16.1 K/9 rate. He’s locked down this job, and we don’t trust anyone else in this pen. Buck Farmer did get the one save filling in for him, totaling a 2.51 ERA and 0.80 WHIP. If Diaz is traded at the deadline, he’s our best to steal this job.
Emmanuel Clase leads the league with 20 saves and is one of the best closers in baseball. James Karinchak was sent down this week, which is strange since he led the team with 12 holds. Trevor Stephan is next up with 10 holds, accruing a 2.54 ERA.
Alex Lange has been frustrating to roster at times, but he’s the best reliever in this pen. He’s got 10 saves and a 12.2 K/9 rate. Jake Foley is the only other pitcher worth considering, producing a 2.61 ERA and 1.13 WHIP en route to 10 holds.
Houston has one of the best pens in baseball. Ryan Pressly has almost all of the saves, but Hector Neris, Bryan Abreu, and Rafael Montero should get plenty of holds for one of the best teams. Abreu and Neris have barely allowed a run over the last month, and both guys need to be restored in all holds formats.
Los Angeles Angels
Carlos Estevez is up to 18 saves, and he’s developed into one of the best picks from our early-season articles. Matt Moore led the team with 12 holds before landing on the IL, but we don’t want anyone else in this bullpen.
Kansas City Royals
Scott Barlow has a 2.50 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, and 13.5 K/9 rate since April 19 and has secured this job from Aroldis Chapman. The southpaw has a ridiculous 15.8 K/9 rate and could be on the move at the deadline. If he’s available in your holds league, go pick him up!
Devin Williams allowed just one run through the opening three months but was bombarded for four runs in his most recent outing. That’s a blip on an otherwise clean radar, and he’s still one of the best options in fantasy. Peter Strzelecki is one of the league leaders with 15 holds which is no surprise since his WHIP is barely above 1.00.
New York Mets
David Robertson is the de facto closer, but this pen has plenty of options. Adam Ottavino has five saves and seven holds, while Brooks Raley is up to 13 holds as well. All of these guys can be rostered universally.
David Bednar has a 1.78 ERA and 0.87 WHIP while leading the club with 14 saves. However, Pittsburgh has been freefalling down the standings, and it could force them to move Bednar at the deadline. Don’t forget about Collin Holderman has a holds candidate, picking up 12 already.
San Diego Padres
Josh Hader has returned to the form that made him a beast in the past, providing a 1.37 ERA and 0.91 WHIP. The rest of this bullpen has been horrible, so don’t be surprised to see them make a move at the deadline.
San Francisco Giants
Camilio Doval is up to 15 saves, amassing a 1.80 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, and 12.6 K/9 rate. Tyler Rogers has been elite in the past and is a great option in holds leagues. He’s got a 1.71 ERA and 1.01 WHIP en route to 13 holds.
Paul Sewald has the ninth inning locked down with 12 saves, but Andres Munoz is one of the best options outside of him. He just returned from the IL and hasn’t allowed a run. He’s got some of the best stuff in the sport and will move up my rankings in the coming weeks.
St. Louis Cardinals
This bullpen was tough to navigate, but it’s much easier now that Ryan Helsley is on the IL. That means Giovanny Gallegos should be the strict closer, compiling eight saves and five holds in a complimentary role.
Tampa Bay Rays
Jason Adams has 10 saves, and he’s been one of the best adds with Peter Fairbanks on and off the IL. He might steal this job with how he’s pitching but don’t drop Fairbanks because he’ll be back in high-leverage situations shortly.
Will Smith has a 2.52 ERA, 0.76 WHIP, and 12 saves. He’s the only guy worth rostering in this pen and is one of the best pickups of the season.
Toronto Blue Jays
This is the best bullpen for fantasy. Jordan Romano is unstoppable as the closer, while Eric Swanson leads the league with 15 holds. Both guys need to be rostered in every league, and it’s a clear-cut situation for all fantasy managers.
My Saves/Holds Rankings
|Peter Fairbanks (IL)
|Ryan Helsley (IL)
Relievers on the Rise
Scott McGough (ARI)
We have no clue who will get the next save for Arizona, but McGough has to be the best bet. Miguel Castro has been struggling mightily recently, while McGough has allowed just one run across his last 20 innings while posting a WHIP below 0.70 in that span. He also got the first crack at the beginning of the season, and we can’t overlook that Arizona has one of the best records in the NL.
Kendall Graveman (CWS)
Liam Hendriks is back on the IL, and Graveman should resume his job as the closer. That’s what he was doing before Hendriks made his triumphant return, recording a scoreless outing in 17 of his last 18 appearances while picking up six saves in that span.
Potential Closers on the IL
Edwin Diaz – (knee, 60-Day IL) Out for the season
Peter Fairbanks – (hip, 15-Day IL) Fairbanks is expected to return within a week, but we’re unsure if he’ll resume his role as the closer with how successful Jason Adam has been.
Liam Hendriks – (arm, 15-Day IL) Hendriks only made it three weeks before landing on the IL, and it’s unclear when he’ll be ready to return.
Ryan Helsley – (elbow, 15-Day IL) Helsley landed on the IL with dreaded forearm tightness. That’s horrifying for a guy who regularly cracks 100 MPH, and we’ll assume Gallegos gets all the saves until he’s ready to return.
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Joel Bartilotta is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Joel, check out his archive.