There are two specific weeks when this article becomes critical for fantasy managers, and this is one of them. It’s essential to monitor these bullpens every week to find holds and saves off of your waiver wire, but more will change over the next seven days than at any point all season!
The opening week is the only time that rivals the trade deadline, but these teams love to move bullpen pieces to boost their pens! We’ll surely see some big moves, and we’ll use this article to try to guess some of those moves and get you ahead of the eight-ball!
Closer Situations to Watch
These are bullpens we need to monitor!
This team might set a record for closers. Miguel Castro, Andrew Chafin and Scott McGough have all held this job for weeks at a time, but all three have lost it because of some major blow-ups. That’s allowed Kevin Ginkel to take over, tallying a 2.31 ERA and 1.00 WHIP while picking up the three most recent saves. That said, this team should add a closer at the deadline!
Adbert Alzolay is getting a grip on this role. He’s up to 10 saves, thanks to his 2.45 ERA and 0.95 WHIP. Mark Leiter is the only other reliever we like in this pen, but both of these pitchers could be on the move if Chicago sells like they should. Leiter would be next if Alzolay is moved, and then we’d guess Michael Fulmer would be third in line. Still, don’t pick him up!
Chicago White Sox
Kendall Graveman has been closing in the absence of Liam Hendriks, but the only thing he’s closed recently is his trade interests. Graveman has eight saves but has generated a 6.17 ERA and 1.89 WHIP since June 20. This has been one of the most disappointing teams all year, and a firesale could be on the horizon. We expect Hendriks to close when he returns, though, and that could be soon!
Colorado Rockies (AVOID)
Justin Lawrence has been looking like the closer, picking up six saves over the last month. We have seen Daniel Bard get two chances in that span, though, but he blew one epically on Wednesday. Contenders should seek out both of these relievers, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Rockies trade them. If that’s the case, please avoid this bullpen at all costs.
Alex Lange has 17 saves but has allowed seven runs across his last 10 innings. Teams know he has nasty stuff, but Jason Foley has been even better in the eighth inning. Foley has a 2.03 ERA and 1.06 WHIP and could take over closing duties if Lange is moved at the deadline! If you hear Lange has been traded, go add Foley everywhere!
Oakland Athletics (AVOID)
Trevor May has taken over this job, picking up nine saves over the last two months! He also has a 4.73 ERA and 1.65 WHIP, so you’re playing with fire if you want to roster him in fantasy. What’s funny is that no one will likely acquire any of these relievers with how poor they’ve been, so we don’t really care what they do at the deadline.
Kyle Finnegan has recaptured his role as the closer, collecting a 1.00 ERA and 0.72 WHIP since June 10. That’s quite the run, but he only has this job because Hunter Harvey got injured. Both of those relievers have been brilliant at times this year, and we expect at least one of them to be moved. If they’re both traded, Carl Edwards Jr. is likely next in line!
Closer Situations Not to Worry About
These are the teams with clear-cut bullpen plans.
Nick Anderson and A.J. Minter have both landed on the IL recently, but this pen has been resilient. Kirby Yates has returned to the stud we saw years prior, while Raisel Iglesias has 18 saves across 29.2 innings. With all the injuries, don’t be surprised to see Atlanta add one of these bullpen pieces from one of the teams mentioned above.
We don’t expect many teams to stay pat at the deadline in their pen, but Baltimore should be one of them. Felix Bautista has been the best closer in the game, compiling a 0.92 ERA, 0.82 WHIP and 17.6 K/9 rate. Yennier Cano has been almost as good in the eighth inning, and we didn’t even mention Danny Coulombe‘s 18 holds. This bullpen is simply absurd, and don’t look for them to do anything at the deadline.
Boston Red Sox
The Boston Red Sox have been sliding down the standings, and it’d be wise of them to become sellers. That means Kenley Jansen‘s 21 saves could be on the move, but Chris Martin is the much more enticing option with his contract. Martin has 15 holds, thanks to his 1.44 ERA and 0.99 WHIP.
Alexis Diaz is one of the best closers in the game, but this team needs depth behind him. This squad is full of talented prospects, but they need to build the backend of this pen. That makes them one of the most likely candidates to acquire one of the closers mentioned in the earlier write-ups. Still, no one is taking Diaz’s job, since he has a 2.20 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 13.4 K/9 rate and 30 saves!
Talk about a team that needs to add some bullpen depth! James Karinchak was this team’s eighth-inning pitcher through the opening months, but he was relegated to the Minors. That paints a picture for the rest of this pen, and they’re surely in the market to add someone!
Contenders usually add bullpen pieces at the deadline, but we don’t imagine Houston doing anything. Ryan Pressly has the closer’s gig locked up, while Bryan Abreu and Hector Neris have also been incredible in the late innings. This team should stay pat with that core!
Los Angeles Dodgers
Evan Phillips has been one of the best relievers around, registering a 2.29 ERA and 0.81 WHIP. Brusdar Graterol has also been a pleasant surprise, but the Dodgers are a team that will definitely add someone. This team is a genuine contender and needs a bridge to get to Phillips. Don’t be surprised to see them add some of the pieces mentioned earlier!
Los Angeles Angels
Los Angeles declared they would be buyers on Wednesday, and that’s an exciting proposition for Angels fans. They acquired Reynaldo Lopez to bolster their pen, but Lucas Giolito was the star of that trade as an addition to the rotation. It looks like LA wants to make a splash, but we don’t see anyone taking away Carlos Estevez‘s job, totaling 23 saves in a shocking season!
Kansas City Royals
Aroldis Chapman was traded earlier in the month, and more players could be on the move. Scott Barlow has been this team’s closer for two years now and is one of the most coveted relievers at the deadline. It would be shocking to see KC hold him, and it’s nearly impossible to know who would close for the Royals. Our money is on Carlos Hernandez, but that’s playing with fire!
A.J. Puk might’ve lost this job. He has 15 saves but is posting an 11.37 ERA and 1.89 WHIP across his last seven appearances. He’s also blown three saves in that span and is holding this job by a thread, if he even has it! We haven’t seen a save since his most recent collapse, and we’d bet on Tanner Scott getting the next chance. We’ll talk about him later. You might think Miami will be a seller, but they’re still battling for a playoff spot! Don’t be surprised to see them add someone cheap before the deadline to bolster this pen and possibly find a legitimate closer!
Devin Williams has 25 saves, thanks to his 1.60 ERA and 1.02 WHIP. Joel Payamps has also been dominant in the eighth inning, amassing a 1.68 ERA and 0.87 WHIP. He actually hasn’t allowed a run in over a month, but one more piece could really help this pen. Don’t look for them to add a big-name player, but a solid piece from one of these tanking teams would be a perfect fit to round out the late innings.
Jhoan Duran has some of the nastiest stuff in the sport, accruing a 2.01 ERA, 1.04 WHIP and 12.1 K/9 rate. He can only do so much, though, with Griffin Jax and Jorge Lopez being the bridge to him. This team is middling in the standings, but since they’re leading the AL Central, don’t be surprised to see them add someone.
New York Mets
The Mets have been one of the biggest disappointments, and they’d be wise to sell some of these bullpen pieces. David Robertson, Adam Ottavino and Brooks Raley have all been great at times this year, and any of them could be on the move. That’s the ladder right now, and if any of them are traded, look for the next one to take the bulk of the saves.
New York Yankees
Clay Holmes has been incredible for the last few months, picking up a 0.88 ERA, 0.95 WHI and 11.2 K/9 rate since May 5. It’s hard to know what the Yankees will do at the deadline, but they always seem to be buyers. That said, Michael King and Tommy Kahnle have been solid in the backend of the pen.
Craig Kimbrel has been the best closer over the last decade, and he’s back to that for this team. Injuries to Jose Alvarado and Seranthony Dominguez have this pen in shambles, though, and they’re definitely a team that needs to make a move. Don’t look for them to add a top-notch pitcher, but one of the relievers in Washington or Colorado would be a perfect fit.
David Bednar has been rumored as a trade candidate throughout his career, and we truly don’t know if Pittsburgh will sell him or not. They should, but they love his contract behind a 1.15 ERA and 0.95 WHIP. He could also become a closer for one of the best teams, and we don’t expect him to lose a closer gig no matter where he’s traded. If he is moved, look for Colin Holderman to become the Pirate’s ninth-inning pitcher!
San Diego Padres
This team has been a massive disappointment, and they have some enormous trade pieces if they decide to sell. Josh Hader and Steven Wilson have been outstanding at the backend of this pen, and either would be a massive acquisition for any team. The Padres always seem to be buyers, but we don’t expect them to add anyone who will affect the hierarchy of this pen.
San Francisco Giants
The Giants have been rolling for weeks, and this bullpen is the primary reason why. Camilo Doval leads the league with 31 saves, but Tyler Rogers and Taylor Rogers have been equally as impressive in front of him. San Francisco has developed into a contender, but we don’t see them adding anyone to mess things up.
St. Louis Cardinals
The Cardinals have been the biggest disappointment in the league, and they’ll surely make some moves at the deadline. Jordan Hicks throws well over 100 MPH as this team’s closer and could be a coveted target. Ryan Helsley and Giovanny Gallegos are in the same boat, and any one of these players could be on the move. Whoever remains around of those three should close from here on out!
Tampa Bay Rays
Pete Fairbanks and Jason Adam have been incredible in the back of this pen, but this team needs a bridge to get to them. Tampa has always thrived in the late innings, and a seventh-inning pitcher would be the perfect addition to this team. Look for the Rays to add one of the relievers mentioned above, but no one will step into any saves.
The Rangers already added Chapman to sure their pen, and they could add more. Jose Leclerc has disappointed, but Will Smith and Chapman have been amazing. One more piece would secure the late innings for this contending team, and we expect the Rangers to add just that.
Toronto Blue Jays
This is our favorite pen in baseball. Jordan Romano is one of the league leaders with 28 saves, while Erik Swanson leads the league with 25 holds. These pitchers are incredible, and it would be surprising to see them add anybody.
My Saves/Holds Rankings
Relievers on the Rise
Kevin Ginkel (ARI)
We had Ginkel in here last week, and we have to recommend him once again. He’s still sitting on the waiver wire in 75 percent of Yahoo leagues, which makes no sense. He has the last three saves for this overachieving club and should continue to get them with everyone else struggling.
Tanner Scott (MIA)
A.J. Puk has collapsed over the last two weeks, and it might be time for Scott to take over. He led the team with 20 saves last year and has a 1.47 ERA, 1.04 WHI, and 14.4 K.9 rate since May 14.
Potential Closers on the IL
Edwin Diaz (knee) – 60-Day IL. Out for the season
Liam Hendriks (arm) – 15-Day IL. Hendriks touched 94 MPH in a sim league and should regain his role as closer with how bad Graveman has been.
Ryan Helsley (elbow) – 15-Day IL. Helsley won’t be back for at least a few weeks, and he might not even regain the job when he returns.
Hunter Harvey (elbow) – 15-Day IL. Harvey is dealing with some arm fatigue but could be back soon.
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Joel Bartilotta is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Joel, check out his archive.