One of my favorite expressions is “The quiet before the storm.” That’s what we’re dealing with in these MLB bullpens right now because almost nothing has changed over the last 10 days. That always happens right before the All-Star break and trade deadline because chaos is about to ensue.
We could have somewhere between five-10 teams change closers at the deadline, and it’s always one of the most critical times to hop on your waiver wire. With that said, there’s still plenty to discuss and keep track of where these pens are at right now!
Closer Situations to Watch
These are bullpens we need to monitor!
This bullpen has been frustrating all season and continues to get murkier. Scott McGough had this job locked up, but a three-run shelling in a blown save earlier in the week has Arizona horrified. It’s strange to understand why they’re so hesitant because he hasn’t allowed a run outside of that since May 14. In any case, Andrew Chafin got the most recent chance on Wednesday but went on to blow that one! McGough has to get the next chance, but don’t overlook Chafin’s eight saves and 11 holds.
Adbert Alzolay looks like the closer, picking up four saves over the last month. He also has a 2.48 ERA and 0.96 WHIP and needs to be added everywhere. Mark Leiter Jr. is interesting in holds leagues, totaling a 3.28 ERA, 0.95 WHIP and 12.6 K/9 rate.
Chicago White Sox
Kendall Graveman has really struggled recently, collecting a 4.82 ERA and 1.82 WHIP across his last 10 appearances. He also has two blown saves and two losses in that stretch, making him a risky option in any league. The rest of this bullpen is terrible, and it doesn’t look like Liam Hendriks is close to returning.
Pierce Johnson blew this job with his cratering 1.74 WHIP, paving the way for Justin Lawrence to take over. He has five saves over his last 11 outings and some of the best averages in this pen. Daniel Bard hasn’t recorded a save since landing on the IL with anxiety, so it looks like they will stay away from him.
Alex Lange leads the team with 12 saves but has a 10.45 ERA and 2.13 WHIP since June 4. Despite the struggles, he still has two saves in that span and looks likely to get the next chance. Keep an eye on Jason Foley, picking up 13 holds behind his 2.17 ERA and 1.04 WHIP.
Oakland Athletics (AVOID)
Oakland is the worst team in baseball, and they haven’t designated a closer until the last few weeks. That’s Trevor May, who has six saves over the last month. That sounds good, but his 5.16 ERA and 1.72 WHIP are terrifying. May is a worthy pickup if you’re desperate, but please stay away.
Kyle Finnegan has lost this job, and Hunter Harvey has been a fantastic addition since then. The righty has seven straight scoreless appearances, picking up five saves in that span. That’s an incredible run from a waiver-wire player. He should keep this job unless he’s traded at the deadline.
Closer Situations Not to Worry About
These are the teams with clear-cut bullpens.
After a rough stretch, Raisel Iglesias has four saves in his last five appearances, going scoreless in all of them. He’s one of the best closers for one of the best teams, but the backend pitchers have been impressive too. A.J. Minter has been magnificent for two months now, while Nick Anderson leads the team with 14 holds. Both players can be rostered in holds leagues.
Felix Bautista has 22 saves and a league-best 18.5 K/9 rate. That’s hard to even fathom, tallying a 1.16 ERA and 0.96 WHIP. He’s not the only gem in this pen because Yennier Cano is one of the league leaders with 18 holds. Danny Coulombe is also up to 16 holds, making this one of the best backends in baseball.
Boston Red Sox
Kenley Jansen has a WHIP above 1.40 and has allowed a run in three of his last four outings. He’s up to 17 saves and will keep this job because of his pedigree. Chris Martin just came off the IL, and he’s quietly been one of the best setup men in baseball. He has 13 holds across just 26 innings, totaling a 1.73 ERA and 0.96 WHIP.
Alexis Diaz has 24 saves, thanks to his 2.13 ERA, 1.03 WHIP and 13.7 K/9 rate. He’s been one of the best bargains in drafts, but there’s no one else trusting in holds leagues. Lucas Sims and Buck Farmer are next in line if anything happens.
Emmanuel Clase led the league in saves last year and is second with 24 saves this season. He’s one of the best options in any format. The rest of this pen is a different story, though, with James Karinchak getting demoted. Trevor Stephan leads the team with 12 holds but has a WHIP north of 1.30.
Ryan Pressly is up to 19 holds, amassing a 2.65 ERA and 0.86 WHIP. Hector Neris has been one of the best relievers since the opening month, tallying a 0.66 ERA, 0.99 WHIP and 9.9 K/9 rate since April 17. We didn’t even mention Bryan Abreu, accruing a 2.93 ERA, 1.13 WHIP and 13.5 K/9 rate. All of these relievers should be rostered in holds formats.
Los Angeles Dodgers
Evan Phillips leads LA with 12 saves, picking up five saves since June 20. With that said, he allowed three runs in a blown save in his most recent outing, his first runs allowed since June 8. That forced Daniel Hudson into a save on Wednesday, but he did load the bases in a sketchy save. This team likes putting Phillips in a fireman role, so don’t be surprised to see Hudson get more opportunities in the future.
Los Angeles Angels
Carlos Estevez has 21 saves and some of the best peripherals in baseball. The rest of this pen has been a nightmare since Matt Moore went down, but he’s been on the IL for a month. He’s expected to return shortly and is a sneaky option in holds formats behind his 1.44 ERA and 0.80 WHIP.
Kansas City Royals
With Aroldis Chapman getting traded, Scott Barlow is the only one left in KC. He had the job before the trade but could be on the move next. In any case, he has a 2.59 ERA, 1.07 WHIP and 12.9 K/9 rate since April 22. Don’t be surprised to see him traded in the coming weeks. If that happens, Cesar Hernandez is our bet to take over, but that’s disgusting with how bad this team is.
AJ Puk blew a save on Wednesday but picked up a win because Jordan Hicks made a disastrous error. He had seven saves across his previous eight appearances and should still have this job locked up. We do like Tanner Scott in holds formats, sporting a 1.59 ERA, 1.10 WHIP and 14.3 K/9 rate since May 14.
Devin Williams blew a save on Wednesday, but it was just the third time he’s allowed a run all season. He’s one of the best closers around and needs to carry this pen with how poorly everyone else has been. Matt Bush was DFA’d, while Peter Strzelecki was sent down to Triple-A. This team needs to make a trade to help D-Will out.
This is another bullpen with a dominant closer and not much else to support him. Jhoan Duran has a 1.93 ERA, 1.04 WHIP and 11.9 K/9 rate. Jorge Lopez was the setup man to start the year but has lost that job with his poor pitching. Griffin Jax is worth watching, compiling a 2.75 ERA and 1.06 WHIP.
New York Mets
David Robertson has quietly been one of the best relievers in baseball and has this job locked up behind his 1.93 ERA and 1.04 WHIP. Still, he’s not the only fantasy-relevant option. Adam Ottavino has six saves and 10 holds, while Brooks Raley leads the club with 17 holds. We like all three of these pitchers in holds leagues.
New York Yankees
We finally moved this team! Clay Holmes is the reason why, registering a 0.74 ERA, 0.90 WHIP, 11.5 K/9 rate and six saves since May 6. The struggles from the rest of this pen have earned him this job. Meanwhile, Michael King only has three holds as the second option.
Craig Kimbrel is back to being an elite closer, providing a 1.17 ERA, 0.61 WHIP, 15.3 K/9 rate and 10 saves since May 9. He stole this job from Jose Alvarado, who’s not too shabby behind his 2.16 ERA, 1.16 WHIP and 13.3 K/9 rate. He only had six holds, but we expect him to be one of the league leaders over the closing months.
David Bednar is one of the best relievers in MLB and could be on the move because of it. He has 16 saves, accumulating a 1.36 ERA and 0.91 WHIP. Colin Holderman leads the team with 12 holds and just came off the IL earlier in the week. If Bednar is moved, Holderman will be the pitcher to roster!
San Diego Padres
San Francisco Giants
Camilo Doval continues to dominate, picking up 24 saves. The Rogers twins (Tyler Rogers and Taylor Rogers) have been holding down the seventh and eighth innings, with Tyler overwhelming opposing bats. He has 18 holds, totaling a 1.87 ERA and 0.99 WHIP. He needs to be rostered in holds leagues!
Paul Sewald has 16 saves but has blown two over the last three weeks. That’s scary because Andres Munoz is looming, accruing a 2.57 ERA and 0.93 WHIP. Munoz is a must-roster player in all formats and could see more saves if Sewald’s struggles continue.
St. Louis Cardinals
Jordan Hicks swiped this job once Ryan Helsley got injured, picking up five saves in his last seven appearances. He did have an epic blown save in his most recent outing, though, and could lose this job when Helsley returns. It’s a bit unsteady, but we still expect Hicks to hold this job for the remainder of the season.
Tampa Bay Rays
Peter Fairbanks has nine saves across just 16 innings. He’s been on and off the IL but is the closer when he’s healthy. Jason Adam is an excellent option in all formats, totaling 11 saves and eight holds in a fireman role.
Will Smith blew a save earlier in the week but picked one up in his next outing. Fantasy managers thought Chapman might steal this job when he was acquired, but that doesn’t appear to be the case. With that said, it’s worth keeping an eye on because of his pedigree and 16/1 K/9 rate.
Toronto Blue Jays
My Saves/Holds Rankings
Relievers on the Rise
A.J. Minter (ATL)
Minter was the closer when Raisel Iglesias started the season on the IL, but he’s settled into a setup role just fine. The lefty has a 2.21 ERA, 0.79 WHIP, 10.6 K/9 rate and 10 holds over his last 22 appearances. If you need holds, Minter is an elite option for one of the best teams in baseball.
Trevor May (OAK)
This is a good indicator of where we’re at regarding available closers. I wouldn’t advise picking up the Oakland closer, but May is the Athletics pitcher to roster if you’re desperate. He’s thrown a scoreless outing in 13 of his last 15 appearances, picking up six saves in his last 11 outings. He has an unsightly 1.72 WHIP while pitching for the worst team in the league. Still, he should provide some saves.
Daniel Hudson (LAD)
We saw Daniel Hudson pick up a save on Wednesday, getting a chance after an Evan Phillips blown save. He’s thrown three scoreless outings since coming off the IL and could get some chances whenever LA wants to throw Phillips in the earlier innings against the opposing team’s best hitters.
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 after the break.
Ryan Helsley (elbow) – 15-Day IL. Helsley just resumed throwing this week but won’t return until after the break. It’s unclear if he’ll reclaim the role from Jordan Hicks.
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Joel Bartilotta is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Joel, check out his archive.