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Bullpen Roulette, Anyone? The Week That Was

It’s becoming a familiar refrain in baseball these days: it’s closer roulette every week for so many teams.  Those of us playing fantasy baseball are constantly looking for ways to improve our fake teams.  One place we look for improvement is in our bullpens; to that end, I say good luck.  There are some names to speculate on here, but keep in mind: with the ever-shifting landscape that is major league baseball, usage patterns and top jobs become harder to identify each week.  We try to make some sense of it here at Fantrax and see if we can help you get even the slightest edge over your tough competition.

Fantasy Baseball Bullpen Depth Charts

AL East

Closers 8-15 AL East

In Baltimore, Jorge Lopez is on the bereavement which opened up an opportunity, and Felix Bautista has taken full advantage with two saves this week, showing electric stuff and 100 mph gas.  Could he take the job from Lopez even after his return? He could, but Lopez has been excellent as well.  Possible committee work?  Could be, but perhaps Bautista is better used in a stopper role?  One to watch for sure, especially as the Orioles are better (14-19) at this point than what we thought they might be.

I truly feel sorry for Red Sox fans.  Not only is their season underwater with no signs of improvement, but the bullpen is also a bigger disaster than my team, the Batavia Youth Baseball majors Rockies.  Matt Barnes appears to have fully faded at this time, and someone named John Schreiber got his first save.  But context matters; Schreiber was on in the eighth with a two-run lead, and Boston scored three more in the bottom of that inning.  Schreiber pitched an easy ninth and was awarded a save.  I still think the top of the heap is Jake Diekman and Hansel Robles in a shared role.  Which means, stay away unless absolutely desperate.

This will not come as a shock to those of you who read this weekly, but Tampa Bay is doing it to us again.  Erstwhile closer Andrew Kittredge has been a mess in his last two opportunities, leading to a chance for lefty Brooks Raley. We know going into any season that Kevin Cash is going to do this, yet we always try and speculate, don’t we?  They will have five or six guys with three to five saves annually, and several more who will get one or two. Raley now has three saves in the last week. For now, I am calling this a committee, but that is subject to change any night of the week.

AL Central

Closers 8-15 AL Central

If you are looking to speculate on a guy who could get a handful of saves this year, take a look at Trevor Stephan of the Cleveland Guardians. Emmanuel Clase is the clear choice, but given extra-inning games or blown saves, Stephan could get some chances.  File for later.

Things are dicey in the Motor City for Gregory Soto. It feels like he should be far better than he actually is, but the strike zone constantly jumps around on him.  The Tigers have been far worse than expected (sorry Michael Govier and Chris Deary) and may have another option: lefty Will Vest, who has been a miracle worker this year. Vest was climbing the ranks a few years ago before injury and ineffectiveness waylaid him.  He could pair with Michael Fulmer to form a committee, leaving Soto to iron out his troubles in a lower leverage role.

AL West

Closers 8-15 AL West

I know everyone is interested in the Seattle bullpen with their ability to have any of four guys close any given night. They only have five saves on the season, two for Drew Steckenrider, and one each for Paul Sewald, Andres Munoz, and Diego Castillo.  With their struggles so far on the young season, this is a tough one to prognosticate.  I lean Steckenrider slightly as Sewald and Castillo have the kind of arsenal that can be used to put out fires in earlier innings. That said, I have Munoz in almost every dynasty or keeper league.

Last month we suggested that Joe Barlow would be the guy eventually in Texas.  He’s running away with the job right now, and he’s on the waiver wire in some shallower leagues.  Grab him if you can.

NL East

Closers 8-15 NL East

Things could get interesting in Miami, where Dylan Floro, last year’s closer, was activated from the IL.  Anthony Bender currently has the job but is looking over his shoulder.  Watch developments here this week.

NL Central

Closers 8-15 NL Central

On the North Side, David Robertson hit the IL last weekend with what we think may be a Covid-19 designation. This should lead to chances for Rowan Wick, who has been lights out to start the season. No word on how long Robertson will be out.

Things are looking better in Cincinnati this week; the Reds won more games this week than they had all season. However, closer Lucas Sims is injured yet again, this time with a balky back. We are guessing the committee approach is back here, with Art Warren perhaps earning the first chance at the role. Luis Cessa could see an increased role here as well given the season-long struggles of Hunter Strickland and Tony Santillan. Alexis Diaz is another name to file here, the younger brother of Mets closer Edwin. I am not touching this one unless desperation sets in… which it may.

NL West

Closers 8-15 NL West

In Arizona, Mark Melancon came off the IL and looked rusty, getting shelled earlier this week.  My gut is that he will retain the job for now, but the Dbacks have other options in Ian Kennedy and Joe Mantiply as well.  The Dbacks are better than people thought they would be at 18-15, so there could be change here if Melancon struggles in the role.

Camilo Doval should lock down a grip on this job with the news that Jake McGee will miss time with a back issue. Tyler Rogers should get even more opps for holds now, but another name for those perhaps looking for bullpen help is John Brebbia, the former Cardinal who has quietly fit in well here. I have added Brebbia in some larger leagues.  If you have Doval on your bench or have been questioning whether to start him in weekly leagues, get him in there this weekend.

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