This season has been flying by. It’s been crazy navigating through the obstacles of this shortened season. The good thing is that with the final month left, there’s still time to catch up in the saves department. There’s quite a bit to take away after teams acquired bullpen help everywhere at the trade deadline. As usual, I’ll take you team-by-team to make sense of it all in this week’s edition of the bullpen depth charts and closer rankings.
MLB Closer Rankings
AL East Bullpen Update
The Orioles traded away Mychal Givens and Miguel Castro at the trade deadline to the Rockies and Mets, respectively. Hunter Harvey was reinstated from the injured list over the weekend and made one appearance, giving up one run on a hit and a walk. He then pitched a scoreless eighth on Tuesday against the Mets, striking out two. Harvey will be eased into the closer role to finish out the year. Meanwhile, Cole Sulser struggles this week, taking two losses that included a blown save. If there’s anyone you need to own here, it would be Harvey.
Matt Barnes picked up a save against the Nationals on Saturday, his third of the season. There’s really no competition behind him for the closer role, so if you need saves, and Barnes is available, he could be added. Just beware, he won’t be helping your WHIP. Barnes has a 16.4% walk rate and will be prone to blow a save here and there.
Since returning from the injured list two weeks ago, Aroldis Chapman has made only four appearances. He was shakey his first couple outings but pitched a scoreless ninth on Saturday in a tie game and eventually earned the win against the Mets. And Tuesday, Chapman earned his first save of the season against the Rays. It was nice to see Chapman get more work this week as he had previously gone 11 days between appearances. He should remain a top-five staple in the closer rankings for the last remaining weeks.
Zack Britton was reinstated from the injured list and will assume his setup role right behind Chapman.
The Rays had their most consistent week of the season when it comes to the ninth inning. Diego Castillo picked up his first three saves of the year. While Nick Anderson will be returning in the next week, Castillo should be rostered regardless. It’s no guarantee that Anderson assumes the closer role as the position has fluctuated all season. Emilio Pagan became the man down the stretch in 2019, so perhaps it’s Castillo now.
Peter Fairbanks had a 6.43 ERA through seven innings in his first seven outings. Since then, he’s gone nine straight scoreless appearances to lower his ERA to 2.87 with 25 strikeouts in 15.2 innings. With four wins and four holds under his belt, he could be a valuable pickup in many leagues.
It was looking like Jordan Romano would run away with the closer job, at least until Ken Giles returned. But Romano was pulled from his outing on Friday with a finger issue and will be on the injured list for most of the remaining season. Anthony Bass and Rafael Dolis figure to be in the mix for saves going forward. Dolis pitched the ninth inning of a tie game Monday, and Bass pitched the 11th. Bass gave up the game-winning run and took the loss.
AL Central Bullpen Update
Status quo in Chicago this week, as Alex Colome made three scoreless appearances picking up a win and his seventh save. Evan Marshall continues to pitch well behind Colome with seven holds to go with a 2.51 ERA and 12.56 K/9.
In Cleveland, Brad Hand picked up his 9th and 10th saves of the season. He’s pretty much locked in for the rest of the season. It hasn’t been the Brad Hand we’ve been accustomed to seeing over the past few years, but he’s getting the job done. That’s gone a long way this year. Meanwhile, James Karinchak has struggled with his control this week. He’s given up three runs over his last two outings and was hit with a blown save in each.
Gregory Soto has been the best reliever in the Tigers bullpen all year. So it was no surprise to see him get the chance to take over as closer after Joe Jimenez pitched himself out of the role. Soto recorded his first two saves of the season over the weekend and should be added everywhere you need saves.
The Royals traded Trevor Rosenthal to the Padres, opening up the ninth inning. Greg Holland picked up his second save of the season on Monday with Scott Barlow pitching the ninth. I would imagine Holland, Barlow, and Josh Staumont would be in the mix for saves, but Holland may have been given the first chance to lock up the ninth inning. Staumont has been the most electric, with 28 strikeouts and only one earned run in 14.2 innings.
Taylor Rogers made his lone appearance of the week on Monday and gave up three runs to the White Sox. He ultimately took the loss. He was unavailable Tuesday, and it was Matt Wisler who picked up a save. Sergio Romo pitched the eighth inning Monday and Tuesday. Keep an eye on the situation going forward. With the Twins in a tight race for the central division, it would not surprise me to see this team go to more of a committee.
AL West Bullpen Update
Things have been starting to turn around for Ryan Pressly. He picked up two saves on Saturday in a doubleheader, pitching a clean inning in both outings. It was bound to happen with a 1.45 FIP to his 4.22 ERA. But things got away from Pressly once again on Tuesday as he blew the save against the Rangers. His position is secure for the time being unless Roberto Osuna can make it back from the injured list before the end of the season.
Ty Buttrey has worked the ninth inning for the Angels and picked up his fourth save of the season. Buttrey has been able to get by without getting many strikeouts. And with his team not winning many games, he should be owned only in leagues where you need saves.
The Athletics played a doubleheader on Saturday, but it would be the only games Oakland would play over the last week. The team is currently dealing with a positive COVID test within the team and doesn’t expect to return to play until Friday. As good as Liam Hendriks has been, he could get more opportunities going forward if the team is to make up the games they missed. Hendricks has been one of the best closers in the game with 10 saves and 23 strikeouts in 16.1 innings.
The Mariners made plenty of moves at the trade deadline to clear some space in the bullpen. Both Dan Altavilla and Taylor Williams were sent to San Diego. Yoshihisa Hirano figures to get the save chances going forward. He’s made four scoreless appearances on the season since his delayed start and would be the pickup for saves.
Rafael Montero gave up a run but managed to secure his seventh save on Tuesday. Jonathan Hernandez pitched two scoreless innings behind Montero and has been an excellent setup man with a 1.77 ERA and 23 strikeouts in 20.1 innings.
NL East Bullpen Update
Mark Melancon served up a three-run shot to Scott Kingery in the 11th inning on Friday and took the loss. He bounced back Sunday and Monday with two saves, which puts him at seven for the year. Shane Greene has pitched consistently behind Melancon and has been effective at limiting runs but just doesn’t get strikeouts. Neither he nor Will Smith needs to be owned, as Smith continues to struggle in his return from COVID.
Brandon Kintzler picked up saves on back-to-back days Monday and Tuesday. He’s up to eight on the year and has been great as one of the cheapest sources of saves on draft day. Just keep enjoying the value as long as the Marlins are winning games.
It was a bit of everything for Edwin Diaz this week as he recorded a hold, a loss, and his second save. Diaz has been struggling with consistency all year but still manages to own a 2.57 ERA and 30 strikeouts in 14 innings. Unless Lugo joins the bullpen once again, I don’t think anyone poses a threat to take over as closer for now.
What a mess this bullpen has been. Brandon Workman picked up his seventh save Saturday then gave up two runs on Monday against the Nationals. It was a non-save situation with the Phillies up by four. The best reliever in the bullpen might just be newly acquired David Phelps, who just came over from the Brewers. Phelps has a 2.77 ERA with 20 strikeouts in 13 innings and only two walks. If Workman has another inconsistent week, Phelps could be next in line to step in for saves.
No save opportunities arose this week for Daniel Hudson. Though he did get some work in on Sunday against the Red Sox and gave up a solo home run to Rafael Devers. Tanner Rainey has been a valuable setup man with seven holds and a 1.26 ERA and 20 strikeouts in 14.1 innings.
NL Central Bullpen Update
Jeremy Jeffress picked up his fourth save on Saturday then earned the win on Tuesday after he recorded the final out of the 10th inning. The Cubs then took the lead in the 11th, and he followed by closing out the game. Jeffress could continue to see more save situations as Rowan Wick has struggled of late, and Craig Kimbrel continues to find his footing in high-leverage situations.
Despite trading for reliever Archie Bradley, Raisel Iglesias will remain the closer in Cincinnati. And for a good reason, he’s been excellent. Iglesias struggled his first two outings and had a three-run blowup on August 20, but his 2.00 FIP and 2.28 xFIP indicate he’s been much better than the 5.59 ERA. This is in part to his one walk to 15 strikeouts in 9.2 innings. Expect Iglesias to continue to work as the closer for the remainder of the season.
Josh Hader just could not find the strike-zone on Saturday as he walked five batters and allowed two runs. He bounced back Monday, striking out the side against the Pirates to earn his eighth save. Hader hasn’t been the number one closer this season, in large part due to his team context. And as we close in on the final weeks, it’ll be hard to justify him at the top spot of the closer rankings. Liam Hendriks or Kenley Jansen could end up as the best closers in this shortened season.
Devin Williams has been outstanding in his setup role. He owns a 0.64 ERA, 0.71 WHIP, and 29 strikeouts in 14 innings. Regardless of format, Williams is a reliever that needs to be added anywhere he’s available.
Keone Kela’s return was short-lived as he goes back to the injured list. It’s Richard Rodriguez who will assume the closer role. He picked up his second save of the season this week. I really wouldn’t bother adding Rodriguez in anything but a deep league where a team may be desperate for saves.
Andrew Miller hit the injured list with shoulder fatigue, leaving the ninth inning for Giovanny Gallegos. Gallegos was already in the mix for saves, but Miller being out cleared it up completely. He needed only nine pitches to strike out two batters for his second save on Monday. Ryan Helsley returned from the IL on Tuesday. It’s unlikely he’ll appear in the ninth inning any time soon after missing extended time with COVID.
NL West Bullpen Update
The Diamondbacks were sellers at the deadline, trading away Archie Bradley and Startling Marte. With their best reliever and one of their best hitters out, the team might not be winning many more games over the final few weeks. Junior Guerra, Kevin Ginkel, and Stefan Crichton. None have been particularly effective this year, but I would think Guerra gets to see the first save chance.
The Rockies got some sorely needed help in the bullpen by trading for Mychal Givens. Givens comes in with a 1.38 ERA and 19 strikeouts in 13 innings. Daniel Bard has been seeing the save chances of late but has been inconsistent on the year. Perhaps we see Givens get an opportunity to close soon.
One of the top relievers in the closer rankings, Kenley Jansen, got a one-out save on Tuesday, his third of the week. This brings his total to 10 on the season.
Caleb Ferguson has been one of the better middle relievers in the league. The 24-year-old has given up only one run and has walked just two batters while striking out 20 in 14.1 innings.
The Padres made it a priority to improve their bullpen at the trade deadline, adding Trevor Rosenthal, Dan Altavilla, Austin Adams, and Taylor Williams. In Monday’s contest against the Rockies, Drew Pomeranz pitched the eighth inning, and Rosenthal pitched the ninth with the Padres up by six runs. With Pomeranz and Rosenthal, the Padres can play the matchups on a nightly basis. Both could be worth rostering. Pomeranz has yet to allow a run in 11 innings this season.
Tyler Rogers and Sam Coonrod each picked up a save this week for the Giants. They should continue to operate in a committee going forward with Tony Watson in the mix as well. Neither will get enough strikeouts or help enough with ratios to be worth an add until one reliever emerges with the job secured, but that may not happen this season.
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