Closer Rankings and Bullpen Depth Charts: Week 26
It is the final stretch of the fantasy baseball season. We’re halfway through September with the end in sight. Whether in head-to-head playoffs or making a last push in roto leagues, you’ll want to stay on top of every aspect of your team, and that includes saves. Division by division, we take a look at each team’s closer and bullpen usage, along with some outlooks for 2020 in this week’s closer rankings.
AL Bullpen Depth Charts and Closer Rankings
+ Injury Concern
* Part of Committee
No save chances came up for the Orioles this week as Mychal Givens made one appearance with Baltimore down eight runs against the Rangers on Sunday. Givens hadn’t pitched in five days. While he has a 3.95 ERA on the season, Givens has pitched much better in the second half with a 2.61 ERA and 11.76 K/9 since the All-Star break.
Brandon Workman hasn’t made an appearance since September 4, when he earned his 11th save. No other Boston pitcher earned a save over the last week. Workman’s 2.14 ERA ranks eighth in baseball among qualified relievers. Much of that success has to do with his 0.14 HR/9, which is the best home run rate in baseball.
Aroldis Chapman’s save total is up to 37 now after recording the final two outs Thursday night against the Tigers. Trailing only Kirby Yates in saves, Chapman has been elite on all fronts with w 2.32 ERA and 13.25 K/9. Zack Britton has done a great job behind Chapman totaling 29 holds on the season.
Emilio Pagan made two appearances, earning his fourth win and 19th save. Pagan and Workman are strikingly similar both in their stats and situation. Each pitcher found a way to separate themselves from what was once a committee to secure the closer role for their respective teams. It will be hard to predict what the Rays will do with Pagan entering 2020 but he should have the best chance at going into the year as the team’s primary closer.
Ken Giles picked up his 19th save of the season Tuesday. Health issues have really been what has kept Giles from being one of the top closers in the game. His 1.96 ERA and 14.67 K/9 rank among the best in baseball. Derek Law has been someone to keep on watchlists as he has occasionally pitched the ninth inning as Toronto takes things easy with Giles.
Alex Colome remains at 26 saves after no opportunities came up for the White Sox closer. It has been a common occurrence as Colome has only six saves since the All-Star break. This situation has been one of the clearer situations. Colome is the guy, Aaron Bummer is the next man up.
Brad Hand did pick up his 34th save of the season but was then sent for an MRI for precautionary reasons. While the MRI came back clean, Hand has been experiencing fatigue and will be eased back into the closer role. Adam Cimber picked up the save on Wednesday. A committee of Cimber, Nick Wittgren, and Oliver Perez will handle the ninth inning until Hand makes his return.
Joe Jimenez pitched a scoreless ninth inning Tuesday against the Yankees and was credited with the win. Jimenez has only six saves on the season, all coming after Shane Greene was traded to Atlanta.
Ian Kennedy locked down his 29th save of the season Thursday and has continued to be solid at the position since taking over early in the season. Tim Hill did get the save on Saturday after Kennedy had pitched in three of the previous four games.
Taylor Rogers picked up his 25th save of the season Saturday against the Indians. For a while after the trade deadline, it seemed as though Rogers and Sergio Romo would alternate save chances. But Rogers has clearly proven that he is more than capable of handling the role and doing a great job. Should Rogers be unavailable, Romo would be called upon to close games for the Twins.
Roberto Osuna hadn’t pitched since last Friday when he picked up his 32nd save of the season. Osuna pitched in a non-save situation Thursday against Seattle. The young closer is locked into one of the best situations you can ask for despite not having the best stuff. Osuna has a 3.00 ERA and 9.79 K/9 over the season.
With a 2.44 ERA and 20 saves, Hansel Robles has been great this season. And since June 1, Robles has a 1.32 ERA while not allowing more than one run in any outing. Robles is a lot like Alex Colome but in a slightly better situation. Robles does not have the track record Colome has but much like the White Sox closer, Robles could provide value in the saves category late in drafts next season.
Liam Hendriks converted two more saves for the Oakland Athletics, giving him 20 on the season. Hendriks has been a godsend for fantasy teams since taking over the closer role. Rankings second in baseball only to Kirby Yates with a 1.41 ERA, Hendriks has been one of the very best closers for half a season.
Well, after the trade deadline, it seemed to be Anthony Bass with the closer role in Seattle. A few bad outings gave way to Matt Magill. The cycle continues with Anthony Bass converting two saves for the Mariners this week. Like much of the year, this situation could change from day-to-day and is one to avoid.
Jose Leclerc is up to 12 saves on the season. With a 4.16 ERA, it has very much been a volatile year for Leclerc. Control has been a major issue for the Rangers closer with a 5.03 BB/9. You’re rostering him right now if you are desperate for saves
NL Bullpen Depth Charts and Closer Rankings
+ Injury Concern
* Part of Committee
Mark Melancon has converted 10 saves since the trade deadline for the Atlanta Braves with two more coming over the last week. The Braves are sure to be in a position to win most of their games over the next couple of weeks and Melancon will get every opportunity for saves along the way. Shane Greene has done a nice job as the setup man as he’s pitched the eighth inning behind Melancon.
The Jose Urena experiment in the ninth inning hasn’t gone so well since he’s been reinstated from the injured list. Urena took the loss on Wednesday after surrendering two runs to the Brewers in the ninth inning. With a 5.03 ERA and abysmal 6.18 K/9, he just isn’t worth the pickup even if chasing saves at the moment.
Two different relievers closed games for the Mets this week as Seth Lugo and Justin Wilson managed to get the job done. Edwin Diaz did make an appearance striking out two in a clean inning of work. The Mets and fantasy owners alike had lofty expectations for Diaz after New York surrendered a top prospect but fantasy owners spent high draft capital on him. Diaz has been a massive disappointment but I do still believe in the skills he’s displayed throughout his career including a 15.45 K/9 this season. The 5.77 ERA does come with a 3.05 xFIP. Diaz would be an obvious bounce-back candidate for 2020.
Hector Neris recorded two more saves on the week, giving him 25 for the season. Neris has stepped in and helped a Phillies that lost some major bullpen pieces to injury early on. Daniel Robertson and Seranthony Dominguez were expected to contribute in the late innings this season. Should both return fully healthy next season, I’d temper my expectations for Neris despite having an excellent season.
Sean Doolittle hasn’t recorded a save since August 16 and remains at 28 total saves on the season. Health has always been a major concern for Doolittle. Before his struggles in August, Doolittle was having one of the better seasons of his career with a 2.81 ERA through August 6. A couple of bad outings have inflated that number to 4.07. All in all, Doolittle has pitched better this season than his numbers will indicate but he will always be a major injury risk that could hurt you at any point in the season.
Craig Kimbrel was placed on the injured list with elbow inflammation on September 1 and isn’t expected to return until next week. No saves were recorded for the Cubs but a committee approach to the ninth inning is being used. I wouldn’t count on anyone in this bullpen, including Kimbrel, for much of anything for the rest of the regular season.
Raisel Iglesias picked up a win Sunday pitching a clean inning against the Diamondbacks. Iglesias has totaled 29 saves on the season despite a 4.33 ERA. Iglesias has had some shaky moments throughout the year, but considering much of the closer landscape, you’re likely happy with the return you’ve gotten so far.
Josh Hader is back. After a three save week bringing his total to 31 on the season, Hader is making up way back to the top of the closer rankings. Hader now has 124 strikeouts in 67 innings. Combined with his save total, you can argue no one has been more valuable than Hader throughout the season.
Felipe Vazquez recorded his 27th save of the season. Vazquez has been phenomenal on the year. It will be interesting to see if he is moved to a better situation over the offseason but regardless, Vazquez should be among the first relievers taken in drafts next season.
Carlos Martinez picked up a save on the week, giving him 19 on the season. Martinez recorded two outs Thursday, both via the strikeout. Jordan Hicks would be expected to return at some point next season after undergoing Tommy John surgery in June.
Archie Bradley had pitched in three of four games last week, so it was no surprise that he was unavailable on Saturday when Jimmie Sherfy picked up the save. It was a tale of two halves for Archie Bradley as he’s been much better since the All-Star break with a 2.22 ERA to go along with all 13 of his saves.
After a couple of weeks of speculation, it looks like we might have found our guy in the Colorado bullpen. Jairo Diaz converted two saves in consecutive days this week.
No saves chances came up for the Los Angeles Dodgers while Kenley Jansen has not pitched in a week. As the Dodgers have clinched the NL West, it is more and more likely that all the pitchers will receive a lighter workload. Regardless, Jansen remains a strong option for saves in a good situation.
Kirby Yates has been fantasy baseball’s most valuable closer as he has been the most consistent and elite in many aspects. No one in baseball has more saves than Yates as he sits at 40 saves. Should Yates be traded in the offseason, Andres Munoz could be next in line for the job going into next season.
Hopefully, you found Jorge’s Closer Rankings and Bullpen Depth Charts useful. For more of his take make sure to follow him on Twitter @Jmontanez.
Jorge Montanez is a lifelong sports fan but new to the fantasy industry, joining Fantrax HQ as a writer in June of 2019. Jorge co-hosts the Bases Loaded Podcast, a fantasy baseball podcast covering everything fantasy baseball on a weekly basis. He was raised in Stockton, CA but now resides in Los Angeles, where you can find him at a ballpark playing catch with his two sons on the weekends. Follow Jorge @jmontanez90 on Twitter where he’ll be happy to give his take and answer questions on all things fantasy.
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