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Fantasy Baseball Bullpen Report for May 18

Let’s get right to it and dive into the Fantasy Baseball Bullpen Report this week. As usual there’s plenty of chaos in MLB bullpens that we need to try and make sense of.

Fantasy Baseball Bullpen Report

AL East

Clay Holmes remains unblemished in New York, earning his 13th save for the Yankees Friday night over the Chicago White Sox. Holmes has yet to give up a run this season, with a nice 29.5K%.  If you’re looking for holds, Luke Weaver has moved up into the conversation with some terrific work out of the bullpen.

Pete Fairbanks was activated off the IL this week for Tampa Bay. He was one of four pitchers to earn saves for the Rays this week: Jason Adam, Kevin Kelly, and Erasmo Ramirez all earned one too. On Friday night, Fairbanks earned the save, pitching a clean ninth inning for his fourth save. As always, we know manager Kevin Cash remains unafraid to pitch any of his bullpen guys with the lead; the Rays have eight guys with saves already.  However, Fairbanks remains the safest bet each night to get the opportunity. Adam and Phil Maton lead the team with nine olds each.

AL Central

Don’t look now, but my beloved Chicago White Sox are playing better baseball, and some of that is due to stability at the back end of this bullpen. Michael Kopech leads the team with five saves; after starting the season 3-22, the Sox have been respectable of late, going 11-9 over their last 20 games. Kopech would appear to be the best bet for saves right now, but rookie Jordan Leasure and veteran Steven Wilson are the best candidates for holds and could also get some vulture save chances, especially Leasure when Kopech needs a break.

Emmanuel Clase keeps rolling in Cleveland, with 13 saves, a .40 ERA, a .66 WHIP, and a 29.5K%. I worry about over-usage sometimes with Clase, as he’s pitched in 22 games already. Yet he has pitched in over 70 games the last three seasons, so maybe my concerns are unfounded. Scott Barlow (10)and Hunter Gaddis (8) remain the best bets for holds.

James McArthur earned his tenth save this week. His 4.58 ERA belies his low 3.5BB%, and he appears to be in the driver’s seat for the save chances in Kansas City. John Schreiber has 10 holds.

AL West

Josh Hader earned his sixth save of the year for Houston on Friday night. After a tough April, Hader has a win, four saves, a 1.23 ERA, .68 WHIP, and 10 strikeouts in 7.1 innings in May. Bryan Abreu has nine holds to lead the team. Rafael Montero has seven holds.

We haven’t talked about Seattle much lately, but Andres Munoz is getting used more in save situations. We know manager Scott Servais looks at the bullpen often as interchangeable parts, but Munoz earned both save chances this week. Munoz has a 33.8K% and three holds as well. Unfortunately Matt Brash is out for the year with Tommy John surgery, so it appears that veterans Ryne Stanek and Gabe Speier will be the top choices for holds. Stanek will get vulture chances when Munoz needs a day off.

NL East

A.J. Puk has moved back into a bullpen role and earned a save this week after coming off the IL. The only issue here is the Marlins also have Tanner Scott… for now. It appears the Marlins are already in sell mode and it would not surprise me at all to see them move some of their bullpen parts, such as Scott, Puk, or others, in an attempt to retool their team. At this time, Scott will still be the closer. This bullpen has struggled despite having so many great arms.

New York: Edwin Diaz continues to struggle with two blown saves this week. In 17.2 innings this year, Diaz has five saves but has surrendered four home runs and seven walks despite only giving up 11 hits. News flash: he’s fine. His ERA is 3.57, but his xERA is 2.28. Things tend to regress to the mean, and his performance over the years has shown he is one of the best closers in the game.  See below. He will be okay despite having a higher walk rate; that has almost always been part of his game. Take the good with the bad; enjoy those saves and high K rates. If he fixes the command, he’s still the best.

Stop me if you have heard this one before: the Philadelphia bullpen is in some turmoil. Closer Jose Alvarado earned a save earlier this week and then took a loss Thursday night. On Friday, he earned a hold and Jeff Hoffman got the save. Alvarado has eight saves, and Hoffman three. The Phillies have been getting excellent work from veteran lefty Matt Strahm and exciting rookie Orion Kerkering.  We stated before the season started that this would likely be a bullpen in flux all year, with Alvarado getting about 60% of the saves and then multiple other relievers getting the rest. The Phillies have had 21 opportunities for saves, and Alvarado has eight of those, which is 57%. This is one to watch especially those players in deeper leagues, where one or two saves can win you the league.

NL Central

Adbert Alzolay hit the IL this week with a forearm strain, leading to questions about how healed he was from last season’s forearm issues. Hector Neris continues to be the top choice here for saves. He has not blown any yet, but his whopping 20 BB% and xERA of 6.36 show he’s been lucky. The Cubs are trying to sort through bullpen issues on the fly here, and have had turnover due to injuries and ineffectiveness. Mark Leiter Jr. remains steadfast in a setup role, but behind him now are guys like Jose Cuas and Tyson Miller. This is just a hunch, but do not be surprised if Ben Brown and Hayden Wesneski find higher-leverage roles here in this bullpen. I am not saying that either one of them is in a bigger role… yet. This is definitely a must-watch bullpen.

David Bednar continues to put his early-season woes out of our collective memories, picking up his ninth save this week against the Chicago Cubs. Aroldis Chapman has nine holds and a whopping 38.2 K%, and Colin Holderman continues to be lights out as well. Both should be good candidates for saves for the rest of the season.

NL West

Colorado: Jalen Beeks earned three saves this week for the Rockies. Tyler Kinley also earned one after Beeks needed a rest after throwing three of four days. Justin Lawrence remains in the mix as well. Beeks has been effective despite a paltry 16.7 K% and 13.1 BB%. He is limiting hard contact which is particularly important in the thin air of Denver. Kinley has a great 31.4 Whiff% but he shares the low strikeout (18.2%) and high walk (14.3%) rates. Lawrence has similar issues. It’s best to wait and see here, but my guess is that Beeks will not have this job very long. Only mine here if you are desperate for saves in an extremely deep league. No help here in 10- or 12-teamers.

The Los Angeles Dodgers expect closer Evan Phillips back early next week. That return should move Daniel Hudson, Blake Treinen, and Alex Vesia back to setup roles.

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