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Fantasy Baseball Bullpen Review: News and Notes

The spinning carousel of bullpens will continue unabated.  As we head into the final days of May here, let’s take a look at a few things:

  • Emmanuel Clase leads MLB with 15 saves.
  • Felix Bautista has an absurd 40 strikeouts in 21 innings.
  • Raise your hand if you saw Carlos Estevez being a top five closer at this point: 11 saves, 1.29 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, and 28 strikeouts thus far.
  • Matt Moore, Erik Swanson, and Peter Strzelecki lead MLB with ten holds thus far.
  • We are up to 103 pitchers with saves this year, and it’s May 21st. Count on many, many more names being added to the list.

More great fantasy baseball advice and analysis: Waiver Wire & FAAB Recommendations | Daily MLB Injury Report | MLB DFS Picks | Line-up Analysis | Dynasty Rankings and Strategy | MLB Bullpen Updates | MLB Player Props | Prospect Rankings & Analysis | Fantasy Baseball Risers and Fallers

MLB Bullpen Report

AL East

In Boston relief specialist John Schreiber hit the 15-day IL this week after leaving a game Monday night with a lat issue.  We all know how that can go.  In the meantime, look for Josh Winckowski and Chris Martin to be the go-tos for holds.

The bloom is off the rose in the Bronx, where manager Aaron Boone continues to use a consortium of arms to close out the ninth. Clay Holmes (four saves), Michael King, and Wandy Peralta (three saves) seem to be the top options right now. Also, note that Ian Hamilton and Ron Marinaccio each have a save. Much has been made about Holmes’ struggles, but he’s shaved two runs off his ERA in May and has seven appearances in a row without giving up a run.  Maybe Boone has just been buying time here to let things sort themselves out, or perhaps he’s channeling his inner Kevin Cash?  Expect most saves to go to Holmes eventually, some to King in the short term, and some to Peralta based on matchups. And then on cue, Ryan Weber earned a save last night.

Tampa is not usually known for having bullpen issues, but they did this week with both Jason Adam and the recently returned Pete Fairbanks getting shelled.  The expectation here is that Fairbanks will return to the closer chair and Adam to the 8th-inning chair. The concern for Fairbanks remains his battle with Raynaud’s Syndrome which impacts his ability to feel the baseball in cold weather; daily availability could also be another issue. Adam got the save in the game last night. Looks like this is some form of timeshare right now.

AL Central

Liam Hendriks could be back this coming week for the Chicago White Sox.  He might get a couple of lower leverage spots to reenter but expect him to be the closer very shortly after his activation from the IL.  What a remarkable story of perseverance, and here’s hoping he provides spark to an at-times lifeless White Sox team. Garrett Crochet is also back in the bullpen for the Sox as well.

Emmanuel Clase leads all of MLB with 15 saves this season.  Next on the list are Felix Bautista, Josh Hader, Carlos Estevez and Camilo Doval with 11 each. Trevor Stephan and Eli Morgan are candidates for holds right now.  James Karinchak seems to be working through some of the command issues that he has struggled with this year; he’s got a 3.18 ERA and nine holds overall this season.

AL West

Unfortunately for Oakland, Zach Jackson has an elbow issue (strained tendon) and is expected to miss 4-6 weeks.  If you have to pick a closer from Oakland right now, your season is not going as planned.  The best guess here is that Sam Moll and Richard Lovelady will get the scant chances in the short term, with Garrett Acton perhaps joining this committee.

Andres Munoz has begun a throwing program in Seattle although there is no word yet on a return for him.

Will Smith has tightened his grip on the role in Texas, as many of the other guys in the bullpen continue to struggle.  Add Josh Sborz as a name that could get some hold chances with the recent struggles of Jonathan Hernandez and Jose Leclerc. Smith is still not rostered in many leagues and he should be.  He’s got the clear opportunity.

NL East

Miami has not missed a beat with closer AJ Puk being on the IL. Dylan Floro has filled in superbly with four straight saves. Puk is dealing with a dead arm; no word yet on when he returns to the Marlins.  If Floro is on the waiver wire in your league, change that if you need some saves.  Tanner Scott and Huascar Brazoban remain good options for holds.

Brandon Finnegan picked up his ninth save of the year last night. He’s got eight saves in his last 15 appearances with a 1.93 ERA, keeping himself entrenched in the closer role in Washington.

NL Central

The Chicago Cubs continue to struggle in the bullpen. A game last week saw the Cubs’ bullpen implode when Keegan Thompson, Brandon Hughes, and Mark Leiter Jr. all allowed runs.  In the same game, Adbert Alzolay looked the best of the bunch; do not be surprised if he starts getting save chances. Brad Boxberger hit the IL this past week as well.  Could be wide open here as the struggles for Michael Fulmer continue as well.  One to watch here.

St. Louis thought their closer situation was something they did not need to think about this year.  But closer Ryan Helsley has struggled some in May, with only two saves on the ledger. Last night he was called in to pitch the ninth inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers with a three-run lead but left after the first three hitters all reached.  Former closer Giovanny Gallegos came in to relieve Helsley and finished the game off for his fourth save.  Could we have a changing of the guard for the Cardinals?  At the very least this looks like a timeshare.

NL West

Miguel Castro earned two saves this past week for the Arizona Diamondbacks.  We had mentioned in passing the last few weeks that Castro could be in the mix. Lefty Andrew Chafin has been the primary closer, but could manager Torey Lovullo start playing the hot hand?

Pierce Johnson continues to get the save chances in Colorado.  He earned his eighth save this past week while former closer Daniel Bard continues to work through commands issues in a setup role.  Walks have been a bugaboo for Bard.

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