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Late-Season Fantasy Baseball Bullpen Update

I am unsure if people like seeing these numbers, but I like them and will continue to tabulate each week.

Bullpens by the numbers:

  • We have 10 pitchers with at least 30 saves this year.
  • We have 21 pitchers who have at least 20 saves this year.
  • We have 36 pitchers with at least ten saves this year.
  • We have 51 pitchers with at least five saves this year.
  • We have 199 pitchers with at least one save this year.

I am really interested to hear from readers on this one.  How will this deployment of saves impact your draft day decisions this winter?  Will you pay up for a top-tier closer or two?  Will you draft one top-tier closer and build around with other pitchers who might chip in with 5-10 saves?  Will you punt the category entirely because it is a headache with no bottom?

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

Fantasy Baseball Bullpen Update

AL East

Boston’s closer Kenley Jansen is on the Covid-19 injured list for at least five more days. Look for veteran righty Chris Martin to pick up the save chances.  For holds, look at old friends Garrett Whitlock, John Schreiber, and Josh Winckowski.

Tommy Kahnle picked up a save for the New York Yankees Thursday night in the second game of a doubleheader.  I wouldn’t read too much into it as it was more based on the situation and not a promotion. Clay Holmes earned three more saves this week and is still the top choice here in the Bronx.

AL Central

This has nothing to do with who is closing, but Chicago relief pitcher Liam Hendriks revealed in a local interview that he knew his UCL was torn as he was attempting to come back from cancer treatments this fall.  In the interview, Hendriks shared that he had been pitching in pain since May, but that he also “refused to not be back this year and to not put my best foot forward for this team.”  If only his teammates on the White Sox had felt the same.  Hendriks had Tommy John surgery in early August and will not be available in a best-case scenario until the second half of the 2024 season.  As for who is getting saves currently in the Chicago bullpen, this looks like a committee between journeyman Bryan Shaw and youngster Gregory Santos.  Avoid unless absolute desperation has set in.  Egads.

Could Taylor Clarke be the top option in Kansas City now? Clarke has the last two saves, including one last night in which incumbent closer Carlos Hernandez gave up two runs in front of him.  Neither seem to be great choices unless you are in desperation mode.

AL West

Seattle’s Andres Munoz had been dealing with what the team called a minor hip issue. He did pitch and earn a save on Wednesday night, so it appears that it was a small injury. Still, if he should miss any time, Matt Brash would figure to be first in line for chances. Brash could be a sneaky addition in points leagues where he has both SP and RP designations on platforms like ESPN.  Brash has nine wins, four saves and a whopping 100 strikeouts in 63.1 innings.

NL East

In Atlanta, closer Raisel Iglesias looks to have tired here in early September. He earned a save last Sunday, but then had two back-to-back blown saves midweek.  Kirby Yates earned two saves in relief of Iglesias this week, and Brad Hand earned one as well.  This is where Atlanta’s experience and depth really pays off. Should they decide to give Iglesias a rest, they have a number of guys who could slot in and get save chances. Yates very quietly has seven wins, five saves, and 76 punchouts in 56.2 innings.  Let’s not forget that A.J. Minter also has 10 saves but looks to be the top setup guy each evening too.

David Robertson looks like he is out as closer in Miami, but he’s been really effective pitching in the seventh inning.  Interesting to note: he’s the only right-handed pitcher in the bullpen right now.  Tanner Scott continues to get the save chances and is pitching extremely well over the last three weeks, having earned six saves since September 1st.

Philadelphia: the Phillies have been doing some mixing and matching here.  Craig Kimbrel remains the best bet to get saves any given night, but manager Rob Thomsen has been calling him on in the eighth at times to face the heart of the opponent’s order.  When that happens, the ninth is often left for lefty Jose Alvarado, which happened on Friday night, where he converted his eighth save of the year.  If you get points for holds or are looking for those 1-2 more saves down the stretch, Alvarado could be a good guy to roster for you.

In Washington, Kyle Finnegan had ten saves in August but has none in September. Before we start thinking someone else is the closer, let me point out that the Nationals have not had a save opportunity in more than a week.  Of interest to those in holds leagues: Mason Thompson was sent down this week, leaving any scant holds chances to Hunter Harvey and the improving Jordan Weems. Beware that Weems is a ratio risk with six walks so far this month.

NL Central

The Chicago Cubs lost closer Adbert Alzolay to a forearm strain and his return is in question.  On the Fantasy Baseball Beat podcast this week, I recommended that Julian Merryweather would be the best option for saves. Of course, he got a save that night after we recorded, but then Michael Fulmer got the save the next night. Mark Leiter Jr. could be a part of this mix too. Fulmer went back to the IL yesterday for the second time in a month with a forearm strain.  Interesting thing to think about here: the Cubs activated Marcus Stroman from the IL and announced he would pitch out of the bullpen the rest of the way…could he get save opportunities? Stroman got a save opportunity last night in Arizona, and promptly blew it.  One to watch here.

The St. Louis Cardinals and manager Oliver Marmol suggested last week that the closer role was currently a timeshare. However, in typical manager speak, we can’t always believe what we are told, especially when a manager needs wins and hopes to keep his job.  Enter Ryan Helsley, who has gotten the last three saves this week for the Cards. Giovanny Gallegos has gotten the hold in each of those last three.  Lean Helsley based on the current usage.  Casey Lawrence and John King continue to get holds as well.

NL West

Justin Lawrence looks like he’s the closer in Colorado again.  Last week I shared that it felt like the Rockies did not have another great option and did not think Tyler Kinley would remain the closer.  Lawrence got the save last Tuesday night.  Looks like he will be the guy the rest of the way, even though it doesn’t seem like the Rockies will have many chances.  Last night it was revealed that Lawrence is day-to-day with an ankle injury but should avoid the IL. Kinley got the save last night.

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