There is only a week left in the baseball season as I type these words into this document.
What a season it has been. The time to look back will be next week, and we will have a retrospective on the bullpens of 2023.
But right now, we are still playing fantasy baseball. You could find yourself in a playoff battle where that one save, one hold or miniscule ratio point can bring you a championship.
Just a reminder, you can DM me @mdrc0508 anytime to get input on these important roster decisions. Good luck and remember flags fly forever, my friends.
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Fantasy Baseball Bullpen Report
Checking in on the Baltimore Orioles: Yennier Cano earned a save this week, but Cionel Perez earned two. Cano also blew a save and took a loss on Friday night. Felix Bautista threw a bullpen session last weekend, but I have seen no news since as he tries to make it back with a partial UCL tear. Cano pitched to two batters in the eighth last night, leaving the ninth for Perez. One to watch, but it appears that Perez’s outings have been more matchup-based rather than pushing Cano from the role. Still, Perez could be a valuable piece this week if you need holds and a vulture save.
Boston: Kenley Jansen is activated but has not yet pitched for the Red Sox. Expect him to get any save chances, bumping Chris Martin back to a setup role.
Jason Adam was back in Tampa Bay and now is not. His injury puts Robert Stephenson back into a higher leverage role. What a bullpen the Tampa Bay Rays have: Colin Poche, Andrew Kittredge… the list goes on and on.
Gregory Santos is done for the year, leaving what scant chances there are to Aaron Bummer and Bryan Shaw. Lean Shaw at this time. Of note: Garrett Crochet is back and could enter into the picture, but this looks like more of an attempt to get him some work before the end of the season rather than being inserted into a high-leverage role.
Will Vest has earned two saves in Detroit this week in a bullpen that remains in flux. Alex Lange is the odds-on guy most nights as we finish the season.
Kansas City, here we come. I recommended Carlos Hernandez after the Royals moved Scott Barlow to the San Diego Padres at the trade deadline, but he’s had a nightmarish September. Enter James McArthur, who has been unhittable this month for the Royals. Grab him if you need a couple of saves this week; he could be the guy to get them for the Royals. Taylor Clarke could grab some opportunities as well.
Trevor May earned his 20th save last night for Oakland. Count me among those surprised that he has kept the job this long.
Jose Leclerc earned the only save in Texas this last week. Committee work looks likely to continue here. Work has been scant for the Rangers. Expect manager Bruce Bochy to try and find a hot hand here this week leading up to the playoffs. Last night Aroldis Chapman got the save and Leclerc set him up to get there.
Miami remains in the hunt for a Wild Card spot, but the bullpen has struggled this last week. Tanner Scott blew a save in a game they ended up winning, and then also took a loss one day as well. Yet he remains the best option and was used to close their game with the Milwaukee Brewers last night. Continue to use Scott with confidence. Andrew Nardi remains a good option for holds.
Some interesting recent usage of the bullpen arms in Philadelphia. Craig Kimbrel remains the best bet to get saves, but Matt Strahm and Jose Alvarado both have earned saves over the last week as well. Kimbrel got the win on Wednesday night in a game saved by Strahm. On Thursday, Kimbrel got a hold, and Alvarado the save. Manager Rob Thomsen has shown he will use his best weapon to get the opponent’s best hitters out whether it be the seventh, eighth, or ninth innings. If you’re looking for holds, Jeff Hoffman is a sneaky play right now. Alvarado earned his tenth save last night.
Hard to know what the Chicago Cubs are doing with their recent spate of pitcher injuries. Based on recent usage, it would seem that the best bet for saves here is Julian Merryweather. Mark Leiter Jr. has been pitching in the sixth and seventh innings, and with Adbert Alzolay and Michael Fulmer down with injuries, anything could happen here with two weeks left in the season and the Cubs fighting for a playoff spot. Marcus Stroman, anyone? Although he started yesterday for the Cubs, so likely not a bullpen option as the Cubs likely need him to start even on a limited count as they chase the playoffs. Late word last night that Alzolay may be able to return this week from a forearm strain, which would be great news for the Cubs.
Elvis Peguero is down for the count in Milwaukee. He’s out for the rest of the regular season with elbow trouble but could possibly return for the postseason. In the meantime, bump Abner Uribe up the pecking order for holds in Milwaukee. Trevor Megill has looked resurgent here and could get some higher leverage work down the stretch here in support of Joel Payamps and Hoby Milner. Megill has a whopping 35% K rate this season.
Ryan Helsley is the only option in St. Louis with Giovanny Gallegos ending the season on the IL with right shoulder rotator cuff tendinitis. Drew VerHagen and John King appear the top candidates for holds here next week.
Josh Hader earned three saves this week for the San Diego Padres, pushing his total to 31. Robert Suarez also returned from his 10-game suspension and earned a hold. Scott Barlow got two holds this week as well.
Camilo Doval continues to be a rollercoaster ride in San Francisco. Taylor Rogers got the only save this week for San Francisco. Doval threw 35 pitches earlier in the week and then did not appear until Friday night, when he pitched 1.1 with two strikeouts to earn his 38th save.