As of 10 PM CST last night, there were 69 different pitchers with saves, with all teams having played a little less than 20 gams in their seasons. Still trying to find saves? Holds? Ratio controls? There are guys out there that can help you.

Keep in mind some of these opportunities come, or may continue to come, in the second games of doubleheaders, when a manager may be loath to run his closer out there a second time in the same day. Also, some of these saves are the three-inning variety, where a reliever will come in relief of the starter and pitch the rest of the way. Some managers are planning to keep pitchers fresher this year, leading to unexpected opportunities for middle relievers to get saves. A gain of 5-10 saves could make all the difference as you chase a championship this year.

News and Notes:

  • Liam Hendriks continues to look shaky for the White Sox. He got a win last night after surrendering a home run to Willie Calhoun before getting the win when the Sox walked off in the ninth. He also gave up a home run on Friday although he did earn the save. He obviously will be the guy, but has an unsightly 4.82 ERA. Egads! Watch out.
  • Is Aroldis Chapman human? He has four saves, but even more impressively, he has 16 strikeouts of 23 batters he has faced. Insanity!
  • Josh Staumont got a save last night for Kansas City. Is this a committee?
  • Other relief pitchers who got unexpected saves this week: Wandy Peralta, Giovanny Gallegos, Andrew Kittredge, Trevor Richards, Anthony Castro, Jonathan Loaisiga, and Jake Diekman (times two).
  • Cesar Valdez continues to convert for the Orioles when he gets the chance, notching his fourth save this past week.
  • We will check in to see what is happening in Seattle, St. Louis, Toronto and Oakland.

Here is our updated closer and reliever workbook:  Closer Workbook 4.24.21. Note that those listed in red are injured, and those with carrots (^) are moving up this week.

And we also have our rubric for grading the bullpens:

  • Mastery: the best. Nothing else to be learned here. Move forward with confidence.
  • Distinguished: just a notch below mastery, excellent work, but still some room for improvement.
  • Proficient: is average. Think of this as a solid “C” on your term paper.
  • Marginal: poorly constructed, issues with organization, and unclear what is happening.
  • Unacceptable: failure due to lack of planning or execution.

Mastery

San Francisco: What we thought might be a competition was wrested away by Jake McGee. McGee has been terrific with seven saves. McGee is using his fastball an astounding 86% of the time, but it’s been effective so far. Looking for holds? Tyler Rogers quietly leads the majors with eight. Caleb Baragar quietly has three for a surprising Giants team.

Baltimore Orioles:  Cesar Valdez got his fourth save this weekend and continues to get the job done given the opportunity. He flaunts a microscopic .96 ERA and .86 WHIP. He’s chipping in with a few Ks, with 10 in nine innings. Tanner Scott et al wait their opportunity. Will it come?

New York Yankees:  The Yankees are struggling at 9-11, but Aroldis Chapman is not struggling: 17 Ks in seven innings.  He has a 21.9 K/9 and this isn’t on MLB The Show. Chad Green will get holds and vulture saves. Darren O’Day quietly has three holds as well, and Justin Wilson is healthy again. Check out the splitter usage below. Unfair.

Tampa Bay: This bullpen just keeps rolling, no matter who has what job. Diego Castillo has secured four saves, with a 12.1 K/9. Cody Reed has chipped in with three holds. Tampa Bay isn’t missing a beat despite injuries to Nick Anderson and Pete Fairbanks. Guys kike Andrew Kittredge and Trevor Richards both stepped in with saves this week; Castillo had a vaccine reaction but was activated from IL on Saturday.

Houston Astros: Ryan Pressly has one save and two wins and is killing you right now. Even though opportunities have been scant, he is the guy in Houston.  Continue to deploy as such.

Milwaukee Brewers: Josh Hader is picking up steam after a  quiet start and now has four saves and is unscored upon this year.  The absurd: 17.6 K/9?  Keep running him out there. There is some concern about Devin Williams so far, and manager Craig Counsell mentioned this week that he was going to give him some lower leverage work to try and work out the kinks. He’s been shaky and has given up three home runs so far.  He did get a hold this last week, his first of the year. Stash him if you have room, but it may be getting to time to move on here. Looking for holds, you may grab Brent Suter if he is on your waiver wire.

Chicago Cubs: Kimbrel looks unhittable and the command has been there. He’s got four saves and is unblemished on the year. Watch the walks; he did have four of them last week, and if that becomes an issue, things could head south.

Los Angeles Dodgers: Kenley Jansen has five saves, and has been documented here, Corey Knebel has two, David Price and Victor Gonzalez have one each.  Knebel went down with a long-term lat injury and may be lost for the season. Jansen should get most of the opps, but this bullpen is so deep, others can get chances when he needs a night off. The Dodgers are 15-6 and seem positioned to dominate the NL West. Blake Treinen has seven holds; Gonzalez has six.

San Diego Padres: It’s been Melancon all year, and why not? He has seven saves and a .90 ERA. As most know, Drew Pomeranz, Keone Kela, and Emilio Pagan all have experience should Melancon falter. Tim Hill has three holds and Austin Adams two. Kela hit the IL this week with shoulder soreness, so adjust if need be.

Miami Marlins: Yimi Garcia has been a revelation. He has four saves even as he does not help you too much with strikeouts (10 in 11.1 innings, so not awful). He also has two wins and has left Anthony Bass in his dust. Garcia is quickly becoming a must-start in all formats if you haven’t done this already. Very effective thus far.

Cleveland Indians: Pure filth out of this bullpen. Emmanuel Clase continues to thrive with four saves and zero runs given up this year. James Karinchak is right there with him with 15 Ks in seven innings to start the year, and three holds. The deal appears to be that Karinchak is the stopper and Clase is the closer. Nick Wittgren has an ERA over 10 and can be jettisoned in shallow leagues; keep in mind in deeper leagues he does have three holds.

Distinguished

New York Mets: Edwin Diaz has two saves and a 2.57 ERA, although he struggled in his last outing. I have no problem deploying him in every league.

Chicago White Sox: It is and will always be Liam Hendriks, even thought he’s been victim to the long ball three times in the last week. He’s sporting a bloated 4.82 ERA. This should regress back to the mean, but he’s been shaky and moves down a rank this week.

Kansas City Royals: Raise your hand if you saw the Royals starting 12-7 and manning first place in the AL Central. Looked like Greg Holland, and then Josh Staumont got a save on Saturday night. The Royals have six guys with saves; this looks like it could be a committee situation.  Mike Matheny did not say who the closer was this week. But Holland may not fit another role in the pen besides the ninth; all the other guys with saves have better stuff than he does; we all know that it’s not always the guy with the best stuff who gets the ninth. Keep watching. Scott Barlow has three holds.

Washington Nationals: Brad Hand just keeps getting outs. He has three saves despite not helping much yet with strikeouts. Tanner Rainey has not looked good so far but has three holds, and Daniel Hudson backs him with two more. Kyle Finnegan is a name to earmark for later here.

St. Louis Cardinals: Nobody told Alex Reyes that this was supposed to be Jordan Hicks’ job. Reyes has four saves on the young season and has been spotless. The Cardinals seem to be bringing Hicks along slowly due to past injury concerns as he ramps up his stamina. Hicks only made one appearance last week, and did not fare well.  Giovanny Gallegos also is here and got a two inning save this weekend. Roll with Reyes right now but keep an eye on things; there was some concern about Reyes’ velocity drop this week. Keep in mind that management will limit Reyes to about 100 innings this year to try and keep him healthy. Keep an eye on this one. Gallegos may not be a bad stash here; I have done that in a couple of leagues.

Colorado Rockies: Daniel Bard is fine and he is one of the best stories in baseball. Watch his age and injury history; at any time this could go south. He’s been stuck on two saves for two weeks. The good news for those who own Bard is there is no competition for the job in Denver. However you may want to find a more palatable option, great story notwithstanding.

Proficient

Oakland Athletics: The A’s will lose again but I’ll be damned if I can tell you when; they have won 13 in a row after starting 1-7. The issue with the winning streak is they are mauling opponents offensively and thus have not had many save opps. Lou Trivino quietly has taken the roll and should keep it for now. As mentioned last week Miguel Romero is at the alternate site and could be a closer in waiting. Jake Diekman chipped in with two saves this week, but one was the second game of a doubleheader, and the other appeared to have been because Trivino was unavailable that day. Both are worth owning right now. Yusmeiro Petit and J.B. Wendelken should get holds.

Boston Red Sox: Matt Barnes hasn’t done much to lose the gig at 1-0, 3.27 ERA and three saves. Adam Ottavino has struggled to an almost 5.00 ERA.  A revelation thus far has been rookie Garrett Whitlock, who has two holds and 14 strikeouts in a multi-inning role. Do not be surprised if he leapfrogs Ottavino in the pecking order; there is growing optimism that Whitlock may be the closer of the future, maybe near future. File away. See Whitlock thus far below:

Toronto Blue Jays: A bullpen besieged by injury: Kirby Yates is out for the year, and then Julian Merryweather and Jordan Romano went down within a couple of days of each other. Both Rafael Dolis and Anthony Castro earned saves this week. Romano came off the IL this week and looked rusty on Saturday: walking two and giving up two runs in 1/3 of an inning. Dolis got the save chance on Friday night and converted. Until further notice, it appears to be Dolis. Don’t be surprised if the Jays start looking for bullpen reinforcements sooner than later via trade.

Texas Rangers:  Ian Kennedy has taken the job and moved ahead of his competition. He’s been good so far. Joely Rodriguez is back and got two holds this week. Should Kennedy falter, Rodriguez could be next in line. Note that Kennedy is doing it while throwing his four-seamer almost exclusively:

Philadelphia Phillies: Hector Neris should be the guy, even if by default. Both Jose Alvarado and Archie Bradley are out with injuries,  and Connor Brogdon gave up seven runs in two innings this week. Jack Carter gave up fewer for the BYB Minor Athletics this week. Not a good situation, but Neris will keep the job and has been decent.

Atlanta Braves: It is Will Smith and will be. Hold opportunities for Tyler Matzek, AJ Minter, and maybe even former closer Luke Jackson. Nate Jones is down there, too. Depth options for holds.

Marginal

Los Angeles Angels: Raisel Iglesias should keep the job despite being ineffective thus far with only two saves and a bloated 7.71 ERA. This past week was worse. He took the loss on Friday night after a shellacking at the hands of the Astros. Should Joe Maddon make a move, it is is likely temporary; they didn’t get Iglesias as a setup guy. Mike Mayers would appear to be next in line, but a guy with some experience in the role, Tony Watson, lurks stage left. Stay tuned.

Minnesota Twins: The Twins are really struggling at 7-12, and their bullpen has been a mess. Save opps have been few and far between. Manager Rocco Baldelli raised some eyebrows this week when he let Alex Colome throw 49 pitches in a loss on Wednesday. He blew the save and got tagged with the loss and now has an unsightly 5.63 ERA. Egads! How soon until Taylor Rogers gets a chance at it? Could happen this week.

Detroit Tigers: Gregory Soto should be the guy; he’s by far their best arm in the bullpen, even though Bryan Garcia has two saves. Neither have been sparkling. I would stay away unless desperate; if you must have one, get Soto. Both guys have two saves but I would stay away here unless one becomes the clear-cut choice.

Pittsburgh Pirates: Last week we shared that Richard Rodriguez hadn’t an opportunity in more than a week. Then this week, he earned two in two days. Like wackiness? Follow bullpens. Thing is, the Pirates have been playing better after a terrible start to the season: 6-4 in their last ten games. Guys like David Bednar, Sam Howard and Chris Stratton will get the holds that may be available. Kyle Crick is also back in the mix too. Look at Rodriguez’s pitch mix below:

Unacceptable

Cincinnati Reds: I am really upset about the state of this bullpen. I apologize to those of you who may have asked for advice. It has been woeful. Pundits debated all spring: would it be Garrett or Sims? Well, neither have done anything to inspire confidence thus far. Sims has been the better of the two; Garrett looks lost on the mound and is looking for answers. I stashed Tejay Antone on my bench in several leagues; could Sean Doolittle reemerge as an option? The Reds have lost six in a row and their good start is now a distant memory, much like my youth. Skip this one until it sorts out.

Arizona Diamondbacks: Joakim Soria was injured last week with a calf strain, leading to potential opportunities for Stephen Crichton, Chris Devenski, and Kevin Ginkel. I don’t want to touch this one. No one has been good. Crichton has two saves. Move on. However, pay attention to J.B. Bukauskas, who should jump right into the middle of this one. What is his role? He got a vulture win this week. He is intriguing.

Seattle Mariners: What the hell is happening in the Emerald City? Rafael Montero? Kendall Graveman? Keynan Middleton? Montero got the win on Friday night, coming into a tie game in the 9th and then winning on a Mitch Haniger home run. Graveman got the eighth in that win. Earlier in the week, the Mariners followed the same pattern. Looks like for the time being Montero has the job, but this seems shaky and I would avoid the whole pen unless you’re desperate for saves and holds. Anthony Misiwiecz is a deep guy for holds.