As of 10 PM CST last night, there were 83 different pitchers with saves, with all teams having played around 30 games. Who joined the ranks this week?

I’ll answer for you: Josh Sborz, Yusmeiro Petit, Michael Fulmer, Adam Ottavino, Rex Brothers.

News and Notes:

  • The remarkably resurgent Ian Kennedy leads the AL with 10 saves. Mark Melancon retains the MLB leadership with 11 saves.
  • Diego Castillo is injured again (groin) for Tampa Bay. Who will get chances there?  The recently activated Pete Fairbanks?  Or, you know…Jeffery Springs.  What? He has two saves now.
  • What is the state of the pen in Oakland? This week Jake Diekman and Yusmeiro Petit both earned saves. What of Lou Trivino? We will examine this one carefully.
  • We will check in on everyone’s favorite bullpen in Toronto as well. I mean, Dunedin. In June I will mean Buffalo. Rafael Dolis left Friday’s game with a calf injury.
  • Philadelphia used Sam Coonrod and Jose Alvarado this past week in save situations. Both were converted; both have two saves on the season.

Here is our updated closer and reliever workbook: Closer Workbook 5.9.2021. 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.


Baltimore Orioles: Cesar Valdez continues to impress with his 85 MPH fastball and 77 MPH changeup; he’s got seven saves and shows no sign of relinquishing the job. Tanner Scott and Paul Fry await their opportunity. Will it come? Not right now, as long as Valdez is getting outs.

New York Yankees: Aroldis Chapman just keeps rolling. The 28 Ks in 12 innings is just remarkable. He has seven saves and is unscored upon this year, proving again to be a top three closer in the game.

Tampa Bay: Diego Castillo hit the IL this week with a groin issue. In a corresponding move, the Rays activated Pete Fairbanks the same day. Logic may tell us that it is Fairbanks, but this is Tampa Bay, and Tampa Bay is going to Tampa Bay. Lefty Jeffery Springs has two saves, including one in Castillo’s absence, and Ryan Thompson may also be in line. Could be a committee this week with Castillo out. Such a remarkable bullpen that gets the job done without big names.

Houston Astros: Those who exercised patience with Pressly are now reaping dividends. He had two wins early on in the season, which was great, but we want those saves. Pressly is not 5-5 in saves and continues to show why owners picked him just outside the top 5 closers this year.

Milwaukee Brewers: Josh Hader has seven saves and 22 Ks in 11.2 innings. Keep using him in all formats. There is some concern about Devin Williams so far, but he’s starting to look more like the dominant guy he was in 2020. Also, don’t sleep on holds in this bullpen. J.P. Feyereisen has nine, Brad Boxberger and Brent Suter four each. Williams has five despite an ERA over 4.00.  Williams could really start providing value again if his ship is in order.

Texas Rangers: Ian Kennedy has been a revelation and leads the AL with ten saves. Joely Rodriguez is back and has four holds. Should Kennedy falter, Rodriguez could be next in line. Josh Sborz got a vulture save last week on a night that Kennedy was unavailable.

Chicago Cubs: Kimbrel looks unhittable and the command has been there. He’s got five saves now but took a loss this week as well. I continue to watch for walks with him; he did have four the week before last, but only one this week. He’s one where if the command and control falter, he would be in trouble. He’s by far their best option and the job will be his, so roll with him.

San Diego Padres: It’s been Melancon all year, and why not? He has 11 saves and a .60 ERA. As most know, Drew Pomeranz, Keone Kela, and Emilio Pagan all have experience should Melancon falter. Tim Hill has six holds and Pomeranz has five. Pagan has four holds and Austin Adams has three. A plethora of options here, but Melancon has the ninth.

Cleveland Indians: Both top options, Emmanuel Clase and James Karinchak, have no ERA this year. Both converted save opportunities this week; Clase now has six, Karinchak, three. Both are outstanding. This kind of situation might continue happening, but I think Clase is still the guy. This bullpen has lots of depth for holds as well with Nick Wittgren and a resurgent Bryan Shaw.


New York Mets: Edwin Diaz has five saves but is showing some issues with his control, with three walks this week. The WHIP is creeping into territory you don’t want from a relief pitcher. Watch carefully but he is the best option in the Met’s pen.

Los Angeles Dodgers: This bullpen has embarrassing depth behind erstwhile closer Kenley Jansen.  It is still his job, but look at these holds totals for their guys:  Blake Treinen (8), Victor Gonzalez (9)  Here is a glaring issue: Jansen has walked as many guys as he has struck out this year, 13, including eight in his last seven appearances. Granted, two of those were intentional in the last week. The Dodgers have struggled the last two weeks through injury and some poor play. Jansen blew a save this week. Should manager Dave Roberts decide to make a change, he will have options. Treinen and Gonzalez could get chances. In fact, Treinen earned his first save on Saturday night.

San Francisco: Jake McGee roared out of the gate but has been dismal over the last week; his ERA is up over 5.00 and he is stuck at eight saves. He has converted two saves over the last week, but they were fraught with peril. I would be looking at other options if I owned him anywhere.  As we all know it is a job with highs and low, and right now appears to be a low for McGee. The saving grace for him here is that San Francisco doesn’t have any options chomping at the bit. Tyler Rogers could get a look. Overuse has really impacted McGee’s velocity. Stay tuned. He’s moving down this week.

Chicago White Sox: Don’t look now but Hendriks has lowered his ERA to 3.55 and has six saves for a surging White Sox team. Continue to use with confidence or trade him to me. Codi Heuer has five holds for them and continues to see high leverage roles with Garrett Crochet out, and Matt Foster ineffective. Look for Aaron Bummer to work out the kinks and get holds as well.

Kansas City Royals: Raise your hand if you saw the Royals starting 16-9 and manning first place in the AL Central. Except then they lost seven in a row.  No reason to think it is not still Josh Staumont, who is still sitting on many waiver wires. Stash him if you have roster space.

Washington Nationals: I love Brad Hand because everyone doubts him and he just keeps getting hitters out. He doesn’t strike many guys out anymore, but gets saves, and is at three on the year. Two wins. He was finally scored upon this week. Tanner Rainey waits for a shot and chips in with holds. Daniel Hudson and Kyle Finnegan have been excellent this far too.

Miami Marlins: Yimi Garcia only pitched once this week, and earned his fifth save. My issue is one of usage with him; he just hasn’t had many opportunities lately even though he has been fine in the role.

St. Louis Cardinals: Nobody told Alex Reyes that he wasn’t their top option this year.  He has responded with ten saves. He’s nasty too, but we have to watch the free passes. So far, he’s been able to get by: .53 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, but watch it. Jordan Hicks went to the IL with a  troubling elbow issue, and they figure to bring him back very slowly, if surgery isn’t needed. I continue to champion Giovanny Gallegos as a stash in deeper leagues; he will get vulture saves on days Reyes cannot go and could become the closer should St. Louis shut Reyes down at some point.


Oakland Athletics: Oakland…on my.  This week we saw Jake Diekman pick up his third save, and Yusmeiro Petit jumped into the mix with his first.  What is the story here? What of Lou Trivino? This bullpen was literally perfect until this week. My best guess is that Bob Melvin will continue to play matchups but that Trivino will get the majority of opps here. Trivino did get his sixth save late last night.

Boston Red Sox: Rise your hand if you saw Matt Barnes being a top five closer this year.  Out your hand down; you didn’t see this coming. He’s got seven saves, 29Ks in 17 innings, and is controlling his walks. Ride him until he falters…maybe he has turned over a new leaf?

Toronto Blue Jays: The mess of this continues. Rafael Dolis left Friday night’s game with a calf issue. The team is hoping to avoid an IL stint, but that remains to be seen; he will be examined today to determine the length of his absence. Should the oft-used Dolis miss time, look for Jordan Romano to take the top spot with Julian Merryweather also out. Recent recall AJ Cole was quietly effective last year and could some higher leverage work with an opportunity.

Philadelphia Phillies: Hector Neris has five saves, despite our ambivalence about him holding this role. Jose Alvarado and Sam Coonrod both have two.  Are we seeing a changing of the guard in Philly? Neris earned one save and blew another this week against Atlanta. The ERA is creeping up to 3.00 after being spotless early on. The saving grace for Neris s that Alvarado has looked rusty since his IL return with five walks, and despite what has happened so far, I don’t see them using Coonrod in the closer role. Coonrod’s save this week was 1.2 innings and might be a blip on the radar screen. Should be Neris still…for now. But let’s take a look at Coonrod and see what he’s about. Look at the change in his pitch mix; it is eye-opening.

Atlanta Braves: It is Will Smith and will be; he has seven saves. Hold opportunities for Tyler Matzek, AJ Minter, and maybe even former closer Luke Jackson.


Seattle Mariners: Kendall Graveman is stabilizing this bullpen in Seattle. He has given up nothing and has four saves. He probably got gobbled up in your last FAAB round, but if not, speculate here. Anthony Misiwiecz is a deep guy for holds.

Minnesota Twins: We said as the season began that we foresaw a 60/40 split for save opps between Alex Colome and Taylor Rogers. That changed this last week when Colome was bumped down to a lower leverage role as his struggles continue. Rogers should not be on your waiver wire, but if he is, speculate. He earned one save last week and struck out four hitters in his last outing, which was not a save opportunity. You may also take a look at Tyler Duffey and Hansel Robles for holds; deep leagues may look for Jorge Alcala. It’s been a terrible start to the year for the Twins at 12-20. But Rogers has been quietly good, and he’s throwing his slider slightly more than his sinker, with better results.

Detroit Tigers: It’s Gregory Soto, but I caution you strongly against doing this to yourself.

Pittsburgh Pirates: Richard Rodriguez has been spotless and has five saves in the process. 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.


Colorado Rockies: Bard’s ERA is up over 8.00 now, the WHIP is 2.30, and opportunities are dwindling. Carlos Estevez could jump into the mix; Mychal Givens could also get a shot. He is unrosterable right now. Move on.

Los Angeles Angels: Raisel Iglesias should keep the job despite being shaky; he has five saves but the ERA remains high at 6.55. I want to love him but common sense prevails in my old age; stash him of you have him but using him right now is tough. 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.

Cincinnati Reds: I remain 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 did earn the save against my beloved White Sox in a 1-0 game this week. Garrett will be serving a seven game suspension (he is appealing) and that will take him out of the mix.  Tejay Antone has terrific stuff and has been deployed in number of ways by David Bell. I still think Sims gets the job eventually, but for now, I would avoid, unless you want to start Antone in an SP slot in ESPN or Yahoo leagues.

Arizona Diamondbacks:  What a mess. Joakim Soria was out 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 three saves but is not really closer materials. However, pay attention to J.B. Bukauskas, who could jump right into the middle of this one. Crichton has been meh so far and I don’t think he’s the answer long-term.  I would look for this to go committee for a time.