Well, here we are. I am in such dire need of saves that I picked up Andrew Chafin, and yes, Tyler Wells from Baltimore. I couldn’t believe it, either. I am slightly sick to my stomach. I mean, if someone had told me in March that my fantasy playoffs would be relying on a Baltimore reliever, I would have said, “oh, maybe it’s Tanner Scott or Hunter Harvey.”

And then, of course, who gets the save last night for Baltimore? Cole Sulser. Gnashing of teeth after the game, but also, a kind of sick joy in it. The guessing game continues until the bitter end some seasons.

Yet that is why we play the game, isn’t it? You just never know what is going to happen and what you might need in the last few weeks. It is truly a joy to be able to play this game.

Paul Mammino (@pmamminofantasy) has created the Data Monster, a tool that I firmly believe can help you win your leagues. A quick summary of how it works is here, but for a full glossary of the terms, how they are used and what they tell us, go to RotoFanatic and check it out. It’s all there for you to play with to your heart’s content; we are all looking for that winning edge, and Paul’s work can help you to that end.

In_Whiff (0 is average) – This shows how much better a pitcher is at generating swinging strikes than their location would suggest. So essentially a pitcher gets more credit for a swing and miss on a fastball down the middle versus one up in the zone. It’s pretty much a measure of the “nastiness” of a given pitcher.
rfCommand (0 is average) – This is a combination of four metrics: XWhiff, XSwing In Zone, xSwing Out of Zone, xWoba. It’s a bit hard to explain but it’s an overall combination of those four metrics that shows how good a given pitcher locates with respect to expected results. Thus a good rfCommand means a pitcher:
  1. Throws pitches with high expect whiffs rates.
  2. Throws pitches in zone with low expected swing rates; called strikes are a good thing.
  3. Throws pitches out of the zone that are likely to generate swings.
  4. Throws pitches that are hard to hit well (low location-based xWOBA)
Stuff ERA – This is an ERA estimator that combines In_Whiff, rfCommand, and a few of the other DM metrics. When compared to actual season results it performed better than FIP from 2015-2020.
Closer Workbook
All Data According To Data Monster
Player Name In_Whiff Command Stuff ERA
Josh Hader 7.5 1.07 1.93
Liam Hendriks 5.5 0.90 2.92
Aroldis Chapman 4.4 -1.92 3.23
Chad Green 2.7 -1.03 3.12
Craig Kimbrel 4.4 3.59 1.80
Andrew Chafin 1.6 -1.17 2.84
Matt Barnes 2.5 2.66 2.77
Adam Ottavino -0.6 -0.63 3.42
Edwin Diaz 3.9 -0.02 3.25
Mark Melancon -1.7 1.84 3.81
Alex Reyes 2.3 0.66 2.23
Kenley Jansen 3.6 -3.69 2.96
Ian Kennedy 1.7 -3.09 4.22
Emmanuel Clase 4.8 1.71 2.41
James Karinchak 1.9 -2.33 3.47
Ryan Pressly 0.5 4.90 3.18
Raisel Iglesias 6.6 4.97 2.34
Diego Castillo 2.5 3.69 3.12
Richard Rodriguez -0.2 -2.40 3.31
Will Smith 1.1 2.08 3.39
Jordan Romano 1.8 -1.92 3.56
Brad Hand -1.7 -3.24 3.98
Lou Trivino 0.6 -1.68 3.32
Daniel Bard 2.8 -0.74 4.34
Paul Fry -1.1 -1.17 3.46
Cole Sulser 1.3 1.89 3.32
Gregory Soto 1.8 -2.17 3.38
Scott Barlow 0.8 5.53 3.08
Jake McGee 1.0 -6.56 3.76
Lucas Sims 2.5 0.68 3.47
Paul Sewald 3.2 -2.99 3.26
Spencer Patton 0.2 -1.44 3.94
David Bednar 1.9 -0.05 3.32
Manuel Rodriguez 0.5 -3.58 4.42
Codi Heuer 1.6 2.61 3.61
Matt Wisler 0.3 3.23 3.84
Tyler Clippard 0.9 -1.60 3.84
Dillon Tate -0.7 0.23 3.60
Kyle Finnegan -0.1 -0.69 3.85
Michael Lorenzen 0.2 5.56 3.46
Dylan Floro -2.2 0.38 3.84
Alex Colome 4.7 -2.14 3.66

Current Closers

  1. Josh Hader: saved a no-hitter last night. Still the gold standard.
  2. Mark Melancon: 37 saves for the veteran. What a year for him.
  3. Raisel Iglesias
  4. Liam Hendriks/Craig Kimbrel: The situation here remains Kimbrel in the eighth, and Hendriks in the ninth. Last night Kimbrel blew the eighth inning and allowed the Red Sox to tie up the game. Hendriks pitched the ninth in a tie game. At this point in the season, it appears that the White Sox will continue in this vein. Hendriks leads the AL in saves with 34. Don’t sleep on the resurgent Michael Kopech, who struck out five last night in 2.1 innings of work.
  5. Edwin Diaz: It’s still Diaz in New York but looking over his shoulder are castoffs Brad Hand and Heath Hembree. Hembree did earn a save in an extra inning game this past week.
  6. St. Louis Cardinals: We shared weeks ago that a great handcuff for Alex Reyes was Giovanny Gallegos, especially knowing that the Cardinals’ brass planned to limit Reyes to 100 innings this year. He’s probably gobbled up in most competitive leagues, but if he is there, adding him is a no-brainer right now. Gallegos has earned four saves in a row for the Cardinals and is clearly in the driver’s seat; he leads MLB in saves in September with those four.
  7. Kenley Jansen
  8. Ian Kennedy
  9. Ryan Pressly
  10. Jake McGee
  11. Emmanuel Clase: Another example of how season meander and flow. At the beginning of the season it was going to be a time share at best for Clase with James Karinchak. But Karinchak was sent to AAA last month, and Clase has quietly second in MLB with three saves this month with three.
  12. Jordan Romano: Julian Merryweather is back, but Romano has done nothing to lose this job. Carry on.
  13. Aroldis Chapman: This has been really hard to watch. Chapman dominated in the early spring but has been positively awful over summer, with an ERA over 7.00 since mid-June. With the Yankees fighting for their playoff lives, could guys like Jonathan Loaisiga or Chad Green get opps?  I think that could easily happen.
  14. Boston Red Sox: What a mess we now have in Boston, eh? Ineffectiveness, and then illness, have scuttled the Boston bullpen. Matt Barnes is out as closer after an excellent couple of months, but in August, he looked like he was pitching for the BYB Pirates: poor command, lots of walks and stressful innings. Adam Ottavino appears to be the top option, but Garrett Whitlock is also getting chances, and Hansel Robles got an opportunity last week as well. I would call this a committee now.
  15. Seattle Mariners: This appears to be a full-on committee again. Paul Sewald blew a couple of chances this week, and last night with the game on the line, the Ms turned to Drew Steckenrider, who converted it for his eighth save. Diego Castillo lurks here as well. Steckenrider has been a revelation this year and is proving to be valuable to both Seattle and maybe your team.
  16. Gregory Soto
  17. Tampa Bay Rays: Don’t look now but the Rays have a frightening array of arms in this bullpen for the playoffs. David Robertson is here in a setup role, and Andrew Kittredge remains the closer in name. They also have Pete Fairbanks who is healthy again, and Nick Anderson looks to be days away. So, while this bullpen may not help you in fantasy baseball because of the lack of certainty in roles, what a plethora of options they will have in October. I always feel like I pull for Tampa if the White Sox aren’t in it.
  18. Oakland A’s: As the sands through the hourglass, so are the days of the lives of the Oakland bullpen. What a headache. The top two options, appearing almost interchangeably now, are Sergio Romo and Andrew Chafin. As mentioned above I grabbed Chafin in hopes of getting a couple of saves the rest of the way. No one else here really seems to have value at this point.
  19. Carlos Estevez A few weeks ago, we talked about Carlos Estevez, and has three saves in September. However, he took a shellacking at the hands of the Giants last week, and then followed that up with a rough save while giving up one earned in Philadelphia. That being said, the Rockies do not really have any other great options right now, and I expect him to continue in the role.
  20. Alex Colome: Colome has truly settled in after the bloodbath that were his first two months. In his last 15 appearances, he has a 2.40 ERA and nine saves. Those who grabbed him off the waiver wire have reaped some benefit the last month.
  21. Scott Barlow
  22. Miami Marlins: This is a tough one to crack here. The usage pattern is odd. Hard to say what is happening here and for those reasons, I stay away. But Dylan Floro has three saves in September. If you must speculate, go there.
  23. Tyler Wells/Dillon Tate/Cole Sulser/Tanner Scott: Still a dreaded committee as far as I can tell. Kicking myself as I picked up Wells this week and then Sulser got the save last night. Egads.
  24. Mychal Givens: What a mess this has been for so many reasons all year. I was touting Sims all year, but injury and bouts of ineffectiveness derailed that train. Givens has the job, and outside of one bad outing last week, looks to keep it, especially as the Reds seem to have hit on a winning formula in Cincy. Given has three saves for the Reds in September. The ratio hits are potentially tough, so tread with caution.
  25. Kyle Finnegan
  26. Pittsburgh Pirates: Appears to be a committee between David Bednar and Chris Stratton. Interestingly, Bednar has become a sort of de facto fireman for the Pirates. Likely you can stay away from this one.
  27. Joe Barlow/Spencer Patton
  28. Noe Ramirez: The first two letters of his first name tell you all you need to know here.
  29. Rowan Wick

 Other Relievers to Target

We take a look at several relief arms here who could provide benefit to you depending on your league context.  Looking for the next guy up for saves? Looking for holds or strikeouts, maybe a vulture save or two in a really close league? Take a look below.

  1. Blake Treinen: has 29 holds, and handcuff to questionably effective Kenley Jansen
  2. Garrett Whitlock: Whitlock should get a handful of opps on nights when Adam Ottavino needs a rest, and he will vulture wins in late innings as well. He’s not rostered in many leagues but could provide you help this last month. He earned a save last night in Chicago in extra innings.
  3. Brent Suter: raise your hand if you realize he was fourth in MLB with 12 wins. Need wins?  Sure, we all do. 
  4. Collin McHugh: McHugh is not often thought of in the same breath as their other high leverage guys.  But check this out: 6-1, 1.46 ERA, .87 WHIP, and a staggering 69 punchouts in 55.1 innings. The best part is that in most leagues, he has dual eligibility in the SP and RP slots, adding much value to savvy owners who know he will give you multiple good innings whether he is an opener, a bulk reliever, or coming in as a stopper.  He should be far more owned than he is.
  5. Emilio Pagan: do not sleep on Pagan, who has closer experience. He is getting high leverage opps now and could get save chances should Mark Melancon become ineffective (which he has before) or injured (which he has before). With San Diego clawing to stay in the playoff hunt, Pagan could get chances here.
  6. Michael Lorenzen: has quietly reemerged in the Cincy bullpen as a top setup guy for Mychal Givens. Given Givens’ (see what I did there) history of command issues, and the fact that the Reds are fighting to stay in the playoff picture, they will not mess around with this role, and Lorenzen could get a shot. Keep in mind too that he could also snatch the multi-inning stopper role that Tejay Antone filled before injuring his elbow.
  7. Devin Williams: Looks like himself again and could help you depending on your league context. Brad Boxberger is also getting a ton of holds in Milwaukee.
  8. Luke Jackson: Very quietly, Jackson is third in MLB with 24 holds. The top two? Treinen, listed above, and Tyler Rogers.Jackson will chip in with a couple of strikeouts as well.
  9. Michael Kopech/Reynaldo Lopez: Both of these guys can provide you with innings, holds and a bevy of Ks.  Lopez looks to head back to the bullpen now with the return to health of the White Sox rotation.
  10. Drew Steckenrider: remember him? He’s got a high-leverage role in Seattle now and earned a two inning save last week.  Even with the return of Diego Castillo, Steckenrider could be a good source of holds in some leagues. He also has eight saves. Value there.

Good luck the rest of the way!  I hope you find something here that helps you win this week!