As of 10 PM CST last night, there were 74 different pitchers with saves, with all teams having played a between 25-30 games in their seasons. Last week it was 69.  So who joined the saves ranks this week?

I’ll answer for you: Tejay Antone, Carlos Estevez, Ryne Stanek, Sam Coonrod and Sean Doolittle. Do any of these guys hold value for you?  Read on.

Some of our usual suspects had tremendous weeks.  Mark Melancon continues to lead MLB with nine saves as of Saturday night, May 1st. Josh Hader got three saves this week, as did Ryan Pressly.  They hadn’t seen many opportunities but converted their chances this week. Both remain terrific options for you in any league. Diego Castillo got two more, as did Lou Trivino, Josh Staumont, Ian Kennedy and Matt Barnes.  What is happening, for now, is that many bullpens seem to be solidifying roles and we are seeing some consistency in the closing ranks.  Key phrase: for now.  It can all change with one wild Sunday this first week of May.  We just don’t know.

News and Notes:

  • Josh Staumont now has three saves for Kansas City.  Looks like the committee is over.
  • Cincinnati gave save opportunities to the aforementioned Antone and Doolittle this week. Do not be surprised if Antone takes this job over.  For now, at least.
  • Speaking of situations, we will look in on Seattle and Toronto this week.
  • Cesar Valdez continues to convert for the Orioles when he gets the chance, notching his sixth save this week.  Remarkable.
  • Alex Reyes got his sixth save this week and keeps hold of the job in St. Louis; he may have even more security with Jordan Hicks being sidelined yesterday with right arm tightness.  Egads!  That is not good news. Hicks was wincing after his final pitch yesterday.
  • Daniel Bard is falling on hard times in Colorado; his ERA is 5.19 after a blown save this week.  In that game, the aforementioned Estevez got the save.  Something to watch here?

Here is our updated closer and reliever workbook:  Closer Workbook 5.2.21 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 still leads the majors with eight. Caleb Baragar quietly has three for a surprising Giants team.

Baltimore Orioles:  Cesar Valdez got his fifth and sixth saves  this week and continues to get the job done given the opportunity. He flaunts a 1.42 ERA and a 1.11  WHIP. He’s chipping in with a few Ks, with 13 in 12.2 innings. One shaky outing against the Yankees didn’t take much luster off.  Tanner Scott and Paul Fry await their opportunity. Will it come?

New York Yankees:  The Yankees are struggling at 13-14, but Aroldis Chapman is not struggling: 2 Ks in nine innings.  Chad Green will get holds and vulture saves. Darren O’Day quietly had three holds until injury befell him this week, and Justin Wilson is healthy again.

Tampa Bay: This bullpen just keeps rolling, no matter who has what job. Diego Castillo has secured six 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. Fairbanks should return soon, and help Reed and others down in the pen.  Tampa is struggling at 13-15 thus far.

Houston Astros: Preached patience with Pressly and this week he came through with three saves; hopefully you used him even though he had limited opportunities through last weekend. Ryne Stanek locked one save down this week on a night when Pressly was getting a breather.

Milwaukee Brewers: Josh Hader is picking up steam after a  quiet start and now has six saves with a .84 ERA.  and absurd 16.0 K/9.  Keep running him out there. 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 eight, Brad Boxberger and Brent Suter four each.  Williams has five despite an ERA over 4.00.  Good bullpen here that may be flying under the radar a bit. Check out Feyereisen below:

Chicago Cubs: Kimbrel looks unhittable and the command has been there. He’s got five saves now and no ERA. 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.  But he has been lights out for a mediocre Cubs team so far.

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 (7.)  The  Dodgers only won once this week and it was a non-save situation. They are too goo to not right the ship.  Yet injuries are taking a toll: Cody Bellinger remains out, David Price too, and Dustin May left the game last night with shooting sensation in his right arm. If he were an old broken down player like me, that shooting sensation is nothing new.  But he is in the prime of career and this is concerning.  I think Jansen will continue to be the guy.

San Diego Padres: It’s been Melancon all year, and why not? He has nine saves and a .69 ERA. As most know, Drew Pomeranz, Keone Kela, and Emilio Pagan all have experience should Melancon falter. Tim Hill has five holds and Pomeranz has four.  Pagan and Austin Adams have three each.

Miami Marlins: Do we have a cover curse here at RotoFanatic?  We put Yimi Garcia on our cover last week and this week he faltered faster than a tulip in a Chicago April snowstorm. He suffered a tough loss surrendering a walkoff home run against Washington on Friday night.  Still, he will be their guy and I don’t see need right no to bump him lower. No closer is ever perfect and at 11-15, the Marlins don’t have many other choices. Although Anthony Bass has quietly been effective the last two weeks…

Cleveland Indians: Both top options, Emmanuel Clase and James Karinchak, have no ERA this year.  Clase has five saves, Karinchak two. So what is happening here?  Karinchak got a 1 and 2/3 inning save on Tuesday against Minnesota.   He then came back and pitched the 8th inning against the White Sox on Friday night, with Clase shutting it down in the 9th inning.  MY recommendation: I still believe Clase is the closer, and that Karinchak is the stopper.  Bryan Shaw looks resurgent and has three holds, as does Karinchak. Watch this one.

Distinguished

New York Mets: Edwin Diaz has three saves and a 1.80 ERA, and he is by far their best option in Flushing Meadows, unless they want Jacob deGrom to close as well. 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 this year. He’s chipping away at his ERA, which is down to 4.35. This should regress back to his usual excellent self, but he only pitched once this week, and did convert that save opportunity.  Continue to use with confidence or trade him to me. Codi Heuer has four 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. Looked like Greg Holland, and then Josh Staumont got a save last weekend. And then he followed up with two more during the last week. Last week we called this a committee, but it’s lookin like Staumont is the guy. The Royals have six guys with saves. Mike Matheny did not say who the closer was this week. . Scott Barlow has four holds and Jake Brentz has three. What of Greg Holland?  In his last two appearances, he got the 8th inning.  I would ride Staumont. Staumont is getting it done with two pitches:

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. No ERA. Tanner Rainey waits for a shot and chips in with three holds.

St. Louis Cardinals: Nobody told Alex Reyes that he wasn’t their top option this year.  He has responded with six saves.  Of concern to you here:  the Cardinals want to limit Reyes to 100 innings this year. Also Jordan Hicks went down last night with some type of arm injury, which should solidify Reyes even further.  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 need to shut Reyes down at some point.

Colorado Rockies: Daniel Bard is fine and he is one of the best stories in baseball. We told you to watch his age and injury history;  he blew a save and but then grabbed a win against San Francisco Wednesday night. In that game, Carlos Estevez got the save in the 10th. Bard has been stuck on two saves for three weeks. The good news for those who own Bard is there is no competition for the job in Denver. You can do better. Estevez could jump into the mix; Mychal Givens could also get a shot.

Proficient

Oakland Athletics: Lou Trivino continues to roll with four saves and a 1.20 ERA and 17 Ks in 15 innings. Jake Diekman and Yusmeiro Petit have three holds each. Continue to roll with Trivino, although realize that the lefty Diekman may get the odd chance too depending on matchups.

Boston Red Sox: Matt Barnes has been terrific to start the year:  six saves, a 2.57 ERA, and he is controlling his walks with only three in 22 innings thus far. He’s also got 25 strikeouts in 14 innings, building trust with fantasy managers. Adam Ottavino has five holds, and last week we told you about Garrett Whitlock, who has three holds and 18 Ks in 13 innings, and looks to be their stopper at this time.

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. Romano is back and pitched the tenth yesterday to earn a win. Important to note in that:  Rafael Dolis got the ninth inning there, and it was a tie game. Closers will often work the ninth in a tie game. Another important note:  Tyler Chatwood could be pitching his way into a larger role here too. Chatwood is unblemished this year and had seven strikeouts last week.  I would lean Dolis right now, but this is one to watch too. I would venture to call this one a committee.

Texas Rangers:  Ian Kennedy has taken the job and has six saves. He’s been good so far. Joely Rodriguez is back and has four holds. Should Kennedy falter, Rodriguez could be next in line.

Philadelphia Phillies: Hector Neris has five saves, despite our ambivalence about him holding this role. Both Jose Alvarado and Archie Bradley are out with injuries,  and Connor Brogdon has been ineffective, although he had three much better outings this week.  Sam Coonrod got a save this week but does not appear to be a threat to the long-term status of Neris.

Atlanta Braves: It is Will Smith and will be; he has five saves. 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 shaky; he has four saves but the ERA remains high at 6.00.  He showed improvement this week with a spotless outing but hasn’t had much work lately. 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 9-16, and their bullpen has been a mess. Save opps have been few and far between. Manager Rocco Baldelli, under fire recently for some of his moves, announced this week that Alex Colome would be used in lower leverage roles for the time being, which would seemingly open up opps for Taylor Rogers, who has been very good, at least much better than Colome.

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. Soto did earn his third save this week, but Detroit doesn’t win much, and you can do better.

Pittsburgh Pirates: Last week we shared that Richard Rodriguez hadn’t an opportunity in more than a week. He’s now up to four saves and is unblemished on the year.  Don’t look now, but the Pirates are hovering around .500 and are surprising people.  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.

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 came in with a four run lead the other night but was shaky; Antone came in to get the last out with the bags juiced and earned his first career save.  Amir Garrett has been woeful. But here’s the thing: the Reds seem to prefer Antone in a multi-inning, Hader-like role, and he’s been great at that.  Also to note:  Sean Doolittle got a save this week too.  Doolittle has been a high wire act the last couple of seasons.  You can’t trust anyone here right now.  What a headache. I love Antone and have him in many leagues.  Check him out below.

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.

Seattle Mariners: Rafael Montero appears out of the job leading to Kendal Graveman, who now has three saves. He probably got gobbled up in your last FAAB round, but if not, speculate here.  Anthony Misiwiecz is a deep guy for holds.