As we dive into the second month of the 2023 fantasy baseball season, it's time to take a closer look at notable MLB bullpen situations around the league to improve your fantasy baseball lineups. Liam Hendriks, who has been one of baseball’s best closers and among the league leaders in saves over the past couple of seasons, is set to begin a rehab assignment later this week. If all goes well, that would put him on target to return from the MLB injury report to the big leagues in mid-May. With the Chicago White Sox bullpen pitching to a 6.68 ERA, they could really use the help from a guy that would quickly rise up fantasy baseball rankings. There are a few other team bullpens that have been struggling lately, including the New York Yankees and Atlanta Braves. Meanwhile, the Tampa Bay Rays may have to go back to playing best matchups when it comes to save opportunities with their best reliever hitting the IL this week. This could create some interesting fantasy baseball waiver wire targets if you need roster help. We’ll explain it all in this week’s Fantasy Baseball Closer Report.

Unless otherwise noted the statistics quoted in this article are accurate as of Wednesday morning May 3, 2023.



Fantasy Baseball MLB Bullpen Updates

Atlanta Braves

Raisel Iglesias is expected to be activated from the IL at some point this week and it’s none too soon. A.J. Minter, who has been filling in for Iglesias as the Braves’ closer, pitched a scoreless ninth inning on Wednesday night but prior to that outing, he had given up 11 earned runs in his previous 4.2 IP for a 21.21 ERA during that time span. 

Texas Rangers

Last week we mentioned that Jose Leclerc was struggling with his control and that although Will Smith was getting the majority of the Rangers’ recent save opportunities, manager Bruce Bochy had been reluctant to name a primary closer. Well, Bochy officially anointed Smith as his closer on Wednesday, saying that he’d continue to get the majority of save opportunities in the near future. Leclerc has yielded six walks in his last three innings of work.

Los Angeles Angels

Jose Quijada, who had been sharing the closer’s role with Carlos Estevez early on this season will undergo season-ending Tommy John surgery. With the Angels being very careful not to overwork Estevez this season, Ryan Tepera, who was recently activated from the IL, could find himself in the mix for occasional save opportunities. Tepera saved six games for the Angels last season. The Angels haven’t used Estevez in back-to-back games since April 9th. He has a 1.23 ERA with six saves and two holds on the season.

Tampa Bay Rays

With the Rays utilizing a revolving door closer strategy for years, fantasy baseball managers were thrilled when it appeared that Pete Fairbanks finally had the Rays’ closer job all to himself. Unfortunately, Fairbanks was placed on the 15-day IL due to right forearm inflammation. He only has three saves on the season but with the Rays regularly steamrolling over the competition with a + 113 run differential, there just haven’t been too many saves to be had. Heading into Thursday’s action four other Rays relievers have one save each and two of those four saves have been multi-inning efforts. Eleven different Rays relievers earned at least one save last season but other than Fairbanks (8 saves), Jason Adam (8 saves) and Colin Poche (7 saves) were crucial members of manager Kevin Cash’s circle of trust and were often used to close out games. Adam has a 1.59 ERA, one save and four holds this season.  Ironically Poche also has a 1.59 ERA this season but has three wins and three holds. Fairbanks is expected to be reinstated from the IL when first eligible.

New York Yankees

With Clay Holmes seemingly descending into a funk and giving up three runs in his last two appearances for the Yankees it’s time to grab Michael King off the waiver wire. According to Max Goodman, who covers the Yankees for the Star-Ledger, manager Aaron Boone still has a lot of trust in Clay Holmes despite his recent struggles. However, Booney turned to King on Tuesday night with the game on the line, and the right-hander responded by pitching 1.2 scoreless innings for his second save of the season.

Middle Relievers Who Should Be On Your Radar

The following are a few MLB relievers who provide good ratios, can be good resources for holds, and occasionally make multiple-inning appearances. They might be worth streaming in fantasy baseball lineups in place of mediocre starting pitchers:

Carlos Hernandez, Kansas City Royals

Hernandez’s overall stats (4.80 ERA, 1.467 WHIP) might not be too pretty, but over the past two weeks, he’s pitched 8.2 innings and struck out 14 batters while walking just three. He has compiled a 2.08 ERA over that time period. 

Danny Coulombe, Minnesota Twins

In his last six appearances dating back to April 18th Coulombe hasn’t given up a run and has recorded five holds. He has a sparkling 0.84 ERA and a 0.750 WHIP on the season. 

Nick Martinez, San Diego Padres

Martinez lost his spot in the Padres’ starting rotation once Joe Musgrove returned to action and has been working in long relief. Over the past week, Martinez has pitched seven innings across three appearances, striking out nine batters while walking just one. He has a win, a save, and a blown save and has pitched to a 1.29 ERA across those three appearances. 



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