It’s been a very active week for fantasy baseball managers seeking to remain competitive in the saves categories in their leagues as two prominent closers unexpectedly hit the IL within a day of each other. The Cleveland Guardians also made a surprise move that altered the potential path for saves in their bullpen and the Colorado Rockies are keeping everyone on their toes with the way that they’re managing their bullpen usage. As always, we’ll cover all the bullpen usage news that you need to know about and identify some middle relief pitchers who should be on your radar in this week’s fantasy baseball bullpen report. 

Unless otherwise noted the statistics quoted in this article are accurate as of Wednesday morning June 14, 2023. 



Fantasy Baseball MLB Bullpen Updates

St. Louis Cardinals

Ryan Helsley was placed on the IL after experiencing what Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol called “a little bit of a feeling” in his right forearm. Marmol further added that this wasn’t the first time Helsley has dealt with similar discomfort. Helsley’s overall average velocity has been consistent with his career norms, but his 2023 K/9 decreased (from 13.08 to 11.88) and his BB/9 increased (from 2.78 to 3.96) compared to last season. Marmol told reporters that Giovanny GallegosJordan Hicks and Chris Stratton would all see more work in late inning high leverage situations. Gallegos, who leads the Cardinals in saves, is likely to see the majority of save opportunities moving forward but Hicks has 20 career saves and based on Marmol’s managerial style, should see some save opportunities as well. Hicks does have some interesting splits to take note of. Right-handed hitters have a .215 BAA him, but he has been awful when pitching at home, giving up 13 of the 14 runs scored against him when pitching at Busch Stadium. Lefty hitters have a .209 BAA Stratton who has 11 career saves. 

Cleveland Guardians

The Guardians bullpen has been one of fantasy baseball’s most stable over the past two seasons. Emmanuel Clase is unquestionably one of baseball’s top closers and the Guardians bullpen also featured one of baseball’s best set-up men in James KarinchakKarinchak had three saves, eight holds and a sparkling 2.08 ERA last season but his performance has suffered this season. The Guardians think that baseball’s new pitch clock is a big part of Karinchak’s struggles this season. He’s had control issues, walking 6.18 BB/9 compared to 4.85 last season. His strikeout rate has also taken a hit this season dropping to 12.36 K/9 from 14.31 last season. Like many pitchers Karinchak has also had issues holding runners on this season because of the new rule limiting the number of pick-off attempts a pitcher can make. There’s a good chance that Karinchak will be back in the bigs before long, but the Guardians are lucky to have a deep bullpen. Trevor Stephan can immediately step in and take over the Guardians’ set-up role. He’s having another great season with two saves, 10 holds and a 2.54 ERA. Eli Morgan is another Guardians reliever to keep an eye on. He’s been used in more late inning high leverage situations of late and is pitching to a 1.65 ERA while saving one game and recording three holds so far this season.

Colorado Rockies

Last week we suggested that after recording back-to-back saves on June 2nd and 3rd, it appeared that Justin Lawrence had replaced Pierce Johnson as the Colorado Rockies’ new closer. Manager Bud Black confirmed that Johnson would no longer be the Rockies’ closer last Friday, but he didn’t officially name a replacement. He noted that Lawrence and Jake Bird would be in the mix for saves moving forward, but over the past week Johnson and Matt Carasiti were the two Rockies relievers who recorded saves for the team. With both their saves coming in extra inning contests neither Johnson nor Carasiti need to be rostered in fantasy baseball leagues right now. It appears the Rockies are still trying to figure out how to best utilize their relievers, but despite his generous walk rate, Lawrence seems to be their best reliever to speculatively add if you’re desperate for potential saves.  

Chicago White Sox

The White Sox got some bad news and some good news with regards to Liam Hendriks. The bad news is that Hendriks, who bravely conquered stage 4 non-Hodgkin lymphoma and made his triumphant season debut on May 30th, was placed on the IL due to right elbow inflammation. The good news is that no structural damage to the elbow has been discovered and that he may be able to return to action after a minimal stay on the IL. Those rostering Hendriks in dynasty leagues will also be happy to know that the partially torn UCL that Hendriks has been mostly ignoring for the past 15 years looked better than it did last year at this time. Expect the White Sox to continue to roll out Kendall Graveman for most of their save opportunities with Joe Kelly and Reynaldo Lopez pitching in high leverage late inning situations as well.

Oakland A's

Break up the A’s. Trevor May saved three games for the surging A’s last week, who as this article is being written have a seven-game winning streak, but those saves come at a price. May posted an 8.10 ERA and a 2.100 WHIP in four appearances last week. The A’s are playing better but there still won’t be too many wins to save in Oakland and if rostering May is going to crush your ratios, then you should avoid doing so.

Middle Relievers Who Should Be On Your Radar

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

Keegan Akin, Baltimore Orioles

Akin is yet another quality reliever working out of the Orioles’ bullpen. He has a 1.50 ERA in his last nine appearances spanning 12 IP and while he gave up 14 hits during that time frame, he also struck out 14 batters and walked just one.

Alex Vesia, Los Angeles Dodgers 

Vesia is a much better pitcher than his season long 6.61 ERA and 2.388 WHIP would lead you to believe. He had a 2.19 cumulative 2.19 ERA in his last two seasons and seems to be finding his rhythm as this season progresses. He pitched to a 2.70 ERA over the past week, striking out seven batters and walking just one while pitching 3.1 innings across three appearances. 

Jose Soriano, Los Angeles Angels

Soriano, who only made his career debut on June 3rd, has already recorded four holds in his first five appearances. He’s pitched six scoreless innings the season, striking out eight batters and walking just two.


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