With the inherent uncertainty that often goes hand in hand with the fantasy baseball closer position, utilizing our closer grid and familiarizing yourself with individual relief pitchers who have a clear path to potential saves is an essential part of managing your fantasy baseball team. This week we’ll examine a couple of bullpens that are currently in flux and identify relievers from those teams who have an opportunity to possibly be in the mix for regular save opportunities in the near future. We’ll also put a spotlight on a New York Yankees and a St. Louis Cardinals reliever who, at least for the short term, appear to be the favorites for save opportunities on their respective teams. In addition, we’ll focus on 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 21, 2023. 



Fantasy Baseball MLB Bullpen Updates

St. Louis Cardinals

In last week’s column we wrote that Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol told reporters that Giovanny GallegosJordan Hicks and Chris Stratton would all see more work in late inning high leverage situations with Ryan Helsley on the IL. So far Hicks has been the busiest and most effective Cardinals reliever with Helsley sidelined. Hicks recorded three saves in four games last week and he held one other while throwing 4.2 scoreless innings. He struck out seven batters and didn’t issue any walks. During the same period, Gallegos blew a save opportunity, but he did record two holds. Stratton pitched only once last week. He was brought in to pitch parts of the 5th and 6th innings on Sunday and gave up a home run and two earned runs. Stratton has given up five earned runs in his last four innings pitched. Hicks is worth a speculative add but based on Marmol’s track record of mixing and matching his relievers based on the situation, Gallegos is likely to still be in the mix for future save opportunities.  

Los Angeles Dodgers

At the start of the season Dodgers manager Dave Roberts suggested that he’d use a committee approach when it came to save situations and for the most part, he’s been a man of his word. Evan Phillips leads the team with eight saves, but four other relievers have at least one save as well. Phillips also has six holds to go along with a 2.20 ERA and 0.767 WHIP on the season. Phillips has a four-pitch mix in his arsenal and probably should be the Dodgers’ primary closer but based on the way the Dodgers operate, they’re likely to be in the market for late inning high leverage relievers as MLB’s trade deadline approaches. With the Dodgers bullpen posting the third worst ERA over the past two weeks you really can’t blame them for seeking out reliever depth. They recently added veteran reliever Ryan Brasier to their bullpen. The former Red Sox reliever has struggled over the past two seasons but has nine career saves. Lefty batters light him up (.292 career BAA) but righty batters don’t (.220 career BAA). Daniel Hudson, who is recovering from a knee injury, is close to rejoining the big-league club and is another reliever who can expect to be used in occasional future save situations. He has 32 career saves and should be on your watch list. 

Chicago Cubs

The Cubs are another team without a set closer. Cubs relievers only have 10 total saves, and Adbert Alzolay (4 saves) and Mark Leiter Jr. Jr. (3 saves) have recorded the bulk of them. However, the Cubs have recently started to turn to Julian Merryweather in late inning situations more often, making him a pitcher who should be on your watch list. He got off to a slow start this season, but he has struck out 39 batters in his last 25.2 IP. Merryweather hasn’t given up a home run and has pitched to a 1.05 ERA during that time frame. He only has two career saves but with the Cubs using a committee approach in managing their bullpen there’s a chance that he might be used in save situations before long. 

New York Yankees

Don’t look now, but Clay Holmes seems to be back on track to close out games for the Yankees once again. Holmes has an excellent slider, but he lives and dies with his sinker and right now it’s firing on all cylinders. Dating back to May 6th Holmes has thrown 20.2 innings across 20 appearances and he’s saved five games and held four others. He hasn’t given up a home run and Holmes has struck out 26 batters during that time frame. He has pitched to a 0.44 ERA and opposing batters have a .155 BAA him as well. Holmes has recorded four of the Yankees’ six saves over the past month. Michael King and Wandy Peralta have one save each during that time period but if Holmes’ sinker suddenly stops sinking (like it has in the past), they could eventually see an increased number of save opportunities. 

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:

Chasen Shreve, Detroit Tigers

Shreve usually makes two to four appearances per week. In his last 18 games dating back to May 6th, he’s pitched 17.2 innings and he’s struck out 21 batters and issued just four walks. He hasn’t given up a home run and he’s pitched to a 1.53 ERA during that time span. Shreve has recorded six holds in that 18-game stretch.  

Brendan White, Detroit Tigers

White is another Tigers reliever who has pitched effectively of late. He’s only made three appearances and pitched 5.1 innings, but White has struck out eight batters and he hasn’t given up a walk. He has minor league closing experience. White recorded nine saves for the Tigers’ Double A affiliate during the 2022 season. 

Luke Jackson, San Francisco Giants

The Giants have one of the premiere closers in baseball right now in Camilo Doval, but should he be unavailable for a prolonged period Jackson could eventually find himself in the mix for save opportunities. He missed the early part of the season recuperating from Tommy Johnson surgery, but Jackson has made seven appearances thus far and in 7.1 IP he’s struck out nine batters and walked just one. He has a 1.23 ERA this season. Jackson has 19 career saves and the Giants have started using him in the 7th and 8th inning of games. 


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