Despite how hard it is to manage the fantasy baseball saves and holds categories, new closers inevitably emerge throughout the long baseball season. Stay active on your fantasy baseball waiver wire and you will find those crucial saves available. There are two such closers that we’ll talk about in this week’s article, and we’ll also identify a few middle relief pitchers who can contribute to the fantasy baseball holds category and help your fantasy team’s ratios in this week’s fantasy baseball bullpen report.

Unless otherwise noted the statistics quoted in this article are accurate as of Wednesday morning June 28th, 2023. 



Fantasy Baseball MLB Bullpen Updates

Arizona Diamondbacks

Fantasy managers who speculatively selected Scott McGough in preseason drafts, and incredibly had the ability to stash him, are finally being rewarded for their patience. Some fantasy baseball managers were hoping that with his success as a closer in Japan’s Central League (69 saves in his previous two seasons) McGough might start the season as the Diamondbacks’ closer. However, with McGough slumping early on, Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo opted to use a committee approach in utilizing his bullpen. At times it appeared that Andrew Chafin would grab hold of the closer’s job and at other times it appeared that it was Miguel Castro’s job to lose. Lately McGough seems to be the reliever that Lovullo trusts the most in late inning high leverage situations. McGough has recorded the Diamondbacks’ last four saves and he’s riding a streak of 19 consecutive scoreless innings. Opposing hitters have a .115 BAA him and McGough has struck out 27 batters during that time frame. Given Lovullo’s managerial style, Chafin and Castro will probably have opportunities to close out games for the Diamondbacks, especially if McGough starts to slump again. If he does end up relinquishing his role as the Diamondbacks’ closer, he can still provide fantasy value in leagues that track both saves and holds. McGough has six saves and 12 holds on the season and as this article is being written he’s available in 45% of Yahoo! fantasy baseball leagues.  

Washington Nationals

When we last covered the Washington Nationals’ bullpen in week 8, we mentioned that Kyle Finnegan, the team’s closer at the time, had worked through some control issues earlier in the season and that Hunter Harvey would probably be the reliever to replace Finnegan if the Nats decided to make a change to their bullpen configuration. Well, it appears that Harvey has replaced Finnegan as the Nationals’ closer and both Harvey and Finnegan have adapted well to their new roles. Beginning in June, the Nationals have predominantly been using Finnegan in the seventh and eighth innings of ball games and during that time he’s pitched 10 innings across eight appearances, and he’s recorded two holds and struck out eight batters while walking just one. Finnegan has a 0.90 ERA in those eight games and opposing hitters have a .194 BAA him. In Harvey’s last 11 appearances he’s saved three games, held two others and he’s pitched to a 2.53 ERA. With Carl Edwards Jr. Jr. currently on the IL another Nationals reliever to keep an eye on is Mason Thompson. The Nats have been turning to him in the sixth and seventh innings of games recently and in Thompson’s last 11 appearances he has a 0.87 ERA, and has recorded five holds and struck out 10 batters in 10.1 innings pitched. Unfortunately, he’s also walked seven batters during that time span. 

Philadelphia Phillies

The Phillies have been one of those teams that use a loose closer by committee approach to managing their bullpen. Seven different Phillies relievers have recorded at least one save this season, but manager Rob Thomson does tend to have his favorites that he calls upon to close out games for him. Early in the season it seemed to be Jose Alvarado. He saved five games for the Phillies in April and Craig Kimbrel notched three saves during the same time frame. Alvarado hit the IL due to left elbow inflammation on May 8th and he didn’t rejoin the team until June 9th. While Alvarado was sidelined Kimbrel recorded six of the Phillies’ seven saves (Gregory Soto recorded the other) and even though Alvarado has been reinstated, Kimbrel has yet to relinquish his role as the Phillies’ closer. The Phillies are still turning to Kimbrel in the ninth inning and Alvarado is now being used predominantly in the eighth inning of games. Alvarado’s only save since he was reinstated from the IL, came in the 10th inning of a game in which Kimbrel had already pitched a scoreless ninth inning. With his 405 career saves it makes sense for the Phillies to rely on Kimbrel to close out most of their games, but Alvarado will still be used often in high leverage late inning situations. 

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:

Josh Sborz, Texas Rangers

Nine of Sborz’s last 10 relief appearances have been multiple inning efforts. In those appearances Sborz has pitched 16.1 innings and he has struck out 22 batters while walking just two. He has pitched to a 0.55 ERA and Sborz has recorded six holds in those 10 appearances. Sborz is widely regarded as the next man up should Rangers closer Will Smith be unavailable. 

Jake Diekman, Tampa Bay Rays

One team’s trash can sometimes become another team’s treasure. That’s the best way to describe the 36-year-old Diekman who discovered the fountain of youth in Tampa Bay after being DFA’ed by the White Sox after posting a 7.94 ERA and 2.118 WHIP in his first 13 appearances of the season. In 19 appearances for the Rays Diekman has pitched 16 innings and has struck out 22 batters. He also recorded five holds and has a 2.25 ERA and 0.938 WHIP in those 19 appearances. 

Lucas Erceg, Oakland A’s

There hasn’t been too much that has gone right for the Oakland A’s this season, but Erceg has been lighting it up of late, and as this article is being written he hasn’t given up a run in his last 10.2 IP. Erceg has struck out 13 batters during that time frame and he’s also won a game and recorded a hold in three others. He was a bit wild early in the season but has limited the number of walks he’s issued, and he hasn’t given up a home run in the 20 innings he’s pitched this season.


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