As we head into the final stretch of a long and grueling fantasy baseball season, even those baseball players who keep themselves in tip top physical condition can start to wear down. That could be especially true for a typical baseball closer who must be almost perfect every time he takes the mound in a save situation. There are a few closers that we’ll cover in the next section of this article that have been underperforming of late. Fantasy managers rostering these slumping closers should be regularly heading over to our closer grid and familiarizing themselves with some of the top setup men in fantasy baseball.
Unless otherwise noted all stats quoted in this article are accurate as of the morning of August 23rd, 2023.
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Camilo Doval, the San Francisco Giants reliever who has been one of baseball’s best closers this season, has a 13.50 ERA in his last four appearances. That includes an appearance on Wednesday in which he didn’t record an out and gave up two walks, a home run and three earned runs. The velocity on his pitches still tops out at just under 100 MPH and he’s probably just going through a slump, but should Doval be unavailable for any period of time Tyler Rogers, who has 18 career saves, would likely be the next man up in the Giants’ bullpen. Heading into Wednesday's action Rogers had a 2.69 ERA, two saves and 25 holds on the season. Tyler’s brother Taylor Rogers is also having a very good season and has closer experience as well. Taylor has a 2.74 ERA, one save and nine holds on the season and has 82 career saves.
In his first 37 games of the season, Los Angeles Angels closer Carlos Estevez pitched to a 1.75 ERA and had converted all 21 of his save opportunities. He also won three games and held two others. However, in his last 13 games beginning on July 16th Estevez has regressed a bit. He saved five games during that time span but, Estevez has posted an 8.36 ERA and he’s blown two saves. Should Estevez be unavailable, Matt Moore and Reynaldo Lopez would most likely be the pitchers that the Angels call upon in save situations. Moore, who’s been used almost exclusively in the seventh and eighth innings of late, has had a tremendous season. He has pitched to a 1.58 ERA and has 19 holds on the season. Moore has five career saves, all converted while he was with the Rangers last season. Lopez has been on fire since he got traded to the Angels from the Chicago White Sox. He has 10 strikeouts and just one walk in 6.2 IP for the Angels. Lopez has also held three games and saved another for his new team.
Jhoan Duran, closer for the Minnesota Twins, has pitched to a 2.77 ERA while saving 23 games on the season. His stuff is electric, and he averages 101.8 MPH on his fastball. However, as of Wednesday morning he had given up at least one run in five of his last ten appearances and posted a 5.79 ERA during that time frame. He also gave up three of his season long six home runs allowed in those 10 appearances. Emilio Pagan has 31 career saves and has been very effective of late. The Twins have been utilizing him in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings and in his last 19 appearances he’s pitched to a 1.00 ERA, while recording seven holds. Griffin Jax is also regarded as a reliever who can be used in high leverage late inning situations in the Twins bullpen should Duran be unavailable. The Twins have mostly handed him the ball in the seventh and eighth innings this season and while he hasn’t been perfect this season, he has recorded 19 holds.
None of the top closers discussed in the previous paragraphs are in any immediate danger of losing their closing jobs, but if you’ve been relying on them for saves all season long it makes sense to at least add their handcuff to your watch list.
The following are a couple of other relievers who’ve caught our eye that you should be aware of. They don’t have a direct path to saves yet but they’ve increasingly been used in late inning high leverage situations.
Uribe has been impressive in his debut season, pitching to a 1.08 ERA. He has four holds this season and Uribe has also recorded a save (in a 10-inning game). Most of Uribe’s appearances have come in the seventh inning.
Andres Munoz is firmly entrenched as the Mariners’ closer, and the M’s have a couple of solid arms behind him in Matt Brash and Justin Topa. However, Speier has also found himself being used in late inning high leverage situations lately. At 28 years old Speier has been around for a while, but he’s really pitched well of late. In his last 14 appearances Speier has struck out 17 batters while walking just two while pitching to a 0.75 ERA. He’s also recorded a save and four holds during that time frame.
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