After a couple of relatively quiet weeks, the recent flurry of activity and breaking news related to fantasy baseball closers and setup men is causing some fantasy managers to have to adjust their strategy so that they can remain competitive in the saves and holds fantasy baseball categories.
In just the past week the Orioles lost one of the top closers in the game to injury, two teams have seemingly sent their closers out to pasture and another team has placed two of their relievers who had a potential direct path to saves on waivers. We certainly have a lot to cover in this week’s bullpen report.
All statistics noted in this article are accurate as of the morning of August 30th, 2023, unless noted.
Fantasy Baseball MLB Bullpen Updates
Felix Bautista, who has posted a 1.48 ERA and saved 33 games so far this season, was placed on the IL with what the Orioles are calling “some degree of injury” to his ulnar collateral ligament. It’s a terrible break for the first place Orioles but luckily, they have one of the top setup men in baseball in Yennier Cano who seems poised to slip right into the teams’ closer role until Bautista is ready to return to action. Cano has pitched brilliantly this season, posting a 1.56 ERA and 0.963 WHIP. He’s already picked up a save and a hold since Bautista’s diagnosis. Danny Coulombe, who has two saves this season, will fill the role of setup man with Jacob Webb and Shintaro Fujinami and D.L. Hall all in line to be used in late inning high leverage situations.
David Robertson, who was traded from the Mets to the Marlins just before the MLB trade deadline and took over as his new team’s closer, has lost the job. You really can’t blame the Marlins. While Robertson saved four games for his new team, he also lost three games and blew three save opportunities and pitched to a 7.20 ERA in 10 appearances since the trade. Tanner Scott, who saved 20 games for the Marlins last season has recorded the Marlins’ lone save since Robertson was removed as the teams’ closer. It might be a while before the Marlins trust Robertson to close out a win for them so in the meantime Andrew Nardi and A.J. Puk would likely be called upon in save situations if Scott is unavailable. The Marlins have been predominantly using Nardi in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings of games. He has a 2.98 ERA, and he has saved two games and recorded 12 holds this season. Puk began the season as the teams’ closer and saved 15 games for the Marlins, but he lost the closers gig due to his own ineffectiveness. He’s been hot lately, pitching to a 0.93 ERA in his last 10 appearances. The Marlins have also been using him late in games. Jorge Lopez has 27 career saves and was recently acquired from the Twins, but he’s posted a 9.26 ERA and it’s unlikely that the Marlins would turn to him with a game on the line.
Rangers manager Bruce Bochy has certainly kept us on our toes this season. Early in the season he anointed Will Smith as his closer, but by mid-July he floated the idea of having Smith and Aroldis Chapman operate as co-closers. Chapman recorded a save on July 15th, but Smith recorded the next seven saves for the Rangers. However, with Smith giving up at least one run in four of his last seven appearances and blowing two save opportunities during that time period it appears that Bochy is using a closer by committee approach for the near future. Wins have been hard to come by lately with the Rangers losing nine of their last 12 games, but the Rangers’ last two saves have been recorded by Jose Leclerc and Aroldis Chapman. At least for the short term, it appears that Smith has been moved into a setup role, but should Leclerc or Chapman begin to falter don’t be too surprised if Smith isn’t out there closing out games for the Rangers once again.
It’s been a tough season for Cardinals fans, but they got some good news as their former closer Ryan Helsley, who has been on the IL due to a forearm strain, is likely to be reinstated on Friday. Helsley had suffered a series of setbacks but is likely to slowly be eased back into pitching in high leverage situations. Jordan Hicks had taken over as the Cardinals’ closer with Helsley sidelined but he was traded just before MLB’s trade deadline leaving Giovanny Gallegos and JoJo Romero to share closer duties. Romero has been the more effective of the two. He has pitched to a 2.51 ERA while saving two games and recording a hold in his last 10 appearances dating back to August 2nd. Gallego has struggled, pitching to a 14.73 ERA in his last six appearances. He has a save, a blown save and a hold during that time span.
As Clay Holmes descends into one of his periodic slumps it’s time to keep an eye on Jonathan Loaisiga as Holmes’ potential replacement as the Yankees’ closer. Holmes has given up at least one run in five of his last six games. He’s yielded 13 hits in 5.1 IP (.464 BAA and a 1.281 OPS against) and posted a 15.19 ERA during that time frame. With Michael King being stretched out as a starter and Wandy Peralta and Tommy Kahnle pitching inconsistently of late, Loaisiga has been the Yankees’ most reliable reliever. Since coming off the IL in early August Loaisiga hasn’t given up a run in 8.2 IP. The Yanks eased him into pitching in high leverage situations and his last four appearances have been in the seventh and eighth innings. He’s had good success with batters from both sides of the plate, but he’s been especially effective against right-handed hitters who have just one hit in 25 ABs against Loaisiga this season. He has seven career saves.
In a cost cutting move, the Angels placed set up men Reynaldo Lopez and Matt Moore and the recently acquired Dominic Leone on waivers earlier this week. As this article is being written it’s unclear if any teams will submit claims for any of those pitchers. Carlos Estevez has a strong hold on the Angels’ closer position but who’ll be pitching the seventh and eighth innings ahead of him remains to be seen. Jose Soriano could be a candidate to take over setup duties. He has had some issues with his control, but overall Soriano has been effective since he was recalled from Triple-A. He’s recorded 13 holds and has pitched to a 3.31 ERA in 28 appearances.
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