As we head into the middle of May, new fantasy baseball closers continue to emerge. An injury has forced the Miami Marlins to look for a new closer as Dylan Floro is a top fantasy baseball waiver wire pickup this week. Meanwhile, the New York Yankees’ bullpen continues to evolve with new names rising up fantasy baseball rankings and MLB projections. In fact, a relief pitcher who’s likely on your league’s fantasy baseball waiver wire saved three games for the Yankees last week. Plus, the Detroit Tigers are heating up and we’ll talk about whether or not their closer is likely to continue to provide fantasy value. We’ll explain it all and also talk about some relief pitchers who can potentially help you in the fantasy baseball holds category. As always, keep an eye on the latest MLB injury report and the MLB top prospects as you make fantasy baseball lineup moves. Let's now break down the biggest MLB closer and bullpen notes in this week’s Fantasy Baseball Closer Report.

Unless otherwise noted the statistics quoted in this article are accurate as of Wednesday morning, May 17th, 2023.



Fantasy Baseball MLB Bullpen Updates

Miami Marlins

With the injury-prone A.J. Puk being placed on the 15-day IL due to left elbow nerve irritation, it appears that Dylan Floro will take over as the Marlins’ closer, at least for the time being. Floro, who has 27 career saves, had an up-and-down 2022 season but finished the year as the Marlins’ closer. The Marlins have not supplied a timeline for Puk’s return. He has six saves on the season thus far. In addition to using Floro as the closer, the Marlins could opt to provide Tanner Scott and Matt Barnes with save opportunities as well. Both have closer experience. Andrew Nardi and Huascar Brazoban have also been used in high leverage late inning situations and could be called upon to pitch in the occasional save situation but they are probably better resources for holds.

New York Yankees

The Yankees continue to mix and match their relievers when it comes to save opportunities and at least for now, it appears that Michael King and Wandy Peralta will function as co-closers. Clay Holmes, who hasn’t registered a save since April 12th, has been pitching in the seventh and eighth innings of late, and it appears that avoiding the high-pressure ninth-inning scenarios agrees with him. In his last six appearances, Holmes has pitched 6.1 scoreless innings and he’s struck out 10 batters while walking just one. He’s also won a game and recorded three holds during that timeframe. Twelve of Michael King’s thirteen relief appearances have been multi-inning efforts. He has three saves on the season, all of which were recorded within his last six appearances, and predictably, all were multi-inning appearances. 

Heading into Wednesday night’s action, left-handed batters were hitless in 23 ABs against the left-handed Peralta. Right-handed batters were batting .333 against him. The good news is that Peralta hasn’t given up a run in his last 10 appearances spanning 8.1 innings. He’s saved three games during that timeframe, all of which were recorded over the past week beginning on Friday, May 12th. The Yankees had occasionally been using Ian Hamilton in high-leverage situations but with his placement on the IL with a groin strain, we probably haven’t seen the last of Holmes or Peralta closing out games for the Bronx Bombers. However, King, who’s been a little better against right-handed batters (.283 BAA) than Peralta, will probably lead the team in save opportunities for the short term. 

Detroit Tigers

Through Wednesday’s action, the Tigers had surprisingly won nine of their 14 May games. A big part of their recent success has been the strength of their bullpen, which has a 2.45 ERA through the first 13 games during the month of May. Closer Alex Lange has been one of the most dominant Tigers relievers this season. He has seven saves this season, four of which have been recorded during the month of May. Lange hasn’t given up a run since April 12th and opposing hitters have a .114 BAA him during that time period. His changeup, which he throws almost exclusively to left-handed batters has a .000 BAA and a 60% Whiff rate. 

Walks have been an issue for Lange throughout his career and they continue to be a concern this year. His BB% has increased slightly in each of the past two seasons. In 2021 it was 4.04. It increased to 4.41 last season and heading into Wednesday's action, Lange had a 4.76 BB%. Despite his nasty habit of liberally giving out free passes, Lange’s ERA is a career-low 1.06. Expect that ERA to rise once his LOB%, which is at an unsustainably high 88.9%, normalizes. The fact that he hasn’t given up a home run, a fact that will inevitably change, has also helped to artificially lower his ERA. Lange is a fine fantasy baseball closer, and you should ride him while he’s hot, but be prepared for regression. If you can afford to do so and have other closers on your fantasy team, he might be a good sell-high candidate.

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:

Bryan Abreu, Houston Astros

Abreu has claimed the setup role behind Ryan Pressly in the Astros’ bullpen. He’s already appeared in 20 games and has given up one run in three of those 20 appearances (1.33 ERA). He has two saves and seven holds on the season, three of which were recorded in the past week. Abreu has also struck out 34 batters in 20.1 IP.

Hector Neris, Houston Astros

Neris is another Astros reliever regularly used in high-leverage late-inning situations. He hasn’t given up an earned run since April 16th. Neris has struck out 13 batters while walking just five in 11 IP across 12 games. He has six holds and one save during that timeframe.

Dauri Moreta, Pittsburgh Pirates

Moreta has been very effective as a middle reliever for the Pirates this season, pitching to a 2.37 ERA and striking out 26 batters in 19 IP across 16 appearances. Opposing hitters are batting .127 against him. Walks have been somewhat of an issue for Moreta but in his last six appearances spanning nine innings, he hasn’t given up a run and he’s walked just three batters and struck out 11. 



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