If you look at the fantasy baseball saves leaderboard, you’ll discover that fantasy baseball’s top closers don’t necessarily have to pitch for winning teams. Cleveland Guardians (21 Wins-28 Losses) closer Emmanuel Clase leads the major leagues with 16 saves. Camilo Doval and Josh Hader are right behind Clase with 13 and 12 saves, respectively and their teams (the San Francisco Giants and San Diego Padres) both have losing records. As a matter of fact, five of the top 10 leaders in saves pitch for losing teams. In this week’s Fantasy Baseball Closer Report, we’ll focus on a few closers who are among the league leaders in saves even though they pitch for teams with a sub .500 winning percentage and identify middle relief pitchers who can potentially help you in the fantasy baseball holds category.
Unless otherwise noted the statistics quoted in this article are accurate as of Wednesday morning May 24, 2023.
Fantasy Baseball MLB Bullpen Updates
In previous seasons Cincinnati Reds manager David Bell would infuriate fantasy baseball managers by using the dreaded closer by committee approach to managing his bullpen, however this season Alexis Diaz is being used as the Reds’ primary closer. Diaz has already saved as many games so far this season (10) as he did all last season. He hasn’t given up a home run yet and despite pitching his home games in hitter friendly Great American Ballpark, all four of Diaz’s earned runs have been given in road games. Lucas Sims, who has eight career saves, is widely regarded as next in line for save opportunities behind Diaz. He started the season on the IL and already has four holds on the season. The Reds also utilize Alex Young (6 holds) and Ian Gibaut (5 holds) in late inning high leverage situations, and each could eventually back into an occasional save opportunity at some point this season.
Daniel Bard was expected to be the Rockies’ closer, however he started the season on the IL due to anxiety. He’s since been eased back into action and while he may eventually reclaim his closer’s role, for now Pierce Johnson continues to be the Rockies’ primary option in the ninth inning. His ERA, WHIP and high walk rate leave a lot to be desired, but he has saved seven games during the month of May. He’s available in 60% of Yahoo leagues but buyer beware, despite possessing a slider that generates plenty of whiffs (41.7 Whiff Rate), his fastball has been very hittable this season (.364 BAA). No other Rockies reliever has recorded a save this season, but should Johnson be unavailable or if his wildness catches up to him, Justin Lawrence would likely take over the role of closer. He usually works the eighth inning and leads the club with six holds.
Kyle Finnegan is still holding on to the closers role for the Nationals despite some uneven performances and bouts of wildness earlier this season. He picked up his 10th save of the season on Wednesday and now has a win, five saves, and two holds during the month of May (he’s also lost a game and blown a save during that time period). Like the Rockies’ Johnson in the previous section of this article, Finnegan’s high walk rate could eventually be his undoing. Should Finnegan be removed from the Nationals’ closers role Hunter Harvey would probably be the next man up with Carl Edwards Jr. Jr. not far behind. Harvey has frequently been used in the eighth inning of games and has eight holds and two saves on the season. Edwards Jr. has had some issues with control this season and his strikeout rate has decreased significantly since last season, but he has a 2.29 ERA and eight holds and a save on the season.
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:
The Brewers have been using Payamps predominantly in the seventh inning of games this season. He has 27 strikeouts and just four walks to go along with a 2.28 ERA. Payamps also has five holds and a save on the season.
Jeff Hoffman, Philadelphia, Phillies
Hoffman has only appeared in five games for the Phillies so far this season but in seven innings pitched he has struck out 12 batters while walking just two. He’s held one game this season and has a 1.29 ERA.
The Pirates promoted Ramirez from their Triple-A affiliate on April 16th and since then he’s made 10 relief appearances, six of which were multi-inning efforts. Ramirez has a 1.69 ERA so far this season and has a hold and 18 strikeouts in 16 IP. Walks have been somewhat of an issue for Ramirez throughout his career, however his walk rate has decreased as the season has progressed. He’s walked just three batters in his last 11 innings pitched.
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