When it comes to the fantasy baseball closer position, there’s some good news and some bad news this week. The good news is that despite the almost daily notifications we’re receiving of pitchers hitting the IL, as this article is being written, we have no new injuries to fantasy baseball closers to report. 

Unfortunately, we did receive notification that Los Angeles Angels’ reliever Robert Stephenson, who was expected to be closer Carlos Estevez’s setup man, will miss the 2024 season due to an elbow injury. 

On the other hand, we were lucky enough to have had a premiere closer and his setup man return from the IL this week. Toronto Blue Jays closer Jordan Romano looked a little shaky in his first game back from the IL on Tuesday night, but he hung on and converted the save opportunity. 

Erik Swanson, next man up for the Jays, also had his issues in his season debut, but both he and Romano are two of the best relievers in the game. Romano should be a primary resource for saves moving forward and Swanson will likely be a major contributor in the holds category this season.

The bad news is that, as has become the norm when analyzing MLB closers, there are just too many bullpens where chaos reigns supreme. We’ve seen relievers who we thought were closers being used in non-save situations and it looks like there’s at least one fantasy baseball closer who’s barely hanging on to his job. 




Fantasy Baseball Closer Report: MLB Closers 2024

Elsewhere, there have also been a couple of closers suggesting that their control issues are linked to their inability to grip game baseballs because they are just too slick. We’ll break it all down for you as we take a closer look at some MLB closers and bullpen situations that you should be aware of in this fourth week of the 2024 baseball season. 

*Unless otherwise noted, statistics quoted in this article are accurate as of the morning of April 17th, 2024.

Kenley Jansen & Pete Fairbanks Are Having A Hard Time Gripping Game Baseballs

Jansen, the Red Sox’s closer and a future hall of famer, has taken responsibility for his control issues early this season but at the same time he recently told reporters that this season’s game baseballs are too slick and are making it difficult for him to locate his pitches. 

Heading into Wednesday’s action, Jansen had a fine 2.70 ERA and was among the league leaders in saves with four, but he’s already walked eight batters in 8.2 IP and Jansen’s bloated 1.80 WHIP is way higher than his career 0.963 mark. 

Fairbanks, the Rays’ closer, also isn’t making any excuses for his recent control issues. But after a game at Coors Field in which he walked three straight batters, he called the balls coming out of the stadium’s humidor “horrible”. Fairbanks has had a rough start to the season giving up at least one earned run in four of his first eight appearances. 

Including Wednesday’s game against the Angels, Fairbanks has walked eight batters in seven innings and pitched to a 9.00 ERA. Fairbanks was very forthcoming and blunt when describing his recent underwhelming performance in this short video clip captured on X by Bally Sports

With Fairbanks struggling, fantasy baseball managers rostering Fairbanks might want to add Jason Adams off the waiver wire. Adams has a 2.00 ERA and 0.667 WHIP this season. Adams has 20 saves over the past two previous seasons and already has six holds so far this season.

Maybe Joel Payamps Is The Brewers’ Closer After All

Payamps was widely regarded by many to be the next man up for the Brewers after their star closer, Devin Williams, hit the IL with what is expected to be a long-term injury. However, Abner Uribe converted three of the team’s first four saves and a lot of FAAB was spent on him. 

Unfortunately, it’s looking like Brewers manager Pat Murphy has fallen out of love with Uribe, who has been used in the seventh, fourth and eighth innings in his last three appearances. Payamps picked up the Brewers’ most recent save on Wednesday afternoon and hasn’t given up a run in his last four appearances. 

Some contend that Trevor Megill, who is on the seven-day concussion IL as this article is being written, is destined to be the Brewers’ closer at some point this season. Megill does have some closer experience as evidenced by the 14 career minor league saves on his resume. This Brewers bullpen has a lot of moving parts to it including left-handed reliever Bryan Hudson, who has dominated left-handed batters throughout his career (.191 BAA). 

You can make a speculative move and add Megill off the wire, but you might want to avoid using a large amount of FAAB dollars on anyone else in this bullpen. Murphy warned us before the season started that he’d take matchups and game situations into consideration when deciding which pitcher to use and when to use them. So far it looks like that wasn’t a prediction. It was a spoiler. 




The Mariners Closer Situation Is Fluid At The Moment

If you drafted Andres Munoz and expected him to be the Mariners’ primary closer, be concerned, but don’t give up hope yet. Even though manager Scott Servais has used Munoz in three straight non-save situations, he is the Mariners’ best reliever and probably will end up leading the team in saves by the end of the season. 

In some instances, like on Friday night when he was brought in to face the Cubs’ 2, 3 and 4 hitters, it appears that Servais still trusts that Munoz can get big outs in high-leverage situations. Eventually, Munoz will likely have more opportunities to close out games for the Mariners, but probably not as many as we originally thought. 

Unfortunately, instead of leading the team with upwards of 30 saves (like many of us thought he would), it’s looking like a save total in the 20 range by season’s end is more likely for Munoz and he’ll probably be a better resource for holds than originally anticipated. Things will get even more interesting once Matt Brash and Gregory Santos are activated from the IL.

Tanner Scott Is Hanging On To His Closer’s Role By A Thread

Heading into Thursday’s action, Scott has given up 12 walks in 8.2 IP. With the Marlins having won just four games, there haven’t been too many save opportunities to be had but if Scott continues to have issues with his control, Anthony Bender might find himself closing out games for the team. 

He’s struck out 11 while walking only two batters this season, and while he owns a 5.14 ERA, his xERA of 3.89 suggests he’s pitched much better than conventional stats would lead us to believe. 




Middle Relievers: Thoughts & Advice

Pitchers who typically make multiple inning relief appearances can help provide relief to fantasy managers dealing with injuries to their fantasy baseball starting pitchers.

Reed Garrett, New York Mets

Since our last article, Garrett has pitched three scoreless innings and has struck out eight batters while walking just one. For the season, he has pitched 8.2 innings and has struck out 17 batters and walked just three.

Brennan Bernardino, Boston Red Sox

Over the past week, Bernardino has made three appearances and pitched 3.1 innings. He had five strikeouts, two walks and a 2.70 ERA during that time frame.

Kody Funderburk, Minnesota Twins

Since last Friday, Funderburk has pitched just 1.2 scoreless innings across two appearances, but he has five strikeouts, and he hasn’t walked a batter. For the season, he has pitched seven innings, and he has struck out 11 batters while walking three. He has a 1.29 ERA this season. 

Fernando Cruz, Cincinnati Reds

For the season, Cruz has struck out 15 batters and walked just four in seven appearances spanning 7.1 innings pitched. He has a 2.45 ERA, 0.818 WHIP and three holds.