We should just start calling this the bad news article. We knew that 2020 was going to be a fantasy baseball season like no other, but I don’t know that we could have predicted this. And for bullpens it has been even worse than for starters and hitters. The closer’s grid from two weeks ago when the season started is completely on fire. It has been torn up, put through a shredder, and then lit on fire. I could make the entire closer’s grid (updated below) red for situations unclear and it would be pretty accurate. With that being said, let’s take a look at what is going on around the league, and how you should handle each situation.

The only news that didn’t fit into any category below is in Boston. Brandon Workman came into a 5-0 game on Wednesday, and you might think why did they bring him into a non-save situation? Well, he hadn’t pitched in nearly a week, so it was getting him work. He pitched great, striking out three. He has a lock on the job as of now.

The Bad News

Craig Kimbrel , Chicago Cubs

Manager David Ross is either asking for punishment or has more patience than any manager in the history of the league. Kimbrel imploded and allowed two runs in each of his first two appearances, and Ross apparently figured that he would give his embattled closer an easy on Tuesday with a three-run lead. Kimbrel immediately gave up two runs and was finally pulled from the game. There has to be no chance that he gets another opportunity after that, especially with Jeremy Jeffress and assumed closer Rowan Wick pitching well. If you are a Kimbrel owner it is time to cut bait, this guy can’t get my mother out, and she is in her 70s. Wick should be the guy in Chicago with a little Jeffress sprinkled in at times.

Hansel Robles , Los Angeles Angels

This is a guy I was very high on before the season, but now it appears that maybe I was just high. We at least got one clean outing and one save out of him, but Robles ERA sits at 22.09 after his latest huge embarrassing failure, and he has allowed nine earned runs in just 3.2 innings of “work”. Ty Buttrey picked up the latest save for the Halos, although he hasn’t exactly been awesome this year either. He could be in a committee with Kenyan Middleton, and this might be a situation to avoid until there is a little more clarity. If you wanted to pick up someone from this group though, Buttrey would be the guy. Just don’t expect a ton, he has one strikeout in 6.1 innings so far in 2020.

Roberto Osuna , Houston Astros

The bad news doesn’t get much worse than this. His season is over as he is set to have Tommy John Surgery. Osuna didn’t look good in limited action right before the injury, and this makes sense. Ryan Pressly is the guy to pick up there and should be a good source of saves on a good team. The Astros bullpen is destroyed by injuries right now, and Pressly does appear to be the clear-cut choice to close games for them. Clear cut choice to close games. Say that five times fast. First run to the waiver wire to dump Osuna, then say that five times fast. The Astros are also moving Josh James back into the bullpen after not faring well in a couple starts. Could he be in the mix if Pressly falters?

Muddied Situations

St. Louis Cardinals

It was announced that Kwang Hyun-Kim would be going into the rotation when the Cardinals resume play this weekend, leaving the closer’s role open. It would make season that Ryan Helsley would take that spot, but Giovanny Gallegos was also a popular choice before the season started. Helsley hasn’t given up a hit in 2.2 innings worth of work so far with two strikeouts and has closer’s type stuff. It isn’t set for sure yet, but Helsley is where I would lay my money down.

San Diego Padres

Kirby Yates has not been good this season. He has only had one outing where he didn’t give up a run. He blew a save early, was skipped over for the next save chance, and then didn’t pitch in a save opportunity the next time out. He got his first save of the season on Monday, but even then, he allowed a home run to Cody Bellinger before he closed the door. On the other hand, Drew Pomeranz has been filthy allowing just one hit and striking out eight over 5.1 innings so far while collecting two saves. Right now, it still seems that Yates is in the ninth inning role, but he is going to have to clean up his act fast if he wants to hold the job.

Situations Gaining Clarity

Daniel Hudson , Washington Nationals

While we thought it might be Sean Doolittle closing games for the Nats, he is still not right with his mechanics or his velocity, and Daniel Hudson has been mowing hitters down. He has allowed just one hit over 4.2 innings with seven strikeouts, two saves, and a win. Even if Doolittle was perfectly normal, there is nothing that would indicate that the Nationals won’t rely on Hudson in the ninth inning barring some monster change in performance. This seems to be one of the more solid locks in the ninth inning right now.

Cole Sulser, Baltimore Orioles

After a rough outing in his second appearance of the year, Sulser has recorded two more saves and is the only Orioles reliever with a save so far this season. Hunter Harvey doesn’t appear to be close to returning, so Sulser looks to have this job wrapped up for now.

Aroldis Chapman , New York Yankees

While he isn’t back yet, Chapman has been cleared to rejoin the team and is at the alternate site getting ramped up for game appearances. However, it still could be about a week before he is back on the mound. He also might be worked back in a little gingerly since Zack Britton has only allowed one hit and has four saves. However, while he might not get every save chance for the Yankees, Chapman is sure to still rack up some. I would not drop Britton based on this news since he will still help you with strikeouts and ratios and still should get a few saves along the way.

Keone Kela , Pittsburgh Pirates

Another closer who missed the start of the season due to COVID-19, Kela has also been cleared to resume workouts but hasn’t been near a return just yet. However, Manager Derek Shelton has come out and said that Kela will be his closer when he is able to return to the mound. Nick Burdi is now done for the season which should put Richard Rodríguez (maybe?) in line to close games until Kela is ready.  

Jairo Díaz , Colorado Rockies

With Wade Davis and Scott Oberg done, the ninth inning job looks like it is going to Diaz. He was dynamite as a set-up man earlier in the year and has gotten the last two saves for the Rockies. The last one was very iffy as he allowed two runs in a game the team was up three. Hopefully, we don’t see a repeat of that performance. He is far from a sure thing right now, but he is getting the ball. Diaz has good strikeout stuff, but he also walks too many which leads to giving up runs. He is safe for now but hold your breath and cross your fingers and toes. 

Throw your Hands Up

Texas Rangers

The Rangers bullpen could be any wide range of emojis. It could be the facepalm emoji for how bad the bullpen is. It could be the mad orange face emoji with all of the curse words coming out for the five members of the bullpen with an ERA of 9.00 or more. It could be the emoji with the person making the “I don’t know” motion with their arms because who truly knows who is the closer here? Nick Goody has one save, but that was a week ago. Manager Chris Woodward has already said he would use a committee, but who? Jonathan Hernández has been solid but hasn’t been used in the ninth. Edinson Vólquez hasn’t been good either. Some have speculated on Rafael Montero who is coming back from injury soon, but he has absolutely no closing experience in his career. What a mess.

Tampa Bay Rays

Oliver Drake inexplicably got the first two saves of the season, but then has been charged with a loss in each of his last two appearances and has disappeared since then. Nick Anderson came in and got a save, but he was brought in during the ninth inning when Ryan Thompson was blowing a four-run lead. Every reliever of any substance has an ERA over 8.00, and so many of them have an ERA over 10.00. Sure, it is easy for a reliever’s ERA to get high, but ALL OF THEM? The Rays are better than their 5-6 record, but will any reliever step up? We knew coming into the season their bullpen would be difficult to predict, but this is ridiculous!

Kansas City Royals

Is it Greg Holland ? Is it Trevor Rosenthal ? Will Ian Kennedy ever be brought in to try to save the game after being so good in 2019? Will the Royals win enough games for it to even matter? The answer to that last one is the key. We might be looking at a team that wins 15 games this year. How valuable can their closer be? If I had to guess I would say Holland, but I would avoid if at all possible.

Seattle Mariners

Taylor Williams has two saves, Dan Altavilla picked up one at the end of July, and then on Wednesday night Carl Edwards Jr. got his first save of the season. The guy who doesn’t have a save is Matt Magill who was the popular choice for Mariners closer before the season started. There’s 2020 for you! The Mariners stink and it would be best to avoid this disaster at all costs. There is no obvious choice for saves here.