On the heels of a 60-game 2020 season, the long grind of a 162-game schedule seems to be taking its toll on some major leaguers. We’ll talk about two top AL East relief pitchers who are struggling to hold on to their role as their team’s closer. Despite still having several relief pitchers on the IL the Rays keep on rolling and continue to find treasure from among the trash they pick up from other team’s bullpens. We’ll focus on one of their relief pitchers who had eight strikeouts last week and highlight three relievers who, based on their recent fantasy production, can potentially be used as streaming options in weekly leagues. Please enjoy this week’s Bullpen Report.

Weekly Save Leaders

Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen and Brewers closer Josh Hader top our weekly saves leaderboard with three saves each. 

It seems that every year some fantasy baseball managers avoid drafting Jansen thinking that “this is going to be the season” he finally fades, and it seems that every year Jansen proves them wrong. Entering Wednesday night’s action Jansen had 28 saves and a 2.81 ERA. 

After a bumpy July in which he had a 9.53 ERA, Hader is back to being his old dominant self. He’s saved six games and hasn’t given up a run in the month of August. 

Mariners relievers Paul Sewald and Drew Steckenrider are two of the 11 relief pitches who saved two games last week. Both are getting save opportunities for now, but Sewald is striking out batters at a higher rate than Steckenrider.

Nationals closer Kyle Finnegan saved two games last week as well. In his last 11 appearances dating back to July 29th he’s saved five games, held another and pitched to a 0.84 ERA.

Reds manager David Bell continues to frustrate fantasy baseball managers with his use of his bullpen in save situations. Just when it looked like he had settled on Mychal Givens as his closer, Michael Lorenzen went ahead and saved two games for the Reds last week. In Bell’s defense, Givens did blow a save opportunity and gave up two runs in his last two outings spanning 1.1 IP.  With Lorenzen getting rocked for four runs on Tuesday night, Givens will soon likely have additional opportunities to close out games for the Reds.

Weekly Hold Leaders

Dodgers reliever Alex Vesia, led relievers with three holds last week. Vesia got off to a slow start this season and had a 6.52 ERA on May 30th. Since then, he’s given up just one run in his last 18 appearances (19.1 IP). He has two wins, five holds, a 0.47 ERA and a .082 BAA during that time period.

Seventeen other pitchers had a least two holds last week including Royals relievers Domingo Tapia, Josh Staumont and Richard Lovelady. Tapia, who was traded to the Royals from the Mariners, picked up his first two holds of the season and has a 2.25 ERA. Staumont now has eight holds and five saves on the season. Lovelady’s two holds were also his first of the season. He also has a save on the season as well. With Jake Brentz and Greg Holland on the IL, both Staumont and Lovelady are featured on our closer grid. 

Potential Relief Pitcher Streaming Options

The following three pitchers each posted a solid ERA and struck out at least six batters each over the past week. We’ve listed each pitcher’s overall season stats, as well as their stats for the past week.

Sergio Romo, A’s

One Win, Zero Losses, Zero Saves, 11 Holds, 2.94 ERA, 1.000 WHIP

August 18th – 24th4.22 H80.001.071

Austin Warren, Angels

One Win, Zero Losses, One Save, Three Holds, 1.69 ERA, 1.000 WHIP

August 18th – 24th51 S70.000.400

Marcos Diplán, Orioles

Zero Wins, Zero Losses, Zero Saves, Zero Holds, 0.73 ERA, 0.649 WHIP

August 18th – 24th5 61.801.20

More Bullpen News


Aroldis Chapman is still struggling with his control and has posted a 7.71 ERA in his last three appearances. The Yankees are hoping that he will regain the form that made him one of the best closers in the game earlier this season. Until he does, manager Aaron Boone, whose decisions are heavily dictated by sabermetrics, seems like he’ll use a committee approach when deciding which reliever to use to close out games. Chapman will likely still get save opportunities, but he’ll likely be on a short leash. Zack Britton is on the IL with a sprained elbow and is possibly done for the season.  That leaves Jonathan Loaisiga (this columns favorite), Chad Green, Wandy Peralta, Lucas Luetge and on rare occasions, Albert Abreu. to pitch in late inning high leverage situations. 

Red Sox

Matt Barnes is another topflight closer on the hot seat in the AL East. Barnes had been one of the most reliable and consistent closers for a big chunk of the season but has fallen on hard times of late. Barnes hasn’t recorded a save since August 4th and has a 20.77 ERA in his last eight appearances. His latest meltdown occurred on Tuesday night. Hansel Robles had to bail him out, picking up his first save since being traded to the Bosox. It seems that Barnes’ short-term role in the Red Sox bullpen may be changing. Red Sox manager suggested that Barnes might be used in low leverage situations for the time being and told reporters “we’ll use him accordingly. I don’t want [to] say he’s not the closer, he is the closer, he’s the set-up guy, whatever. We’ve got [to] get him right, that’s the most important thing.” Robles does have closer experience, but if the Sox were to change their bullpen hierarchy, Adam Ottavino would most likely slide in and take over as the team’s closer. Josh Taylor, Garrett Whitlock and Hirokazu Sawamura will also continue to pitch in late inning high leverage situations as well.


The Rays are still in first place, and still have 13 relief pitchers on the IL as this article is being written. Another constant seems to be that players continue to benefit and sometime improve when they join the Rays. Shawn Armstrong, who the Rays acquired from the Orioles, had an 8.55 ERA with his old team. We’re looking at a small sample size, but in his first three outings for the Rays dating back to August 18th, Armstrong pitched five innings, posted a 1.80 ERA, and struck out eight batters. If he continues to produce at that pace, he could be a pitcher worth streaming on occasion.

If you've been a subscriber here at Fantasy Alarm, you've seen the Fantasy Baseball Closer Grid before. If you're new, it's very simple. We not only list who the closer is for each team, but we then go another two-deep into the bullpen to let you know who would be next in line to accrue saves should there be an injury or a change, as well as which relievers you may want to target if your league scores for holds. This isn't about how the teams' depth charts always reads, so keep that in mind. Sometimes the heir-apparent is an obvious one, but in many cases it is not. We look for things like skill set, contact rates, pitch-command, pitch-mix, how many lefties are in the bullpen, who has worked as a closer before and who has the experience in high-leverage situation among other things.

GREEN will be those with strong talent, abundant opportunities and a high-level of job security. The tier below will be in YELLOW followed by ORANGE and lastly RED to indicate who may have the job right now but could lose it with one bad hiccup. 

UPDATED: 8.26.2021