In this week’s column we’ll introduce you to the new Texas Rangers’ closer who has saved three games in his first week on the job. We’ll also focus on a few under the radar Pirates relievers who’ve been pitching well of late. In addition, as we often do in this column, we’ll identify a couple of under the radar relievers who may sometimes provide better weekly fantasy production than some ordinary starting pitchers. Don’t forget to utilize our Closer Grid throughout the week. It’s a great resource for identifying bullpen closers, handcuffs, and sleepers. 

(The statistics quoted in this article are accurate as of the morning of 7.12.2022)



Weekly Saves Leaders

David Bednar, Pirates, 4


Bednar has 16 saves and a 2.57 ERA and is under club control for the next four seasons. Several teams have reached out to the Pirates to find out if they would consider trading the NL All-Star this season. The Pirates, who have traded away talented ball players in the recent past (Gerrit Cole and Clay Holmes are two examples) and watched them have big time success with their new teams, have rejected all offers. That’s a good sign for fantasy managers who roster Bednar. He should continue to close out games for the Bucs, but fantasy managers should also keep an eye on Pirates reliever Yerry De Los SantosHe has three saves in his last four appearances. De Los Santos has pitched to a 1.93 ERA, struck out seven batters, and walked just one during that time span.

Jorge López, Orioles, 3


As the season recently crossed the midway point the Orioles found themselves in unfamiliar territory; they actually have a legitimate shot at finishing the season with a .500 or better winning percentage. Their recent success (they’ve won eight straight heading into Tuesday night’s action) is due in large part to the performance of their bullpen which is led by closer Jorge López. Lopez’s three saves last week gives him 16 on the season. He has a sparkling 1.74 ERA and 0.968 WHIP on the season and although he’s signed through the 2024 season the Orioles will probably entertain trade offers for their talented closer. Should Lopez be moved Félix Bautista will likely take over as the Orioles’ closer, but Dillon Tate and Cionel Pérez have saved games for the Orioles this season and both have been effective in late inning high leverage situations this season.

Brett Martin, Rangers, 3


Way back in March, Rangers manager Chris Woodward warned that Joe Barlow might not be the teams' closer to start the season. However, by the end of April Barlow was indeed the Rangers’ closer, saving 13 of the teams’ wins by the end of June. Back to back blown saves on July 4th and 5th caused Woodward to remove Barlow from the closers role explaining that he wanted to shield him from the stress associated with being a big league closer. Brett Martin, Danny Santana and Matt Moore were expected to be part of a committee bullpen approach but so far Martin has taken the lead and recorded the first three saves in the post Joe Barlow era. Based on Woodward’s recent comments Barlow probably hasn’t seen his last save opportunity. However, with Martin not having allowed an earned run in his last 13 appearances it may be a little while before Barlow gets that next save opportunity. 

Tanner Scott, Marlins, 3


Last week we talked about how with two saves, Dylan Floro was moving up the Marlins’ bullpen depth chart. However, this week Floro was back working the sixth inning of two games and Anthony Bass and Steven Okert were called upon to pitch in the seventh, eighth and ninth innings for the Marlins. The one thing that remains clear is that at least for the short-term Tanner Scott remains at the top of the hierarchy in the Marlins’ bullpen. Despite blowing two saves in the span of a week it appears that he’ll remain the Marlins’ closer for now.

Weekly Holds Leaders

Wil Crowe, Pirates, 5


The Pirates’ bullpen has the fourth highest ERA (4.66) in baseball but despite a few hiccups along the way Crowe has been a reliable reliever as Bednar’s handcuff this season. Crowe has appeared in seven games since June 30th, and he’s registered seven holds during that time span. Overall Crowe has 12 holds on the season. 

Duane Underwood Jr., Pirates, 3


Underwood Jr. was very busy last week. He pitched in four games, striking out six batters while walking just one. Underwood Jr. pitched to a 2.25 ERA and with his three holds last week he now has seven on the season.

Taylor Clarke, Royals, 2


We featured Clarke in last week’s column, and he continues to be one of the hottest relievers in baseball. He has six holds in his last 13 games, pitching to a 1.23 ERA. He has 14 strikeouts and just two walks during that time span. 


Bullpens To Take Note Of

New York Yankees


Clay Holmes, who has been one of the best closers in baseball since taking over for Aroldis Chapman back in May, watched his ERA jump up to 1.37 from 0.46 on Tuesday night. Holmes blew a save in his last outing on Saturday against the Red Sox. Chapman is back from the IL but despite suggestions that they would, the Yanks seem reluctant to use him in high leverage situations for now. Holmes is probably just going through a slump but with Michael King sporting a 0.98 ERA in his last 18.1 IP spanning 14 appearances, it will be interesting to note which pitcher gets the next save opportunity for the Yankees.

Atlanta Braves


The Braves are expected to reinstate Kenley Jansen from the IL (heart) Wednesday afternoon. Determining who his true handcuff will be moving forward is going to be a challenge. During his absence Will Smith and A.J. Minter split save opportunities. Smith saved three games for the Braves and Minter recorded four saves including the teams’ last three. 


Middle Relievers Who Should Be On Your Radar in Deep Leagues

With starting pitchers averaging five innings per start so far this season, in some instances you might get similar, or even better production by using a top middle relief pitcher instead of a mediocre starting pitcher in a given week. The following are examples of two middle relievers who often make multi-inning relief appearances and might have deep league fantasy value based on their recent performance.

Lucas Luetge, Yankees


Luetge made two relief appearances for the Yankees last week pitching five scoreless innings. He struck out seven batters and walked just one and also picked up a save during that time span. Luetge has a 0.51 ERA with 15 strikeouts and five walks in his last 12 appearances spanning 17.2 IP. 

Jharel Cotton, Twins


Cotton worked just 3.2 scoreless innings spanning two appearances last week, but he struck out seven batters and walked just one. 




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