With the volatility associated with the fantasy baseball closer position we shouldn’t be surprised that two former closers who recorded a combined 59 saves last season appear to have reclaimed their jobs…at least for the short term. We’ll tell you who they are and also point out a few other fantasy relevant relievers who are either on their way back or have just been reinstated from the IL. Also, 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 6.28.2022)



Weekly Saves Leaders

Tanner Rainey, Nationals, 3


Rainey hasn’t exactly been unhittable this season and he’s been much more effective when pitching at home (2.08 ERA) as opposed to when he pitches on the road (4.09 ERA), but for now, he’s clearly the Nationals’ closer. As a team the Nationals have 13 saves and Rainey has 10 of them. Kyle Finnegan, who many thought would be the Nationals closer this season, is his handcuff. He picked up his first save of the season on Monday night, but Finnegan got the save opportunity because Rainey had pitched the day before and was unavailable.

Nine other relievers saved two games last week including:

Lou Trivino, A’s, 2


Trivino is one of those pitchers we referred to in the opening paragraph. He saved 22 games for the A’s last season but got off to a slow start this season, ended up on the COVID-19 IL and eventually lost his closer’s gig to Dany Jiménez. With Jimenez hitting the IL we speculated that Zach Jackson and A.J. Puk would have a chance to close out some games for the A’s but so far Trivino has converted two save opportunities with Jimenez on the IL. He hasn’t given up a run in his last four appearances (4.2 IP). The A’s would probably love Trivino to continue to pitch well and build up his trade value but fantasy managers would be wise to probably avoid him. 

Paul Sewald, Mariners, 2


The Mariners bullpen is very fluid with five different pitchers having already picked up at least one save this season. With two saves last week Sewald leads the team with six on the season. However, with Ken Giles and his 115 career saves being recently activated off the IL the Mariners’ bullpen situation might become even more fluid. Giles has already made two scoreless appearances this past week, pitching in the ninth and eighth innings respectively. Keep Giles on your watch list.

Weekly Holds Leaders

Héctor Neris, Astros, 3


Neris’ three holds gives him 16 on the season, tying him for the second most in baseball. He’s had a bit of a bumpy ride during the month of June (8.00 ERA), but he did hold six games during that time span. 

Jason Adam, Rays, 3


Adams made four appearances and pitched three innings last week. He struck out three batters and gave up one run. With his three holds last week he now has 11 on the season. 

Bullpens To Take Note Of

Atlanta Braves


If you drafted reliever Will Smith early in the preseason and actually held onto him even after the Braves traded for Kenley Jansen you’re about to be rewarded. Jansen was placed on the IL on Tuesday due to an irregular heartbeat retroactive to June 27th. It sounds scary and we wish Jansen well, but it’s the third time in his career that he’s been sidelined because of a heart issue. He was placed on the IL due to a similar situation back in 2018 and only required a minimal 10-day stay. Smith, who saved 37 games for the Braves last season, seems like the logical choice to take over as the team’s closer but it was A.J. Minter, who has a 1.69 ERA and saved 15 games for the Braves back in 2018, who got the first save on Tuesday night with Jansen on the IL.  

New York Yankees


Aroldis Chapman (Achilles) is very close to being reinstated from the IL and according to @BryanHoch who covers the Yankees for MLB, he’s expected to have the opportunity to resume his role as the Yankees closer. Yankees manager Aaron Boone was also quoted as saying that Clay Holmeswho saved eight games and pitched to a 0.69 ERA while Chapman was sidelined, “has certainly earned that closer role.” Boone did mention that he hoped that if Chapman pitches the way he's capable of, the Yanks would have another “back-end monster.” Don’t expect the Yanks to give Chapman too long of a leash. If he struggles don’t be surprised if Holmes isn’t back closing out games for the Bronx Bombers again.

Chicago White Sox


Liam Hendriks (right forearm strain) is also getting closer to being activated off the IL. He’s begun a throwing regimen and could be back in action in early July. Kendall Graveman has pitched five scoreless innings and picked up a hold and save with Hendriks sidelined. He’ll go back to functioning as Hendriks’ handcuff once Hendriks is reinstated from the IL.

Pittsburgh Pirates


Keep an eye on David BednarHe’s been a good closer for a bad Pirates team, but he’s given up three earned runs in his last 3.2 IP for a 7.36 ERA and he was unavailable to pitch on Tuesday night due to a lower back issue. Should he require a stint on the IL Wil Crowe would probably be next in line for save opportunities. Chris Stratton was expected to share closer duties with Bednar to start the season, but probably wouldn’t step into the closer’s role since he’s been slumping with a 10.00 ERA in his last eight appearances. 

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.

José Ruiz, Chicago White Sox


Ruiz pitched four scoreless innings across three appearances last week. He struck out seven batters, but he did issue three walks. 

Keegan Akin, Baltimore Orioles


Akin picked up a 3.1 inning save on Monday night. Overall, he pitched six innings for the week. He struck out six batters and walked two. Akin has an overall 2.35 ERA on the season. 

Jason Foley, Detroit Tigers


Foley pitched four scoreless innings across three relief appearances last week. He struck out six batters and walked two. Foley has a 2.81 ERA on the season.




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