Fantasy baseball closers weren’t the only ones earning their saves this week. With the virtual carousel of pitchers heading on and off of both the traditional and COVID IL, fantasy baseball managers were hard at work managing their rosters so that they could continue to be competitive in their leagues’ saves and holds categories. The flurry of activity that took place within the past week kept fantasy baseball managers on their toes and demonstrated the importance of rostering the next man up. You can always use our Closer Grid as a resource for identifying who that next man up will likely be.

Diamondbacks closer Mark Melancon was reinstated off the COVID IL on May 6th but while he was out, his back up Ian Kennedy pitched four scoreless innings and picked up three saves. 

Anthony Bender wasn’t perfect, but he did record six saves while filling in for Dylan Floro, who started the season on the IL. Floro was activated on 5/10 and as this article is being written he’s yet to make his 2022 debut. It remains to be seen, but he’ll likely be re-installed as the Marlins closer.

Cubs closer David Robertson was placed on the COVID IL on Monday. Look for Mychal Givens and Rowan Wick to fill in while Robertson is unavailable. For what it’s worth, Givens has pitched the eighth inning in his last three appearances.

If you already roster Kennedy and Bender, since they’ve already proven to have a direct line to potential saves, it’s probably best to hold on to them if you can.

(The statistics quoted in this article are accurate as of the morning of 5.10.2022)



Weekly Saves Leaders

Liam Hendriks, White Sox 4

Hendriks hasn’t been quite as invincible as in season’s past. He dealt with back spasms earlier in the season and while his BB/9 (2.63) and HR/9 (1.98) are higher than normal, he still has the third most saves in baseball (9). Based on his unusual inconsistency and the back issues he’s experienced this season if you roster Hendriks, it's probably a good idea to grab Kendall Graveman off the waiver wire if he’s available.

Daniel Bard, Rockies, 3

If we told you that after more than a month of the 2022 season had gone by that Daniel Bard and Hendriks would have the same number of saves, would you have believed it? Some keys to his early success include adding almost a mph to his fastball and sinker, throwing his slider (.111 BAA), more, and significantly cutting down his walk rate (4.93 BB/9 last season, 0.82 this season). Bard is also having better success against lefty batters (.115 BAA) compared to last season (.319 BAA).

Joe Barlow, Rangers, 3

Barlow probably should have been the Rangers’ closer all season long. Like Bard he’s also cut down his walk rate, but it’s interesting to note that he’s already given up two home runs this season. Both were hit at pitcher friendly Globe Life Field. He gave up two all last season.

6 additional pitchers had two saves last week.



Weekly Holds Leaders

Matt Foster, White Sox, 4

With Aaron Bummer on the IL, Foster has a chance to pick up save opportunities if Hendriks or Graveman are unavailable. He struck out seven batters and walked just one last week. While Bummer is out Foster should pitch several innings per week and he should provide fantasy managers with good ratios.

Tyler Duffey, Twins, 3

Duffey pitched 3.2 scoreless innings last week. He struck out four batters and did not issue any walks. Emilio Pagán and Jhoan Duran are the first choices for save opportunities out of the Twins bullpen but if they’re unavailable Duffey will likely be the next man up. 

Aaron Bummer, White Sox, 3

As we alluded to earlier Bummer is on the 15-day IL (retroactive to May 7th) due to a right knee strain. He’s expected to be activated once he’s eligible to come off the list.

Colin Poche, Rays, 3

Poche, who is coming off July 2020 TJ surgery, has only pitched 6.2 innings this season. He’s been effective, with a 2.70 ERA and a 0.75 WHIP. He started the season in the minor leagues and the Rays recalled him from Triple-A on April 22nd

14 additional pitchers had two holds last week.

Middle Relievers Who Should Be On Your Radar in Deep Leagues

With starting pitchers averaging just 4.8 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 middle relievers who often make multi-inning relief appearances and might have deep league fantasy value based on their recent performance.


Penn Murfee, Mariners

Murfee has been impressive in his short time pitching in the major leagues. The rookie made four appearances last week, pitching 5.2 scoreless innings. He struck out eight batters and walked just one.



Spencer Strider, Braves

Strider pitched four scoreless innings on Friday night. He struck out eight batters and walked none. Some speculate that he is destined to potentially join the Braves’ starting rotation at some point this season.



Caleb Thielbar, Twins

Thielbar pitched 3.2 innings last week and struck out eight batters while walking just one. He also picked up a win and a hold. He’s had some ups and downs this season, but he’s given up just one run in his last four appearances.




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