With many teams still tinkering with their bullpens this late into the preseason, managing the 2022 fantasy baseball closer position continues to be a challenge. It seems that once fantasy baseball managers think they’ve got a good grip on the closer position, they find out they don’t. For instance, many of us were fairly confident that Joe Barlow would open the season as the Texas Rangers’ closer until manager Chris Woodward said he doesn’t want to put the right-hander back in the closer's role right away. Dylan Floro was all set to open the season as the Miami Marlins’ closer but instead he’ll open the season on the IL. With Floro sidelined, Anthony Bender will likely take over as the team’s closer, but don't be surprised if they use a closer-by-committee in high-leverage situations. In an interview with KNBR last week, San Francisco Giants’ manager Gabe Kapler told an interviewer that "Right now, if we were starting on Opening Day, Jake McGee would be our closer."
There is new information being released every day relating to fantasy baseball closers and yet there’s still so much that we don’t know. Heading into the preseason Giovanny Gallegos was considered the favorite to open the season as the Cardinals’ closer, but there have been whispers that the Red Birds may use a committee approach in managing save situations. Red Sox manager Alex Cora has said he won’t announce his teams’ closer until a regular season save situation presents itself.
We can go on and on, but for you to have a chance at being successful in managing the saves category in your fantasy baseball league you’re going to need to follow the up-to-the-minute player updates provided available over at Fantasy Alarm, monitor the Closer Grid and maintain an extensive watch list containing relief pitchers who have potential fantasy value. We’ve already provided several player recommendations in previous columns, but the following are a few other deep sleeper relief pitcher options that you should be aware of.
Yimi García, Blue Jays
Garcia recorded 15 saves for the Marlins last season, and while he didn’t perform as well after he was traded to the Astros, he did record a 1.16 WHIP and a 60:18 K:BB ratio. He’ll likely have the opportunity to pitch in high leverage situations should Jordan Romano become injured, and projection models expect that he’ll produce double digit hold totals.
Kendall Graveman, White Sox
With Craig Kimbrel traded to the Dodgers, Aaron Bummer should be considered Liam Hendriks’ handcuff, but Graveman will also play a key role in the White Sox bullpen. Graveman is a former starter who has seen a nice uptick in velocity and strikeout rate since being converted to a reliever. He saved ten games for the Mariners before being traded to the Astros and while he’ll be used in a setup role this season, he's likely to pick up a few saves and double digit holds as well.
Héctor Neris, Astros
Neris has 84 career saves, including 12 last season with the Phillies. Entering Saturday’s action, he hadn’t given up a run and had four strikeouts in four innings pitched this spring. Ryan Pressly has a strong grip on the Astros’ job and Ryne Stanek is probably the next man up behind him, but with the volatility surrounding the closer position Neris is someone to keep on your watch list.
Jordan Hicks, Cardinals
With the Cardinals potentially using a committee approach in managing their high leverage late inning situations and Hicks not having time to be stretched out for a potential Opening Day starting rotation spot, he is someone the Cardinals might consider using in save situations. He fastball averaged 99.5 MPH in his spring debut, and it checked in at 102 MPH later in the week.
Richard Bleier, Marlins
Bleier may not provide as many strikeouts as you’d expect from a pitcher working in high leverage situations, but he’s an extreme ground ball pitcher who may be in the mix for save opportunities with Dylan Floro on the IL to start the season.
Ryan Tepera, Angels
Tepera is coming off a very effective season split between pitching for the Cubs and White Sox. He pitched to an overall 2.79 ERA, picked up two saves, and held 21 games. Tepera can pretty much do it all and would likely be one of the options the Angels would consider should they need a replacement for Raisel Iglesias at some point this season.
|Chicago White Sox||Elite||Liam Hendriks||Aaron Bummer||Kendall Graveman||Joe Kelly|
|Milwaukee Brewers||Elite||Josh Hader||Devin Williams||Jake Cousins|
|Houston Astros||Elite||Ryan Pressly||Ryne Stanek||Hector Neris|
|Los Angeles Angels||Elite||Raisel Iglesias||Mike Mayers||Aaron Loup|
|New York Mets||Elite||Edwin Diaz||Trevor May||Adam Ottavino|
|Atlanta Braves||Elite||Kenley Jansen||Will Smith||A.J. Minter||Kirby Yates|
|Toronto Blue Jays||Stable||Jordan Romano||Tim Mayza||Yimi Garcia|
|Cleveland Guardians||Stable||Emmanuel Clase||Bryan Shaw||Anthony Gose||James Karinchak|
|Detroit Tigers||Stable||Gregory Soto||Michael Fulmer||Jose Cisnero||Andrew Chafin|
|New York Yankees||Stable||Aroldis Chapman||Jonathan Loaisiga||Chad Green||Zack Britton|
|Philadelphia Phillies||Stable||Corey Knebel||Jose Alvarado||Jeurys Familia||JoJo Romero|
|Los Angeles Dodgers||Stable||Craig Kimbrel||Blake Treinen||Brusdar Graterol||Tommy Kahnle|
|Minnesota Twins||Stable||Taylor Rogers||Jorge Alcala||Tyler Duffey|
|St. Louis Cardinals||Fluid||Giovanny Gallegos||Genesis Cabrera||Nick Wittgren||Alex Reyes|
|Texas Rangers||Fluid||Joe Barlow||Greg Holland||Spencer Patton||Jonathan Hernandez/Jose Leclerc|
|Miami Marlins||Fluid||Anthony Bender||Anthony Bass||Steven Okert||Dylan Floro|
|Boston Red Sox||Fluid||Matt Barnes||Jake Diekman||Hansel Robles|
|Cincinnati Reds||Fluid||Hunter Strickland||Luis Cessa||Art Warren||Lucas Sims/Tejay Antone|
|San Francisco Giants||Fluid||Jake McGee||Camilo Doval||Tyler Rogers|
|Arizona Diamondbacks||Fluid||Mark Melancon||Ian Kennedy||Caleb Smith|
|Pittsburgh Pirates||Fluid||David Bednar||Chris Stratton||Anthony Banda|
|Oakland A's||Fluid||Lou Trivino||Domingo Acevedo||A.J. Puk||Deolis Guerra|
|Seattle Mariners||Fluid||Paul Sewald||Drew Steckenrider||Diego Castillo|
|Tampa Bay Rays||Fluid||Andrew Kittredge||JT Chargois||JP Feyereisen||Peter Fairbanks/Nick Anderson|
|Kansas City Royals||Fluid||Scott Barlow||Josh Staumont||Amir Garrett|
|Colorado Rockies||Volatile||Alex Colome||Carlos Estevez||Daniel Bard||Scott Oberg|
|San Diego Padres||Volatile||Robert Suarez||Dinelson Lamet||Emilio Pagan||Michel Baez & Drew Pomeranz|
|Chicago Cubs||Volatile||Rowan Wick||David Robertson||Mychal Givens||Codi Heuer|
|Washington Nationals||Volatile||Tanner Rainey||Kyle Finnegan||Sean Doolittle|
|Baltimore Orioles||Volatile||Colse Sulser||Tanner Scott||Dillon Tate|
Fantasy Baseball 2022
- The Ultimate Fantasy Baseball Cheat Sheet
- Catchers You Must Draft
- Catchers That Will Disappoint
- Catcher Values Boosted by Universal DH
- Undervalued Catchers
- 2022 MLB Free Agent Tracker
- Fantasy Baseball Podcast: Trades, Trades, Trades