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2019 Bullpen Outlooks - National League West

The East and Central have already been covered, so let's head out west. It's time to see what's going on in the bullpens of the National League West division.

There are still too many significant relief pitchers on the free agent market to believe that any bullpen is "set" for Opening Day, but there are a few NL West bullpens who at least have their closers set. Meanwhile, there are a pair of bullpens who seem ready to go into spring training with a full-on battle for the ninth inning. Will anyone win the closer's role outright, or will we see an NL West club enter the season with a ninth-inning committee?

Let's take a look at the National League West and see what might happen this season. Be sure to also check out our full fantasy baseball closer depth charts for each team, including holds candidates and setup men.

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Arizona Diamondbacks

Closer: Archie Bradley, Yoshihisa Hirano
Volatility Rating: Volatile
Other Relevant RP:  Andrew Chafin, T.J. McFarland

The Arizona Diamondbacks, as their roster currently stands, look like they might head into the season with a committee situation at the end of their bullpen. Archie Bradley and Yoshihisa Hirano are both very good relievers, but between them, they had six saves last season (three each). The Diamondbacks' leader in saves, Brad Boxberger, is still a free agent. The Diamondbacks don't seem interested in a reunion, however.

Bradley struck out 75 batters in 71 2/3 innings last season, posting a 3.64 ERA and a 1.14 WHIP. He flashed dominance at times, but struggled to get outs on occasion as well. Hirano had a very successful first season in the major leagues, tossing 66 1/3 innings, striking out 59 and posting a 2.44 ERA with a 1.09 WHIP. Either pitcher would make a decent closer, but it seems more likely that the two would split duties if Arizona doesn't add a proven closer by the time the season begins.

Fantasy Must-Own: Hirano and Bradley should both be owned in holds leagues, and if one of the two is named closer outright, then he becomes a must-own in standard formats.

 

Colorado Rockies

Closer: Wade Davis
Volatility Rating: Solid
Other Relevant RP: Jake McGee, Seung Hwan Oh, Bryan Shaw

The Colorado Rockies lost Adam Ottavino to free agency this offseason. While they still have their closer returning, the loss of Ottavino could be felt throughout the Rockies pitching staff. Still, Wade Davis picked up 43 saves in 2018 and will return to his role this season, looking for more. He wasn't elite as evidenced by his 4.13 ERA, but a 1.06 WHIP to go with 78 strikeouts in 65 1/3 innings shows that Davis can still bring it.

He'll be backed up by former closers Jake McGee and Seung Hwan Oh. Both hurlers struggled at times in 2018, but they are both also solid relievers who can pitch at a high level. McGee struggled his way to a 6.49 ERA and 1.46 WHIP, but he struck out just about a batter per inning. He and the Rockies will need him to do better as one of the key lefties out of the pen. Oh was solid as a Rockie, pitching to a 2.53 ERA and 1.03 WHIP in his 21 1/3 innings.

Fantasy Must-Own: Wade Davis (all formats), Seung Hwan Oh (holds leagues)

 

Los Angeles Dodgers

Closer: Kenley Jansen
Volatility Rating: Solid
Other Relevant RP: Joe Kelly, Scott Alexander, Pedro Baez

The Los Angeles Dodgers have the most solid closer situation in the National League West. Kenley Jansen is one of the best relievers in baseball, and he'll return to his role as the stopper for the Dodgers. Last season, he saved 38 games, posting a 3.01 ERA and 0.99 WHIP. He struck out 82 batters in 71 2/3 innings while walking just 17. Despite a somewhat down year in save total due to some time spent on the disabled list, Jansen is as good a bet as any to lead the league in saves in 2018.

He'll be set up by newcomer Joe Kelly, who put up 21 holds last season while pitching to a 4.39 ERA and 1.36 WHIP. He struck out 68 in 65 2/3 innings and should be one of the better setup men in the West. Scott Alexander should work as the late-inning lefty and could pick up holds in bunches while only needing to get one or two outs at a time. Pedro Baez will be knocked down an inning by the signing of Kelly, but should still be a decent source of holds.

Fantasy Must-Own: Kenley Jansen (all formats), Joe Kelly (holds leagues, handcuff for Jansen)

 

San Diego Padres

Closer: Kirby Yates
Volatility Rating: Solid*
Other Relevant RPs: Craig Stammen, Matt Strahm, Phil Maton

The San Diego Padres are rumored to be trying to make some noise on the free agent market, so the volatility rating for this bullpen comes with an asterisk. Assuming the Padres don't add a top-tier free agent reliever, Kirby Yates has a solid hold of the ninth inning in San Diego. Yates saved 12 games last season, putting up 90 strikeouts in 63 innings along with a 2.14 ERA and 0.92 WHIP. He was quietly one of the best closers in baseball for the last third of the season. He'll definitely be underdrafted in most leagues, so smart owners will snag him in the later rounds as closers start coming off the board.

The rest of the relievers in the back end of the Padres bullpen could be good sources of holds. Craig Stammen held a 2.73 ERA and a 1.04 WHIP while striking out 88 batters in 79 innings. Phil Maton went through some more growing pains, but he still struck out over a batter per inning and should improve again this season.

Fantasy Must-Own: Kirby Yates (all formats), Craig Stammen (holds leagues, Yates' handcuff)

 

San Francisco Giants

Closer: Mark Melancon
Volatility Rating: Questionable
Other Relevant RPs: Will Smith, Sam Dyson, Derek Law

The San Francisco Giants have plenty of talent in their bullpen on paper, but they struggled plenty last season to hold leads and deliver wins to their starting pitchers. They'll head into spring training presumably counting on veteran Mark Melancon to hold down the ninth inning in 2019. Melancon was limited to just 39 innings last season due to injury, but he put up a 3.23 ERA and showed signs of his old self.

Setting up Melancon will be a combination of Will Smith, Derek Law, and Sam Dyson. In case Melancon struggles or gets hurt again, any of those three could end up with the ninth inning. The most likely situation, in that case, would likely be some kind of committee set up.

Fantasy Must-Own: None (Melancon would be worth owning in deeper standard leagues and NL only as long as he stays healthy through spring training, but he doesn't have the strikeout upside to be a must-own in standard formats.)

More 2019 Fantasy Baseball Advice




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