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MLB Teams With Closer Issues for Fantasy Baseball: Always Be Closing

Joel Payamps - Fantasy Baseball Rankings, Draft Sleepers, Waiver Wire Pickups

Accumulating saves isn’t always easy in fantasy baseball. We entered the season with some reliable closers on the disabled list, including Devin Williams (back) and Paul Sewald (oblique).

There is also Josh Hader, who was considered one of the top closers heading into the season. Not only does he have just two saves, but he has an 8.38 ERA and a 1.66 WHIP.

We also have some unsettled closer situations for teams. Let’s look at three such teams and discuss who could record saves for them moving forward.

Be sure to check all of our fantasy baseball lineup tools and weekly lineup resources:


Milwaukee Brewers

Losing Williams before the season even began was a huge blow for the Brewers. In his first full season as a closer, he recorded 36 saves last year. He finished with a 1.53 ERA, 2.66 FIP, and a 37.7 percent strikeout rate. For his career, he has a 39.0 percent strikeout rate. Best case scenario, Williams hopes to be back around the All-Star break.

The good news for the Brewers is that they have options to cover for Williams. Trevor Megill had a 3.63 ERA, 2.13 FIP, and a 35.1 percent strikeout rate last year. Joel Payamps was also very good, finishing with a 2.55 ERA, 3.48 FIP, and a 26.8 percent strikeout rate.

As good as Megill and Payamps were last season, Abner Uribe has received save opportunities to begin the season. He has converted three save chances so far, while posting a 4.35 ERA and a 4.27 FIP. The concern with Uribe is his 13.0 percent walk rate. Last season, he finished with a 15.7 percent walk rate.

Megill missed nearly three weeks with a concussion, so he has only made three relief appearances this season. None of them resulted in save opportunities. Don’t expect him to get many save chances moving forward.

Uribe has not recorded a save in three weeks, while Payamps has two saves within the last week. They will likely continue to share the ninth inning, although Payamps could get the bulk of the save chances if Uribe continues to have command issues.


Chicago Cubs

Adbert Alzolay had a breakout campaign for the Cubs last season, finishing with 22 saves. The former starter thrived out of the bullpen, finishing with a 2.67 ERA and a 3.02 FIP. One of the main reasons for his success was his 1.02 WHIP, which was an improvement over his career WHIP of 1.14.

Entering this season as the Cubs closer, it has been an ugly start for Alzolay. He has blown four of seven save opportunities, giving up four home runs over 11 innings. Last year, he allowed a total of five home runs across 64 innings. Over the weekend, Cubs manager Craig Counsell indicated that Alzolay will not be used as a closer moving forward, at least for the time being.

The two likely options for saves behind Alzolay are Hector Neris and Mark Leiter Jr. Leiter, who has seven career saves, has a 0.84 WHIP and has not given up an earned run over 10.2 innings this season. Neris hasn’t been as sharp with a 3.86 ERA and a 4.21 FIP. He does have closing experience, though, posting two seasons with at least 26 saves during his tenure with the Phillies.

It wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Cubs give both Neris and Leiter save opportunities as they try to establish their new closer. Neris is available in 61 percent of Yahoo leagues, while Leiter is available in 88 percent of leagues. Grab Neris is you can, but if he has already been added in your league, take a chance on Leiter.


Tampa Bay Rays

Few relievers in the league can rack up strikeouts like Pete Fairbanks. He had a 37.0 percent strikeout rate least season and he has a 33.6 percent strikeout rate for his career. Opponents had just a 3.3 percent barrel rate against him last year and he finished with 25 saves.

The problem with Fairbanks has been his inability to stay healthy. He has never logged more than 45.1 innings in a season in the majors during his career. He struggled at the start of this season, giving up eight runs (seven earned) over seven innings. As if his performance wasn’t bad enough, he landed on the disabled list Monday with a nerve-related issue.

Who is next in line for saves with the Rays? The best option will likely be Jason Adam, who had 12 saves last season. He has done an excellent job of keeping runners off base, recording a 1.03 WHIP for his career. He has a 0.60 WHIP so far this season, giving up three runs (two earned) over 10 innings.

For those in deeper leagues in which Adam is no longer available, don’t be surprised if Colin Poche receives occasional save opportunities. He has recorded two saves already this season, and he did have seven saves for the Rays in 2022. Holding him back, though, might be his 1.44 WHIP this year.

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