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Bullpen Report: What We Learned in Week 2

Relievers have become more and more important in fantasy baseball in recent years. First, with starting pitchers being limited to fewer innings than ever, it leads to relievers seeing an uptick in usage. All of a sudden, a good reliever could give you similar innings to a fringe starting pitcher, but with better ratios and more strikeouts. Additionally, teams have been using one set closer less and less, meaning that there are more arms than ever to speculate on saves right now. That is why I am pumped to be taking over the bullpen usage report each week. I will dive into pens and identify relievers that are putting up strong numbers and you should consider adding in your Roto leagues. You may be thinking, we are just one week into the season though! Well yes but paying close attention to relievers is what helped me be one of the first to identify Nick Anderson as a true breakout a couple of seasons ago.

Did you know that Phillies reliever Connor Brogdon became the first pitcher in the MLB to earn three wins this year? Oakland Athletics reliever Yusmeiro Petit picked up his third win soon after. Want some more reliever fun facts? This one has been discussed on fantasy baseball Twitter, but there are 36 pitchers who have already picked up a save. Just to clarify, there are only 30 MLB teams. That stat becomes even more wild when you realize there are five teams (Red Sox, Mets, Marlins, Nationals, A’s) that hadn't picked up a save all season going into this week.

As you can see, there are more speculative save relievers than ever before. That is something that will be discussed here, but more so are the relievers who are not getting the save opportunities and are often overlooked for fantasy purposes – but can still help your teams!

Be sure to check all of our fantasy baseball waiver wire pickups and weekly lineup resources:

 

Closers and Bullpens

Arizona Diamondbacks

Chris Devenski picked up the lone save here but then ended up on the restricted list for personal reasons. Joakim Soria is sidelined with a calf injury. They do have options for saves in Stefan Crichton, Kevin Ginkel and perhaps Caleb Smith. Crichton has some experience as a closer so he would be the favorite for saves in the near future, making him worthy of rostering. Ginkel is a reliever to take notice of here so far, as he could be in the saves picture. He has a 35% strikeout rate with a 2.71 xFIP so far, while not allowing a run. Smith has also looked good so far, pitching to a 0.62 xFIP and -0.25 FIP (yes, negative!) with a 27.9% strikeout rate. It is a small sample size, but it should catch your eye and make him a player to watch moving forward.

Atlanta Braves

Will Smith is the closer here. That much has been clear so far. Unless he struggles or gets injured, I do not anticipate that changing. But there are two other relievers to point out in this pen. A.J. Minter has already appeared in four games, pitching to a 2.25 ERA with a 3.56 xFIP and a 25% strikeout rate. The usage makes him one of those relievers who can give you close to the amount of innings as a fringe starter. He has done so with some bad luck as hitters have a .364 BABIP against him so far. Tyler Matzek is another one to keep an eye on, as he has a 31.6% strikeout rate over his three appearances, while not allowing a run and posting a 2.87 xFIP.

Baltimore Orioles

This bullpen is going to be something all year. Cesar Valdez appears to be the closer early on, picking up two saves. Paul Fry has the other for the Orioles. Valdez is worthy of rostering in all Roto formats as long as he is picking up the saves. The other reliever worth rostering in deeper formats is Tanner Scott. Scott has pitched to a 1.53 xFIP this season, while not allowing a run and maintaining a 41.2% strikeout rate in his two outings this season. He is also expected to be a ninth inning option if Valdez struggles. You can consider stashing Scott now, but if you do not have the roster spot, just monitor this situation closely. At the first sign of Valdez struggling, make sure to add Scott as he will be a lot easier to obtain before he starts being used in the ninth.

Boston Red Sox

The Red Sox are one of the teams without a save yet this season, but the expectation is that Matt Barnes and Adam Ottavino would be in the mix. Barnes has pitched better so far, not allowing a run in three innings and putting up a 0.83 xFIP with a 63.2% strikeout rate. Both are worth holding onto until the ninth inning works itself out. There is not a whole lot else so far in this pen, although if electric rookie Tanner Houck is recalled and begins pitching in the pen at some point, that would change. He made a start and and a relief appearance before being optioned.

Chicago Cubs

Craig Kimbrel is the closer here. Outside of him there is not a pitcher that you need to roster in fantasy. But if you are not a believer in Kimbrel, some options they have if he struggles are Brandon Workman, who has shown he can miss bats (29.4% strikeout rate), but he has struggled so far (6.75 ERA). Alec Mills has picked up a save for the Cubs, but he does not miss bats (8.3% strikeout rate). Ryan Tepera is another option who can miss bats (26.3% strikeout rate), but his 5.03 xFIP is tough to look at. If I was going with another option here it would be Workman.

Thursday Update: Dan Winkler loaded the bases in the eighth and Craig Kimbrel had to come with just one out, but he struck out two straight to get out the jam. He then pitched a clean ninth to pick up his second save of the season. He looked like the Kimbrel of old in this outing.

Chicago White Sox

Liam Hendriks is the clear cut closer here and unless he misses time due to injury, that is not going to change anytime soon. But there are a few options who can provide strong ratios in deeper Roto formats. Aaron Bummer has appeared three times and pitched to a 0.00 ERA and 3.62 xFIP with a strikeout rate of 30%. Matt Foster has been used four times picking up a wile 19.29 K/9, and while the 27.00 ERA looks scary, the 3.78 xFIP is much better. Lastly, there is fire thrower Michael Kopech, who has not allowed a run in his four innings so far. He’s posted a 1.62 xFIP and 18.00 K/9. Bummer would be next in line for saves, but Kopech can be that multi-inning hurler that puts up great ratios, much like how Josh Hader, Nick Anderson and Devin Williams broke out as elite fantasy relievers. Foster is more of a deep league option.

Cincinnati Reds

Amir Garrett is the pitcher to most trust here as he picked up the lone save of the season for the Reds. He did allow a grand slam with an 11-run lead in his other appearance, which hurts for fantasy, but doesn’t change much in real life. Lucas Sims has been mentioned as a ninth inning option as well, making him worthy of rostering in deeper Roto formats. He has not allowed a run so far and has a 1.12 xFIP and 13.5 K/9, while not allowing a walk. There other arm to watch here is Sean Doolitte, who has added velocity this season. He has not allowed a run in his three appearances and has pitched to a 1.28 xFIP while picking up 16.88 K/9. He has closer experience and has looked the part so far. I would rank them: Garrett, Sims, Doolittle.

Cleveland Indians

James Karinchak had all the hype coming into the season and while he is Cleveland’s best reliever, he has not been used in the ninth. They are using him in high leverage situations. I am sure he will see some saves, but he is far from being a set closer. Still, he will get a lot of strikeouts and post good ratios, making him worthy of rostering in roto formats. Nick Wittgren picked up the first save for Cleveland, and while his numbers don’t look great early on, him getting that save means he is worth rostering. Emmanuel Clase is also in the late inning picture and has posted a 0.00 ERA, 1.12 xFIP to go with 13.5 K/9. He is a sneaky add right now as he could work his way into the ninth, especially if Wittgren struggles.

Colorado Rockies

Daniel Bard is the closer here, having picked up the lone save chance while pitching to a 0.00 ERA, 4.08 xFIP and 15.0 K/9. The fallback option if Bard struggles is likely Mychal Givens, but they also have Robert Stephenson and Tyler Kinley. None of these relievers put up good enough numbers to roster unless they are in the saves picture, especially since half their games will come in Coors Field. It’s best to avoid this bullpen outside of Bard for now.

Detroit Tigers

I feel confident saying Gregory Soto is the closer here. He picked up the save on opening day, the next one went to Bryan Garcia, but then it was Soto pitching the ninth and tenth, and picking up the win, this week, while Garcia pitched in the fifth inning. Soto is worthy of rostering in all fantasy formats as long as he is getting the save opportunities here. Remember, Detroit would routinely have not great relievers Shane Greene and Joe Jimenez pick up 30 saves. There are two other relievers here that catch my eye in the small sample size. The first is Jose Cisnero who in four innings has a 2.25 ERA, 2,87 xFIP and 13.5 K/9. The other is former starter Michael Fulmer, who has a 3.00 ERA, 2.82 xFIP and 15.00 K/9 in three innings so far. Both would be more deeper league options, but Fulmer could become a multi-inning reliever with good ratios and strikeouts if this maintains.

Houston Astros

Ryan Pressly may not have a save, but he is the closer here, evident by his ninth inning win this week. Brooks Raley does have the lone save for the Astros. He and Joe Smith would be involved if anything happened to Pressly. Both are sporting high ERAs currently, but Smith has the better swing and miss stuff. Ryne Stanek has also pitched very effectively so far, going 3.2 innings with a 14.73 K/9 and a 0.00 ERA and 2.90 xFIP. For those in AL only leagues, take notice.

Kansas City Royals

This is a very interesting pen at the moment. Presumed closer Greg Holland does not have a save, but Jesse Hahn and Wade Davis both do. Holland has struggled, as he came into the eighth this week and allowed a two-run homer. We should give him a little more time to see this situation unfold, but he is very much so on the chopping block. So, who would be next in line for saves? A lot seems to point to Hahn, who got the save earlier this week. But we did have Alec Lewis, Royals reporter for The Athletic, on RotoBaller Radio on SiriusXM last week, and he pegged Davis as a potential dark horse for saves here. I would add Hahn first, but in deeper formats where you are in need of saves, speculate on both, but do not spend a lot of FAAB. A pitcher that has caught my eye here is Scott Barlow. In 4.2 innings already he has pitched to a 13.5 K/9, with a 0.00 ERA and 3.03 xFIP. He remains a late inning option for them, is used a lot and at times for multiple innings. He is my favorite arm in this pen.

Los Angeles Angels

Raisel Iglesias is the clear cut closer here and he also happens to be the best arm in this pen. Mike Mayers does have a save for the Angels as well this season. He should be viewed as the next in line should anything happen to Iglesias. Besides that, there is not a whole lot to love for fantasy just yet.

Los Angeles Dodgers

Kenley Jansen is the closer here and has one save and one blown save. He is clearly worth rostering in fantasy, but if he continues to struggle, we can see Blake Treinen and Corey Knebel get involved in the ninth. Both are former closers, who have been missing a lot of bats, although Knebel’s ERA and peripherals are both better so far. Those two are both worthy of taking a speculative add on just in case Jansen struggles again. The two will provide strikeouts and ratios and could find themselves in the saves picture on the best team in the league. I would prioritize Treinen over Knebel, but it is very close between the two.

Miami Marlins

Anthony Bass got the save opportunity here, but he was shelled against the Rays. He has made two appearances so far, pitching to an 18.00 ERA, 4.14 xFIP, while averaging a strikeout per inning. He is worth rostering as long as he is getting the save chances, but Yimi Garcia is breathing down his neck. Garcia is off to a slow start himself, but he is the best arm in this pen and worthy of holding onto, especially given what happened to Bass in his first save chance. Ross Detwiller has pitched well in his two appearances, pitching to a 0.00 ERA, -0.51 xFIP and picking up 21.6 K/9. It’s a small sample size but take note in NL only leagues.

Thursday Update: Yimi Garcia came in and made easy work of the Mets in the eighth inning. The same could not be said for Anthony Bass, who allowed a game tying home run to Jeff McNeil. He then issued an infield hit, a double and an intentional walk. The game ended with a controversial call as Michael Conforto leaned in was hit by a pitch that should have been strike three. But even so, this outing was another rough one for Bass, whose days as the closer have to be limited. Get those Garcia bids in now!

Milwaukee Brewers

This pen is stacked with talented arms. You do not need me to tell you how good Josh Hader and Devin Williams are. While neither has a save, both will be used in late inning situations and should be heavily rostered in fantasy baseball. Another pitcher who has looked strong so far is Brent Suter, who has a 1.93 ERA, 4.85 xFIP and 5.79 K/9 in 4.2 innings. The strikeouts are not great, but he is an arm to take notice to in NL only leagues. Brad Boxberger has the lone save for the Brewers, but he has yet to strike anyone out. It would take something happening to multiple arms in this pen for him to get routine save opportunities.

Minnesota Twins

Alex Colome has both two saves for the Twins and he blew one as well. That right there shows that he is the clear cut closer here. Randy Dobnak does have a save for the Twins as well, but that does not make him fantasy viable. The Twins do have two other arms to take notice too in Taylor Rogers and Hansel Robles. Both are former closers and have pitched well so far to start the season. Rogers has a 0.00 ERA with a 0.49 xFIP and 15.00 K/9. Robles has pitched to a 0.00 ERA, 1.27 xFIP and a 14.73 K/9. The Twins have good depth and we could see that duo mixed in if Colome gets injured or struggles, but I have a lean towards Robles since he is right-handed. Plus, he is still coming out to the Undertaker/horse music video which only makes me like him more!

New York Mets

Entering Thursday we had yet to see Edwin Diaz pitch in a game. He is the closer here and an obvious pitcher to roster in fantasy. But outside of Diaz, there is not many fantasy friendly options at the time being. Trevor May has missed lots of bats, but he has struggled to start the season. Miguel Castro has shown to be a gas thrower who can miss bats, but he too has struggled to open the season. May would be the best option for ratios and strikeouts right now, but it may be best to stay away from this pen until Seth Lugo returns.

Thursday Update: We did see Diaz pitch on Thursday. He pitched the ninth allowing one walk and picking up a strikeout and was rewarded with the win as the Mets came back against Anthony Bass.

New York Yankees

Aroldis Chapman is the clear cut closer here and he is rostered in every fantasy baseball league. But he was absent the first two games of the season and we saw Chad Green used to pick up a save. Green has already logged 5.1 innings and while the strikeouts are much lower than expected (5.06 K/9), he has still yet to allow a run. He is the pitcher to most be interested in here, as he can provide innings and ratios, and is also next in line for saves. I would be remised if I didn’t mention Nick Nelson’s 19.29 K/9, 0.00 ERA and -1.04 xFIP. It is a small sample size, but he definitely can become one of those relievers you use in fantasy for the ratios.

Oakland A’s

We have yet to see the A’s get a save, which means we are still not fully sure who they will turn to with Trevor Rosenthal sidelined. The expectation is it will be Jake Diekman, but Sergio Romo is always a sleeper in these situations. Both of those two are worthy of taking a shot on if you are in need of saves. Lou Trivino is also in play and he has pitched to a 1.59 ERA, 3.11 xFIP and 9.53 K/9 in 5.2 innings. He is another arm to take a shot on here, as he has been pitching well and could see some ninth inning action. I would rank the arms here: Diekman, Trivino, Romo.

Philadelphia Phillies

Hector Neris and Jose Alvarado have picked up saves so far for the Phillies. Neris is the official closer, so he is obviously worth rostering in fantasy. But the same can be said for Alvarado, at least in 15-team leagues. He is averaging 21.00 K/9 and sports a team-low 1.16 xFIP. He routinely hits triple-digits on the radar gun and is expected to be the next man up if Neris loses the job. Archie Bradley is also a late inning option to consider in deeper leagues. Connor Brogdon has three wins already, but that does not make him worth rostering.

Pittsburgh Pirates

Richard Rodriguez and Kyle Crick are expected to share late inning duties here, with Rodriguez having the lone save for the Pirates so far. He has great swing and miss stuff and simply put, is likely the best reliever in this pen. But he will be used at times in high leverage situations and not just saved for the ninth. He should have the highest rostered percentage of the relievers here, but Crick is worthy of rostering as well. These are the only two worth rostering in this pen.

San Diego Padres

Coming into the season it looked like Emilio Pagan would open the year as the closer for the Padres. Then we heard that they would mix and max in the ninth, but that hasn’t been the case. Mark Melancon has three saves already and is very much so looking like the closer. He should be rostered everywhere. The Padres have a lot of talent in this pen, and Pagan and Drew Pomeranz are other late inning options that fantasy managers should consider. Both will give good ratios and strikeouts. The Padres also have Keone Kela who in three outings has a 15.00 K/9, 0.00 ERA and a 1.66 xFIP. He is a fourth arm from this pen that is useful in deeper fantasy leagues.

Seattle Mariners

Rafael Montero is the closer here and has the lone save opportunity for the Mariners. After Montero there is not a whole lot to love here, but Kendall Graveman is one to keep an eye on. In his first three innings he has a 15.00 K/9, a 0.00 ERA with a 4.08 xFIP. He is also likely next in line if Montero loses the gig for some reason. Casey Sadley is currently sporting a 15.43 K/9 rate right now, so keep that in mind here as well.

San Francisco Giants

This is not a great bullpen for fantasy purposes. Of course, Jake McGee is worth rostering as the closer here with two saves. Wandy Peralta has a save as well. He has pitched to a 0.00 ERA, 1.83 xFIP with 9.00 K/9. If anything happens to McGee, I expect Peralta and Tyler Rogers to be in the mix for saves. But for now, neither of those should be rostered outside of NL only leagues.

St. Louis Cardinals

Alex Reyes is the closer here picking up both saves for the red birds, but Jordan Hicks is definitely an option as the year goes on. Neither Reyes nor Hicks have allowed a run in their first three outings, but neither is picking up strikeouts at a high margin either. The Cards also have a surplus of fallback options with Giovanny Gallegos, Andrew Miller and Ryan Helsley. I would rank them in that order, behind Reyes and Hicks in terms of arms to roster in this pen. Gallegos sports a team high 15.75 K/9 and a team-low 0.62 xFIP.

Tampa Bay Rays

Diego Castillo has two saves and one blown one for the Rays so far. But even more important, is he has been used in all three of their save chances. Perhaps we are finally getting some consistency out of the Rays bullpen. He is clearly worth rostering, as is Pete Fairbanks who has been used in high leverage situations. While he does not have a save yet, it would not be shocking to see him used in save situations. Outside of those two there is no one else that is worth rostering outside of very deep formats in this bullpen, as of now.

Texas Rangers

Ian Kennedy is the closer here. He has picked up the only two saves for the Rangers and has done so while picking up 18.00 K/9 with a 3.00 ERA, -0.75 FIP and 0.99 xFIP. He is the best reliever in this pen and definitely worth rostering everywhere. Matt Bush is the other late inning option here and he has picked up 12.0 K/9, but he does currently sport a 9.00 ERA with a 5.65 xFIP. Still, he is worth rostering in 15-team leagues and worth keeping an eye on as he is the next man up in this pen. Wes Benjamin is interesting as he is averaging 11.57 K/9, with a 0.00 ERA and 2.92 xFIP. Still, that was just one 2.1 inning outing, but he’s worthy of taking a flier in deeper leagues.

Toronto Blue Jays

Toronto has been the most discussed bullpen for fantasy purposes. With Kyle Yates out for the season many anticipated that Jordan Romano would be the closer, but it has been fireballer Julian Merryweather that has both saves for the Jays. Merryweather has not allowed a run or a walk, has a -1.75 xFIP and an eye-popping 22.5 K/9, albeit only in two innings. Romano has been used in high leverage situations and pitched to a 3.25 xFIP with a 13.5 K/9. Merryweather has battled injuries in the past and yet to be used in back-to-back nights. I anticipate both of these two being used in the ninth at times and both are already heavily rostered in fantasy. The other arms to look at here for deeper leagues would be Rafael Dolis and Tim Mayza. The 9.00 ERA and 6.57 xFIP is not great for Dolis, but I do really like the strikeout stuff he’s shown (18.00 K/9). Mayza also sports an 18.00 K/9, but he has not allowed a run or walk on the season and has a 1.62 xFIP.

Washington Nationals

The Nationals have such a small sample size, even more so than the rest of the league. Their closer is Brad Hand but he is currently sidelined, and the expectation is Daniel Hudson will serve in that role until Hand returns. Look to add Hudson off the waiver wire if you can for the time being. Tanner Rainey is another name that could be used in Hand’s absence.

All stats entering Thursday April, 8th, unless indicated otherwise.

Make sure to follow me on Twitter, @MichaelFFlorio.



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Unavailable For Game 7, Arturs Silovs Will Start
Brock Boeser6 days ago

Out Indefinitely With Blood Clots
Ryan Fox6 days ago

Continues Up-And-Down 2024
Patton Kizzire6 days ago

Showing Improvement The Past Month
Christiaan Bezuidenhout6 days ago

Likely To Bounce Back This Week
Edson Barboza6 days ago

Lerone Murphy Dominates To Defeat Edson Barboza
Carlston Harris6 days ago

Gets Knocked Out At UFC Vegas 92
Khaos Williams6 days ago

Scores Knockout Win At UFC Vegas 92
Luana Pinheiro6 days ago

Loses Second Fight In A Row
Angela Hill6 days ago

Scores First Submission Win
RANKINGS
C
1B
2B
3B
SS
OF
SP
RP

RANKINGS

QB
RB
WR
TE
K
DEF

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