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Bullpens to Cause Headaches in Fantasy Baseball

anthony bender fantasy baseball rankings closers saves draft sleepers waiver wire

Collecting saves is a tricky and dangerous game in fantasy baseball. One of the major pitching categories in 5x5 roto leagues, they are hard to completely ignore. If you don't have a collection of high-end closers, it's easy to start digging into every team in the league to figure out who is going to get the save chances. I can say from experience that this can blow up in your face rather quickly.

Just like the steals specialists out there that contribute no other hitting stats, a decent amount of teams offer something similar in their bullpens. The thing is, steals specialists are still really good at stealing bases. Some relief pitchers get the chance to get saves, but can easily tank your ERA and WHIP when they blow a save. Just because they are getting a chance to save a game doesn't mean they are good at it.

So I am here to pinpoint which bullpens are not worth the hassle. Whether it's confusion as to who the closer is, the fact that there just aren't good pitchers on a given team, or some combination of both, there are much better ways to use a roster spot than the guys in these bullpens.

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

 

Bullpens With Question Marks

Pittsburgh Pirates

As I mentioned before, bad teams are going to be a theme here. The Pirates are among the worst teams in the league, and fewer wins mean fewer save chances. That isn't always the end of the world if a given reliever has great numbers beyond saves (think Emmanuel Clase), but for the Pirates, there just isn't anybody that makes 20-25 saves worth it. David Bednar is owned in a majority of leagues and has been solid so far, but his 20th percentile chase rate and 32nd percentile walk rate aren't encouraging. He's sharing closing duties with Chris Stratton, who isn't any more enticing. I'm more likely to use that spot on a Blake Treinen type that is lights out for 70 innings and might luck his way into a save every now and then.

Miami Marlins

The Marlins at least have some clarity (at least right now) on who their closer is, Anthony Bender. He was pretty solid last season, but only has five career saves and has anything but a long leash. As to who would take the closer mantle from him, it could be just about anybody. Your opinion on Bender is the key here, but for me, it's not worth the roster spot early in the season when all sorts of players are potentially breaking out before our eyes. Also, it's hard to assume you are getting much more than 20 saves or so from the Marlins this year, so remember that as well. While saves are important, remember it is just one category. That spot could be a Steven Kwan type of guy that is absolutely worth the shot at this point in the season.

Texas Rangers

When trying to assess the Rangers' bullpen situation, taking one look at their depth chart on Fangraphs tells a lot.

I count four closers. Even if the Rangers won 90 games this year, there are not enough saves to go around for four guys. While the Rangers have improved their roster with some big moves, it is clear that this isn't a team that is winning 90 games this season. Not to mention, none of Joe Barlow, Matt Bush, Brett Martin, or Greg Holland would make me too comfortable in my fantasy lineup every day. The Rangers are dead last in baseball with a 6.19 team ERA, and combine that with the uncertainty of who is actually the closer? No thanks.

Baltimore Orioles

I found it hard to find a guy in this bullpen that I've even heard of before. While sometimes that can be a good thing, I feel pretty confident in saying that is not a good thing for the Orioles. The team is obviously not going to be very good this season, and the bullpen is a contributing factor to that. Fangraphs lists Jorge Lopez, Dillon Tate, and Paul Fry as closers for the Orioles, so there isn't even any certainty that you'll be getting save chances from whoever you choose. Don't get too cute, steer clear.

Colorado Rockies

Bad team, multiple closing options, and the worst pitcher's park in the majors. Daniel Bard and Alex Colome are the two saves frontrunners and each has closing experience but both have posted terrible ratios in the past as well. Bard is off to a good start but I am not brave enough to mess with two average relievers in a situation like this.

 

Honorable Mentions (Proceed with Caution)

Chicago Cubs

While the Cubs have started off well, this is nowhere close to a team that is going to win enough games to get enough save opportunities. David Robertson has three saves in four appearances so far and has looked solid, while Mychal Givens seems to be in the mix as well with a save of his own. I don't think riding Robertson right now is a bad strategy at all, just be careful because he is in no way secure as the closer and this whole bullpen can get ugly quickly.

Oakland Athletics

Probably the worst team in baseball right now, the A's are perhaps the last place you are going to see an abundance of save chances in 2022. They make the honorable mentions because Lou Trivino has been a solid reliever in the past, and has started off this season with five Ks in 3.2 innings. That being said, he's already blown a save in four appearances. Not ideal, but can help if you're desperate.

Minnesota Twins

The Twins are probably the best team overall on this list, but their bullpen is anything but stable. Tyler Duffey and Emilio Pagan are ok, but far from exciting options for a fantasy bullpen. There is one guy that is very interesting; Jhoan Duran. The Twins' #6 prospect won a spot on the big league club to start this season and has already shown a lot of promise as a dominant reliever.

He has eight strikeouts in five innings so far this year and has consistently clocked 100 mph on his fastball, topping out at 102 mph. He even has a pitch he calls a "splinker," so it's safe to say he has the ability to keep hitters uncomfortable at the plate.  The issue at the moment is that the closer job is not his, and he's not likely to get consistent save opportunities in the near future. He may get there eventually, even in 2022, but how many actual saves can he bring to your team this season?



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