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Closers and Saves Report for 2022 Fantasy Baseball Drafts

edwin diaz fantasy baseball rankings draft sleepers closers saves

We're back! Baseball is back and we're still getting all 162 games, so there can be good news in 2022! While there are still some big-name relievers looming in free agency and likely some trades left to come, it's never too early to take a look at where each team's bullpen stands.

Once the season gets going, we'll return to our usual format for Closers and Saves Report, but for today's article, we're going to take a quick look at each team's bullpen and see who's most likely to be in charge and who else might be relevant.

Be sure to keep an eye on our RotoBaller Fantasy Baseball Closers and Saves Bullpen Depth Charts. They're updated daily, or sometimes even more often in this wild 2022 baseball season. 

Editor's Note: Our incredible team of writers received five total writing awards and 13 award nominations by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association, tops in the industry! Congrats to all the award winners and nominees including Best MLB Series, NFL Series, NBA Writer, PGA Writer and Player Notes writer of the year. Be sure to follow their analysis, rankings and advice all year long, and win big with RotoBaller! Read More!

 

AL East Closers and Bullpens

The American League East has two of the most locked-in closers in the league, a team with a mess of a bullpen, a team with some upside but no sure things, and then whatever the Rays want to do with their relievers.

New York Yankees

The Yankees bullpen is easily the most straightforward in the AL East, as Aroldis Chapman will return to close games in the Bronx. Jonathan Loaisiga and Chad Green will work in primary setup roles. Zack Britton is officially a Yankee, but he'll miss all of 2022 recovering from Tommy John Surgery.

Boston Red Sox

The 2022 Red Sox bullpen looks like it has some potential, but also plenty of question marks. Matt Barnes looked like a lights-out ninth-inning option at times in 2021, and like a guy that should be optioned to the minors at others. He returns as the favorite to close on Opening Day, with Garrett Whitlock and Ryan Brasier setting him up. The newly signed Jake Diekman should play a key late-inning role and may be next in line behind Barnes if things go wrong.

Toronto Blue Jays

 The Blue Jays bullpen isn't getting much buzz, but it could be one of the more solid units in the AL. Jordan Romano will return to close after an excellent 2021. Adam Cimber, Tim Mayza, and Julian Merryweather will work in set up roles with Trevor Richards in there as well.

Baltimore Orioles

Tyler Wells was expected to be the best bet for saves in Baltimore, but it sounds like the Orioles are going to try stretching him out and pairing him with an opener, effectively removing him from any save chances. Cole Sulser should be the guy for the rare save chance in Baltimore, with Tanner Scott, Paul Fry, and Dillon Tate around in the late innings as well.

Tampa Bay Rays

Anyone who knows fantasy baseball knows that no one ever knows anything about the Tampa Bay bullpen. But here's our best guess: Andrew Kittredge should see a good number of save tries, along with Pete Fairbanks, J.T. Chargois, and Nick Anderson once he's ready to return. J.P. Feyereisen and Matt Wisler aren't going away either, so the team that pretty much invented "closer by committee" is looking like they're doing that whole thing again in 2022.

 

AL Central Closers and Bullpens

The American League Central is the only division in baseball that has every team with a Stability Rating of Solid on our Closer Depth Charts.

Detroit Tigers

The Tigers bullpen is arguably the least solid in the AL Central, but still pretty stable. All-Star Gregory Soto will return as closer, with Jose Cisnero and Michael Fulmer as his setup guys.

Chicago White Sox

There was plenty of chatter about the White Sox trading Craig Kimbrel, but it looks like they'll hang onto him and also added Joe Kelly. What was already a strong bullpen may be even better this season, with closer Liam Hendriks an elite fantasy option in all formats and Kimbrel similarly top tier in holds leagues. Kelly and Kendall Graveman should see important innings as well as Aaron Bummer from the left side.

Cleveland Guardians

New name, same bullpen for the Cleveland Baseball Team, who will have Emmanuel Clase return to the ninth inning. He'll be set up by Anthony Gose and Nick Sandlin, while the Guardians hope James Karinchak can regain his swing-and-miss form. Karinchak went from one of the biggest draft bargains at the beginning of last season to a huge risk this time.

Kansas City Royals

"Are the Royals good?" seems to be a question everyone asks before most seasons start. This season: maybe. At least the bullpen seems more or less set heading into things. Scott Barlow will take the ninth innings with Josh Staumont, Jake Brentz, and Dylan Coleman setting things up.

Minnesota Twins

The Twins have been very active in the trade market since the lockdown ended, but their bullpen has been set since last season. Lefty Taylor Rogers will once again serve as closer, with Tyler Duffey and Jorge Alcala trying to get him the ball with the lead.

 

AL West Closers and Bullpens

The American League West is all about bullpen upside this season, it looks like. There are several bullpens here that could end up being excellent or could end up being an enormous liability with little in between.

Texas Rangers

Another Barlow, this time Joe Barlow, is the closer for Texas. He emerged last season and it's his job to lose this time. He'll be set up (and potentially challenged by) Spencer Patton, Josh Sborz, and Brett Martin. Jonathan Hernandez is coming back from Tommy John Surgery, but could quickly rise up the ranks once he's healthy.

Los Angeles Angels

The Angels finally got some kind of stability in their bullpen last season with Raisel Iglesias. He's back for another go at it, and he'll be set up by Mike Mayers, Aaron Loup, and the possible return of Ty Buttrey. This is a very "what if" bullpen that could be either a huge strength or a glaring weakness depending on how things go.

Oakland Athletics

The A's look like they're tanking rebuilding again, so the veteran arms in this bullpen could be gone by Opening Day, but as it stands now, Lou Trivino will be closing things out in Oakland, with Deolis Guerra and A.J. Puk getting the lead over to him in the late innings.

Houston Astros

The Astros should once again have one of the more solid bullpens in the league, with Ryan Pressly sitting at the head of the table. Ryne Stanek and the newly-acquired Hector Neris should be strong bridges from the middle innings to the save situations in Houston.

Seattle Mariners

Another bullpen that could be amazing or could be an issue is the Mariners pen. Ken Giles is expected to return after missing all of 2021 and should slide right into the ninth inning. Setting him up will be Drew Steckenrider, Diego Castillo, and Paul Sewald. At the very least, this should be an interesting bullpen to follow in 2022.

 

NL East Closers and Bullpens

The National League East has five teams who, judging by trades and free agency, all plan to compete in 2022. That means bullpens could be even more important in this division than in others.

Atlanta Braves

The Braves will try to defend their World Series Championship by bringing back almost the same bullpen. Will Smith will remain in the ninth inning, and he'll be set up by A.J. Minter, Luke Jackson, Tyler Matzek, and maybe even Kirby Yates sometime midway through the season. Tons of strikeout upside in Atlanta's pen.

Miami Marlins

The Marlins have an excellent starting rotation and have upgraded at most of their positions of need since last year. Except in the bullpen. While they've been rumored to have interest in big names like Kenley Jansen, as it stands right now, Dylan Floro will be returning to the closer's role with Anthony Bass, Anthony Bender, and Richard Bleier doing all they can to get the lead to him.

New York Mets

The Mets spent a lot of money this offseason but only made a few small tweaks to a bullpen that should be hard to hit. Edwin Diaz will continue to infuriate Mets fans but put up excellent numbers as closer, while Trevor May, Seth Lugo, and the newly-acquired Adam Ottavino work the late innings ahead of him.

Philadelphia Phillies

For years, it seems like the Phillies were "a bullpen away" from being a contending team. They set records for bullpen ineptitude, so they went out this offseason and rebuilt the whole thing. Corey Knebel will start the season as the closer, with Brad Hand and Jeurys Familia helping to get the game to him. All three of those guys will be new faces in a Phillies uniform.

Washington Nationals

The Nationals were the one team in the NL East that wasn't clearly trying to compete, but they went out and signed Nelson Cruz, which is a win-now move if there ever was one. They also brought back Sean Doolittle to help a bullpen that will be led by, presumably, Kyle Finnegan and Tanner Rainey. Steve Cishek, Andres Machado, and Will Harris also figure to pitch plenty in a bullpen that may need to wait a few weeks into the season before specific roles are defined.

 

NL Central Closers and Bullpens

The National League Central may be the division with the messiest bullpens, with only one team starting the season with a Solid rating. There's still upside in some of these pens, but there's also risk involved.

Chicago Cubs

The Cubs seem prepared to start the season with a committee situation in their bullpen, led to some extent by Rowan Wick. Keegan Thompson, Manuel Rodriguez, Brad Wieck, and Scott Effross could be in there for hold or save situations as well. For now, this looks more like a bullpen to avoid in standard formats.

Cincinnati Reds

The Reds won't win too many games this season, and they may still not be done trading away their veteran players, but at least for now, Lucas Sims seems set to take whatever ninth innings they have a lead in. Amir Garrett, Art Warren, and Luis Cessa should be the ones helping to hold the rare Reds leads in 2022.

Milwaukee Brewers

Milwaukee has the only rock-solid bullpen in the NL Central and likely one of the best in the league. Josh Hader will continue to be ridiculous on the mound as closer with Devin Williams as his primary setup man. Brad Boxberger and Jake Cousins will do their work in the seventh inning and earlier before the Brewers unleash their two-headed monster for the final two innings.

Pittsburgh Pirates

There's upside in the Pirates bullpen, but there's a whole lot of question marks too. David Bednar had some flashes last season and should return to the ninth inning this year, but he's far from a sure thing. Anthony Banda and Chris Stratton both have upside but similar question marks as well. This could ultimately be a solid bullpen, but it's far from a sure thing and comes with a wide range of outcomes.

St. Louis Cardinals

The Cardinals bullpen has injury question marks all over it but has a ton of upside if guys can stay healthy. Manager Oliver Marmol didn't even need to wait for spring training to start to already say that the Cardinals will try a committee approach this season with no set closer. Alex Reyes is already dealing with shoulder issues and Jordan Hicks hasn't pitched in what seems like a decade though, so it's much easier to see the downside than the upside here. Still, Giovanny Gallegos will likely close most often and should be a decent fantasy option, with Genesis Cabrera looking solid in holds leagues.

 

NL West Closers and Bullpens

The National League West had several strong bullpens last season, and they should once again have strong relief pitching, although a lot of the names will be different and some familiar names will be elsewhere.

Arizona Diamondbacks

The Diamondbacks signed two of the better relievers from 2021 to add to their bullpen. Mark Melancon and Ian Kennedy should make a strong 1-2 punch at the back of the Arizona pen, with Caleb Smith, J.B. Wendelken, and Noe Ramirez working in the earlier middle innings.

Colorado Rockies

The Rockies seem to always struggle for consistency in their bullpen, but they are returning some arms that showed promise last season and brought in a free agent who will presumably get the first shot at closing. Alex Colome figures to start the season in the ninth, with Carlos Estevez, Robert Stephenson, and Daniel Bard doing their best in the thin Colorado air to hand him a lead.

Los Angeles Dodgers

The Dodgers lost two big arms from their bullpen, with Joe Kelly joining the White Sox and Kenley Jansen still looking for his next team. It will be the first time in a really long time that Jansen won't be the closer for the Dodgers. That role goes to Blake Treinen instead, who could easily be one of the top closers in the league. He'll be set up by Daniel Hudson, Brusdar Graterol, and Alex Vesia, all of whom have tons of swing-and-miss stuff. Even with the two arms departing the LA bullpen, this could still be one of the strongest in the National League.

San Diego Padres

The Padres bullpen is, for lack of a more descriptive word: a mess. Now, that doesn't mean they won't be good, it just means that at least right now there don't seem to be any defined roles. Pierce Johnson, Robert Suarez, Emilio Pagan, Luis Garcia, Tim Hill, and Austin Adams all figure to pitch important innings, with Drew Pomeranz joining them as soon as he's healthy. It seems likely that the Padres will go with some kind of committee approach, but it remains to be seen if roles start defining themselves a bit more clearly as spring training games begin.

San Francisco Giants

The Giants bullpen was a very interesting one to watch last season, as hard-throwing lefty Jake McGee was paired with soft-tossing righty Tyler Rogers for most of the season to mostly good results. The late-season emergence of Camilo Doval may place him in the ninth inning role by himself, with McGee and Rogers returning to setup roles, however. 



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