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Closers and Saves Waiver Wire Report for Fantasy Baseball - Playoffs Week 1

Evan Phillips - Fantasy Baseball Rankings, Draft Sleepers, Closers and Saves

Playoffs? Yes, we are talking about playoffs! We've made it through a full season, some (most?) of us with multiple fantasy leagues besides the real-life teams that we root for (RIP 2023 Marlins). There are still some fantasy leagues running in the playoffs, and DFS is always a thing, so Closers and Saves Report will be here for you through the World Series.

In today's article, we'll take a look at every remaining team's bullpen and see who is in line for saves and holds. We'll also go over some quick news bites, one of which should play a key bullpen role through next season. That and more! Read on!

Be sure to also keep an eye on our Fantasy Baseball Closer Depth Charts for saves, holds, and bullpens. They will be updated daily or sometimes even more often throughout the 2023 baseball season. 

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Texas Rangers - Playoff Bullpen News

The Rangers blew through the Tampa Bay Rays with no issue in the Wild Card round and move on to face the Baltimore Orioles in the Division Series. The Rangers bullpen wasn't really tested at all in the Wild Card series, as Texas won their games 4-0 and 7-1.

One interesting takeaway, however, is that Jose Leclerc was called upon to finish both games, despite them not being save situations. That, combined with the way the Rangers used their bullpen at the end of the season, makes Leclerc a heavy favorite for save situations in the ALDS. He'll be set up by lefties Aroldis Chapman and William Smith, but if a ninth inning looks lefty-heavy, one of them may see the save situation while Leclerc gets it there.

Saves: Jose Leclerc
Holds: Aroldis Chapman, William Smith


Baltimore Orioles - Playoff Bullpen News

The Orioles were hoping Felix Bautista would be able to pitch through a torn UCL in order to help his team out in the playoffs, but it was deemed impossible so the powerful closer will be undergoing Tommy John Surgery. That will knock him out not only for the playoffs but for most of next season as well. It's a big blow because Bautista was nearly unhittable all season, but the Orioles still have a strong few arms in their bullpen ready to go.

Yennier Cano is the closer for Baltimore and should serve in a mostly traditional closer's role in the playoffs. He'll be set up by Cionel Perez and Danny Coulombe. Tyler Wells and Shintaro Fujinami should work in the earlier innings to bridge the game to their high-leverage relievers.

Saves: Yennier Cano
Holds: Cionel Perez, Danny Coulombe


Minnesota Twins - Playoff Bullpen News

The Twins and Royce Lewis blasted their way past the Toronto Blue Jays in their Wild Card series and will now face the Houston Astros in the Division Series. The two Twins wins were two-run games, with Game 1 finishing 3-1 and Game 2 ending up 2-0. Jhoan Duran earned a save in each game, pitching a total of two innings, allowing just one hit and one walk while striking out five Blue Jays hitters.

While bullpen use can be even less predictable in the postseason, Griffin Jax, Louie Varland, and Caleb Thielbar all earned two saves in the two games and are good bets (especially Jax) to pick up a few more in the next series.

Saves: Jhoan Duran
Holds: Griffin Jax, Caleb Thielbar, Louie Varland


Houston Astros - Playoff Bullpen News

The Astros ended up winning the American League West and earned themselves a bye past the Wild Card series and straight into the Division Series as the two seed in the AL. This happened even though they had the same record as the Texas Rangers and were only two games ahead of the Seattle Mariners. In fact, there were moments in the last week of the regular season when it seemed like the Astros might not even make the playoffs at all. But here we are, back in the playoffs for the AL West champs.

Houston will have a fully rested bullpen anchored by Ryan Pressly in the closer's role. Bryan Abreu and Hector Neris will be the top setup men to pitch in any close-and-late scenarios in this series. With Dusty Baker in charge, the Astros bullpen is one of the ones most likely to stick to a very strict setup man/closer format in the playoffs.

Saves: Ryan Pressly
Holds: Bryan Abreu, Hector Neris


Philadelphia Phillies - Playoff Bullpen News

The Phillies earned the top Wild Card spot in the National League and had no problem sweeping away the Marlins in their Wild Card series. Game 1 was close enough to see the top Phillies relievers come in to pitch, so we saw holds from Jose Alvarado and Jeff Hoffman ahead of a Craig Kimbrel save (and an intentional balk, which is always fun).

Game 2 was more of a blowout, finished by rookie Orion Kerkering and Gregory Soto after Aaron Nola's brilliant seven-inning start. Hoffman and Alvarado figure to spend most of their time in holds situations with Kimbrel in the ninth for any potential saves, but Alvarado and Kimbrel could switch things up depending on the batters due in the inning.

Saves: Craig Kimbrel
Holds: Jose Alvarado, Jeff Hoffman


Atlanta Braves - Playoff Bullpen News

The Braves were the best team in baseball in the regular season, winning 104 games and seemingly clinching a playoff spot in May. They also set all kinds of offensive records and almost certainly have two of the top four MVP finishers on their team. The Braves bullpen, though? Somehow also pretty good.

Raisel Iglesias was the anchor of the pen, closing out 33 games with strong ratios to go with it. A.J. Minter hit some really rough patches, but overall ended up with a good season, actually leading the team in relief fWAR. Kirby Yates, Pierce Johnson, and Joe Jimenez were all solid as well and should contribute in the postseason.

Saves: Raisel Iglesias
Holds: A.J. Minter, Kirby Yates


Arizona Diamondbacks - Playoff Bullpen News

The Diamondbacks made their way into the playoffs thanks to the third Wild Card as the sixth seed in the National League. They didn't let their immediate underdog status faze them though, as they went into Milwaukee and swept the Brewers, winning a pair of three-run games: Game 1 was 6-3 and Game 2 was 5-2. Paul Sewald earned a comfortable save in each game, pitching two innings while allowing just one hit and striking out three.

Sewald was set up in both games by Kevin Ginkel and Ryan Thompson, each with two holds in the series. Sewald will continue to close throughout the playoffs, but the rest of the Arizona bullpen is a bit more fluid. Still, Ginkel seems like the best bet for holds with Thompson and Miguel Castro in the mix as well.

Saves: Paul Sewald
Holds: Kevin Ginkel, Ryan Thompson


Los Angeles Dodgers - Playoff Bullpen News

2023 was supposed to be somewhat of a rebuilding year for the Los Angeles Dodgers. So they ended up as the third-best team in baseball and won 100 games, winning their division by the most games of any team this season. The Dodgers started out the season with a very committee-based approach to the bullpen, but it wasn't long until Evan Phillips settled in as something close to a standard closer. He had 24 saves while the next closest Dodger, Brusdar Graterol, only had seven. Graterol's 1.20 ERA was the lowest among all pitchers with at least 60 innings pitched this season.

Phillips and Graterol, along with Caleb Ferguson, Ryan Brasier, Joe Kelly, and Alex Vesia, make up a strong and versatile high-leverage bullpen for the Dodgers, who were 8-5 against Arizona in the regular season. Seeing Vesia close out a big inning in the postseason could be a lot of fun:

Saves: Evan Phillips
Holds: Brusdar Graterol, Alex Vesia

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