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

Huge congrats up top for all fantasy managers who won their leagues this season! I hope Closers and Saves Report helped you get that one last save or that one extra hold that made the difference. With (most) fantasy leagues wrapped up for the season, the next few weeks of this article will be focusing only on bullpens that are still active. So, in other words, playoff bullpens. There's still plenty of DFS and even some playoff-only head-to-head and rotisserie leagues starting up, and with fewer options, every save, hold, and strikeout is going to matter!

We have four playoff teams, and maybe five, that have no set defined closer. Every year that the Rays make the playoffs counts there of course, but four teams with closer-by-committee approaches certainly seems like a lot. Let's take a look at the postseason bullpens, ranging from solid to questionable to potentially volatile.

Be sure to also 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. 

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Cleveland Guardians - Bullpen and Closers News

The Guardians comfortably won the AL Central by 11 games over the White Sox. Cleveland has one of the more solid bullpens in the playoffs, and they'll be facing off against the Rays in the Wild Card Series.

Emmanuel Clase had an excellent season as Guardians closer, saving 42 games with a 1.36 ERA and just four blown saves all season. He'll be one of the better closers in the playoffs and will be set up by James Karinchak, who is good again, and Trevor Stephan.

 

Tampa Bay Rays - Bullpen and Closers News

Essentially the originators of the closer-by-committee-on-purpose concept, the Rays won 86 games this season, good for third place in the AL East, but three games ahead of the Orioles for the final American League Wild Card spot. The Rays will play the Wild Card Series in Cleveland against the Guardians, and their bullpens couldn't be any more different.

While Cleveland got 42 saves from their closer, Tampa Bay didn't have anyone with more than eight saves on their roster. Jason Adam and Pete Fairbanks each had eight saves, with Colin Poche at seven, and Brooks Raley at six. They'll keep the committee approach and likely play ninth-inning matchups as needed, but Fairbanks makes for the best bet for saves in this bullpen, with Adam a close second.

 

Seattle Mariners - Bullpen and Closers News

The Mariners made the playoffs! The Mariners made the playoffs! The longest playoff drought in baseball is over after a 90-win season earned Seattle the second Wild Card spot in the American League. While the Mariners did work with a committee at closer for parts of this season, Paul Sewald more or less settled into the closer's role. He and his 20 regular season saves are the heavy favorites to be on the mound in any key ninth innings for the Wild Card series against the Toronto Blue Jays.

For a little fun with numbers, the Mariners bullpen as a whole recorded 40 saves in 2022, so Sewald got exactly half of those with his 20. Diego Castillo with seven and Andres Munoz with four were the two closest to Sewald. Munoz should be Sewald's key setup guy in the playoffs, with lefty Erik Swanson likely to play a key role as well.

 

Toronto Blue Jays - Bullpen and Closers News

The Blue Jays rode 92 wins to a second-place finish in the AL East and the first Wild Card spot, along with home-field advantage (meaning all three games!) in the Wild Card round. Jordan Romano led the Blue Jays bullpen with 36 saves and a 2.11 ERA. He had a hiccup or two throughout the season, but never really lost his job, with Adam Cimber's four saves the next closest to him.

Romano will be set up by Yimi Garcia, Tim Mayza, Anthony Bass, and Adam Cimber in what is one of the postseason's deepest but not highest-end bullpens. None of the Jays' relievers will make a list of the hardest pitches thrown in the playoffs, but they're all just good at throwing strikes and getting outs.

 

New York Yankees - Bullpen and Closers News

The Yankees may have hit the doldrums for a bit in 2022, but ultimately they ended up with 99 wins, an AL East title, and an outfielder with the most home runs in American League history. They're also the number 2 seed in the AL playoffs, which means they get a first-round bye and will face the winner of the Guardians/Rays series.

The Yankees bullpen was quite the Coney Island roller coaster this season (I know this would be a more relevant reference for the Mets, but their bullpen was fine). Clay Holmes looked like one of the best relievers in baseball before the season, but then he missed a lot of time with an injury and just wasn't the same afterward. Aroldis Chapman used to be one of the best relievers in baseball, but he's lost a lot of his luster and also missed time. Ultimately, Holmes led the team with 20 saves, with Chapman behind him with nine. For the playoffs, the Yankees will likely go with Scott Effross as the committee leader, but Jonathan Loaisiga, Lou Trivino, Chapman, and Holmes (if healthy) will pitch important innings as well.

 

Houston Astros - Bullpen and Closers News

The Astros had another outstanding season, becoming the AL's only 100+ win team, with a 106-56 record. They easily won the AL West, finishing with a 16-game lead over another playoff team, the Mariners. Houston is the number 1 seed in the American League and gets a first-round bye. They'll face the winner of the Mariners/Blue Jays series for the American League Division Series.

The Houston bullpen worked around some injury issues this season, but Ryan Pressly led the team with 33 saves and a 2.98 ERA. Rafael Montero served as Pressly's injury replacement and saved 14 games with a 2.37 ERA. Pressly, Montero, and Hector Neris will make up a solid back end of the bullpen for the Astros in the playoffs.

 

Philadelphia Phillies - Bullpen and Closers News

After the Mariners clinched a playoff spot, the next longest MLB playoff drought belonged to the Phillies. A few days later, the Phillies got theirs out of the way as well. They finished third in the National League East with 87 wins, but that was enough to take the final NL Wild Card spot, making them the number 6 seed and sending them to a Wild Card Series against the St. Louis Cardinals.

The Phillies have had some legitimately terrible bullpens in the recent past, but this season's was actually pretty solid once the Corey Knebel Experience wrapped up. Knebel started the season as closer, but struggles and injuries saw him removed from the role after 12 saves in 16 chances. Those 12 saves still ended up leading the team in 2022, despite solid seasons from Seranthony Dominguez (nine saves), trade deadline acquisition David Robertson (six saves), and Brad Hand (five saves). Those three, along with Jose Alvarado, will pitch the important innings out of the Phillies bullpen. Robertson and Dominguez are as close to a 50-50 split as we'll see in these playoff bullpen committees.

 

St. Louis Cardinals - Bullpen and Closers News

The Cardinals rode a resurgent Albert Pujols all the way to 703 home runs and a 93-win season, good for first place in the NL Central. As the third seed in the playoffs, they'll face the Phillies in the Wild Card round. Cardinals closer Ryan Helsley jammed his middle finger and was removed from a game earlier this week after throwing just five pitches, but the team does not seem overly concerned and he is expected to be good to go for Game 1. Helsley led the Cardinals with 19 saves and a tiny 1.25 ERA.

Not far behind Helsley was Giovanny Gallegos, who put up 14 saves and just signed a new contract to stay with the Cardinals for another two seasons. Other than Helsley and Gallegos, no one else on the Cardinals roster had more than one save. Those two will make up the closer and key setup role for St. Louis, with Andre Pallante and Chris Stratton likely to bridge the game from the starters to the end of the bullpen.

 

San Diego Padres - Bullpen and Closers News

The Padres had lofty expectations before the season started, but they finished 22 games out of first place in the National League West. The good news is their 89 wins were enough to snag the second Wild Card spot and make them the fifth seed heading into the playoffs. They'll face the Mets for a chance to move on to face the 111-win Dodgers in the National League Division Series.

The Padres' saves leader this season was...Taylor Rogers, who finished the season as a member of the Milwaukee Brewers after being part of a trade deadline package for Josh Hader. Speaking of Hader, a guy who was widely considered the best closer in baseball struggled mightily upon first joining the Padres. He ended up losing his ninth-inning job for a while but seemed more or less back on track as the season wrapped up. His seven Padres saves made him third on the team behind Rogers and Nick Martinez, who had eight. Hader will handle the ninth while Martinez and Luis Garcia will work as his setup men.

 

New York Mets - Bullpen and Closers News

The Mets won 101 games this season but still have to play in a Wild Card series against the Padres because they couldn't pull off just one more win against the Braves in the season's penultimate series. Their bullpen was certainly not at fault though. Unlike their crosstown rival Yankees, the Mets bullpen was pretty much set from Opening Day with Edwin Diaz in the ninth inning. Diaz had an incredible season, saving 32 games while posting a 1.31 ERA and MLB-leading 17.13 K/9. No one else on their roster had more than three saves, with Seth Lugo and Adam Ottavino having three each.

The Mets bullpen, chiefly but not exclusively because of Diaz, is one of the best units heading into the playoffs. Diaz will hold down the ninth inning and may see multiple-inning appearances when needed. Ottavino, Lugo, and Drew Smith should work to set him up.

 

Atlanta Braves - Bullpen and Closers News

The Mets were in first place for most of this season. Almost all of it, really. But it's the Braves who will take the NL East title and get a first round bye in the playoffs as the second seed. The two teams ended up with 101 wins apiece, but the Braves had the tiebreaker and win the division. They'll wait for the winner of the Cardinals/Phillies series for the National League Division Series.

The Braves bullpen added Kenley Jansen before the season began and he was the closer from the day he was signed. Jansen locked down 41 saves, posting a 3.38 ERA despite seven blown saves. A.J. Minter and Will Smith each saved five games for the Braves, tying for second place. They acquired former Angels closer Raisel Iglesias at the trade deadline and he was outstanding, posting an 0.34 ERA in 26 1/3 innings as a member of the Braves. Jansen should continue to close in the playoffs, but Iglesias will be right there if Jansen falters. Minter and Tyler Matzek will handle other important late-inning situations.

 

Los Angeles Dodgers - Bullpen and Closers News

The Dodgers won 111 games and put up the fourth-best run differential (+334) in baseball history. They easily locked up the top seed in the National League and will face the winner of the Padres/Mets Wild Card series. Despite how excellent the Dodgers were in the regular season, they did have some bullpen issues, with closer Craig Kimbrel saving 22 games but blowing five and taking seven losses while posting a 3.75 ERA. The Dodgers (and Yankees) almost set a new Major League Baseball record by each having 11 different pitchers record saves in a single season.

Kimbrel remains on the roster for the playoffs but will likely pitch in lower-leverage situations. Evan Phillips is the likely leader of the Dodgers committee, with Alex Vesia, Tommy Kahnle, Brusdar Graterol, and Chris Martin sure to pitch significant innings as well. Those five combined for just 10 saves in the regular season, but all pitched well in high-leverage situations. A wild card to watch here is David Price, who picked up two saves and pitched well in big spots toward the end of the season. Phillips is still the most likely Dodger to be on the mound with a lead in the ninth inning though.

 



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