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Fantasy Baseball Closers and Saves Waiver Wire Report for Week 3

Michael Kopech - Fantasy Baseball Rankings, Draft Sleepers, Closers and Saves

Another week down and now we have pretty much every baseball team with a dozen games played. A lot of things make sense (Mookie Betts and the Dodgers are really good, the Phillies and Braves are battling for the NL East, the White Sox are bad, etc.) Some things make less sense (what happened to the playoff Marlins? Are the Pirates good, actually? Are the Royals a playoff team? Are the A's...not terrible?)

Bullpen hierarchies are forming, re-forming, and shuffling around already. Injuries have certainly struck starting rotations a lot more significantly than relievers, but bullpens haven't made it all the way through safely, either. We'll take a look at all of that and see who you should try to grab in fantasy leagues, plus more in this week's report!

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 2024 baseball season. 

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

 

Waiver Wire Pickups for Saves

Michael Kopech, Chicago White Sox (Rostered in 30% of leagues)

The White Sox are bad. They've won twice in 12 games and they've allowed 29 more runs than they've scored. One of the few bright spots has been closer Michael Kopech. Kopech has saved both White Sox wins this season, pitching a total of 7 1/3 innings with a 2.45 ERA and a 38.7% K%. He's had some control issues (16.1% BB%), but he's easily pitched around them and has shown elite upside.

Kopech's second save of the season was a two-inning outing where he struck out the side in the eighth inning and then pitched a 1-2-3 inning in the ninth. The White Sox won't win a ton of games, but when they do, they're likely to have small enough leads to call on their closer for the ninth inning. Kopech seems to have a strong hold on the closer's role right now and should be rostered in most formats. He was on 19% of fantasy rosters last week, and that's gone up to 30% now, but that means he's still available in most places. Go get him now!

James McArthur, Kansas City Royals (Rostered in 38% of leagues)

The Royals ended last season with a 56-106 record, but there were certainly some positive signs, especially toward the end of the season. They've started 2024 very well, winning nine of their first 13 games and sitting just a half game behind the Guardians for first place in the AL Central. It's still very, very early, but there's a lot to be (tentatively) excited about in Kansas City.

Veteran reliever William Smith entered the season as the Royals closer, but he got off to a rough start to the season, taking two losses, blowing a save, and allowing six earned runs in just four innings. He's also walked seven and hit a batter while only striking out four.

Smith was pulled from a save chance earlier this week and James McArthur was brought in. He has earned two saves while allowing just one walk and striking out seven in 6 2/3 innings. While the team hasn't made it official yet, McArthur certainly seems like the closer, and he has very high upside. He's only rostered in 38% of leagues, so he should be available for now (he went up 23% in one day, so jump on it quickly!)

Someone from the Rockies, Colorado Rockies (All rostered in under 7% of leagues)

The Rockies bullpen was a spring training competition that Justin Lawrence supposedly won. But less than a month into the season, it looks like they're back in committee mode. Lawrence might still be the favorite for saves, but it's not as solid a grasp on the job as we expected.

He's rostered in just 7% of fantasy leagues right now, which is still way more than any of his competitors in the Colorado bullpen. Tyler Kinley was the "loser" of the spring training competition and would, in theory, be next up, but Nick Mears and Jake Bird have both seen save chances this week while Kinley hasn't.

It's impossible to tell who the Rockies will go to for their next save chance, but any fantasy managers in deeper leagues struggling with saves might want to flip a coin, roll a dice, or generate a random number and choose a Rockies reliever just to see what happens. Almost all of them will be available in any league, so it's worth a shot.

 

More Bullpen and Closer News

Los Angeles Dodgers

The Dodgers have Evan Phillips locked into their closer role, and he's been excellent, saving four games and posting a 1.59 ERA along with a 7:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Right behind him in the hierarchy, though, is Daniel Hudson. Hudson has also been outstanding, putting up a 1.50 ERA and a 7:0 strikeout-to-walk ratio. He has three holds and should be one of the top holds guys going forward, even though he combined for just 27 1/3 innings over the past two seasons.

Philadelphia Phillies

The Phillies bullpen was always expected to be a committee, and it's been exactly that. Through their first 13 games, four different pitchers have saves: Jose Alvarado has two, then Jeff Hoffman, Gregory Soto, and Ricardo Pinto have one each. Alvarado, Hoffman, and Soto each have holds, too, and you can add Matt Strahm and Seranthony Dominguez to that list as well.

This is a bullpen with a lot of combined upside, but one that will be almost impossible to trust in standard, saves-only formats. Any of the guys mentioned would be solid holds league guys, but Alvarado and Hoffman might be the best bets when looking for saves.

 

Short Relief - Other Bullpen News

-Steven Okert earned a save for the Twins this week. Griffin Jax will continue to lead the hierarchy, but he'll see the highest leverage situations in a game, which may not always be save situations.

-Anthony Bender is rostered in only 1% of fantasy leagues, and he should be a good source of holds and may ascend into the closer's role once the Marlins' simmering fire sale boils over. Tanner Scott would likely be one of the first Marlins traded if it happens.

-Pete Fairbanks had his best outing of the season this week and earned his second save. The Rays closer got off to a rough start, which got Jason Adam some attention in saves only formats, but it looks like Fairbanks is back on track.

-Jordan Romano and Erik Swanson are both on rehab assignments and will shake up the Blue Jays bullpen once they're back. Romano may get a lower leverage outing or two to get back up to speed, but he'll be the closer before long. Swanson will work in a key setup role as well, lowering the fantasy value of guys like Chad Green, Tim Mayza, and Yimi Garcia.

-Jose Leclerc has been temporarily removed as closer for Texas Rangers. Both David Robertson and Kirby Yates are solid pickups for those speculating on saves, and should both likely get save chances.



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