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Fantasy Baseball Closers and Saves Waiver Wire Report for Week 4

jordan romano fantasy baseball rankings closers saves draft sleepers MLB injury news

It's still early enough in the 2024 season that we can have a lot of fun with small sample sizes. For example, Kyle Finnegan, Ryan Helsley, and Clay Holmes each have seven saves. The Astros, Marlins, White Sox, Rockies, and Twins don't even have seven wins yet. If you combine the Marlins and the White Sox wins? That equals the number of saves of any of those three guys mentioned. Small sample sizes are fun!

This week, we had a big change in one bullpen and some small changes in others. Some of those small changes may be just that: small changes. But some may be predictors of a bigger change that will come soon. We'll look at all of that in much less vague terms in today'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

Kirby Yates, Texas Rangers (Rostered in 45% of leagues)

The Texas Rangers have made a closer switch. Jose Leclerc entered the season with the ninth-inning job, but he got off to a rough start (1-2, 8.00 ERA, 10:9 K:BB ratio in nine innings). Leclerc has been moved to a lower-leverage position, and Kirby Yates (2-0, 2 saves, 0.00 ERA, 10:2 K:BB ratio in 8 2/3 innings) has taken over the closer's role. Leclerc did earn a win in a fairly big spot this week, but he still wasn't at his best.

David Robertson will remain in his primary setup role and should be rostered in holds leagues, but Yates is the one who needs to be added in all formats at this point. Leclerc can be dropped in all but the deepest leagues, and should probably be benched at least temporarily even in those.

Joel Payamps, Milwaukee Brewers (Rostered in 30% of leagues)

When the Brewers announced that closer Devin Williams would miss significant time this season, many people jumped to pick up Joel Payamps in fantasy leagues, assuming he'd take the closer role vacated by Williams. Instead, it was Abner Uribe who came out of the gate as the closer for Milwaukee. But things have seemingly changed as the month of April has gone on. Uribe is certainly still working significant innings, and in fact may work more significant innings than a closer would.

Uribe has been seemingly shifting into a fireman role in the Brewers pen, facing the toughest part of the opponent's batting order in close and late situations. That part of the lineup may not always be due up for the ninth inning. Payamps earned a save this week and seems likely to continue earning them; however, it's unlikely that the Brewers will go with a locked in closer's role at this point.

Uribe as the fireman makes him an excellent holds league pitcher, but for both him and Payamps, the lack of a strict ninth- inning role limits fantasy upside. Still, Payamps is available in 70% of leagues right now and would be a solid target for fantasy managers needing an extra save or two.

Nick Mears, Colorado Rockies (Rostered in 1% of leagues)

This is a much, much deeper cut only for managers absolutely dying of desperation for a possible save. The Rockies aren't great this year, and that extends into their bullpen. They have only one save this season (it belongs to Jake Bird) and they have only one reliever with multiple holds, and that's Nick Mears with three of them. The bullpen has been a mess not only in terms of performance but also in terms of how they've been used so far in 2024.

Mears, Bird, Justin Lawrence, and Tyler Kinley seem to be the high-leverage part of the bullpen. Lawrence and Kinley were the two members of the "closer competition" in spring training, but that doesn't look it like translated to the regular season. Nick Mears is very unlikely to end the season with the most saves (or holds) in the Rockies bullpen, but at least for right now, he's pitching well enough that he may see a few save chances coming up. He's far from a must-add even in NL-only formats, but he's pretty much free in almost every league right now.


More Bullpen and Closer News

Toronto Blue Jays

The Blue Jays got two of their big-time relievers back this week, with both Jordan Romano and Erik Swanson being activated from the injured list. Neither reliever's first appearance of the year went as planned, as Swanson allowed three runs while getting only one out and Romano pitched a little better, inverting Swanson's line and getting three outs while allowing one run.

It's likely just rust for both, though, and they will soon resume their roles, with Romano as closer and Swanson as the primary setup man ahead of Yimi Garcia and Tim Mayza. Romano can be activated from fantasy injured lists, and Swanson (rostered in 9% of leagues) can be added in most holds formats.

Los Angeles Angels

The Angels got some bad bullpen news this week, as Robert Stephenson's elbow injury will cause him to miss the whole season. What was first believed to be something he'd be able to return from within a few weeks of Opening Day quickly turned into "maybe Opening Day next season." It's a blow to the Angels bullpen, but reportedly there is a clause in Stephenson's contract that will trigger an option and give the Angels another year of the talented righty reliever. The Angels will continue with Carlos Estevez as closer and Matt Moore alongside Luis Garcia in setup roles.


Short Relief - Other Bullpen News

-As mentioned in the intro, we currently have a three-way tie for the league lead in saves, with Kyle Finnegan, Ryan Helsley, and Clay Holmes each having seven. Robert Suarez is just behind them with six.

-We also have a three-way tie for blown saves. Adbert Alzolay, David Bednar, and Jhony Brito each have three blown saves so far. Alzolay and Bednar have been (mostly) working as closers, while Brito works more as a setup man (a good reminder here that a blown save can be recorded in a non-save situation. Just in case baseball wasn't confusing enough already.)

-Holds leaders? Guess what: another three-way tie. Andrew Kittredge, Hunter Harvey, and JoJo Romero have seven holds apiece. David Robertson and Jason Adam are right behind them with six each.

-Craig Kimbrel still hasn't allowed a walk this season, but he has struck out 14 batters in just eight innings of work. Looks like the elite version of Kimbrel we saw in spurts last year is back.

-Colin Poche earned his second save of the season this week. With Pete Fairbanks struggling a bit, we might be back to the Rays bullpen committee of old.

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