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Florio's Bullpen Report: Speculative Saves, Changing Bullpens, Elite Ratios (Week 5)

Jason Adam - Fantasy Baseball Rankings, Draft Sleepers, Waiver Wire Pickups

This is a wonderful time to be a sports fan. The NBA and NHL playoffs are in full swing and the NFL Draft is right around the corner. It is one of the best weeks on the sports calendar. With so much going on, it could be easy to take your eye off the fantasy baseball prize even if just for a minute. 

No one is checking out this early in the fantasy baseball season, but even turning your attention to other sports for a few days could lead you to miss some very important bullpen changes. But do not worry, you can look away because we at RotoBaller never do and have you covered!

Bullpen usage is always rapidly in flux in MLB and this article will help keep you up to date on all the changes. I will also highlight relievers who are not picking up saves but are putting up elite ratios and strikeouts. These are relievers you can plug in in place of a struggling starter to help get ratios under control. 

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Changing Bullpens for Fantasy Baseball

The Cubs have removed struggling Adbert Alzolay from the closer role after he blew two straight saves -- bringing his total up to four on the year already. Manager Craig Counsell said the Cubs would handle the closer role on a day-to-day basis. Hector Neris, who does come with a lot of closing experience, picked up the save for Chicago on Saturday. He is the only other pitcher with a save other than Alzolay. He needs to be added in all formats right now and you should look to spend something like 10 to 12 percent of your FAAB. 

Mark Leiter Jr. is a sleeper here that I like a lot. Not only will he be in the mix for saves in Chicago, but he has been its best reliever. He has not allowed a run, has a 1.88 xERA, 0.84 WHIP, a .132 batting average against, and a 29 percent strikeout rate. He provides elite ratios and strikeouts and could see some save chances. Alzolay vowed to fix his issues and return as the closer and Counsell has not ruled that out. So if you can afford to hold onto Alzolay, you should for the time being. 

The Rays had to place Pete Fairbanks on the IL, leaving a gaping hole at the end of their bullpen. Fairbanks leads the Rays with three saves, but they have had three other pitchers close out games this season: Colin Poche (two saves), Shawn Armstrong, and Garrett Cleavinger. Poche seems like a good alternative since he already has multiple saves, but last season when the Rays had to put Fairbanks on the IL, both times it was Jason Adam who led them in saves.

Never expect the Rays to be linear and have just one clear-cut closer, but in Fairbanks' absence, it seems like the two favorites for saves are Adam and Poche. I like them in that order, but given the team and the circumstances, I would only spend up to 10 percent of my FAAB on either. 

It is still April, so it may be too early to take a victory lap -- but that will not stop me. This will probably be the last time I write about the A’s bullpen for a bit but how could I not hype up the amazingly legit Mason Miller? Not only does he have all five of the A’s saves, but he has a 1.80 ERA, 1.03 xERA, 1.00 WHIP, a .167 batting average against, and a whopping 50 percent strikeout rate.

In the last two weeks, I have compared this guy to early career Josh Hader. Those are huge expectations but Miller has earned them. He picked up his fifth save on Monday blowing gas by Juan Soto and Aaron Judge. He is very real and could be a league-winning reliever if he stays healthy. 

Jordan Romano rejoined the Blue Jays just a week ago and already has three saves in four games. He still seems to be working his way back into full form as the strikeouts are not there yet, but you will not complain about ratios if you are getting three saves a week. Romano is an established closer and has a long leash on the job. But we now know that a committee between Chad Green and Yimi Garcia is how the Blue Jays will handle things if Romano misses more time. 


Speculative Saves for Fantasy Baseball 

He’s going to write about the Phillies bullpen again, isn’t he? You know it! For a third straight year, the Phillies seemingly appear in this article weekly. After going over 10 days between saves, Jose Alvarado has picked up two straight for the Phillies, including a one-pitch save on Friday night. He now has four of their seven save chances and while it could be frustrating to see other pitchers in this bullpen get some chances, Alvarado needs to be started weekly. There is just too much upside as the primary closing option on a team as good as Philly. Jeff Hoffman is my favorite of the backup options, followed by Gregory Soto and Seranthony Dominguez. However, those arms are best suited on the waiver wire except in deep roto formats and NL-only leagues. 

Kirby Yates has picked up three saves in a little over a week since replacing Jose Leclerc as the closer for the Rangers. At this time last week, we were still searching for a bit of clarity in this bullpen, but we clearly see the Rangers' plans now. David Robertson continues to be used in high-leverage situations as a setup man. He may be the best arm in this bullpen and can provide strikeouts and great ratios, but the consistent save options are going to Yates. He is a must-start option until we see otherwise. 

During the first weekend of the season, it looked like the Brewers found their new closer in Abner Uribe. He had three saves by April 2, but unfortunately, he has not had one since. From April 3 on, the Brewers have had three different pitchers pick up a save, but Joel Payamps is the only one with multiple. He now has three saves on the season as well. He appears to be the clear-cut top option for the Brewers and should be started everywhere. Abreu is worth holding onto if you have the bench spot to do so, just to monitor how this plays out another week. 

The Rockies continue to be a tough bullpen to figure out. Partially because they only have one save on the season and it went to Jake Bird. Bird is a solid reliever, but he does not miss nearly enough bats to be a reliable option in Coors Field. Justin Lawrence seems like their best bullpen arm, but he has been used in high-leverage situations. We did see Nick Mears, who has good swing-and-miss abilities pitch the ninth over the weekend. This is a frustrating bullpen that is probably not worth the squeeze for fantasy given the ball park they play in and the fact that they will not win many games. It puts your ratios at high risk while chasing saves that may not happen here. But if you are into that sort of thing, I rank the arms here Lawrence, Mears, Bird. 

The Twins have not provided a ton of saves for fantasy baseball managers this season. So far, Griffin Jax leads the way with two, while Cole Sands and Steven Okert each have one. However, help is on the way. Closer Jhoan Duran is set to begin a rehab assignment this week and should quickly return to his ninth-inning duties. Duran is highly rostered, but it never hurts to search your waiver wire just in case. Jax is worth rostering until we see Duran return to full-time closing duties. Sand can provide elite ratios and strikeouts with a 0.93 ERA, 0.62 WHIP, and 42 percent strikeout rate. 

Kevin Ginkel has been a reliable option for the Diamondbacks, picking up all four of their saves so far, but Paul Sewald is set to start a rehab assignment this week. Once back, I would expect Sewald to quickly regain the closer role after perhaps a couple of outings, if that. We have seen the Blue Jays throw Romano right back into the fire. Ginkel is worth rostering until we see Sewald return, but after that, it may be over. Just like with Duran, Sewald is already highly rostered, but it never hurts to check. 


Elite Strikeouts and Ratios for Fantasy Baseball 

Last week I was tempted to write about Reed Garrett. I wrote about Adam Ottavino being the next man up and was going to mention Garrett but didn’t want to come off as a homer. Well, lesson learned! Garrett has been electric for the Mets, not allowing a run to go with a 0.75 WHIP, a .135 batting average against, and a league-leading 51 percent strikeout rate. He is right ahead of Fernando Cruz (another elite ratio and strikeout arm worth rostering!) and Miller. Garrett closed out the game for the Mets against the Dodgers on Saturday and quickly earned more late-inning opportunities. If you need strikeouts or ratios, he is a reliever you should grab right away. 

Also, Adam Ottavino has a 2.16 ERA and 0.48 WHIP and has struck out 47 percent of batters faced, the fourth best amongst relievers. We would likely see a committee between him and Garrett should anything happen to Edwin Diaz. He is another reliever you can turn toward for strikeouts and ratios. 

If you have read this article in past years, you know I cannot quit Aroldis Chapman. And why would I now when he is striking out 43 percent of the batters he has faced, the sixth best amongst relievers? He also has a save already and should be next in line for the Pirates should anything happen to David Bednar, who has righted the ship as of late. Plus, Chapman could easily be traded at some point. Just last year, we saw him get traded to a team with late-inning needs and get thrown into some save chances. He could have a similar fate this season. 

Yes, I am going to write about Hunter Harvey again. He falls into the same bucket as Reed Garrett and Fernando Cruz. Pitchers who are not closers, but provide absolute elite numbers otherwise. Harvey has the fourth-most strikeouts amongst relievers, behind only Garrett, Miller, and Cruz. He has a 2.45 ERA, 2.19 xERA, and a 1.00 WHIP. Plus, he could see an occasional save and is the next man up should something (injury or later in the year a trade) happen to Kyle Finnegan

Let me also continue to remind you about Hunter Gaddis. The Guardians pitcher has not allowed a run in 10.2 innings pitched. He has struck out 39 percent of the batters he has faced to go along with a .114 batting average against and a 0.66 WHIP. He also should be next in line should anything happen to Emmanuel Clase

Keegan Thompson has a 0.43 WHIP right now -- the fifth best among all relievers. He also has not allowed a run this season and has struck out 40 percent of the batters he faced while allowing just a .043 batting average against. He is providing elite ratios and strikeouts and pitches on a team that just yanked its closer. There are worse gambles you could take than throwing a minimal bid on Thompson.

Make sure to follow Michael on X, @MichaelFFlorio. 

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