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Florio's Fantasy Baseball Bullpen Report: Who is the Dodgers' Closer Now?

Daniel Hudson - Fantasy Baseball Closers, Saves, Waiver Wire Pickups

Last week, I started off this article by saying it had been a slow week in bullpen news. Now, even a slow week provides some fantasy-relevant tidbits, but for the most part, there were no huge changes. That is not the case this week.

One of the best teams in baseball just put their closer on the injured list. Meanwhile, one of the most dominant closers in the AL is not exclusively being used for the ninth. A dominant NL closer has struggled to look like his past self at times. Oh, and then there are teams like the Phillies, Cubs, and Rays who we can never fully trust with their late-inning bullpen usage. 

And on top of it all, there are a ton of elite relievers out there that you should not simply overlook because they are currently not picking up save chances just yet. Keeping a close eye on how bullpens are managed now gives you a leg up in the summer when trades and injuries start to kick in. 

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


Changing Bullpens for Fantasy Baseball

Without a doubt, the biggest change to any bullpen this week came in Los Angeles as the Dodgers placed closer Evan Phillips on the 15-day IL. With him being sidelined, manager Dave Roberts indicated that there would be no clear-cut closer and they would play the matchups. Well, we only have one game since this all occurred -- but that is exactly what happened. 

Blake Treinen pitched the eighth against the heart of the Marlins lineup, while Alex Vesia closed out the game picking up his first save of the season. He joins Daniel Hudson, Ryan Yarbrough, and Dinelson Lamet as other relievers with one save this season for the Dodgers.

Because this is a murky situation and with Phillips not set to miss a substantial amount of time, you should not spend a ton of FAAB on any of the Dodgers relievers. Think in the range of 5-8 percent if you need saves. I rank the Dodgers' closer options in this order: Daniel Hudson, Alex Vesia, Blake Treinen. We will have to keep a close eye on this situation until Phillips returns. 

Jhoan Duran returned a week ago for the Twins and already has two saves. In that span, he has pitched four innings, not allowed a run, has a 0.50 WHIP, and struck out half the batters he has faced, all while not allowing a walk. He is immediately back to must-start status even if it is frustrating to see the Twins not save him for the ninth consistently.

Twice in the last week, we have seen Duran twice come in to face the opposing lineup's best hitters. In those games, Cole Sands and Caleb Thielbar picked up saves. While it is frustrating, it's not trustworthy enough to make a second reliever here a must-roster. But, if you are chasing those secondary saves, I rank the options: Griffin Jax, Sands, then Thielbar. 

The Cubs have a set closer. Even if much of the fantasy community is waiting for this pitcher to falter. That’s right, Hector Neris not only has both of the Cubs saves in the last week, but he has doubled up any other reliever on their team so far this season, with six. We know who Neris is at this point. He is a tightrope walker, who can hurt your ratios at times. So far this season, he has a 3.46 ERA, 6.93 xERA, 1.69 WHIP, and just a 20 percent strikeout rate. It is certainly possible he implodes at any point. But as long as he is getting the consistent save opportunities for Chicago, he is a must-start fantasy option. 

If you want to take a cheap bid on another reliever here in hopes that this Neris run doesn’t last, then Mark Leiter Jr. is a name for you. He has pitched to a 0.59 ERA, 3.08 xERA, and 1.24 WHIP with a 26 percent strikeout rate. Adbert Alzolay could always work his way back into the picture as well. A deep sleeper in this bullpen is Julian Merryweather, who has been missing a ton of bats for the Cubs in a small sample size. 

This article is never complete unless the Phillies are included. Things have seemingly settled on Jose Alvarado in this pen. Not only did he pick up two of three saves for the Phillies in the past week, but he has seven this season and no one else has more than two. You know what Alvarado is at this point. He will miss bats and look untouchable at times, but he will struggle with walks, hurting your WHIP, and at times get shelled.

It can be frustrating, but he remains a must-start fantasy option. Jeff Hoffman, who picked up the other save this week and has two on the year, has been the reliever that Philly turns to most often. He has a 1.13 ERA, 2.08 xERA, 0.94 WHIP, and a 29 percent strikeout rate. He provides elite strikeouts and ratios while being next in line for save behind a closer with a history of being shaky at times. He is a strong add in roto formats. 


Speculative Saves for Fantasy Baseball 

In the past week, the Rays have turned to Jason Adam and Phil Maton to pick up a save. Last week, it was Adam and Garrett Cleavinger who split the save chances. We know the Rays are always going to lean with a committee approach, but Adam is clearly the top option.

He has pitched to a 1.69 ERA, 4.26 xERA, and a 0.81 WHIP with a 22 percent strikeout rate. The strikeouts are not elite like they were a year ago, but as long as he is getting the bulk of chances here, he is a must-start fantasy option, at least until Pete Fairbanks returns. I would avoid the rest unless very desperate for saves. In that case, Cleavinger then Maton is how I rank them. 

I am not writing about the Mets because I think Edwin Diaz is close to losing his job. In fact, I think you could argue he has been a bit unlucky. On the year, Diaz has a 2.45 ERA, but a 1.68 xERA, 0.82 WHIP, and a 39 percent strikeout rate. The long ball has hurt him at times, but do not panic.

In fact, try to trade for him if the Diaz manager in your league is worried that he is not the same pitcher he was pre-injury. But, if anything happened to Diaz, the Mets have two great fallback options in Reed Garrett and Adam Ottavino. Garrett has pitched to a 0.50 ERA with a 1.06 WHIP and 42 percent strikeout rate. Ottavino has a 2.70 ERA, 0.83 WHIP, and also struck out 42 percent of batters faced. Both provide elite ratios and would likely split saves if Diaz missed time. They are two great non-closer relievers to roster in roto formats. 

It has been a rough couple of days for Royals closer James McArthur. He threw two innings on Sunday, giving up four hits, and two runs (one earned) while picking up his first loss of the season. Then on Monday, with him unavailable, the save went to Chris Stratton. But do not panic yet, McArthur managers.

Prior to Sunday, he had picked up a save in five straight outings. He was clearly unavailable on Monday after pitching so much on Sunday, so the Stratton save is just a blip on the radar. But, it does show who may be next in line for saves in Kansas City should anything happen to McArthur. Save chances would likely be split between Stratton, John Schreiber, and perhaps Will Smith, but Stratton is my favorite of the bunch. 

It has been a tough go for the Marlins this season, no denying that. So far, Tanner Scott has led them with four saves. But in the past week, we saw the first non-Scott save this season, with Anthony Maldonado picking it up. Scott has been shaky all season, so getting a glimpse at who may be next in line is huge. I would not add Maldonado unless you are desperate for saves. Monitor this situation closely. 


Elite Strikeouts and Ratios

While I spoke up Hoffman earlier from the Philly pen, I need to shine some light on Matt Strahm as well. In 14 innings this season, he has pitched to a 1.29 ERA, 2.99 xERA, and 0.79 WHIP with a 42 percent strikeout rate and just a 2 percent walk rate. Batters have hit .196 against him. He is providing absolutely elite ratios and strikeouts. Plus, he pitches in a bullpen prone to making changes, so even though we have not yet seen him pick up a save, do not completely rule that out. Strahm is a great add for those looking to use a reliever rather than a shaky starter in deeper roto leagues. 

Yimi Garcia has been lights out this season. He has a 0.53 WHIP, the lowest amongst all qualified relievers. He also has a 0.68 ERA and 1.96 xERA to go with a 34 percent strikeout rate. Batters are hitting just .091 against him so far. Plus, we know if anything happens to Jordan Romero that Garcia will be in the saves picture in Toronto. Garcia is a great non-closer option to roster. 

Justin Slaten has been stifling batters so far this season. He has a 0.95 ERA and 0.68 WHIP while limiting opposing hitters to a .169 average. He has only struck out 22 percent of the batters he has faced, but if you need a reliever to stabilize your ERA and WHIP, he is an under-the-radar candidate for you. 

Yennier Cano has been a rock-solid reliever for years now. So far this season, he has pitched to a 2.08 ERA, 2.90 xERA, and 1.15 WHIP with a 24 percent strikeout rate. He not only can provide elite ratios, he does have a save this season and is next up should anything happen to Craig Kimbrel. It is not like we have never seen that before! Cano is a strong non-closer reliever to have on your roster. Danny Coulombe, who sports a 2.77 ERA, 0.62 WHIP, and a 34 percent strikeout rate, is another option in this Orioles bullpen. 

Yuki Matsui has pitched to a 3.38 ERA, 3.95 xERA, and 1.19 WHIP with a 19 percent strikeout rate. While those may not be the most elite numbers, he does remain the next in line to pick up saves in San Diego. Matsui is a sneaky add in deep roto formats or as a Robert Suarez handcuff. 

Make sure to follow Michael on X, @MichaelFFlorio. 

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