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MLB Fantasy Baseball Closer Report (April 19): These Teams Have Bullpen Battles Already

MLB Fantasy Baseball Closer Report (April 19): These Teams Have Bullpen Battles Already article feature image

Ron Vesely/Getty Images. Pictured: Liam Hendriks.

Trying to find, maintain, and decipher the changes at closer after two weeks was exhausting. I cannot imagine it gets much easier, but that is the fun of research, my first love. Injuries, COVID-19 and ineffectiveness have all led to changes at the back end of bullpens across baseball.

Fantasy baseball players are always on the hunt for saves. So every other week during the Major League Baseball season, we’ll be checking in on the backends of those bullpens. Whose job is steady? Whose is uncertain? Who is waiting in the wings and ready to poach some saves?

We’ll break it all down below in different categories, ranging from those who have their job locked down to speculative adds worth keeping your eye on.

Locked In

  • Liam Hendriks – Chicago White Sox

Three clean appearances and two saves have made Hendriks owners happy. Hendriks’ ERA has dropped nearly four runs over that span and opposing hitters are now batting .208 against him.

  • Ryan Pressly – Houston Astros
  • Raisel Iglesias – Los Angeles Angels
  • Aroldis Chapman – New York Yankees
  • Diego Castillo – Tampa Bay Rays

Even if he was not locked in, Castillo might as well be the last man standing in Tampa Bay’s bullpen.

  • Ian Kennedy – Texas Rangers
  • Will Smith – Atlanta Braves

Smith is one tap dance away from losing his grip on the closer gig in Atlanta.

  • Craig Kimbrel – Chicago Cubs
  • Daniel Bard – Colorado Rockies
  • Kenley Jansen – Los Angeles Dodgers
  • Josh Hader – Milwaukee Brewers
  • Edwin Díaz – New York Mets
  • Héctor Neris – Philadelphia Phillies
  • Alex Colomé – Minnesota Twins
  • Lou Trivino – Oakland Athletics

Trevor Rosenthal is out for the foreseeable future, and Trivino wasted no time staking his claim for the closer gig just in time for the Athletics to dig themselves out of the early hole.

  • Emmanuel Clase – Cleveland Indians

One blown save over the weekend was no problem for Clase, who locked down Cleveland’s win on Sunday.

  • Matt Barnes – Boston Red Sox

This dominance looks familiar. Barnes the flame-thrower is back, and his main competition, Adam Ottavino, has been subpar.

  • César Valdez – Baltimore Orioles
  • Brad Hand – Washington Nationals
  • Mark Melancon – San Diego Padres
  • Yimi García – Miami Marlins

The Marlins like Garcia so much that they have to rest him after pitching too many days in a row.

Getting Save Opportunities, But No Lock

  • Gregory Soto – Detroit Tigers
  • Richard Rodríguez – Pittsburgh Pirates
  • Amir Garrett – Cincinnati Reds
  • Kendall Graveman – Seattle Mariners

The former A’s prospect logged his first two saves this week but is still in uncharted waters as a pitcher. Rafael Montero may have lost his closer role but is not out of the competition.

Closer Committees

  • Alex Reyes, Giovanny Gallegos and Jordan Hicks – St. Louis Cardinals
  • Stefan Crichton, Taylor Clarke and Yoan López – Arizona Diamondbacks

What has gone right for Arizona’s bullpen? I cannot imagine rostering any of these three unless desperation sets in.

  • Greg Holland, Scott Barlow, Kyle Zimmer and Josh Staumont – Kansas City Royals

The Royals have started the season well but decided to ditch the traditional closer role. If your roster is not ravaged by injuries, stash any of these pitchers after Holland.

  • Rafael Dolis, David Phelps and Ryan Borucki – Toronto Blue Jays

Jordan Romano is close to returning from injury, which would eliminate Phelps and Borucki from consideration.

Injury Opportunities

  • Tyler Rogers – San Francisco Giants

Jake McGee had a reaction to his COVID-19 vaccine, leading to Rogers’ opportunity. Once McGee recovers, he will assume the closer role.

Next Man Up Adds

  • Bryan Garcia – Detroit Tigers
  • Giovanny Gallegos and Jordan Hicks – St. Louis Cardinals
  • Chris Stratton – Pittsburgh Pirates
  • Mychal Givens – Colorado Rockies
  • Jason Adam – Chicago Cubs
  • A.J. Minter – Atlanta Braves

Would the Braves replace one lefty reliever with another? I think the preferred choice would be Chris Martin, but he has not resumed throwing.

  • Adam Plutko – Baltimore Orioles

He is an add in deep bench leagues.

  • Keynan Middleton – Seattle Mariners
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