The Daniel Bard renaissance is truly a great story, and it’s amazing to see Bard sitting at 98 MPH with his fastball after not pitching in the league between 2013 and 2020. But it’s not his fastball that has been the difference-maker for Bard, it’s his slider and how he’s been using it this season. He’s had great results so far this season just by upping his slider usage by 7.2%, using it more to get strikes and get ahead of counts. I have my doubts about Bard moving forward (Coors, age/health, command, trade, etc.) but just ride the wave for now as there is nothing to worry about yet.
- Ryan Pressly’s return to the Astros bullpen got off to a rocky start, but he was able to convert a clean save chance this past weekend with no issues. The velo is still down, although it does appear to be creeping up ever so slightly, but it remains something to keep an eye on if the struggles continue.
- Camilo Doval is all by himself in the Giants’ closer role with Jake McGee allowing 8 earned runs over 2.2 IP in May so far. Doval on the other hand has allowed just one run since opening day and has a 7/1 K/BB rate over 3.1 innings this month so far.
- If the circumstances were a bit better, both Jhoan Duran and David Bednar would be up at least one tier. Duran seems like the 1A option for Rocco Baldelli, but Emilio Pagán will likely get chances as well, especially if Duran will be used for multiple innings per outing. Bednar may be pulling away from Chris Stratton as the favorite to close out games, but the Pirates are still the Pirates despite the 3rd best record in the NL Central.
- Despite Chris Woodward refusing to call him the closer heading into the season, Joe Barlow has 4 of the team’s 5 saves to begin the year. His swing and miss stuff fluctuated last season, but so far he’s been able to get whiffs at a high rate (37.5%) due in large part to a usage change. As we’ve seen with so many other relievers, Barlow has upped his breaking ball usage (up 17.4%), simultaneously decreasing his fastball usage (down 16.7%), and seeing great results.
- The trio of 20-22 dropped a bit this week, but I’d expect this tier to fluctuate and change often as these relievers, each of which pitches for a relatively bad team, aren’t exactly locked into the closer role like those in the first two to three tiers. So any time they struggle, you wonder what will happen the next time the team gets a save opportunity.
- Mark Melancon is Mark Melancon‘ing and the Diamondbacks may not be so faithful when it comes to guaranteeing him the ninth inning. Melancon has just one more save than Ian Kennedy over the past two weeks, so perhaps this will wind up being a bit of a timeshare with Melancon being the 1A option. If it is in fact a timeshare, I’m not sure I’d bother rostering either reliever outside of the deepest of leagues.
- We still have no real idea who the Reds’ closer is or if they have one but I guess I’ll keep Lucas Sims here despite having some rough outings upon returning from the IL. Sims has the type of upside worth being patient for, and the Reds are starting to figure out how to win games, so now may be the time to take a flier on Sims if available in your leagues.
- Dylan Floro was activated off the IL by the Marlins yesterday and while we don’t know what his role will be right away, the closer role appears to be vacant right now. If the Marlins want to ease Floro back into the role, I could see Anthony Bass getting some save chances this week, and for now, those are the only two Marlins worth rostering in most leagues (probably hang on to Anthony Bender in SV+HLD dynasty formats).
|1.||Josh Staumont||KC||Likely in a near 50/50 split with Barlow whatever that equals in KC|
|2.||Ryan Helsley||STL||May never be “the” closer, but worth the add in most leagues|
|3.||Emilio Pagán||MIN||could be on the short side of a committee with Duran|
|4.||Ian Kennedy||ARZ||Kennedy has 3 saves to Melancon’s 4 over last two weeks|
|5.||Anthony Bass||MIA||Has been Marlins most consistent reliever so far|
|6.||Matt Strahm||BOS||Not sure who else this team can turn to for save opps|
|7.||Andrés Muñoz/Drew Steckenrider||SEA||Full-blown committee here?|
|8.||Lou Trivino||OAK||Shaky return may have pushed him down depth chart|
|9.||Michael Fulmer||DET||Soto has been (mostly) fine but Fulmer has been better so far…|
|10.||Rafael Montero||HOU||Next in line should anything happen to Pressly|
Photo by Kamp Fender/Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)