Camilo Doval led all relievers in saves in May with 11, and while he only has 3 saves outside of the past month, I think it’s safe to say that Doval belongs in this top tier. Doval has tweaked his pitch mix a bit this season, leading to more whiffs on his slider and an elite 37.1% K rate.
Unlike in the past, there really aren’t any closers separating themselves from the pack, and – I’m being honest in saying this – this top 10 can be ranked in pretty much any order you want, and I wouldn’t argue against it. Saves will be volatile in this group (and every group) but you should at least get steady production in the strikeout department while not ruining your ratios.
- Jhoan Duran continues to impress, allowing just 1 ER (which was a fluky outing where he walked 3 batters) dating back to April and there’s definitely a case to be made for him to be at the top of this list. It’s frustrating that he only has 8 saves, but that shouldn’t be something we concern ourselves with as he is the clear cut closer here, and not in a committee. The saves will come as the Twins should start winning some tighter games, so hang tight with Duran.
- Jordan Romano has always been at the back end of this group for me, and while I love the swing and miss ability, I think he’ll remain the most volatile for ratios (until we see August Josh Hader). The 1.17 WHIP is fine, but is it really top tier? The 18.6% SwStr keeps him in the tier, as does a high BABIP that indicates some bad luck this season. Even with the bad luck, he still has a 3.00 ERA, 30% K rate (which should be higher) and 15 saves.
- Paul Sewald continues to see some weird usage from time to time despite being the team’s “closer,” but could he have some competition now that Andrés Muñoz has returned? That remains to be seen, but I still see Sewald as a top 15 reliever at least, sporting a 33.5% CSW and 35.1% K rate. Sewalds 5.55 PLV is also 5th best in baseball right now.
- Scott Barlow has been on a tear since the middle of April now, despite just 2 saves in May, he now has a 35% CSW and the K rates to go with an impressive 2.85 xFIP. The save totals are not ideal and there is a good chance this is the year he gets traded … which might not necessarily be a bad thing? There are plenty of playoff teams that could consider Barlow an upgrade on their closer situation currently (Dodgers, Rangers, Yankees, Angels, Mets, Diamondbacks, Cubs … to name a few).
- Jason Adam is now up to 9 saves on the year after picking up 3 more this past week, and is certainly locked in as the Rays’ closer … as long as Pete Fairbanks is out. The team went back to Fairbanks as their closer the first time he returned from the IL, so what will happen the next time? That remains to be seen, but Adam is a strong candidate for the job for now.
- Kenley Jansen does have 12 saves, a 3.86 ERA and a pretty tight grip on the closer role in Boston, but there are a ton of warning flags here, starting with his atrocious 1.61 WHIP. Below average 29.2% CSW and 14% BB rates along with a 5.56 xFIP round out some worrying numbers for Jansen. He also has just a 25% GB rate, which is not ideal when you pitch in a hitter-friendly environment more than half the time.
- Mark Leiter Jr. has stumbled a bit over the past month, but he still looks like a true breakout reliever, and one that I think still has the upperhand for saves in the Cubs bullpen. As mentioned late last week, Leiter Jr’s breakout season has been a result of throwing his changeup/splitter more often, while also upping the cutter usage against lefties and now has an elite 38.3% K rate. He’s allowed runs in just three appearances this season, with those coming against the Rays, Astros, and Dodgers, so I’m not concerned about him not being able to keep this up moving forward.
- The Cardinals had one save last week and it went to Giovanny Gallegos, not Ryan Helsley. We’ll see how this week goes but there may be a switch next Tuesday if Helsley doesn’t see any save chances. He pitched well last night in the team’s loss to Texas, and again, has pitched fine for the most part this season, it’s just been a matter of usage with him.
EDIT: A.J. Puk was reinstated from the IL on Tuesday and was added to the list.
And if you want more daily reliever updates, please check out our Reliever Ranks series
|1.||Miguel Castro||ARZ||Chafin won’t face right handed heavy lineups.|
|2.||Giovanny Gallegos||STL||Looking more and more like a committee with Helsley.|
|3.||Adbert Alzolay||CHC||In some sort of committee with Leiter Jr. maybe, worth a look.|
|4.||Adam Ottavino||NYM||Even in timeshare, becomes a valuable mixed-league reliever.|
|5.||Brusdar Graterol||LAD||Looks like he still may see the occasional save.|
|6.||Andrés Muñoz||SEA||Returns to Mariners bullpen today, role TBD.|
|7.||Hunter Harvey||WAS||Best WAS reliever, but how valuable can he be, even in closer role?|
|8.||Michael King||NYY||Still worth a look, best floor/ceiling in NYY bullpen.|
|9.||Aroldis Chapman||KC||In case Barlow is traded first…|
|10.||Ben Joyce||LAA||This is just a fun speculative deep add|
|23||Mark Leiter Jr.||+3|