Welcome back to the latest edition of our Reliever Ranks series! This will bring you up-to-date bullpen depth charts every morning for the day’s games and makes for an excellent tool for those looking to stream saves or wins. This series runs seven days a week, so check in every morning to get your daily bullpen fix!
Transaction and Schedule Notes
- All 30 teams played on Sunday and 22 will again on Monday with SEA, NYM, PHI, WSH, PIT, LAD, CHC, and SDP having scheduled off days.
- The Twins sent Simeon Woods-Richardson back to AAA to make room for Bailey Ober. Ober appears to only be up for a spot start, so it’s possible Woods-Richardson is back up with the Twins in a long relief role again before too long.
- The Phillies called up Yunior Marte and demoted Cristopher Sánchez after his spot start.
- The Rays designated Hector Perez for assignment to make room for Zach Eflin’s return.
TOR 5 – NYY 1
- Erik Swanson and Adam Cimber each logged an inning to close out this game. As the margin of victory was four runs, no saves or holds were distributed. Swanson currently sits as the AL leader with seven holds while Cimber has yet to record his first. Today’s performance serves only as further evidence as to why Swanson is at the top of the pecking order for holds in Toronto.
- Michael King and Ian Hamilton combined to work the final three and a third innings for the Yankees on Sunday. After sitting at 96.4 mph on his fastball in 2022, King has yet to regain his old velocity after elbow surgery ended his season last year, and that was the case again here as his six sinkers averaged 93.4 mph and his three four-seamers averaged 93.8 mph. The results have been there so far, but his Stuff+ is down to 112 from 119 last year. Perhaps this lower velocity is designed as he works his way back from injury or designed to get him through a full year, but there’s a reason to continue to watch his velocity and stuff numbers to see if he can continue to generate results with this lower velocity.
WSN 1 – MIN 3
- Erasmo Ramírez and Anthony Banda closed out the final two frames for the Nationals and there’s not much to write about. These are both relievers that will likely never be relevant to fantasy.
- Jhoan Duran earned his fifth save of the year with a clean 9th including a strikeout. Jorge López and Caleb Thielbar were each rewarded with holds for their outings as well. Duran continues to be among the most electric and gif-worthy relievers in baseball as his 102 mph four-seamer punchout of Luis Garcia is making the rounds on baseball Twitter with its ridiculous velocity and run. The Twins finally stopped beating around the bush and made Duran the full-time closer with Lopez only recording one of six team saves so far, and that should make fantasy managers very happy.
LAD 7 – CHC 3
- Brusdar Graterol secured his first save of the season giving up three hits scattered across two innings of work. Justin Bruihl logged his first hold of the year. With Evan Phillips out on paternity leave, it appears that Graterol at least has the primary share of saves for the Dodgers. His initial numbers this year seem to indicate that he’s up to the task; he’s been settling into the season nicely and is currently on a 6.2 IP scoreless streak. However, his struggles getting lefties out (lefties have an .834 OPS against him in his career) will likely continue to hang over Graterol’s head and prevent him from taking some save opportunities even in Phillip’s absence. Unfortunately for Graterol, but fortunately for the Dodgers, Phillips is expected to be back on Tuesday, so Graterol’s days as primary closer appear to, at least temporarily, be over.
- Keegan Thompson continues to thrive as a reliever as he logged two scoreless innings with a pair of punchouts to bring his ERA on the year down to 0.73. Walks have been an issue for him this year, but he showed the ability to be dominant while limiting walks in his 36.2 IPs as a reliever last year in which he posted a 1.47 ERA and 30% K-rate. He’s a guy who could absolutely start seeing more opportunities for multi-inning holds. On the other side of the coin, Michael Fulmer allowed two more runs in his inning today to bring his ERA to 8.68. It’s still extremely early, so one matchup or one bad outing can still have a disproportionate effect on a reliever’s stats and this may be the case here. The Dodgers have raked against Fulmer this year, putting up eight runs in his three appearances against him while allowing him to record only six outs. In his 6.1 IPs against teams that aren’t the Dodgers, he’s allowed just one run on five hits. I still believe this is a committee between him and Boxberger until he starts to struggle against more than just the Dodgers.
COL 3 – PHI 9
- Lefties Brent Suter and Brad Hand were able to each work scoreless outings. Is it possible that Hand has regained his form and is a solid major league reliever again? Probably not. While the strikeout today does give him twelve punchouts in 8.2 IPs maintaining his 33.3% K-rate, the swinging strike rate continues to lag behind where it was in his heyday of 2016-2020. I don’t see enough here to believe that this is a drastically different reliever from the past couple of years and, while the threat of Coors looms, I’d hesitate to chase holds here.
- Gregory Soto earned his fifth hold before the Phillies broke the game open in the 7th and José Alvarado went ahead and came out for the 8th anyway as he was already warmed up. Alvarado still has yet to walk a single batter of the 36 he’s faced this year so far, and he’s struck out 20 of them. José Alvarado with plus command is an absolutely scary thing to think about, but that’s what we’re dealing with right now. He’s likely just in a groove, but sometimes grooves can last the whole season. As long as he’s riding that groove, he is the primary save share in Philadelphia.
MIA 4 – CLE 7
- George Soriano and Matt Barnes ate some low-leverage innings here to get through this game. I know Barnes lowered his ERA here to 1.93 and put up a couple of strikeouts, but this is definitely not something I want to chase. He’s down to sitting 92 mph on his fastball and all the peripheral stats are telling you to stay away.
- Trevor Stephan logged his second hold of the year and Emmanuel Clase notched his seventh save, but in between them James Karinchak had a difficult 8th in which he gave up three runs. Karinchak has always been extremely volatile throughout his entire career, so I’d expect Stephan to eventually lead this team in holds. Even with the walk rate coming down, Karinchak simply misses in too many dangerous locations and he gets punished for it. The homer he allowed was the fourth this season in just 12 IPs. Clase, on the other hand, is cruising despite still not regaining the velocity on his cutter from last year (he averaged 97.4 mph in this one). He has allowed one earned run on six hits in his last nine innings as he seems to have no problem getting outs even at this lower velocity.
NYM 4 – SFG 5
- Drew Smith took the loss Sunday night allowing the winning run in the bottom of the 8th inning. Brooks Raley logged his twelfth appearance of the year already, tying him for the league lead. Both of these guys have been pretty solid and should continue to be solid sources of holds, but workload may end up being a problem for this bullpen as a whole with Smith and Raley being at the forefront. Raley is currently on pace for 77 appearances while Smith is on pace for 71. While Raley was a starter in Korea not too long ago, neither has faced anywhere close to that kind of a workload as a reliever in the majors, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Mets pump the breaks on them a bit at some point.
- Camilo Doval logged save number two for the season with Scott Alexander picking up his first win in relief. This bullpen came into the game relatively well-rested and they benefit from a scheduled off-day on Monday, too, so guys like Tyler and Taylor Rogers were used considerably earlier in the game than they normally would be in order to keep things close. Despite this being only the second of four team saves Doval has recorded, his usage still suggests to me that he is the primary closer and should end up with close to 80% of the team’s saves on the season if he pitches the whole way.
CHW 1 – TBR 4
- Tanner Banks got the lone inning of relief from the White Sox today. He doesn’t seem to figure into the holds conversation for the foreseeable future.
- Have the Rays finally stopped Raysing? Pete Fairbanks now has all three of the Rays’ non-three-inning saves this year and his usage has suggested that they’re specifically saving him for the ninth inning of close games. Jason Adam has generally been used in the 8th as the Rays have taken a much more traditional approach to their typical bullpen deployment, although I say that as Yonny Chirinos got a three-inning hold in this one. In the early going, the signs are starting to point to Fairbanks as the number 1 guy and not the 1a to Adam’s 1b; however, the one thing to expect in this bullpen is the unexpected, so this situation may not last for long.
CIN 0 – PIT 2
- Fernando Cruz recorded four of the team’s final five outs of the game via the strikeout but also allowed a run on a couple hits to raise his season ERA to 5.68. I liked some of the underlying stats for Cruz coming into the season and I believe the 30+% K-rate and 2.36 FIP coming into Sunday’s action shows there’s something there, but he’s walking a lot of guys and giving up more than a hit per inning, so the command just doesn’t seem to be good enough yet. Maybe he grows throughout the year, but this isn’t some rookie in his early 20s, so this may just be who Cruz is.
- Colin Holderman and David Bednar seem to be combining for a hold and a save every day recently. They each logged their eighth on Sunday capping a week in which Holderman earned three holds and Bednar earned four saves. A team pitching well and going on a winning streak usually means a good amount of saves for the closer, but the Pirates might not have another week all year with five team saves. However, given Pittsburgh’s improvement, a 30-save season now seems to be the expectation for Bednar, which makes him one of the top closers in the league for the rest of the year.
DET 1 – BAL 2 (F/10)
- The Tigers attempted to hold on to a slim 1-0 lead in the bottom of the 8th by throwing Chasen Shreve, but he allowed the tying run to score and Alex Lange was forced to come out and rescue him from the inning. Lange tossed a scoreless 9th, then Mason Englert was called upon to keep the game tied in the 10th, but he was unable to do so and took the tough-luck loss on the unearned run. Detroit has been using Lange a bit more like a typical closer recently, but the team still only has three team saves with Lange only recording one. The team context isn’t great, but it should produce a few more saves than that over the course of the season. Lange started out slow with no punchouts in his first four appearances, but he’s since found the K with nine in his past six appearances, so hopefully this means he’s rounding into form.
- Most of Baltimore’s top arms including Bryan Baker and Félix Bautista were used in this game as the Orioles tried to keep themselves in the game. Keegan Akin ended up being the last one standing in this fun game of musical mound and his prize was his first win of the season. Baker has emerged as a bonafide elite setup man this season and there have been several other pleasant surprises early in the season here. With both Mychal Givens and Dillon Tate looking like they’re on pace to return by mid-May, Akin isn’t likely to get too many more high-leverage opportunities like this one the rest of the season.
OAK 2 – TEX 5
- Richard Lovelady, Chad Smith, and Sam Moll all got work in this one, and it’s tough to get too excited about any of them. On what could be a historically bad team, holds and saves will be few and far between.
- Will Smith was chosen for the save over José Leclerc for the second time this season while Brock Burke and Jonathan Hernández each logged holds. All four batters Smith ended up facing were righties, but two lefties were due up and would have faced Leclerc. This seems to be closer to a 50-50 split than we were thinking at the beginning of the year as the Rangers seem to want to avoid Leclerc facing lefties more than they want Smith to avoid righties. Smith is comfortably ahead of Leclerc in strikeout rate on the year, but Leclerc has yet to allow an earned run this season, so it’s hard to think he’s done something to lose himself the job. I would consider it 50-50 until we get more information.
BOS 12 – MIL 5
- Kaleb Ort picked up the win in relief despite walking three and giving up a run. John Schreiber also came on for the 8th in what would have been a hold situation had the Red Sox not absolutely gone off in the 8th for nine runs. It’s been a rough go for anyone not named Jansen, Schreiber, or Winckowski in the Red Sox pen and, although Stuff+ really likes Ort, it hasn’t really translated to on-field success for him yet.
- Matt Bush had a game to forget on Sunday allowing four runs, including two homers, while recording just one out to earn himself a blown save and a loss. Javy Guerra came on to try to rescue Bush but only ended up making things worse, allowing five runs of his own before mercifully ending the 8th. Despite this horrific outing, Bush still seems to be in the top two or three options for holds for the Brewers. It might be difficult to trust given the ratios that will assuredly take months to wipe away, but one outing, no matter how bad, should change your view of a reliever that much.
HOU 5 – ATL 2
- Bryan Abreu recorded his second save in as many nights with Hector Neris picking up the victory in relief. Ryan Pressly was reportedly unavailable for Sunday, so this does not mean that a change has happened in Houston. However, I am now confident putting Abreu next in line. If something puts Pressly on the IL, Abreu immediately becomes a top-10 closer. His stuff is that good.
- A.J. Minter tried to keep the game tied in the 9th after Nick Anderson allowed two runs in the 8th, but he was unable to do so and took the loss and blown save, his second of each. Minter wasn’t exactly getting lit up and his stuff was pretty good in this one going 8/30 on whiffs, but sometimes the balls just don’t fall your way. Raisel Iglesias is inching towards a rehab assignment, but I think Minter is still first in line for saves until Iglesias returns.
SDP 7 – ARI 5
- After some shaky outings from Brent Honeywell Jr. and Tim Hill, Josh Hader came in to save the day for his eighth save of the season lowering his ERA to 0.82. With his fourth save in five days, Hader capped off a busy week with another extremely efficient outing in which he needed just ten pitches to retire the side. All indicators point to Hader being back to his usual, elite self, but the threat looms of another mechanical issue popping up given how spectacular the explosion was last year.
- The D’backs only got one inning from their starter and scrambled to get through the rest of the game. Despite the somewhat close final score, they were using mainly long, low-leverage guys here.
KCR 3 – LAA 4
- Amir Garrett and Josh Taylor delivered a couple of scoreless innings to try to give the Royals a chance to come back, but the offense wasn’t able to come through this time. Neither pitcher has recorded a hold yet this year, although Garrett could get there as the team’s next-best lefty if Aroldis Chapman does take over the 9th inning from Scott Barlow.
- Carlos Estévez earned his third save of the year after José Quijada had gotten the team’s previous two. Matt Moore picked up his fifth hold and Austin Warren notched a win in relief. It seems to be a pretty even split so far between Quijada and Estevez, and I’d expect that to continue as both of them are deployed to their strengths. I don’t particularly like either of them to be great closers in the long term, but maybe they can find success when deployed in a platoon like this.
STL 7 – SEA 3
- Ryan Helsley got his first hold of the year picking up five outs across the 7th and 8th while Giovanny Gallegos worked a scoreless 9th. Helsley hadn’t pitched since April 15th, so I imagine his appearance was, to an extent, scheduled to ensure that he didn’t go too long between outings. I wouldn’t read too much into the usage here other than what we already know. The Cardinals are going to be very careful with Helsley’s usage and, when they do use him, it won’t always be in the 9th.
- Four relievers came out of Seattle’s pen to mop up the final five frames and they did so by allowing just one run on four hits with five strikeouts. Even with Andrés Muñoz on the shelf and Diego Castillo underperforming, this is still a very good bullpen that should continue to produce a good amount of holds.
Bullpen Depth Charts
Also, if you’re looking for a detailed list or ranking of RPs, check out Rick Graham’s weekly pieces:
The Hold Up: Ranking the Top 100 Relievers for Holds Every Thursday
Closing Time: Ranking the Top 30 Closers
Top 100 Relievers for Save+Hold Leagues
(Photos by Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Doug Carlin (@Bdougals on Twitter)