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
- There were fourteen games on Wednesday with KCR and STL being the only two teams off due to their two-game series being moved to accommodate Memorial Day. On Thursday, seven games are scheduled to be played, so more than half the league has the day off. The teams still in action are: MIL, TOR, PHI, NYM, SDP, MIA, COL, ARZ, CIN, BOS, CLE, MIN, LAA, and HOU.
- There were no transactions that affected the closer depth charts on Wednesday.
TEX 2 – DET 3
- José Leclerc finished this one with Brock Burke also getting five outs in an attempt to keep the game close. Leclerc didn’t walk a batter for the first time in his past four appearances, but his nearly 18% BB rate on the year is going to take a while to get over. Unless he shows a sustained stretch of improved control, I don’t expect Leclerc to see many hold situations even if options ahead of him struggle.
- Alex Lange struck out a pair to lower his ERA to 1.16 and secure his 10th save of the season. He did benefit from a couple of favorable calls here, but you have to give him credit for recognizing a favorable spot. He was getting calls and continuing to hit it with his curve. The nice grouping of blue on the pitch 3D speaks to how much of a groove Lange is in right now as one of the best relievers in baseball.
LAA 12 – CHW 5
- This was a laugher from the beginning and it took a comeback from the White Sox to make it this close. Tucker Davidson took most of the cleanup duty for the Angels, but we did see Jacob Webb again and his changeup again did good work generating two whiffs and two weakly hit balls in seven offerings. If he can avoid walk issues, Webb’s new changeup could be a game-changing pitch for him that can put him in line for holds opportunities very soon, especially in the absence of Matt Moore.
- Jesse Scholtens took the bulk work for Chicago in this blowout, but Garrett Crochet also got an inning as he continues to work his way back from injury. Crochet’s velocity is back to where it was last year where he was an extremely effective piece, but he’s still struggling to hit his spots consistently enough. When he does actually find the plate, like today, it’s middle-middle and served up on a platter. He may get back to being a solid piece within a couple months, but the switch doesn’t seem imminent to me right now.
TBR 4 – CHC 3
- Jason Adam worked the eighth inning despite the absence of Pete Fairbanks and put away his sixth hold of the year while Kevin Kelly was initially brought in for the ninth. He pitched himself into some trouble and had to be lifted which allowed Jalen Beeks to pick up his first save of the season. This is the Rays we all know and love. They used their most trusted arms in the seventh and eighth, leaving the ninth for a guy we didn’t really expect. There’s no use reading too much into usage right now as this was a game that had a few late lead changes and that may have affected who was warm and when certain guys were used. If the door for saves does get opened up, I would imagine Colin Poche is the guy who eventually takes over the second biggest save share to Adam.
- Mark Leiter Jr. allowed a tying homer in the seventh and a go-ahead blast in the eighth and took the loss and blown save. Adbert Alzolay began warming in the eighth when Leiter was showing signs of struggling but was only able to come in after the lead had been lost. That means, however, that the plan was for Leiter to set up for Alzolay for the second straight day. Leiter had been doing fine up to today, but Alzolay’s dominant performance yesterday and Leiter’s blowup today may just be enough to shift their roles. We’ll give it one more appearance, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Alzolay is seen as the outright closer by next week. Hayden Wesneski was called up to work in the bullpen and had to work some bulk innings here due to the injury to Justin Steele. He’s a potential rotation replacement should Steele miss time.
CLE 12 – BAL 8
- Cleveland went with their high-leverage arms to close out this game despite the four-run lead and their lack of an off-day today. Trevor Stephan logged a clean eighth and Emmanuel Clase pitched a nine-pitch one-two-three ninth, but no holds or saves were awarded. Clase has really been struggling lately, so it’s good to see him dominate an inning for a change, but even here he allowed a ball hit at 109.6 mph. Without the strikeouts, Clase isn’t the best reliever in baseball anymore, but he still may deliver decent fantasy value since Cleveland plays in so many close games and gives him lots of save chances.
- Baltimore came into this game with the fourth-best bullpen ERA in baseball, but 11 earned runs allowed in eight IPs will likely change that. It was really a team effort as four separate pitchers allowed multiple runs as the team allowed 10 runs across the third, fourth, and fifth innings. This was all against the middle innings/depth squad and the rally did stop once one of the Orioles’ top arms, Bryan Baker, came on the scene, but I still wouldn’t expect barrages like this too often. This is a good relief corps overall who had a rough day.
ATL 4 – OAK 2
- A day after walking three of four batters he faced and recording just one out with 21 pitches, Raisel Iglesias needed just six pitches to finish his inning of work on Wednesday and record his fifth save of the campaign and three other holds were handed out in a very productive day for the bullpen. Other than Tuesday’s blip, Iglesias seems to be settling into the season nicely and poised for a solid season as Atlanta’s closer. He was working on four days’ rest on Tuesday, so perhaps he’s just a guy who prefers a bit more maintenance work or perhaps he just fell into the trap of relaxing too much facing the A’s like much of the rest of his teammates. Either way, I wouldn’t worry about Iglesias right now.
- Ken Waldichuk is now pitching in the bullpen for Oakland and I’m still not interested. Sam Long has been quite effective in May with a 1.76 ERA across 15.1 IPs, so I expect him to be traded any day now.
PIT 9 – SFG 4
- The Pirates had a sizable lead by the time the bullpen came in, so they were able to get most of their top arms some rest. Even without their two most dominant relievers, four guys still combined to log three scoreless innings allowing only two hits and recording three strikeouts. Dauri Moreta only faced one batter here, but it’s reason enough to recognize his ridiculous May where he’s worked 13.1 IPs with a line of 3 H, 0 ER, 3 BB, and 20 Ks. Moreta has completely turned the corner in terms of his command as he walked 12 batters in his first 13.1 innings of work and only one in his past 11.2 innings. If Moreta keeps up this performance, he’ll likely start racking up holds opportunities very soon.
- Working on three days of rest, Camilo Doval got some maintenance work here and brought the heat averaging 101.1 mph on his fastball and striking out the side. The Pirates were able to manage a couple of hits though, and push past an insurance run. Despite the run, Doval is meeting expectations set by his breakout 2022 campaign and even improving them. He’s increased his strikeout rate and fastball velocity without sacrificing control and the Giants are no longer messing with his usage. He’s a top-tier closer this season.
WSN 10 – LAD 6
- Kyle Finnegan entered in the seventh inning with a one-run lead and gave up the lead earning him the blown save. The offense picked him up and the team tried to send him to work the eighth, too, but a home run chased him from the game and the Nationals brought on Hunter Harvey who recorded the final six outs of the game and earned his third save of the season. Harvey has had his ninth-inning struggles but will beat out Finnegan in the long term and is the better arm to hold here. The Nationals seem to be closer to a 90-loss team than we previously believed at the beginning of the year, so there should be a small handful of saves available throughout the year. Harvey is the guy I think leads the team in saves the rest of the way.
- Three unearned runs are fortunate for fantasy managers and Brusdar Graterol‘s stat line, but he earned those three runs in all but the stat book as the error was his own. So, while he extended his streak of appearances without an earned run to 10, he took his second loss. Phil Bickford also allowed a couple of insurance runs in the top of the ninth. This Dodgers bullpen still has some really good arms, but every time I look up, they’re allowing multiple runs and allowing games to get away. They now have the second-worst bullpen in the National League at 4.54.
SDP 1 – MIA 2
- Steven Wilson and Nick Martinez each earned a hold, but Josh Hader was unable to hold on for the save and allowed the Marlins to walk it off taking his first loss and third blown save of the season. Even with this poor outing, though, Hader’s ERA stands at 1.61 and he seems far removed from the bizarre series of massive blowups that plagued him last year. Despite increasing his reliance on his sinker, he’s maintained his 37% K rate and he’s been able to effectively avoid home runs as well. There’s still a bit of risk that he starts leaving his sinker over the plate again, but Hader seems to be back to being a dominant reliever overall.
- Steven Okert waltzed into a win when he struck out the side in the top of the ninth and watched his team walk it off in the bottom of the frame. Okert has now maintained a career-high 40.2% strikeout rate through 17.1 IPs on the year, propelling him to his most successful season yet so far. I don’t see anything at first glance that Okert is doing differently, but his swinging strike rate is up a couple percent, so maybe there’s support for a strikeout rate around 32%, but 40% seems awfully high given his arsenal and pitch performance.
MIL 4 – TOR 2
- Peter Strzelecki earned hold number 14 and Devin Williams save number nine as the Brewers pitching overall overwhelmed a strong Toronto offense. Williams didn’t have his most dominant changeup this time, but this is why he’s an elite reliever; he’s able to get outs with just the threat of his change and his solid fastball. I’d expect Williams to continue making the most of the opportunities he gets which should be a bit more frequent going forward than they have thus far.
- The best changeup in this game was owned by Trevor Richards who used it to record three punchouts across the fifth and sixth and earn a 56% CSW across 18 offerings, including six swinging strikes. Richards has started earning a few holds recently, but he also plays this kind of role on the team: the multi-inning bridge they can use when a starter doesn’t go quite as long as they wished. Regardless of role, I think Richards continues to be an effective piece given how dominant his changeup has been so far this year.
CIN 5 – BOS 4
- With Alexis Díaz having worked three of the past four days, the Reds decided to try and make do without him despite another save opportunity. The team turned to Buck Farmer in the ninth and he delivered his first save of the season despite tossing just half of his 18 pitches for strikes. Speaking of dominant changeups, Alex Young also worked around a hit and a walk but earned his eighth hold to lead the team. This is a surprisingly decent bullpen on a surprisingly decent team that could get better with the promotion of Elly De La Cruz, the return to health of Nick Lodolo, and the potential return of oft-injured flamethrower Tejay Antone.
- Chris Martin struck out two in a clean inning of work to lower his season ERA to 1.23. The strikeouts haven’t been there very often for Martin this year, certainly not in comparison to last year, but he’s still been a very effective setup man. He represents an interesting saves stash option as there is some evidence that slower pitchers from last year, those most affected by the pitch clock, are slightly more injury prone this year. Kenley Jansen was one of the slowest pitchers in the league, so there could be profit to be made betting on his handcuff, but Jansen seems to have adjusted just fine so far and has a stellar injury history.
PHI 1 – NYM 4
- Andrew Vasquez delivered another clean, nine-pitch inning on Wednesday lowering his season ERA to 1.42 in 25.1 IPs. That’s a pretty good sample size, so it’s fair to ask: is this legit? The journeyman lefty is only sporting a 21% K rate despite being a slider-first guy with nearly 80% slider usage. Even though the slider hasn’t missed bats, it features excellent movement and generates lots of weak contact. His major change from last year seems to be simply throwing the slider in the zone more which can work if you have really good stuff. Stuff+ grades it as OK, but the results have certainly been more than that. As a one-pitch pitcher who doesn’t rely on punchouts, I think there’s a bit of a cap to his ceiling here which explains why he hasn’t gotten any holds despite his performance. He seems like a solid bullpen piece in real life, but not one whose role necessarily translates to many holds that would make him gain some fantasy value.
- The Mets used their top three arms here with Brooks Raley and Adam Ottavino picking up holds and David Robertson earning his 10th save. The Mets do still occasionally go to Ottavino in the ninth, but Robertson has simply performed better and should continue to get the majority of chances.
MIN 8 – HOU 2
- Despite the big lead, the Twins did still throw a couple high-leverage arms here in Jorge López and Brock Stewart. Stewart struck out the side in order on 13 pitches to bounce back from Monday’s performance where he allowed his first earned runs of the year. With an 18.8% swinging strike rate, Stewart has an excellent foundation to build on his strikeout rate to support his performance, but he also currently comes with a 16% walk rate. He’s quickly climbed up the leverage ladder and even earned a save last Saturday, but the walk rate represents some blowup potential if he doesn’t get it in check.
- The Astros went down early in this one and never sniffed the lead, so it was mainly mop-up duty here. There’s no usage or arm of particular interest who worked here.
COL 0 – ARZ 6
- Would you believe it if I told you that the seventh most valuable reliever so far this year by fWAR is Brent Suter? I already know it and I’m still shocked every time I look at the leaderboard. Only three pitchers have logged more innings in relief than Suter this year, one of them being his teammate who also worked in this game, Jake Bird, who is now on pace for 102 IPs in relief this year. Well, I guess the Rockies’ philosophy is just to do something different? In an era where pitcher workload is so intensely managed, they seem determined to run their top bullpen arms who are performing surprisingly well into the ground by using them in the final two innings of a game in which they’re down six runs. They both had three days of rest, so I guess you could call this maintenance work for them, but I would think that some rest would be merited given how much they’ve been used this year. I’d love to see this surprisingly effective trio of Bird, Suter, and Justin Lawrence continue to be effective all year, but the heavy usage of Bird and Suter in particular makes me a bit nervous.
- Arizona only needed two innings of relief here and didn’t need to worry too much about their lead, but we did see another interesting inning from Austin Adams, the slider-first righty who had a prominent role in the Padres bullpen in 2021. Adams has the ability to put up 30+% K rates, but he carries a bit of risk as a guy who primarily relies on his slider both in terms of command issues and blow-up potential. In 2021, half of his earned runs came in just four of his 65 appearances. Still, there’s quite a bit of space to move up the leverage ladder in Arizona and Adams’ minor league numbers from this year look pretty good. This could be worth keeping an eye on.
NYY 0 – SEA 1 (F/10)
- Wandy Peralta and Clay Holmes combined to strike out six across 3.1 IPs to bring the scoreless game into extras, but the offense was unable to provide any support and all it took was a leadoff single allowed by Ron Marinaccio to cost them the game. When Holmes has a dominant slider like he did in this one, it doesn’t matter that his ground ball rate is down, he’s a dominant reliever. This is the best bullpen in baseball by ERA and they did everything they could here.
- Paul Sewald kept the game scoreless in the top of the ninth while Justin Topa did so in the 10th and earned the victory when the Mariners finally scored a run in the bottom of the frame. Topa is currently the team’s leader with 10 holds but Andrés Muñoz started a rehab assignment on Wednesday and seems to be within a couple weeks of returning. This likely changes the roles of both Topa and, potentially, even Sewald who has been seen as the de facto closer to this point in the season. It might take a while for Munoz to get back up to speed, so maybe Sewald stays as the closer, but, if things are managed like last year, he’ll soon find himself working closer to a HLR role at several points in the late innings.
Bullpen Depth Charts
Also, if you’re looking for a detailed list or ranking of RPs, check out Rick Graham’s weekly pieces: