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
- It’s Opening Day! Baseball is back as we begin another journey through an exciting, eventful, and exhausting grind of a fantasy season.
- All 30 teams were in action to kick off the campaign.
- Just a third of the league will take the field on Friday. It’s easier to list the teams that are playing than the teams that aren’t. The teams that will be in action on Friday are NYM, MIA, CHW, HOU, COL, SDP, ARI, LAD, CLE, and SEA.
- Many teams made their Major League rosters official by calling up the final pieces of their bullpens or by placing relievers on the IL.
- The Diamondbacks officially placed Mark Melancon, Joe Mantiply, and Corbin Martin on the 15-day IL. They also made Kyle Nelson the final addition to their roster.
- The Braves placed Tyler Matzek on the 60-day IL and Raisel Iglesias on the 15-day IL. Jesse Chavez was the final man added to the bullpen.
- The Orioles put Mychal Givens and Dillon Tate on the 15-day IL but called up Joey Krehbiel as a replacement.
- The Red Sox officially placed Joely Rodríguez on the 15-day IL.
- The Cubs finalized their roster by placing Brandon Hughes on the 15-day IL and purchasing the contract of Mark Leiter Jr.
- The White Sox filled their 15-day IL with Liam Hendriks, Matt Foster, and Garrett Crochet.
- The Reds completed their roster by placing Lucas Sims and Tony Santillan on the 15-day IL and Tejay Antone on the 60-day IL. The replacements were Derek Law and Alex Young.
- The Guardians put Sam Hentges on the 15-day IL, but in more positive news, they extended Trevor Stephan.
- The Rockies placed Daniel Bard on the 15-day IL and recalled Jake Bird.
- The Tigers DFAd Edwin Uceta, optioned Tyler Holton, and purchased the contracts of Trey Wingenter and Chasen Shreve.
- The Astros placed Blake Taylor on the 15-day IL.
- The Royals made Jake Brentz a member of the 60-day IL.
- The Dodgers made a plethora of moves, putting Jimmy Nelson, Daniel Hudson, and Alex Reyes on the 15-day IL.
- The Marlins finalized their roster by placing Steven Okert, Nic Enright, and Tommy Nance on the 15-day IL.
- The Mets officially placed Edwin Diaz on the 60-day IL and moved Bryce Montes de Oca and Stephen Ridings on the 15-day IL.
- The Yankees depleted their bullpen by placing Tommy Kahnle and Lou Trivino on the 15-day IL as well as putting Scott Effross on the 60-day IL.
- The A’s recalled Adrian Martinez to be the final man in the arm barn.
- The Phillies placed Nick Nelson and Rule 5 Draft pick Noah Song on the 15-day IL.
- The Pirates were forced to put a couple of their best relievers on the IL as Jarlín García (60-day) and Robert Stephenson (15-day) didn’t make the Opening Day roster. Rob Zastryzny will be the final reliever on the squad.
- The Padres put Drew Pomeranz, José Castillo, and Robert Suarez on the 15-day IL, DFAd Michel Baez, and purchased the contract of Domingo Tapia.
- The Giants officially placed Luke Jackson on the 15-day IL and Thomas Szapucki on the 60-day IL.
- The Cardinals made Rule 5 Draft pick Wilking Rodriguez a member of the 15-day IL.
- The Rangers completed their roster by placing Josh Sborz on the 15-day IL and purchasing the contract of Ian Kennedy.
- The Nationals placed both Víctor Arano and Tanner Rainey on the 60-day IL. Anthony Banda and Hobie Harris had their contracts purchased as the final members of the roster.
- With starters not fully stretched out and pitch counts limited early in the season, now is a good time to take a chance on front-end bullpen arms or bulk relievers to vulture a lucrative victory. My favorite options for tomorrow are Brent Honeywell Jr. (SDP) and Andre Jackson (LAD).
ATL 7 – WSN 2
- To kick things off, the Braves got to show off their arm barn. After Max Fried exited early with an injury, Lucas Luetge vultured his first win of the season before a trio of holds was recorded by Jesse Chavez, Dylan Lee, and Collin McHugh. PLV darling McHugh could be a key component of this effective group in the absence of former closer Kenley Jansen and injured closer Raisel Iglesias. With the team up by two in the eighth, everyone had their eyes on the bullpen to see who would be the arm called upon in the absence of Iglesias. A.J. Minter was the guy to warm up for a save, but the offense put up a three-spot, stealing away his opportunity. Minter pitched a hitless ninth regardless, and it looks like he’ll be the go-to closer until Iglesias returns. We’ll have to wait another day to see Minter’s first save because the Braves are off on Friday.
- We got an idea of how the Nationals’ bullpen will shake out, and it wasn’t pretty. It was fine on the front end as Erasmo Ramírez and Mason Thompson each tossed a pair of scoreless frames. The former recorded a whopping six whiffs on 21 cutters, a pitch that returned just a 5.01 PLV (54th percentile) in 2022. Offseason sleeper Hunter Harvey pitched a clean eighth which still featured the premier velocity (98 mph average four-seam fastball velocity) that made him enticing in the first place. However, in the top of the ninth, presumed closer Kyle Finnegan pitched in a deficit and it didn’t go well. The right-hander served up three runs (two earned) on one hit and two walks before ending his night. His grasp on the role is loose and it seems as though Harvey is the next man up. Finnegan will have to wait until Saturday for his revenge because the Nationals are off today.
SFG 0 – NYY 5
- After the starting pitching duel was over, the Giants turned the ball over to a couple of arms that should be popular in SV+HLD leagues. John Brebbia and Tyler Rogers combined to pitch the seventh and eighth. The disparity between the two was pretty stark. The former allowed a run but made up for it by recording all three of his outs via the strikeout thanks to racking up seven whiffs across 23 pitches. Rogers, on the other hand, induced no swinging strikes but came away with a scoreless frame. Maybe we’ll see the first San Francisco save when the Giants are back in action on Saturday.
- While we, unfortunately, did not get to see how the Yankee bullpen would look in the late innings, we did get to see the first shutout of the 2023 campaign. Wandy Peralta and Jonathan Loáisiga contributed to the zeroes by recording their first holds of the season with a successful seventh. From there, Ron Marinaccio took over for the remainder of the game. The right-hander tossed two hitless frames and struck out three. Interestingly enough, manager Aaron Boone warmed up Clay Holmes in the pen in the ninth in case Marinaccio ran into any trouble, so it seems clear he’s at least the high-leverage arm in this group. Holmes may get his shot in the next Yankees game on Saturday.
BAL 10 – BOS 9
- The Orioles narrowly avoided disaster. Félix Bautista came aboard in the ninth with a three-run lead but barely escaped with his first save of the season. On top of the shaky outing, the big righty’s velocity on his four-seamer was down 1.8 mph according to Baseball Savant. Considering that he had a delayed start to Spring Training and may not be fully ramped up, fantasy managers shouldn’t be overly concerned just yet, but if the velocity dip persists and he has performance issues, then it’s time to freak out a little. The Orioles have Friday off, so Bautista will have more than enough time to recover from his 25-pitch outing. Before Bautista, Keegan Akin pitched a scoreless sixth and Cionel Pérez tossed a perfect seventh. In the eighth, Bryan Baker struggled to get batters out, surrendering three runs before Logan Gillaspie ended the inning and notched his first hold.
- Upon the exit of their starter, the Red Sox arm barn was fighting from behind the entire game. That resulted in very few high-leverage relievers making their season debut. We got to see the full extent of the lack of talent in the Boston bullpen as Zack Kelly finished the fourth before Ryan Brasier gave up three runs in the fifth and Kaleb Ort served up two runs across the sixth and seventh. To round things out, Josh Winckowski pitched a clean eighth and Chris Martin put up a zero in the ninth. Martin is likely to be the only fantasy-relevant arm in this relief corps outside of Kenley Jansen. Boston fans will be hoping for a more inspiring bullpen performance from the team on Saturday.
MIL 0 – CHC 4
- The Milwaukee offense was not up to the task on Opening Day and that left the bullpen to pick up the scraps. Peter Strzelecki, Gus Varland, and Javy Guerra combined for a trio of scoreless frames. The first was down three mph on his fastball and the third was sporting a new slider. The second, Varland, was making his Major League debut. I wrote more about the righty in my article ranking the Rule 5 Draft picks. Higher leverage options will likely appear in the Brewers’ next game on Saturday.
- In the second shutout of the season, the Cubs bullpen worked out exactly as many predicted. After the starter’s exit, Keegan Thompson tossed a hitless seventh before turning the ball over to free-agent acquisition Brad Boxberger for a hitless eighth. In the ninth, despite a four-run lead, Michael Fulmer was called upon. He struck out two in a scoreless frame – nothing crazy – but this does give credence to the idea he’s the preferred option to close for the Cubs this season. It will be interesting to see if he gets another shot when the team returns to the field this weekend.
DET 0 – TBR 4
- Another pen with an apparent lack of talent, the Tigers’ bullpen was in the same spot as the Brewers, working from behind for the entirety of their season debut. We saw Jason Foley and Chasen Shreve put up scoreless appearances before Mason Englert made his Major League debut, serving up a dinger to Wander Franco. I wrote more about the right-hander in my article ranking the Rule 5 Draft picks. The Tigers will take Friday off as they prepare for a weekend of baseball.
- Oh so close. The Rays almost fulfilled my wildest dreams by using Pete Fairbanks in a save situation on Opening Day. Instead, Franco ruined everything with his homer (do we blame Franco or Englert?), leaving Fairbanks with nothing more than a scoreless frame. Nonetheless, it’s very promising that manager Kevin Cash was planning to use him to close out the game and it only further increases my love for him. Colin Poche and Jason Adam pitched a scoreless inning apiece and recorded holds for their hard work. It looks like Adam will be the high-leverage reliever in this arm barn as he faced the 1-2-3-4 hitters in the Tigers’ lineup. The MLB schedulers know what they’re doing because I wouldn’t be able to handle another Fairbanks save opportunity on Friday, a day on which the Rays won’t play.
PHI 7 – TEX 11
- In a game that was touted as a pitching matchup to watch but ended as a shootout, there was plenty of bullpen work to discuss. On the Philly side, we saw struggles from Gregory Soto as he failed to record an out while surrendering four runs (three earned) while attempting to finish the fourth. Similar struggles plagued Connor Brogdon as he successfully closed out that frame before giving up two runs of his own in the fifth. Andrew Vasquez, Andrew Bellatti, and Matt Strahm were able to put a stop to the bleeding, combining for 3.1 scoreless innings to close out the ballgame. We should see the big guys come out to play when the Phillies next take the field this weekend.
- On the other end, the Texas relief corps was successful in holding on to the lead their offense provided them. Cole Ragans vultured a win by closing out Jacob deGrom’s unfinished fourth. He could be interesting in a similar vein to his teammate Brock Burke who took a big leap with his stuff after transitioning to the bullpen in 2022. Ragans was sitting nearly three mph faster with his four-seamer on Thursday, even touching 96 mph with the pitch. After Ragans, both Burke and Jonathan Hernández pitched a pair of innings, each giving up a run in the process. The former racked up nine whiffs across 24 pitches and maintained his velocity increase from last year. We got a glimpse of what the ninth inning in a save situation might look like as José Leclerc was unscored upon in the final frame with a four-run lead. We won’t get immediate confirmation on that front because the Rangers are off on Friday, but I’d be surprised to see anyone other than Leclerc be called upon first for a save this weekend. The right-hander was another pitcher that had a slow start to his Spring Training and it manifested in a 2.4 mph dip in his four-seam velocity. Don’t panic just yet, but monitor it for the time being.
PIT 5 – CIN 4
- The most steady bullpen performance came from an unlikely source. The Pirates deployed four arms and all of them left the ballgame unscathed. Dauri Moreta recorded all three of his outs via the strikeout, Rob Zastryzny was perfect across four outs, and Colin Holderman was unscored upon in the eighth. Zastryzny vultured his first win and Holderman notched his first hold. The former has made Major League appearances since 2016 but never looked as good as he did on Thursday when he was sitting four mph higher on his four-seamer velocity. He’s a sneaky arm that could break out if the changes he made this offseason stick. As many expected, David Bednar was called upon with a one-run lead and did his job with a scoreless, two-punchout night. He is now on pace for 162 saves and a 0.00 ERA and will maintain that pace into the weekend as the Pirates have Friday off.
- The Reds’ bullpen was not as fortunate to have a lead with which to hold. They previewed the random names contained within their arm barn. Fernando Cruz was first, allowing a run and walking three while completing the fourth. He was followed by five outs apiece from Alex Young and Derek Law, both former Giants. Buck Farmer ultimately took the loss after surrendering a run on a sac fly in the eighth. Cincinnati rounded things out by giving Ian Gibaut the platform to toss a hitless ninth. The Reds will have the day off on Friday as we await the debut of Alexis Díaz.
TOR 10 – STL 9
- A wild, game-deciding shift occurred in the ninth, defining the Reliever Ranks blurbs and Opening Day matchup for two teams named after birds. Toronto ace Alek Manoah didn’t escape the fourth and needed the help of Zach Pop to complete it. Erik Swanson was surprisingly brought on in the fifth, which I guess was considered a high-leverage situation. He was followed by Tim Mayza and Anthony Bass, each of whom surrendered a run. Despite featuring a fastball that failed to touch 85 mph, Adam Cimber was able to move the game along with a hitless seventh. However, Yimi García was unable to do the same, blowing the save in the ninth before being bailed out by his offense and escaping with his first win. A wild turn of events and shift of emotions. With a newfound lead, Jordan Romano was dominant in a perfect ninth, punching out two with four whiffs on just 12 pitches to record his first save. He’ll receive a day off on Friday as the Blue Jays take it off.
- The game went in the other direction for the Red Birds. The event that led to Garcia’s decision going from a blown save to a win occurred at the hands of Ryan Helsley. Last year’s breakout reliever was unable to keep the good vibes rolling on Opening Day. The righty allowed three straight baserunners to reach, resulting in the lead being erased. All it took was a sac fly to push the Blue Jays ahead. He escaped the inning without further damage, but it was an uninspiring performance for a pitcher with some legit competition in his arm barn. However, with Giovanny Gallegos dealing with a minor injury and Jordan Hicks struggling as well on Thursday, Helsley should get at least a few more chances. Speaking of Hicks, despite surrendering two runs of his own and being tagged with a blown save, he looked as unhittable as ever. The man was pumping gas, lighting up the radar gun. Not only did he average 101.9 mph on his sinker, but he also recorded the top five pitch velocities on Opening Day, topping out at 103.8 mph. Outside of the two fireballers, Zack Thompson completed the fourth and the fifth, Drew VerHagen began the sixth before Andre Pallante finished it and the seventh off, allowing a run along the way. The back end of the bullpen will have time to rest up on Friday before being back in action this weekend.
MIN 2 – KCR 0
- A wonderful development in Minnesota occurred. Fantasy managers got exactly what they wanted – the best reliever in a bullpen was used in a save situation rather than in a high-leverage moment. In this case, that arm was Jhoan Duran. The flamethrowing righty showed off his impressive stuff in a hitless ninth to record his first save. His fastball sat at 101.9 mph and his splitter averaged 99 mph. It’s still unconfirmed whether he’ll be used as a traditional closer, but if he is, he’ll give Emmanuel Clase a run for his money atop the closer charts. Duran was preceded by four arms, each of which recorded a hold. Caleb Thielbar was perfect while completing the sixth and starting the seventh, Jorge López allowed no baserunners while capping off the seventh, and Griffin Jax tossed a hitless eighth. Friday will be a day off for the Twins.
- On the opposite side, the Royals got a chance to give their arm barn some action while they wait for their first opportunity to hold a lead. The sixth was finished by Amir Garrett before Dylan Coleman and Jose Cuas tossed a clean inning apiece. Cuas even struck out the side in order during his appearance. The most exciting pitcher to appear out of the Kansas City bullpen was Carlos Hernández. A former starter with a great fastball, his stuff is playing up even more in the bullpen. His four-seamer was up nearly three mph, averaging 99.7 mph while his slider was coming in hot as well (+4.4 mph to 90.2 mph). He’s a pitcher to keep an eye on in this bullpen not only for his ability to unleash fireballs and go multiple innings, but also because Scott Barlow’s grasp on the closer role is more tenuous than many would like to believe. We’ll have to wait to see how the ninth plays out because the Royals don’t play on Friday.
NYM 5 – MIA 3
- With Edwin Diaz out for the year, all eyes were on the Mets bullpen as the ninth inning approached. As it approached, Drew Smith locked down a hold with a scoreless seventh and Brooks Raley recorded a hold of his own with a perfect eighth. In the final frame, it was David Robertson emerging from the arm barn to close out the ballgame. He struck out two in a perfect frame to notch his first save. It remains to be seen if this solidifies him in the ninth, but the fact that Adam Ottavino didn’t pitch in this one means that this still has a shot at being a committee.
- The Marlins’ relief corps never maintained a lead, and therefore, did not have much high-leverage work to do. Andrew Nardi closed out the sixth, but Tanner Scott was unable to do so in the seventh. The lefty gave up two runs and took home his first loss as a result. He was meant to be in contention for the closer role, so this was not a good start. JT Chargois made his Marlins debut by finishing the eighth before handing the ball to Huascar Brazoban for two scoreless frames.
CHW 3 – HOU 2
- Ooo boy! Another game with exciting and impactful bullpen action! The White Sox arm barn provided us with one of the biggest stories coming out of bullpen land. After Aaron Bummer and Kendall Graveman (1st win) got the ball to the ninth, new Pale Hose manager Pedro Grifol turned to Reynaldo López with a newfound lead in the ninth. That on its own was a big move as there was plenty of speculation all offseason about who would be the closer in this bullpen come Opening Day, so it was great to get some clarity on that front (and take a victory lap), but it didn’t stop there. Lopez came out firing, earning the save (despite a Yordan Alvarez moonshot), and was featuring a fastball that was nearly three mph harder, as he averaged 99.9 mph with the pitch. Even his slider and changeup were coming in at significantly increased velocities (+2.7 mph to 90.1 mph and +5.7 mph to 91.6 mph respectively). It was a massive improvement from what he was slinging in his breakout season last year and his arsenal now looks like one of the best in baseball. He could quickly launch himself into consideration for being a top-10 closer if this isn’t just a result of adrenaline (he went to Driveline this offseason) and if he continues to get the ball in the ninth. However, it took Lopez 27 pitches, so if he rests on Friday, don’t look into it too much.
- The news was not as positive out of Houston as they lost their first Opening Day game in more than a decade (2012). It came at the hands of Ryan Pressly who gave up two runs in the ninth and was saddled with his first loss. It was decidedly not the best foot to start on for an aging reliever with lots of competition for his role. Speaking of competition, Bryan Abreu tossed a perfect sixth and Héctor Neris pitched a scoreless seventh. In the eighth, Rafael Montero served up a dinger to Yasmani Grandal. This bullpen is pretty darn stacked.
COL 7 – SDP 2
- In a game where the final score wasn’t relatively close and the winning team is in the midst of a bullpen fluctuation, there wasn’t much to write about. The Rockies deployed Dinelson Lamet for a scoreless seventh, Justin Lawrence for a “strike-out-the-side” eighth, and Jake Bird for a hitless ninth. With Daniel Bard sidelined, there was a shot we’d get some clarity on his replacement, but this just muddied the waters even more. Don’t be surprised if the Rockies just choose Brad Hand as their go-to option because he has the most experience in the role.
- There wasn’t too much success to find in the Padres’ arm barn. Both Nabil Crismatt and Domingo Tapia gave up multiple runs across multiple frames. They were followed by a scoreless inning pitched by Steven Wilson. To be completely honest, that’s about all that happened, so I look forward to Josh Hader‘s debut.
LAA 1 – OAK 2
- It’s okay to be angry with the Angels’ bullpen. Shohei Ohtani deserves better. After his gem, Jimmy Herget held the lead with a perfect seventh to earn his first hold. However, Aaron Loup could not do the same and blew the lead and was tagged with the loss as he watched two runs cross home. Ryan Tepera was able to clean up the inning before things got worse, but it was too little too late. Next time, let’s hope they can at least get the ball to the closer first before blowing the save. They’ll have Friday off to think about how they’ll accomplish that feat.
- Given the newfound save opportunity, the A’s found it to be a perfect time to show their hand. The bullpen hierarchy began with hitless frames from Zach Jackson and Domingo Acevedo. Surprisingly, they were followed by Trevor May in the eighth. It’s surprising because May was the presumed closer, being the highest-paid player on the team and all, but I guess this could mean he’s the high-leverage reliever. May was gifted the win before handing the ball to Dany Jiménez in the ninth. He locked it down admirably without allowing a hit. Don’t forget how good the right-hander was to begin 2022, but also don’t completely dismiss that his fastball velocity was down nearly three mph to just 91 mph on average in this one. We’ll have to wait until this weekend to find out if Jimenez is in fact the preferred option.
ARI 2 – LAD 8
- In an Opening Day packed with so much action, it’s surprising to find out that this matchup had the largest scoring disparity. The Diamondbacks were handled pretty easily by the Dodgers and were unable to show off their new and improved arm barn. Cole Sulser finished the starter’s fifth but needed help from Kyle Nelson to complete the sixth who needed help from Carlos Vargas to complete the seventh who needed help from Kevin Ginkel to complete the eighth. Nelson’s slider was particularly impressive, inducing five whiffs across 14 times thrown. It was also Vargas’ Major League debut as he featured an upper-90s four-seamer with a low-90s cutter. It was weird seeing manager Torey Lovullo opt to have these arms rest in between innings and go back out to the mound as opposed to just letting them take an inning apiece.
- With a comfortable lead, the Dodgers turned to Phil Bickford, Shelby Miller, and Yency Almonte. All three of them were perfect and failed to allow a baserunner. Almonte is the most interesting of the three as he produced the lowest ERA (1.02) in baseball in 2023 (min. 35 IP) after being acquired from the Rockies.
CLE 0 – SEA 3
- It was a scoreless tie game until the ninth when James Karinchak served up a go-ahead longball to Ty France. Karinchak was tagged with his first loss and three runs to his line. Enyel De Los Santos cleaned up his mess, but the Guardians were already toast. Trevor Stephan was the only other reliever to appear for the Guardians, tossing a perfect seventh.
- It wasn’t looking like a save chance would be presented to the Mariners until France’s heroics. Matt Brash looked really good in a scoreless seventh before turning the ball over to the fearsome duo at the back of the bullpen. Paul Sewald was called upon first, pitching a perfect eighth and earning his first win upon the reception of the lead. Andrés Muñoz was then summoned to close out the game, and he did so admirably. It’s worth noting that Munoz was warming up when the game was still tied, so he could still be considered more of a high-leverage arm. This outing shouldn’t solidify Munoz as the clear-cut closer, but it does give some idea of how the bullpen will shake out going forward.
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)