With the MLB in full-swing, some bullpen hierarchies are becoming a lot more clear, while others have fallen apart. While some managers may keep fantasy owners guessing, it is important to at least have an idea of who has a chance at a save and who is most likely not even going to appear in a game today. Don’t sleep on saves! In a shortened season, they all count that much more.
First, notes from last night and thoughts on today’s games:
With no current bad news to ruin the weekend,The Red Sox, Rays, Tigers, Mets, Nationals, Dodgers, and Padres are all back in action and should have their entire bullpens available. The Cardinals had a few more positive tests, so they and the Cubs will have the night off.
- The Pirates won in comeback fashion against the Twins, using none of their primary backend pieces to finish it off. The closing picture isn’t any clearer than it was yesterday, but Richard Rodriguez remains the primary candidate, and the only one I would consider using right now in most leagues (if I had to use one at all).
- Speaking of the Pirates comeback win, Taylor Rogers gave up his first two runs of the year on three hits while recording just one out on 15 pitches. He’ll be available if needed tonight and should continue to be used confidently by both his real and fantasy managers.
- That’s three saves in three attempts for Jairo Diaz, this time recording four outs on just 18 pitches. He’ll be available again tonight if needed. I didn’t love the two baserunners and zero strikeouts, or the fact that he actually hasn’t struck anyone at all out over these three saves. He’s a closer, but not one I am crazy about. Saves could be the only meaningful contribution he provides, which is not ideal.
- The Giants needed five relievers to get through the evening, but none of those five were the ones you wanted for saves, holds, or vultured wins, so if you happen to be relying on one of these relievers for your fantasy bullpen, you can continue to do so tonight.
- Liam Hendricks picked up a nice, fairly efficient save and now has five consecutive scoreless, walkless outings. While many top-tier closers are not what we hoped so far, Hendricks has been a rock (other than in his 2020 debut). Yusmeiro Petit, a personal favorite of mine for his dependable ratios and innings, picked up his third hold of the season, giving him three holds, a win, and a 2.70 ERA on the season. He’s gotten a bit more attention than usual in the shortened season, but even in a full season he can be a valuable streamer when your waiver wire has been picked clean and you need innings. Of course, in holds leagues, he also provides plenty of value there as well.
- There was no save situation for the Rangers, but Nick Goody did come out to record the final out of the eighth. While he did walk a batter, he was otherwise fine, needing just seven pitches to record the out he was called for. I’m not sure this does anything to clarify who the closer in Texas will be, though if you need something to read too deeply in to, this was the second straight one-out adventure for Goody. Both he and Jonathan Hernandez should be available tonight if needed, and I’m still not sure if there is any good way to tell which will be the better fantasy closer going forward.
- Dylan Bundy went the distance for the Angels, so their full bullpen will be available in tonight’s contest. Ty Buttrey is the favorite to close, though if he should struggle, Felix Pena or the gaggle of other relief arms they have floated as possible closers over the last several years will be there waiting in the wings.
- For the Mariners, the closer situation is still a bit of a mess. Dan Altavilla tossed 21 pitches last night, so while he isn’t necessarily unavailable, it’s easier to see the manager turning to Taylor Williams or Carl Edwards Jr. tonight after giving both a day of rest. Edwards is the one who is particularly intriguing to me—he was once an up-and-coming reliever for the Cubs with a really nice curve, but was just too hittable in a small sample in 2019 and the Cubs felt he wasn’t needed any longer. He’s only thrown fastballs and curveballs so far in 2020 and that could be a nice recipe for success for him going forward.
- The Yankees didn’t use any bullpen pieces that you were considering, so go ahead and run with the normal guys tonight. According to a quote in the New York Post on Wednesday, Aroldis Chapman isn’t expected back “any time soon”, just in case you were wondering.
- Hector Neris picked up a four-out save, but needed 27 pitches to get there, which likely makes him unavailable tonight. Jose Alvarez also made an appearance, picking up the hold and a strikeout while using just seven pitches. Adam Morgan is the likely closer tonight if needed. Former rotation candidate Nick Pivetta made an appearance yesterday as well and technically got the hold, but you don’t need that kind of heartbreak in your life right now.
- No relievers were harmed during the filming of the 13-0 drubbing Cleveland put on the Reds, so consider the useful pieces of both bullpens fully available tonight.
- The Cubs tried to bring out Craig Kimbrel in a blowout loss to gain some confidence, but he still managed to give up a run. I don’t see how they let him in a close game right now and has no business in active fantasy lineups right now.
- The Royals used Kyle Zimmer and Kevin McCarthy, so AL-only players who need holds might need to use someone else, but everyone else in the world should be pretty unaffected. I think Trevor Rosenthal is the guy to own, but that doesn’t mean Holland won’t get saves—it just means I am much less comfortable with him on my roster.
- The usually-dependable Ryan Pressly blew his first save chance as he fills in for Roberto Osuna, giving up three hits, capped off by a game-winning two-run double to lefty Kole Calhoun. He has a whole lot more goodwill and experience than any of the next-best options for the Astros, so I still fully expect Pressly to be the closer unless this happens two or three more times. I know he’s given up runs in both of his appearances this year, but looking at his entire body of work for the Astros, it’s hard to picture them using anyone else. He only threw 15 pitches despite all the hits, so I would imagine he’d be available again tonight if needed. Bryan Abreu remains the next in line.
- The Diamondbacks were playing from behind, so the only back-end piece they really used was Junior Guerra, who came on in the top of ninth and picked up the win. Guerra has been lights out to start the year, but he’s now thrown in back-to-back games so he might be sitting this one out. Archie Bradley will get the call for the save opportunity, while Andrew Chafin, Kevin Ginkel, and Hector Rondon (in no particular order) will attempt to bridge the gap.
- Atlanta turned to closer Mark Melancon in the top of the ninth of a tie game against the Blue Jays, and he once again pitched a scoreless inning and ultimately earned the win after Wilmer Font gave up the winning run in the bottom of the inning. Melancon only used seven pitches, so he should be available again tonight, while middle reliever Shane Greene is likely going to get a night off after back-to-back appearances. On the Blue Jays side, Anthony Bass should be available to close, but set-up man Jordan Romano also has pitched two nights in a row and will get some rest. If you need holds, I might avoid the Blue Jays pen tonight, as the rest of the bullpen either has too shaky of a role or too shaky of an arsenal to be used in fantasy for the time being.
- Don’t look now, but Brandon Kintzler already has three saves despite the Marlins playing just seven games on the season. I’m not saying Kintzler is necessarily all that special, I’m just saying he has a role on a team that, when they do actually win, it will be by slim margins.He’s pitched on back-to-back nights now, so Brad Boxberger would get the chance tonight if needed. It’s been an up and down career for the journeyman reliever and former closer, but he’s been pretty solid this season so far so I have no issues with plugging him in for a night if you are desperate for a save.
- The Orioles didn’t use apparent closer Cole Sulser in this one, but they did turn to Mychal Givens for an inning. While Givens doesn’t have a save yet this year, it’s worth noting that he’s only allowed three hits and two walks with no runs and six strikeouts in four appearances. No one doubts the strikeout stuff for Givens, but he’s walked far too many guys to be successful. In the early goings, he’s ramped up his slider usage and pulled back on his fastball. While his slider doesn’t necessarily blow anyone away, it has been effective over his career and if he can keep using it effectively, he could finally be a usable fantasy reliever.
- Neither the Brewers nor White Sox needed either of their top two relievers, so the back end of their bullpens are fully intact for tonight’s games.
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