At long last we have regular season baseball! There were seven games yesterday to go over (for a more daily in depth look at RP news and notes, please check out our RP Ranks series) with two featuring brand new closers. A week from now there will be plenty to talk about in the reliever realm, but for now we can just take what we saw yesterday. It’s obviously too soon to panic and make rash decisions but at the same time, this list will be very fluid throughout the first month of the season as we get new data and see bullpen usage trends. I get the temptation to rush out and add someone like Spencer Strider after his outing last night, and he certainly deserves a spot on the list today, but it’s way too early to make assumptions about what his role will actually be.
- It looks like Anthony Bender has earned the first crack at saves for the Marlins which is great to hear because this likely wasn’t Don Mattingly’s decision after he routinely went with Anthony Bass over Bender in high leverage situations last season. The question now remains, what happens when Dylan Floro returns but I can’t imagine Floro’s presence would automatically bump Bender down the depth chart. Regardless, for SV+HLD purposes, Bender’s value is steady and he should be a rock solid top 30 option for the season.
- Tony Santillan got the first crack at a save opportunity for the Cincinnati Reds and made quick work of the bottom third of the Braves lineup for his first career save. He looked great, with his fastball touching 97 MPH and getting 4 whiffs (2 on his slider, 2 on the fastball). The team had originally mentioned Santillan to be used in that Tejay Antone type multi inning role, so this was a bit of a surprise (especially with Art Warren not pitching) but nonetheless, it puts him on the radar in SV+HLD leagues as well as save only leagues. For now, I still like Warren and Lucas Sims a bit more, but Santillan is moving up the board.
- Joe Barlow moves back up the list as I think he (once again) has the inside track for saves with Spencer Patton being left off the roster and Greg Holland being the last one in. The first chance could go to Holland but I still would only be interested in Barlow out of this pen for now. Maybe Josh Sborz too eventually if he can be more consistent this season.
- With new closer Taylor Rogers getting the night off, the Padres turned to would be closer as of 8am ET Thursday morning, Robert Suarez, who appeared to be a bit nervous in his first MLB game. Suarez walked two and hit a batter before Craig Stammen came in and proceeded to give up a walk off grand slam to Seth Beer. I still have faith in Suarez (fastball was at 99 MPH) and chalk this up to nerves, but it certainly won’t help his standing in what is a deep bullpen when at full strength.
- David Robertson was called on for the Cubs first save chance, with Rowan Wick and Mychal Givens (used to bail out Wick) working the eighth inning. The pecking order that makes sense here moving forward would likely have Wick/Chris Martin working the 7th, Givens the 8th and Robertson the 9th, but it’s obviously still too early to know if that will be the case. For now, the only two names here worth considering are Robertson and Givens.
- Emilio Pagán finds himself on his fifth team in six years, as he was traded to Minnesota as part of the Taylor Rogers/Chris Paddack deal. I have no clue really who may end up closing games for this Twins team this season (as I said in our Discord, I have the odds at 33% Pagán, 30% Tyler Duffey, 25% Jorge Alcala, 12% Jhoan Duran) but Pagán will definitely have a better shot at high leverage work in Minnesota’s now shaky bullpen.
- Spencer Strider was one of the bigger stories last night as he was electric in his 2022 debut, striking out five over two innings while not allowing a baserunner. Strider has always showed high K upside in the minors and you got to see why as he had a ridiculous 56% CSW on 18 fastballs thrown. The sliders good, and should be a fine second offering, but the real question is what will his role be this season with so many talented arms in that bullpen. Last night he was used in a mop up scenario with the team down five late, but he certainly has the stuff to work his way into high leverage work.
- A bit of an oversight on my part this past week, but I forgot to include Cristian Javier as he will be working out of the bullpen for the Astros for the time being. There’s considerable upside here if he is able to be a multi-inning fireman type, regardless of how many hold chances he may get. On a similar note, I had Aaron Ashby on the holds list yesterday but removed him, not because of yesterdays outing, but because it sounds like he will be making a start next week (and hopefully stick in the rotation).
|Lucas Sims||3-4||Elbow. The Reds continue to say they are just being cautious with Sims and he could be back after a week or two, but not a given with his injury history.|
|Drew Pomeranz||3-5||Flexor Tendon. Starting the year on the 60 day IL so don’t expect to see him until June/July.|
|Nick Anderson||3-5||UCL. It’s looking like another potential short season for Nick Anderson, who will be out until (at least) the All-Star break.|
|Ken Giles||3-5||Finger tendon injury. Giles was making his way back from TJS this spring before a finger injury derailed him. Expect him back by May.|
|Kirby Yates||3-6||TJS. Don’t expect to see Yates until after the All-Star break (at the earliest). If he’s back to his normal self, he should be a top 50 RP.|
|José Leclerc||4-6||TJS. Similar story to Yates, but he has a higher chance to close out games despite a lower overall floor.|
|Jonathan Hernández||4-6||TJS. Should also return at some point this season to help boost the Rangers pen, but likely not as a closer.|
|Pete Fairbanks||4-6||Torn Lat. Tough break for Fairbanks who will now miss at least 3 months of the season. Look for him to be back around the All-Star break.|
|Tommy Kahnle||4-7||TJS. Kahnle should be ready to go early in the 2022 season, but how he looks or what his role will be remains to be seen.|
|Luis García||5-8||Side/Oblique. García suffered the injury in his first spring outing and has been able to throw recently, so expect him back sometime in April/May|
|James Karinchak||5-8||Shoulder. A teres muscle strain has shut down Karinchak for the time being, with no timetable to date. Perhaps late May is realistic.|
|Andrew Chafin||6-8||Groin. While it sounds like a minor injury, Chafin will still miss a few weeks to start the year with his new club.|
|Joe Kelly||6-8||Biceps. Kelly is still recovering from the nerve issue injury he sustained in last years NLCS. He should be available at some point in May.|
|Phil Bickford||6-9||Arm soreness. The Dodgers are taking thins slow with Bickford, who’s dealing with arm soreness. He could return by the end of the month.|
|Dylan Floro||6-9||Arm. Floro is also dealing with arm soreness and likely to miss a couple weeks to begin the year. Once he returns, he should factor back into the saves mix.|
|Josh Taylor||6-9||Back. Taylor will miss some time early in the season with a back injury, but it’s not expected to keep him out long.|
Photo by John Jones/Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)