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Fantasy Baseball Closer Rankings and Bullpen Depth Charts

As the month flips to September, we head into the last vestiges of a long and interesting baseball season full of rule changes and tremendous impact players.

As the month flips to September, many of us find ourselves in a familiar place: scrapping for any point we can get in our leagues, playoffs within our grasp, if we only make the right moves with our bench spots and the bottom of the roster “churn,” as we call it.

Each week we try to help you get an edge in bullpens, where you not only pick up the obvious saves, but crucial ratio helps, as well as candidates for holds as well.

Numbers to chew on with your coffee this morning:

  • There are seven players with 30 saves.
  • There are 14 players with at least 25 saves.
  • There are 33 players with at least 10 saves.
  • There are 47 players with at least five saves.
  • There are 189 players with at least one save.

On a total side note, have you started thinking about how you will attack the saves category next year in your leagues?  I would love to hear from you on that and discuss on the Fantasy Baseball Beat podcast in the coming weeks with my suffering New York Yankees fan cohost Chris Torres.  He’s quickly become one of the best hosts in the industry, not that can sense any discernible bias from me.

More great fantasy baseball advice and analysis: Waiver Wire & FAAB Recommendations | Daily MLB Injury Report | MLB DFS Picks | Line-up Analysis | Dynasty Rankings and Strategy | MLB Bullpen Updates | MLB Player Props | Prospect Rankings & Analysis | Fantasy Baseball Risers and Fallers

Fantasy Baseball Closer Depth Charts

AL East

Closer Rankings 9-3-2023 AL East

Baltimore suffered a terrible blow in losing Felix Bautista to a UCL injury.  No hard evidence to back up this claim here, but the Orioles being mum on it feels really bad to me.  Enter Yennier Cano as mentioned last week, with Shintaro Fujinami and Danny Coulumbe setting him up.  I am really intrigued to watch Fujinami down the stretch here as his repertoire seems better suited to a relief role.  He could be a weapon in September.

In Toronto, Jordan Romano is still the main guy for saves.  However, in an effort to keep him fresher and healthier, he’s not getting used in back-to-back situations, leaving the door cracked for Jordan Hicks, who should get most of the chances when Romano needs a day off.  Setup man Erik Swanson remains on the IL.  In the meantime, lefty Genesis Cabrera picked up two holds this week and appears to be securing himself into the higher leverage mix, especially with Swanson being out another ten days or so.

AL Central

In a stunning development (read more below), the Cleveland Guardians added Reynaldo Lopez and Matt Moore after they were waived by the Los Angeles Dodgers. Cleveland reinforces their bullpen for a late run in the unwatchable AL Central, where they are only five games back of the division-leading Minnesota Twins despite being 65-70. Lopez should slot into a high-leverage role with Trevor Stephan behind closer Emmanuel Clase.  Moore pairs with resurgent lefty Sam Hentges to form a very credible back end of the bullpen for Cleveland.  Can they catch Minnesota again this year? Clase has 37 saves for the Guardians.

AL West

Many were left shaking their heads this week when the Los Angeles Angels put several high-profile players on waivers.  Top setup men Reynaldo Lopez and Matt Moore were two of those guys.  This leaves quite the mess at the back end of the bullpen, where veterans Aaron Loup and Jose Soriano could see the holds chances here.  Jose Marte and Kenny Rosenberg are two recent call-ups who likely will pitch in lower-leverage roles. Jimmy Herget and Jose Barria also returned this week.  If looking for holds, I would go with Loup but it’s not a strong recommendation.

The Texas bullpen is a fine mess right now, and it couldn’t come at a worse time. Will Smith had been a stalwart much of the season, he closed August with two losses while also garnering five saves with a putrid 7.94 ERA.  Enter Aroldis Chapman? Stop if you have heard this one before; Chapman comes into a game and gives up two walks and then hits a guy to send the game in extra innings. In that game, Will Smith came on to preserve the lead and earned a hold. Last Monday, on a day that Chapman needed off, Jose Leclerc earned the save, and Smith was not called upon even though he was available. If we’re reading the tea leaves right now, Chapman would appear to be the guy with the inside track to the job for a struggling Texas team that is 3-7 in the last 10 games. My question to you: how painful do you want your saves to be?  If you are desperate to get 3-4 more at any cost, Chapman would be a fine addition if you can stomach the potential damage to your ratios. He’s always a good source of strikeouts…but buyer beware as this could be a full-blown committee until manager Bruce Bochy figures out how to deploy these guys.

NL East

Miami acquired David Robertson at the trade deadline to close out their victories. However, the veteran closed out August with four losses despite having also earned three saves.  Enter Tanner Scott, who picked up a save and a win (in a game he blew, by the way) this week as Robertson works to make adjustments to get his job back. Scott has held the job previously and done a decent job. Robertson did pitch last night and was able to escape with a clean inning. Andrew Nardi and A.J. Puk (the former closer) remain in the setup mix and could earn holds down the stretch for a feisty Marlins team trying to make the playoffs.

NL Central

Thomas Hatch put himself into the Pittsburgh hierarchy over the last 10 days, but Carmen Mlodzinski is now back, and that could cut into his opportunities.  David Bednar and Colin Holderman remain the top options at the back end, with Bednar being the guy for saves and Holderman a good source for holds.

St. Louis closer Ryan Helsley restarted another rehab assignment this past week and was subsequently activated last night.  I’d look for him to return quickly to the closer role.  JoJo Romero has pitched himself into a nice spot at the back end, but Helsley should be the guy with Giovanny Gallegos returning to a setup role once Helsley reestablishes himself.

NL West

Arizona continues to deploy Paul Sewald for saves but note the hierarchy behind him has changed over the past two weeks. Kevin Ginkel and Kyle Nelson, who we mentioned last week, are now the top setup options behind Sewald.  Former sometime closers Miguel Castro and Scott McGough have bumped down to middle relief.

Don’t get too sidetracked with the Ryan Yarbrough three-inning save the other night. While those could happen from time to time, the closer here remains Evan PhillipsBrusdar Graterol and Caleb Ferguson are the top holds guys in Los Angeles.

With the Robert Suarez suspension starting, bump Scott Barlow into the back end of the bullpen setting up Josh Hader. Barlow had two holds this week even though Hader blew both games, and has quietly worked out the kinks since his trade from Kansas City: save for back-to-back three-run outings in early August, Barlow has only given up one run since then and has shaved a run off his ERA to a more palatable 4.02 for the month. Barlow is likely on your waiver wire and could be a top candidate for holds with Suarez out. Nick Martinez will remain a good source of holds here as well for the disappointing Padres. Steven Wilson is on the IL with a hip issue.

Camilo Doval cooled his seat off with two saves this week for San Francisco.  Any removal from the role would likely be temporary, with lefty Taylor Rogers vying for potential save chances having lots of experience closing in years past.

Finally, feel free to DM if you want advice on available arms in your league @mdrc0508 on the Twitter/X machine.  More importantly, realize that many people struggle with their emotions and mental illness with the change of seasons.  Watch out for your friends and family, especially those continually saying they are okay.  A quick call or text can mean the world to someone.  If you need resources or someone to talk to, reach out to me.  I am always around.

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