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Week 3: Fantasy Baseball Bullpen Rollercoaster Rides

We have another week clicked off the calendar in the baseball season. While our kids were completing standardized testing this week, and many of us in the Midwest dodging thunderstorms and rescheduling Little League games, major league bullpens continued to twist and turn and be as unpredictable in many cases as ever.

Let’s take a look at the week that was and see what is happening.

Fantasy Baseball Bullpen Depth Charts

AL East

AL East Bullpen Depth Chart

In Boston, it’s clear that Garrett Whitlock is the best reliever in the bullpen, but by now we all know that being the best arm in the bullpens does not mean you are the closer. There is simply no clarity of vision here from manager Alex Cora; he said he “managed it like a playoff game” two nights ago when Whitlock got the save.  This could mean that Jake Diekman and Hansel Robles are going to get opportunities too; Matt Barnes is also here but his struggles have continued in the early part of 2022.  Based on Whitlock’s usage pattern, it would seem he remains their best high leverage reliever, and that likely means he can be used anywhere from the sixth inning to the ninth inning. Ugh.  He will retain value in saves + holds leagues but hard to use him if you are looking for saves.

Michael King, you ask?  Struck out seven Cleveland Guardians in a row last night.  Certainly making noise for a meatier role in the Bronx.  The job still belongs to Aroldis Chapman and there are other mouths to feed here with Jonathan Loaisiga and Chad Green.  And do not discount Clay Holmes, who looks resurgent so far in 2022.  Chapman had a disastrous outing against Toronto earlier in the week, and it makes you wonder how long the Yankees will stick with him if he continues to struggle with his location.

AL Central

AL Central Bullpen Depth Chart 4-23

In Minnesota, Emilio Pagan got the first save of the season for the Twins. He should be atop their bullpen…for now.  Stash Jhoan Duran if you can.

AL West

AL West Bullpen Depth Chart 4-23

Houston lost closer Ryan Pressly to knee inflammation this week which opens the door for the oft-maligned Hector Neris. It’s unsure what the return date is for Pressly, who was observed throwing in the bullpen on Thursday already. In the short term, Neris should get the opps, but Ryne Stanek also has experience and Phil Maton could move into a higher leverage role.

In Oakland, Dany Jimenez took a step forward this week and converted two save chances due to the Covid-related absence of Lou Trivino. Trivino has been out all week, and a  return is yet to be determined.  Once Trivino returns, the job will be his (until he is traded), but Jimenez hoists himself into the high-leverage conversation.

Seattle lost high leverage arm Paul Sewald to the Covid-19 list on Thursday.  One would think this means that Drew Steckenrider would get the bulk of the opportunities while he is away, which means that manager Scott Servais of course turned to Diego Castillo in the ninth instead.  This is going to be a rollercoaster ride all year; we stated in Spring Training that they had four or five guys that would legitimately get save chances this year.  Nothing we have seen thus far changes our minds on that. Keep those flyers on Andres Munoz handy.

The Texas Rangers designated Greg Holland for assignment this week. Hold on to those Joe Barlow shares…Spencer Patton may also move into a higher leverage role now with the departure of Holland.

NL East

NL East Bullpen Depth Chart 4-23

Tanner Rainey seems to have earned the job in Washington. Move Victor Arano into a higher leverage spot with the elbow injury to Sean Doolittle.

NL Central

NL Central Bullpen Depth Chart 4-23

Do we feel comfortable enough to give the scepter to David Robertson in Chicago? Robertson got the nod two days in a row this week, which may signify that manager David Ross and the Cubs are no longer looking at committee work on the North Side.  Mychal Givens and Rowan Wick retain value in saves + holds leagues.

Cincinnati just activated Lucas Sims from the IL on Friday night. Our best guess is that Sims will be back in the mix with Tony Santillan quickly.  If Sims is floating on your waiver wire, snatch him up.  If he’s back like he was in the second half last year, he will be the closer before long.

It feels like Giovanny Gallegos has removed all doubt as to who the closer is in St. Louis.  We were high on him to start the season, even if it looked to be a timeshare. Ryan Helsley and Genesis Cabrera are nice options for saves + holds leagues.

NL West

NL West Bullpen Depth Chart 4-23

How about Colorado?  Their bullpen has surprised in the early going.  Daniel Bard is the closer but manager Buddy Black likes to give him some time off between appearances, leading to Alex Colome getting his first save last week.  It’s still Bard’s job.  Also, know that Carlos Estevez and the recently activated Robert Stephenson could have larger roles in this bullpen too.

The San Francisco bullpen has been fun to watch unless you roster Jake McGee or Camilo Doval.  Then. it’s an exercise in existential pain management. This week, McGee has been the choice, but this may be based more on matchups than anything else.  Both still retain high value and this could end up being some percentage of split here.  Hopefully, you do not roster either McGee or Doval as your number one closer.  If so, you may want to look to add to your bullpen.

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