Connect with us

Sports

Saves and Steals: Shifting closer roles

Published

on

In this week’s Saves and Steals, Josh Hader continues to get on track, Andres Muñoz finds some stability in his role, and Edwin Díaz gets a break from the ninth inning as he works through some struggles on the mound. In the speed department, Kevin Pillar is making the most of his opportunities and a pair of under-rostered White Sox are chipping in on the bases.

Listen to the Rotoworld Baseball Show for the latest player news, waiver claims, roster advice and more from our experts all season long. Click here or download it wherever you get your podcasts.

Fantasy Baseball Closer Rankings

Tier 1: At the Top

Emmanuel Clase – Cleveland Guardians
Mason Miller – Oakland A’s

Guardians manager Stephen Vogt certainly doesn’t shy away from using Clase as often as he needs to. Clase pitched four times in five days, converting three more saves. He leads baseball with 15 while posting a 0.36 ERA, 0.59 WHIP, and a 24/2 K/BB ratio across 25 1/3 innings. Meanwhile, Miller recorded his first save this month, striking out the side against the Rockies on Tuesday. He’s struck out 41 batters across 20 1/3 innings.

Tier 2: The Elite

Ryan Helsley – St. Louis Cardinals
Clay Holmes – New York Yankees
Josh Hader – Houston Astros
Robert Suarez – San Diego Padres
Andrés Muñoz – Seattle Mariners

Helsley shares the saves lead with Clase, picking up two more this week for 15 on the season. He holds a 1.23 ERA, 0.86 WHIP, and 24 strikeouts over 22 innings. While his strikeout rate is down from last season, he’s actually generated more whiffs with a 17.8 percent swinging strike rate. We could see his strikeout rate rise if he’s missing bats at that rate.

Holmes finally has an ERA. He surrendered four runs against the Mariners on Monday for the blown save. He’s been outstanding otherwise, making 20 appearances without an earned run to start the season.

Hader continues to chip away at his ERA. He made a pair of scoreless appearances this week, converting a save on Friday, and then tossing two scoreless innings with four strikeouts for the win against the Angels on Tuesday.

Suarez has just been outstanding for the Padres, recording a 0.44 ERA, 0.64 WHIP, and an 18/4 K/BB ratio across 20 1/3 innings while converting all 13 save chances. Behind Suarez, Jeremiah Estrada has emerged as a quality setup man, striking out 15 batters with one run allowed over 11 2/3 innings.

Muñoz rises up the rankings as he’s had the ninth inning to himself in Seattle. He converted three consecutive save chances this week, giving him 10 on the year with a 1.69 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, and 29 strikeouts across 21 1/3 innings.

Tier 3: The Solid Options

Camilo Doval – San Francisco Giants
Kirby Yates – Texas Rangers
Kenley Jansen – Boston Red Sox
Jordan Romano – Toronto Blue Jays
Jhoan Duran/Griffin Jax – Minnesota Twins
Raisel Iglesias – Atlanta Braves
Kyle Finnegan – Washington Nationals
Paul Sewald – Arizona Diamondbacks

Doval has been solid, but still battles with some inconsistent performance. He’s struggled to limit free passes, walking 13 batters with 25 strikeouts across 18 2/3 innings. Still, job security isn’t a question with Doval.

Yates went without a save this week. He has only two this month, as the Rangers haven’t produced many chances over the last few weeks. He remains at seven saves on the season with a 0.98 ERA, 0.82 WHIP, and 22 strikeouts across 18 1/3 innings.

Jansen gave up two runs in a loss against the Rays on Thursday, then bounced back with his eighth save on Tuesday. Meanwhile, Duran has had a rough go in recent outings. He’s allowed runs in three consecutive appearances but held on for the save on Wednesday.

Iglesias converted his 11th save on Monday. While he’s gotten the job done in Atlanta, his strikeout rate has declined to half his career norm. And the swinging strikes just aren’t there, either. It’s certainly a concern, as you have to wonder how long Iglesias can sustain success without the strikeouts.

Finnegan took the loss on Saturday against the Phillies, breaking a 16-game scoreless streak. He’s converted 13 saves with a 1.89 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, and 17 strikeouts across 19 innings. In Arizona, Sewald converted his third save since he was activated from the injured list.

Tier 4: There’s Upside Here

Jose Alvarado/Jeff Hoffman – Philadelphia Phillies
David Bednar – Pittsburgh Pirates
Edwin Díaz/Reed Garrett/Adam Ottavino – New York Mets
Craig Kimbrel – Baltimore Orioles
James McArthur – Kansas City Royals
Pete Fairbanks/Jason Adam/Garrett Cleavinger – Tampa Bay Rays
Trevor Megill – Milwaukee Brewers
Jason Foley – Detroit Tigers
Alexis Díaz – Cincinnati Reds
Tanner Scott – Miami Marlins

Both Alvarado and Hoffman recorded a save this week, giving them nine and three, respectively. And Bednar continues to get back on track. He converted two saves and picked up a win this week. Bednar has a 2.89 ERA over 9 1/3 innings in May after posting an 11.70 ERA in April.

Díaz plummets down the rankings after back-to-back blown saves, giving him three for the season. He’ll be taking a step back from the closer role as he works to get right. It could be the slight decline in his fastball velocity, but he’s been much more homer-prone. Still, he’s posted a strong 27/7 K/BB ratio across 18 innings. The team will use a committee in the ninth inning until Díaz reclaims the role. Reed Garrett and Jake Diekman each recorded a save in the last week.

Kimbrel, like Díaz, had lost the closer role for a time as he worked through some struggles. He’s been much better over the last two weeks, striking out six batters over four scoreless innings. Kimbrel converted a save on Sunday against the Mariners for his ninth of the season.

McArthur picked up his 11th save on Saturday against the Athletics. He’s gotten the job done for the Royals with a 4.15 ERA, 1.38 WHIP, and a 23/3 K/BB ratio across 21 2/3 innings.

Fairbanks made one appearance this week, recording his fourth save of the season. The team hasn’t completely gone away from a committee approach since Fairbanks returned from the injured list, as Cleavinger was called on for his third save this week.

Megill has taken hold of the ninth inning in Milwaukee. He converted two saves this week, giving him seven with a 1.98 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, and 17 strikeouts across 13 2/3 innings. Devin Williams only just started playing catch as he rehabs from a back injury, so Megill can still run with the closer role for a while.

Foley allowed a solo homer in his one appearance this week. He’s recorded only one save this month as the Tigers have struggled with a 6-13 record in May. In Cincinnati, Díaz picked up only his second save of the month on Tuesday. He’s posted a 6.62 ERA, 1.64 WHIP, and an 18/14 K/BB ratio across 17 2/3 innings. Too many walks and not enough strikeouts have made Díaz incredibly volatile.

Scott hasn’t gotten many save chances with the Marlins. He picked up just his sixth with two wins this week over three scoreless outings. He’s recorded a 1.71 ERA, 1.43 WHIP, and a 22/18 K/BB ratio across 21 innings.

Tier 5: Just Getting By

Hector Neris – Chicago Cubs
Michael Kopech – Chicago White Sox
Carlos Estévez – Los Angeles Angels
Daniel Hudson/Alex Vesia – Los Angeles Dodgers

Neris made a pair of clean appearances, picking up a win. He remains on shaky ground in the closer role for the Cubs, posting a 2.50 ERA, 1.56 WHIP, and a 15/14 K/BB ratio across 18 innings. On the other side of town, Kopech struck out the side in a scoreless outing against the Blue Jays on Tuesday. He remains at five saves with a 3.18 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, and a 32/14 K/BB ratio across 22 2/3 innings.

Estévez made three appearances in four days, picking up a save and taking a loss. He’s posted a 5.06 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, and 17 strikeouts across 16 innings. And Hudson recorded his third save with a perfect frame against the Diamondbacks on Monday, striking out two. Evan Phillips has been out with a right hamstring strain but could return in the next week.

Tier 6: If You Must

Jalen Beeks – Colorado Rockies

Injured

Devin Williams – Back
Evan Phillips – Hamstring

Steals Department

Journeyman outfielder Kevin Pillar was atop the leaderboards over the last week with three steals. Despite limited playing time with two teams, he’s up to five homers and six steals while slashing .333/.395/.625 across 82 plate appearances. But his utility can evaporate quickly, making him a streaming option in deeper leagues. Surprisingly, Pillar is rostered in twice as many leagues as Tommy Pham, who is playing every day and hitting leadoff with the White Sox. Pham swiped two bases this week and has three homers with three steals, hitting .316/.356/.474 across 101 plate appearances. And given their respective track records, Pham would be the player I’d bet on to provide value over the rest of the season. His teammate, Korey Lee, is chipping in some speed from the catcher position. He’s up to three steals with four homers and a .281 batting average while splitting time behind the plate. Lee should be added and started in most two-catcher leagues.

Continue Reading