The past week wasn’t quite as chaotic for closer depth charts as we’ve grown accustomed to during the 2023 MLB season. There was plenty of consolidation, as shaky options reaffirmed their place in the ninth inning: Kyle Finnegan for the Washington Nationals and Pierce Johnson for the Colorado Rockies are just a couple of the shaky options who’ve managed to separate themselves with several strong performances in a row.
Still, this is 2023 we’re talking about, so plenty is in flux. From injuries to ineffectiveness, the closer’s role has changed hands for several teams recently — offering fantasy managers the chance to pounce. Looking for saves in your league? Want to stay ahead of the curve on who’ll be the next hot add off the waiver wire? Our reliever recap and closer depth chart for fantasy baseball has you covered.
Relief pitcher notes: Week 8
- We appear to have ourselves a full mess in New York, as Yankees manager Aaron Boone toggles between several options for the ninth inning. After nailing down three straight saves in the middle of May, Wandy Peralta was back to an eighth-inning role this past weekend against the Cincinnati Reds while the revived Clay Holmes worked two clean ninths (albeit not without plenty of traffic on the bases). Michael King is probably the best overall arm in New York’s bullpen, but Boone understandably values his ability to work multiple innings. It’s hard to see one option emerging above the rest, but Peralta would be our guess for now as Holmes is just too hard to trust consistently.
- Everyone’s been waiting for Daniel Bard to resume the closer’s role after returning from a bout with the yips to start the year, but it hasn’t happened just yet — and may not for a while. Pierce Johnson slammed the door on the Miami Marlins on Monday night for his third straight scoreless outing and his fourth save in his last six appearances. He’s still very hard to rely on, but manager Bud Black seems to prefer him in the ninth at least for right now.
- Just when we thought Evan Phillips had a stranglehold on saves for the Los Angeles Dodgers, Dave Roberts throws a curveball and uses his best reliever in the sixth inning against the Atlanta Braves on Monday. The logic is understandable — starter Gavin Stone had created a mess that could’ve decided the game if things got out of hand — but it’s frustrating for fantasy purposes. Phillips is still the man to own in L.A., it just might not be as profitable a position as we thought while Brusdar Graterol holds deeper league appeal.
- It was Pete Fairbanks on to nail down a save for the Tampa Bay Rays against the Toronto Blue Jays, not Jason Adam, despite the fact that Adam had just had a day off on Sunday. Fairbanks is probably the slight 1A here, but it’s worth noting that he allowed two baserunners in just .2 innings of work and has had a rocky last month or so as he works through a flare-up of his Reynaud’s syndrome. Adam is still worth a hold in deeper leagues.
- We may have a new closer in Oakland, as Austin Pruitt has staked his claim to the job over the past few days. The righty picked up the win while working the 10th, 11th and 12th against the Arizona Diamondbacks, the latest impressive performance since being called up from Triple-A in early May. With Trevor May, Dany Jimenez and Zach Jackson all out, Pruitt is the best bet for who would get the call whenever Oakland is finally able to carry a lead into the ninth inning — but this is only a play for the truly desperate.
- We’ve been banging the drum for Jeremiah Estrada to take over as the Chicago Cubs’ closer, and while David Ross has frustratingly dragged his feet trusting the youngster, the time appears to be coming. The righty has yet to be scored upon this year, with 12 Ks over seven innings, and he’s seen increasingly high-leverage work of late (even working out of an eighth-inning jam in a one-run game against the Philadelphia Phillies on Monday). He’s only a speculative play in 12-team and deeper leagues, but don’t be surprised if he’s the main man this time next month.
- Carlos Estevez has had very good results for the Los Angeles Angels, with a 1.23 ERA and 12 saves on the year. But the underlying numbers aren’t nearly as impressive, and given his spotty track record it’s worth keeping an eye on Matt Moore and Chase Silseth. Both are former top starting pitching prospects, and while Moore’s been great in the eighth inning for L.A. all year, Silseth was just moved to the bullpen recently and has seen his stuff play way up. Silseth even got sent back out for the ninth inning after the Angels took a one-run lead on the Boston Red Sox on Monday and slammed the door without issue — this could become a chaotic situation sooner than you think.
Closer depth chart, week of 5/22