Here are updates on the busiest bullpens in MLB, as well as emerging options for holds.
The Royals spent most of the last week throwing a wrench into their closer situation. After Josh Staumont secured saves on April 16th and April 19th, Staumont was back in his setup role on Wednesday against the Twins. It’s clear Mike Matheny isn’t going to confine Scott Barlow or Staumont to a strict closer role. With this situation being a committee, Staumont’s rostership rate (currently 29% on Yahoo per fantasypros) should be closer to Scott Barlow.
Paul Sewald was placed on the COVID-19 list on Wednesday. Given the nature of the COVID list, it’s likely Sewald will be back by the beginning of next week. The Mariners have routinely brought Sewald in to face the opponent’s best hitters, so he likely won’t be the primary accumulator of saves as the season goes on. Diego Castillo and Drew Steckenrider have a save each, although each has given up two runs in their last appearance. Castillo’s skills are much better than Steckenrider and he would be the preferred option in Seattle for now.
Dany Jimenez has stepped up for Oakland in the wake of Lou Trivino’s COVID-19 list stint. He’s locked down two saves and closed out a four-run victory between his saves, all while striking out over 37% of the batters he’s faced. Trivino is expected to remain the closer upon his return, but Jimenez is someone to keep close tabs on if Trivino gets injured, performs poorly, or is traded.
While it was not a save situation, Joe Barlow was called upon to preserve a tie game in the bottom of the eighth inning on Thursday and would secure the victory in the ninth after the Rangers pulled ahead. Despite Chris Woodward stating he did not want Barlow to be the closer at the outset of the season, Texas has done nothing indicating anyone else is in the mix for their closer role. Matt Bush has served as both an opener and setup reliever, Greg Holland has already been designated for assignment, and Brett Martin has also been used as a setup reliever. Barlow is the best pitcher in this bullpen and should be seeing save opportunities as soon as Texas provides them to him.
Garrett Whitlock picked up a save on Tuesday and threw a wrench into the Red Sox closer picture, but his impending insertion into the rotation, even if just temporary, takes him out of the equation for the upcoming week. Alex Cora still wants Matt Barnes to regain the closer role once he gets his stuff and command in order, but in the meantime, Jake Diekman and Hansel Robles should serve as an adequate duo for their save chances and for your fantasy team.
Anthony Bender allowed the go-ahead home run on Wednesday in a loss to the Cardinals and is looking shaky as the Marlins’ go-to option in the ninth inning. If the Marlins do move off of trusting Bender in the ninth, Cole Sulser has been pitching well enough to pick up the slack.
Trevor Stephan has stepped up as one of the Guardians’ trusted setup men this season. The addition of a splitter to his arsenal has taken his game to the next level, and Terry Francona showed his increasing trust in Stephan by using him as a setup reliever twice in the last week.
Through seven games, Clay Holmes has a ridiculous 83% ground ball rate and has given up only one earned run. He picked up two holds and a save in the past week and should see more opportunities in the future even in a stacked Yankees bullpen.
Steven Wilson has been liquidating hitters so far in his brief major league career, sporting a 24.4% swstr% in six and one-third innings. He’s been used as the Padres’ third or fourth reliever setting up Taylor Rogers and should see plenty of holds on a Padres team with a tremendous starting rotation and a mediocre or worse offense.
Jalen Beeks was emerging as one of the more interesting relievers in MLB in 2020 before succumbing to Tommy John surgery. He looks very much like the reliever he was in 2020 and could be in line for a useful role as the reliever to Drew Rasmussen when he has a short start. This type of role is flexible for wins and holds depending on when Beeks gets into the game. As a side note, Josh Fleming followed an opener rather than starting in his latest appearance and could be useful in this role as it makes wins easier to attain.