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Stray Saves

Adam Cimber picked up his fourth save on Thursday against the Rays with Jordan Romano unavailable. Cimber has consistently worked as Romano’s understudy this season and should continue to do so.

Brusdar Graterol earned an extra-inning save on Sunday. Craig Kimbrel let the ghost runner score in the bottom of the 10th inning before the Dodgers regained the lead. Graterol then closed out the win in the 11th inning. The Dodgers turned back to Kimbrel on Thursday, so I do not expect Graterol to be taking over closer duties any time in the near future.

Oliver Ortega flashed some impressive stuff in his two-inning save on Sunday filling in for Raisel Iglesias after he had been ejected from the game. Archie Bradley’s injury may open the door for Ortega to take over as the backup closer in Anaheim for Iglesias’ days off.

Amid all the controversy Erik Swanson and the Mariners were involved in this week, Swanson managed to sneak in his first save of the season. He’s been spectacular, posting a 0.89 ERA and 31.2% K-BB%. Still, Diego Castillo and Paul Sewald appear firmly ahead of him in the pecking order and Ken Giles may also leapfrog him as he gets reacclimated to the majors.

Kyle Finnegan earned his first save of the season on Monday with Tanner Rainey likely unavailable. Rainey himself has struggled to find save opportunities, so it isn’t surprising his backup closer has not seen much of anything to this point in the season either.

Keegan Akin continued his stellar season by earning a save on Monday. He has occupied a role as a multi-inning bridge reliever to the high leverage arms in Baltimore, so that likely will not change. He can have value as a ratio stabilizer in deeper leagues if that’s something you’re looking for.

Bullpens with Injured Closers

With Kenley Jansen on the injured list, Will Smith and A.J. Minter each picked up a save this week. Jansen is still able to throw while on the injured list, so Smith and Minter’s value may be strictly short-term. For the time being, I expect them to split closing duties for Atlanta with Jansen out.

David Bednar’s extreme early-season usage may be catching up to him. Bednar is reportedly dealing with a back issue that held him out of Wednesday’s action. When he returned on Thursday, he was ineffective and yielded three runs before being pulled in favor of Yerry De Los Santos. De Los Santos recorded the last out of the game and earned the save. Bednar had accumulated six or more outs in an appearance six times already this season. Now with his recent struggles with command and injury, I would expect Pittsburgh throttles down on how they use their closer. It’s also worth noting De Los Santos earned the save on Wednesday when Bednar was not available, so he would be the reliever to add if Bednar is placed on the injured list.

Committee Updates

The Reds have not been able to commit to a closer to this point in the season due to a combination of disappointing performance and injury problems. Hunter Strickland may finally be putting an end to that. He certainly has the trust of his manager. Art Warren has somewhat stabilized since a disastrous beginning to his season and Alexis Diaz is set to return from the injured list in the near future. Still, Strickland successfully closed out two saves this week and could be the type of veteran presence a major league manager prefers turning to in the ninth inning. If you are desperate for saves Strickland is one of the better potential waiver-wire options in the short term.

The Phillies bullpen remains in a fluid state. Andrew Bellatti picked up the save on Sunday in San Diego with Phillies’ manager Rob Thompson opting to get Seranthony Dominguez and Brad Hand rest. Dominguez got the Phillies’ other save in San Diego over the weekend with Hand not working the ninth during the series. It’s still an open question what the Phillies’ preference in the ninth inning is, but if Dominguez is still available in your league he would be the top choice to pick up from the Phillies’ bullpen.

Emilio Pagan’s extreme struggles were punctuated in Cleveland this week. He gave up the go-ahead runs in the eighth inning on Tuesday and then helped set Cleveland up for their walk-off win on Wednesday. On top of that, Tyler Thornburg blew another Minnesota lead and got walked off on Thursday. The Twins’ general struggles in the bullpen almost necessitate Jhoan Duran taking on a more impactful role, likely with more save opportunities.

Lou Trivino earned two saves for the Athletics over the weekend in Kansas City. He still allowed multiple baserunners in each appearance, but he still got strikeouts and worked out of both situations. Trivino is clearly not a priority add given the Athletics’ record and his ERA, but there could be sneaky value in deep leagues with Trivino if his BABIP regresses and he regains full-time closing duties.

Emerging Reliever

Junior Fernandez has been very impressive so far this season. Despite spending most of the season in AAA and posting an ERA over five there, he’s yet to be scored upon in his eight and one-third major league innings. The key to his early success is his 75% ground ball rate. In this incredibly small sample size, he’s flashed the best fastball velocity of his career (99 MPH) and has switched over from a four-seam fastball to a sinker. If these improvements stick, he should be another solid setup option behind Ryan Helsley and Giovanny Gallegos.

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