The final week of April brought even more bullpen-related chaos to this MLB season, with injuries and ineffectiveness shaking up depth charts around the league. Here are our observations from the week that was as well as recommendations and a full closer depth chart for fantasy baseball.
Relief pitcher notes: Week 5
- The Philadelphia Phillies’ supposed save timeshare is looking more like a one-man job, as Jose Alvarado nailed down two more opportunities with four Ks (and still no walks) in two clean innings of work. Craig Kimbrel and Gregory Soto have begun to turn the corner, but Alvarado increasingly seems like the No. 1 option with a bullet.
- The Los Angeles Dodgers’ situation is a bit murkier, and likely will remain so throughout the year, but Evan Phillips is still our choice as the preferred option. He had some middle-innings work as he came back from an extended absence on the paternity list, but the righty was back in the ninth on Sunday — a day after Brusdar Graterol picked up a save while Phillips took the eighth. It’s not an issue in holds leagues, but both pitchers’ values will take a hit as Dave Roberts plays matchups.
- Clay Holmes’ latest spectacular meltdown in the ninth in a loss to the Cleveland Guardians should have fantasy owners on red alert — and running to the waiver wire to grab Michael King. King has looked great since his return from a fractured elbow suffered last year, and unless something changes dramatically he should be in the closer’s role before too long (especially with Jonathan Loaisiga out indefinitely after undergoing surgery).
- Just when it seemed like Jose Quijada was going to bring some clarity to the Los Angeles Angels’ bullpen, the lefty went on the IL with elbow trouble that sounds pretty ominous. It’s Carlos Estevez’s job for good now, and he’s racked up four saves in the past week-plus while allowing just one baserunner. He should be picked up in all leagues.
- Another day, another rocky A.J. Minter outing, this time allowing a homer while still earning a save in game one of the Atlanta Braves’ doubleheader against the New York Mets on Monday. Brian Snitker is going to keep calling on him in leverage situations, but Nick Anderson — who pitched a clean eighth to set Minter up — has been nails recently, and he could find himself in this job given the question marks surrounding Raisel Iglesias’ form as he returns from a shoulder injury.
- In the midst of another rough outing, Reynaldo Lopez came down with what manager Pedro Grifol termed biceps fatigue. It doesn’t sound like the team is too concerned, but Lopez has been rough for a full month now — Kendall Graveman is the next man up, but he’s not a recommended add as he’ll likely just torch your ratios before ceding the closer’s chair when Liam Hendriks returns.
- It might be time to worry a little bit about Pete Fairbanks. The Rays reliever remains Kevin Cash’s preferred closing option, but his Raynaud’s syndrome — which causes numbness in his fingers in cold weather — flared up over the weekend in Chicago and it’s unclear when he’ll be back. Even when he does return, Jason Adam was looking every bit like the 1B there.
- Kenley Jansen has been unavailable for the past three days with back tightness that flared up during a blown save (his first of the year) against the Guardians. He’s the unquestioned guy when healthy, but given his age — and the fact that he’s one of baseball’s slowest workers on the mound abruptly transitioning to the pitch clock — he’s not a great bet to stay healthy this season. Now that Chris Martin is back, he’s a decent speculative add if you have a bench slot open.
- After being called on with the Texas Rangers trailing the New York Yankees over the weekend — and still giving up a run — it seems like Jose Leclerc has fully forfeited the closing job to Will Smith, who picked up a clean save on Friday night. The lefty is a must-add in all leagues as Texas figures to contend all year.
- Your guess is as good as mine with the Chicago Cubs, but David Ross seems to want a go-to guy to emerge, and Brad Boxberger is the best bet right now after he handled the team’s most recent save chance last week against the Miami Marlins. Michael Fulmer isn’t out of it — and there’s still a chance someone like Adbert Alzolay or Jeremiah Estrada emerges — but Boxberger has been solid enough and should get plenty of chances if he can keep the job.
Closer depth chart for week of 5/1