We’re officially passed the two-month mark of the 2023 MLB season, as hard as that is to believe, and “it’s still early!” is becoming a less and less convincing crutch for fantasy managers wondering whether to stick with a draft pick or start scouring the waiver wire. This is especially true for bullpens around, the league where injuries and ineffectiveness have laid waste to seemingly scores of top arms. That’s why we’re here to help, with four targets likely available in your league showing signs that they’re in for a big year.
Fantasy baseball waiver wire: Week 11 relief pitcher targets
Adbert Alzolay, RP, Chicago Cubs
Roster percentage: 1.5%
Just when it seemed like Mark Leiter Jr. had laid his claim to the closer’s role for the Chicago Cubs, things get flipped upside down again. First, David Ross used Leiter in the seventh inning of Tuesday night’s win over the Tampa Bay Rays, with Alzolay following for a dominant six-out save. Then Leiter coughed up the lead on Wednesday with three runs allowed and just one out recorded. This is probably still something of a ninth-inning timeshare, but Alzolay is simply the better pitcher, and he should be the majority of the save chances moving forward.
Daniel Bard, RP, Colorado Rockies
Roster percentage: 15.8%
Okay, Bud Black, it’s officially time. Everyone’s been waiting for Bard to resume the closer’s role in Colorado after returning from a bout with the yips to start the year, and while it hasn’t happened just yet, it has to be just around the corner. Pierce Johnson imploded yet again on Thursday night, coughing up a lead in the ninth to hand the Arizona Diamondbacks a walk-off win and run his season-long numbers up to a 6.85 ERA and 1.881 WHIP. Yikes. Bard, meanwhile, has been very solid since coming off the IL, allowing one run across 15.2 innings.
Trevor May, RP, Oakland Athletics
Roster percentage: 0.5%
Only the bravest of souls will look for saves in Oakland right now, but it is worth noting that May has returned from the IL and appears to be back in the closer’s chair for the A’s. May was set to pitch the ninth of a save opportunity on Monday against the Braves only for Oakland to tack on three runs in the bottom of the eighth, suggesting that he’s Mark Kotsay’s choice right now. Again, tread lightly here, but the veteran righty has looked much better since returning last week and doesn’t have a lot of competition right now.
Ben Joyce, RP, Los Angeles Angels
Roster percentage: 5.0%
Carlos Estevez is firmly entrenched as L.A.’s closer, and deservedly so, but man, Joyce’s stuff is out of this world.
Ben Joyce struck out Yordan Alvarez on 3 pitches: 103, 101, 102 pic.twitter.com/yORmM8c3HZ— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) June 2, 2023
It’s really, really hard to make Yordan Alvarez look that foolish, especially on nothing but heaters. One of the Angels’ top prospects, Joyce got the call up to the Majors after Matt Moore went down with an injury and now seems poised to take over as the team’s primary setup man — and possibly more if Estevez regresses back to his career norm. He’s a must-add in holds leagues and a good speculative stash everywhere else.