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The quest for saves might be the most frustrating aspect of fantasy baseball. Not only do you have pitchers who get hurt or are just ineffective, but the game has changed. Many teams are not naming a closer and are instead moving to a bullpen by committee. It’s a trend that could become the norm over the next several years. However, most fantasy leagues still have a category called saves, or even saves + holds and managers need to know who to draft.

Instead of ranking the best “closers”, we rank the teams by the most “stable” closer situation to the least. In all situations, we list multiple players with the first being the player most likely to earn saves.

We hope this format provides you a great guide to “chasing saves” during the draft and beyond.

Chicago White Sox – The White Sox lost Alex Colome to Free Agency this past off-season, so solved that problem in short order, inking arguably the best current closer in the game, Liam Hendriks, to a three-year $39 million three-year deal. Problem solved. This team is in it to win it and the deep and very talented bullpen reflects that fact.

1. Liam Hendriks

2. Aaron Bummer

3. Matt Foster

4. Evan Marshall

5. Codi Heuer

Milwaukee Brewers – The one-two punch of Josh Hader and Devin Williams is second to none. Just be aware that Hader is starting to get expensive (signed a $6.675 million one-year deal avoiding arbitration) and although he’s under team control through the 2023 season, the annual cost could become a challenge for the small-market Brewers. At some point down the road, the odds of a trade are extremely high.

1. Josh Hader

2. Devin Williams

3. Brent Suter

New York Yankees – Aroldis Chapman isn’t the dominant reliever we saw when he was in his prime, but he’s still pretty darn good. When Chapman isn’t controlling the ninth-inning, Zack Britton is perfectly capable of shutting down the opposition. Toss in a dash of Chad Green in the seventh inning, and you’ve got one of the best and most consistent bullpens in the game.

1. Aroldis Chapman

2. Zack Britton

3. Chad Green

4. Luis Cessa

Oakland Athletics – The A’s have a solid team, and with the late-signing of Trevor Rosenthal, an equally solid bullpen. For those playing in Keeper/Dynasty Leagues, monitor J.B. Wendleken closely. Rosenthal might be getting paid over three years, but the odds of him sticking around for more than one year are virtually nil.

1. Trevor Rosenthal

2. J.B. Wendleken

3. Jake Diekman

4. Sergio Romo

5. Lou Trivino

Washington Nationals – The velocity dropped on the fastball, but the slider was still a very effective weapon for recently signed Brad Hand. Hand led the League with 16 Saves in 2020, only to find himself looking for work. Such is the life of a closer in 2020. A healthy Tanner Rainey, who had his stellar 2020 season cut short because of a flexor strain, would be a huge plus for the Nationals.

1. Brad Hand

2. Daniel Hudson

3. Tanner Rainy

4. Will Harris

Cleveland Indians – One simply can’t ignore the incredible strikeout potential from James Karinchak. In 2020 he struck out 53 in 27 IP in a setup role. Brad Hand has moved on to the Nationals, leaving Karinchak in the driver’s seat for saves in Cleveland. It could be an exceptionally long and fruitful drive.

1. James Karinchak

2. Nick Wittgren

3. Emmanuel Clase

4. Cal Quantrill

New York Mets – Edwin Diaz has had more than his fair share of struggles since being traded from the Mariners to the Mets, but rebounded nicely in 2020 and we’re expecting more of the same moving forward. The addition of Trevor May in the setup role, does nothing but improve an already strong Mets bullpen.

1. Edwin Diaz

2. Trevor May

3. Jeurys Familia

4. Miguel Castro

5. Aaron Loup

6. Dellin Betances

Los Angeles Angels – The Angels have had five different relievers lead the team in saves over the past five seasons. Finally tiring of this revolving door in the ninth inning, they traded for proven closer Raisel Iglesias in an attempt to shore up what has been a very shaky pen. Combined with the emergence of Mike Mayers in a set up capacity, the Angels pen is in better shape heading into 2021 than it has been in a long time.

1. Raisel Iglesias

2. Mike Mayers

3. Felix Pena

4. Ty Buttrey

San Diego Padres – The Padres have plenty of options with Mark Melancon, Drew Pomeranz, Emilio Pagan, and Keone Kela all spending time closing over the past several years. Mark Melancon is likely the first to get a chance to close, but one cannot rule out the Padres going with a mix-and-match approach.

1.Mark Melancon

2. Drew Pomeranz

3. Emilio Pagan

4. Keone Kela

5. Pierce Johnson

Houston Astros – For a team that is contending in the AL West, the bullpen leaves a bit to be desired. Ryan Pressly has proven skills in closing out games, but after Pressly it gets a bit lean. If Enoli Paredes can replicate and possibly improve on his 2020 numbers, it will go a long way in improving the ‘Stros chances at a successful 2021.

1. Ryan Pressly

2. Enoli Paredes

3. Pedro Baez

4. Blake Taylor

5. Joe Smith

Toronto Blue Jays – Heading into the off-season, the popular rumor was that the Jays would be looking at moving Jordan Romano in the ninth. The Jays obviously didn’t feel he was ready and gambled on a return to health and form from former Padres closer, Kirby Yates. Should this not prove to be successful, both Rafael Dolis and/or Jordan Romano can handle the ninth inning.

1.Kirby Yates

2. Rafael Dolis

3. Jordan Romano

4. Ryan Borucki

Minnesota Twins – 2020 was not a good year for incumbent Taylor Rogers. The Twins searching for bullpen depth inked proven closer Alex Colome to a two-year deal. It would appear that a job share with Colome and Rogers is a good possibility, with Colome on the good side of a platoon.

1. Alex Colome

2. Taylor Rogers

3. Tyler Duffey

4. Hansel Robles

Los Angeles Dodgers – Kenley Jansen is still manning the ninth inning for the Dodgers, but the leash will be a very short one. The Dodgers reupped with Blake Treinen on a two-year deal and are hoping for steady growth from youngster Brusdar Greterol. The wildcard could prove to be Corey Kneble. The one-time Brewer closer struggled in his return from TJS last year, but any semblance of a return to the dominance Knebel displayed in 2017 would be huge.

1. Kenley Jansen

2. Blake Treinen

3. Brusdar Graterol

4. Corey Knebel

5. Victor Gonzalez

St. Louis Cardinals – If Jordan Hicks doesn’t break camp with the closer gig, he shouldn’t be waiting very long to stake his claim to the job. Giovanny Gallegos will earn some saves. How many will depend on the form displayed by Hicks in his return from TJS.

1. Jordan Hicks

2. Giovanny Gallegos

3. Alex Reyes

4. Andrew Miller

5. John Gant

6. Ryan Helsley

Kansas City Royals – Greg Holland went 3-0 with six saves in 2020, while posting an outstanding 1.91 ERA. It earned him a one-year deal and another opportunity to close out games with the Royals. Josh Staumont is next-in-line and that 37 strikeouts in 25 2/3 IP bodes well for his future success. 

1. Greg Holland

2. Josh Staumont

3. Scott Barlow

4. Jesse Hahn

Atlanta Braves – Deep and very talented, the Braves bullpen will be an effective weapon. Will Smith had 34 saves in 2019 as a Giant is likely to break camp with the bulk of the save opportunities, but Braves Manager Brian Snitker is currently non-committal and may use “2-to-3 guys to close”. One of Smith, Martin, or Minter could leap into the ninth inning role.

1. Will Smith

2. Chris Martin

3. A.J. Minter

4. Tyler Matzek

Chicago Cubs – The Cubs are starting to tear it down and the odds are good that Craig Kimbrel, if he can bounce back, will be moving on in a deadline-type deal. A handcuff with Rowan Wick is the prudent approach.

1. Craig Kimbrel

2. Rowan Wick

3. Jason Adam

4. Brandon Workman

Arizona Diamondbacks – The DBacks inked aging veteran Joakim Soria to a one-year deal at the beginning of February, pushing incumbent Stefan Crichton into the setup role. Don’t be at all surprised to see Soria on the move to a contender in a deadline deal, with both Crichton and Kevin Ginkel in a position to earn saves in the second half of 2021

1. Joakim Soria

2. Stefan Crichton

3. Kevin Ginkel

4. Humberto Castellanos

Pittsburgh Pirates – If Juan Acevedo can put up a 28 save season on the woeful 55-win 2002 Detroit Tigers, there’s hope for Rich Rodriguez. Do not ignore closers on lousy teams. A save is a save is a save.

1. Rich Rodriguez

2. Chris Stratton

3. Kyle Crick

4. Michael Feliz

Philadelphia Phillies – The Phillies saw the bullpen as a major weakness heading into the off-season and it was. They took steps to bolster that pen and brought in four relievers with closing experience in Archie Bradley, Brandon Kintzler, Jose Alvarado, and Tony Watson. It’s a definite upgrade, but the odds of a bullpen-by-committee are high and not at all Fantasy friendly.

1. Archie Bradley

2. Hector Neris

3. Brandon Kintzler

4. Jose Alvarado

5. Tony Watson

Texas Rangers – It has been a couple of tumultuous years for Jose Leclerc. He won the job, was ineffective and replaced only to win it back, suffer a season ending shoulder injury and now appears to be the favorite to get first kick-at-the-can heading into 2021. The emergence of Jonathan Hernandez in a position of prominence should have both Jose Leclerc and our attention heading into 2021.

1. Jose Leclerc

2. Jonathan Hernandez

3. Joely Rodriguez

4. Taylor Hearn

Cincinnati Reds – The trade of Raisel Iglesias has created a vacancy in Cincinnati and one that Amir Garrett hopes to fill. The competition will be stiff, with recently signed former Nat Sean Doolittle and Lucas Sims also vying for the late-inning work.

1. Amir Garrett

2. Sean Doolittle

3. Lucas Sims

4. Tejay Antoine

Tampa Bay Rays – What do Nick Anderson, Ryan Thompson, Diego Castillo, Aaron Slegers, John Curtiss, Jalen Beeks, Oliver Drake, Ryan Sherriff, Chaz Roe, Andrew Kittredge, Anthony Banda, and Edgar Garcia have in common? They all earned at least one save for the Rays in 2020. Diego Castillo, Nick Anderson, and Peter Fairbanks are all very good relievers, but remember the first sentence in this narrative when looking to procure saves in 2021.

1. Diego Castillo

2. Nick Anderson

3. Peter Fairbanks

4. Josh Fleming

Seattle Mariners – The Mariners traded for Rafael Montero in the hope that he can hold down the fort until 2022, when Ken Giles and Andres Munoz return from Tommy John Surgery. Looking at the Mariner’s current bullpen options, Montero better be able to hold down the fort.

1. Rafael Montero

2. Kendall Graveman

3. Kenyan Middleton

4. Ken Giles

5. Andres Munoz

6. Juan Then

Boston Red Sox – Matt Barnes would appear to be at the top of the pecking order for saves in Boston, but the shaky control is definitely a concern. Adam Ottavino is in the same boat, walking way too many hitters to sustain consistent success. The best two arms in this bullpen could be NPB recruit Hirokazu Sawamura and Darwinzon Hernandez. A committee approach to saves is the likely outcome.

1. Matt Barnes

2. Adam Ottavino

3. Hirokazu Sawamura

4. Darwinzon Hernandez

5. Ryan Brasier

Miami Marlins – Anthony Bass or Yimi Garcia? Bass could very well break camp as the closer, but it’s far from a guarantee that he holds that job. Yimi Garcia as a handcuff is highly recommended.

1. Anthony Bass

2. Yimi Garcia

3. Dylan Floro

4. John Curtiss

San Francisco Giants – The torn labrum suffered at the end of August 2019 by Reyes Moronta is reportedly healed, but until we see him in action this Spring, his role in the Giants bullpen has to be considered up in the air. The addition of Jake McGee as insurance muddies the waters, with the two likely to be competing for saves. The health of Moronta will likely determine who earns the bulk of the save opportunities in San Francisco.

1. Reyes Moronta

2. Jake McGee

3. Tyler Rogers

4. Matt Wisler

5. Trevor Gott

6. Jarlin Garcia

Colorado Rockies – The return of Daniel Bard and his subsequent emergence as the “go to guy” for the Rockies is one of the great “feel good” stories of 2020. Mychal Givens has had plenty of opportunities to pitch in the ninth and simply hasn’t gotten the job done. Jairo Diaz lost the job to Bard last year. If Robert Stephenson can find the strike zone with any consistency, he could be an interesting sleeper type option for saves. Bet cheap on Bard and hope for the best, while ignoring the rest.

1. Daniel Bard

2. Robert Stephenson

3. Mychal Givens

4. Jairo Diaz

Detroit Tigers – It’s looking like a battle between Gregory Soto and Bryan Garcia for the right to be the stopper in Detroit to start the season. Soto has struggled with the base-on-balls, while Garcia posted a 10/6 K/BB last season. Lurking in the background is Joe Jimenez, who had and lost the job last year. I’m betting on the better arm in Soto winning the job, but a true job share with Garcia can’t be ruled out.

1. Gregory Soto

2. Bryan Garcia

3. Joe Jimenez

4. Buck Farmer

5. Jose Cisnero

6. Daniel Norris

Baltimore Orioles – If neither Hunter Harvey or Tanner Scott step up and lay claim to the ninth-inning gig, Dillon Tate could very well be next-in-line. There will be saves in Baltimore this year, but who gets them and how many do they get is a total crap shoot.

1. Tanner Scott

2. Hunter Harvey

3. Dillon Tate

4. Cesar Valdez

Free Agents

1.Roberto Osuna

2. Brad Peacock

3. Ian Kennedy

4. Jeremy Jeffress

5. Kelvin Herrera

6. Tyler Clippard

7. Shane Greene

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