February 29, 2024

Saves and Steals: Alzolay on the Rise

There was some movement within tiers this week, but not much has changed in the closer rankings. Jhoan Duran
has had encouraging usage. Adbert Alzolay
has proven he belongs in the ninth inning. And Clay Holmes
has reclaimed the closer role in New York. Of course, things could look a lot different for some teams next week following the August 1 trade deadline. In the speed department, Cade Marlowe is getting a chance to show off his wheels with playing time in Seattle following Jarred Kelenic’s unfortunate injury.

Tier 1: Untouchable

Felix Bautista
Baltimore Orioles

Bautista locked down two saves and a win, striking out eight batters with no walks over four innings. The 28-year-old right-hander is showing no signs of slowing down as the season progresses, maintaining a 50.8 percent strikeout rate. He’s converted 28 saves while posting a 0.92 ERA, 0.86 WHIP, and 96 strikeouts over 49 innings.

Tier 2: The Elite

Alexis Díaz – Cincinnati Reds

Camilo Doval
– San Francisco
Giants
Devin Williams
Milwaukee Brewers

Josh Hader
San Diego Padres

Ryan Pressly
Houston Astros

Díaz made four appearances in five days going into Wednesday’s action, converting three saves and taking a loss on Monday against the Brewers.

He’s 30-for-31 in save chances with a 2.20 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, and 67 strikeouts across 45 innings. Díaz has been second in the closer rankings for much of the season, but Doval is close on his tail. Doval converted his 31st save on Tuesday against the A’s. He’s made seven scoreless appearances since giving up four runs on July 3 and carries a 2.35 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, and 62 strikeouts across 46 innings.

Williams converted two saves and picked up a win this week. His save on Wednesday against the Reds was his 26th of the year. He still struggles with bouts of bad command, posting a 4.46 BB/9. But Williams has been able to overcome that his whole career. This season has been no different, with a 1.44 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, and 59 strikeouts over 40 1/3 innings.

Hader recorded his 24th save on Friday. The Padres have reportedly gotten trade inquiries on the 29-year-old closer, but it seems the team is holding the impending free agent for now.

Pressly was busy this week, with three saves and a win. He did give up two runs on Tuesday but held on for his 24th save. It was also his fourth appearance in six days, so fatigue could have been a factor.

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Tier 3: The Solid Options

Emmanuel Clase
Cleveland Guardians

Jhoan Duran – Minnesota Twins

Jordan Romano
Toronto Blue Jays

David Bednar
Pittsburgh Pirates

Paul Sewald
Seattle Mariners

Two saves this week for Clase. He’s up to 27 now on the season to go with a 3.09 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, and 42 strikeouts over 46 2/3 innings. It hasn’t been as stellar of a season as we’ve come to expect from the 25-year-old right-hander. His 15.8 percent K-BB rate is a career-low as he’s seen a slight uptick in walks and a decline in strikeouts. Clase flashed some of that strikeout ability returning in June, with a 34.8 percent strikeout rate in the month. But that’s back down to 19.4 percent in July.

Duran picked up his 17th save on Saturday, giving him eight over the last month as he’s been used in the ninth inning more frequently. More save chances for Duran give him a boost in the rankings. He’s been one of the better all-around relievers this season, posting a 2.01 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, and 54 strikeouts across 40 1/3 innings.

Romano took some extended time off without hitting the injured list after dealing with a back issue out of the All-Star break. He took a loss on Friday, but bounced back with a pair of saves this week, giving him 28 this season.

Bednar recorded a save on Saturday. He struggled Wednesday, loading the bases and walking in a run, but held on for his 20th save. The 28-year-old right-hander could very well be on the move at the trade deadline. A trade of Bednar could open the ninth-inning role for someone like Dauri Moreta
or Colin Holderman
.

It was a mixed bag of results for Sewald this week. He recorded a save, a win, and a loss. He did get heavy usage, pitching five times in six days. With a day off on Wednesday, Andrés Muñoz got the save against the Twins.

Tier 4: There’s Upside Here

Raisel Iglesias
Atlanta
Braves
Craig Kimbrel
Philadelphia Phillies

Carlos Estévez – Los Angeles Angels

Kenley Jansen
Boston Red Sox

Will Smith/Aroldis Chapman – Texas Rangers

Pete Fairbanks
Tampa Bay Rays

Iglesias recorded a pair of saves, his first two out of the break. He’s up to 18 now this season while posting a 3.94 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, and 37 strikeouts over 29 2/3 innings. His division mate, Kimbrel, had a rough week with a blown save and a loss. A solo homer on Sunday was the first run Kimbrel had allowed Since June 8, breaking a 16-game scoreless streak. He pitched the eighth on Wednesday against the heart of the Baltimore order but should remain in line for most save chances.

Two saves and a win in the books for Estévez this week. He’s up to 23 saves with a 1.98 ERA across 41 innings. The 30-year-old right-hander could be a traded candidate, but the Angels may actually be buyers at the deadline.

Jansen locked down two saves, including his 22nd on Wednesday against the Braves. Meanwhile, no save chances for Smith this week. He remains at 17 this season. Chapman was charged with a blown save after giving up three runs in the seventh inning against the Astros on Monday.

Fairbanks secured two saves and took a loss this week. He’s up to 12 saves with a 1.99 ERA across 22 2/3 innings. A lack of strikeouts was concerning for Fairbanks over the first few months, but he’s struck out 45.8 percent of batters in July. It’s an encouraging sign for his rest-of-season outlook.

Tier 5: Just Getting By

Adbert Alzolay – Chicago Cubs

Clay Holmes – New York Yankees

Evan Phillips
Los Angeles Dodgers

Alex Lange
Detroit Tigers

Jordan Hicks – St. Louis Cardinals

David Robertson
, Adam
Ottavino – New York Mets

Kevin Ginkel/Scott McGough – Arizona Diamondbacks

A.J. Puk
Miami Marlins

Alzolay is quickly emerging as a legitimate closer. He had an excellent week, converting four saves, including his 11th on Wednesday against the White Sox. The 28-year-old right-hander has a 2.40 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, and 51 strikeouts across 45 innings.

Holmes has seemingly regained control of the closer role. He added three saves this week, picking up his 14th on Wednesday against the Mets. Phillips didn’t see a save change this week. The last save he recorded came on July 3. It’s been like that for Dodgers relievers all season. Phillips has recorded 12 saves, with Brusdar Graterol
second on the team with four. Phillips remains the reliever to roster for any saves at the moment.

Lange and Robertson each recorded one save for their teams this week. With both the Tigers and Mets trailing in the playoff race, they could be in a position to move relievers at the trade deadline.

Puk has struggled on the mound, with three blown saves and a loss this month. He may not be long for the role. Tanner Scott
has been the best reliever in the bullpen, with a 2.81 ERA and 37 percent strikeout rate across 48 innings. The team did trade for Minnesota’s Jorge Lopez
, who has some closing experience with the Twins and Orioles.

Tier 6: If You Must

Justin Lawrence/Daniel Bard – Colorado Rockies

Scott Barlow
Kansas City Royals

Kyle Finnegan
Washington Nationals

Trevor May
– Oakland A’s
Kendall Graveman/Keynan Middleton – Chicago White Sox

Injured

Liam Hendriks
– Right Elbow Inflammation
Hunter Harvey
– Right Elbow Strain

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Steals Department

Jarren Duran
has been a nice surprise for both the Red Sox and fantasy managers this season. He swiped four bases this week, giving him 21 while hitting .311/.363/.502 with six homers and 38 runs scored across 292 plate appearances. He’s also taken a hold of the leadoff spot atop the lineup. Duran has flashed incredible potential in the minors over the last several years, but needed to make improvements in his hit tool at the MLB level. He’s done that this season, cutting his strikeout rate to a manageable 25.3 percent. Reds outfielder Will Benson
has made similar strides. Since he was recalled on May 21, he’s hitting .325/.433/.611 with seven homers and ten steals across 150 plate appearances while striking out at only a 22.7 percent clip. Benson stole two bases this week to go with two homers and is still widely available in mixed leagues. In Seattle, Cade Marlowe
has started at left field in three consecutive games since Jarred Kelenic
landed on the injured list with a foot fracture. Marlowe has two steals in his first 15 plate appearances after collecting 25 steals over 319 plate appearances in Triple-A. He’s also posted two 20-homer seasons in the minors. The 26-year-old may not hit much average at the MLB level, but he has plenty of speed and a little pop for those looking for steals in deep leagues.

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