Each weekend, we will examine the closing situations for each of the 30 MLB teams, and profile specific players whose arrow is pointing up or down as far as the ninth inning is concerned for fantasy baseball.
This week, Jordan Romano is returning to active duty and should take care of saves at least until Julian Merryweather gets healthy—while Raisel Iglesias and Liam Hendriks have been allowing more runs than usual.
Jordan Romano, Toronto Blue Jays
After Kirby Yates went down in March, it was presumed that Jordan Romano would handle save chances. That plan went out the window after Julian Merryweather’s early season dominance. Then both guys got injured and Rafael Dolis had to deal with ninth-inning opportunities.
However, Romano surprisingly returned to action on Saturday and should take the closer job for as long as Merryweather is out. Romano had been out since April 15 — retroactive to April 14 — with right ulnar neuritis, but is now ready to rock. He hasn’t been too sharp in 2021, with two earned runs allowed in 3.2 innings and a 5/4 BB/K ratio, but that should change over time if he is healthy.
Josh Staumont, Kansas City Royals
Staumont is perhaps the Royals’ best reliever. However, teams sometimes opt to keep their best bullpen arm in a “fireman’s role” to get out of jams or to retire the fat part of opposing lineups in the late innings. Kansas City is a perfect example.
35-year-old Greg Holland usually handles saves opportunities for the Royals, but he was placed on the injured list on Friday for undisclosed reasons. In Holland’s absence, Staumont—who has a microscopic 0.82 ERA and 0.64 WHIP so far—saved Saturday’s game in convincing fashion.
Holland is already back from his one-day stint on the injured list and he will presumably get his role back. The weekend, however, served as a reminder that Staumont is the next man up, and Holland, who has a 6.43 ERA and 2.29 WHIP, isn’t exactly the best bet to remain effective given his age and recent inconsistency. Keep an eye on Staumont.
Rafael Montero, Seattle Mariners
Kendall Graveman took care of two save opportunities when Montero was struggling several days ago. But this week, Montero converted the only chance Seattle generated, on Monday, and pitched a couple of scoreless appearances, giving him a confidence boost.
It appears Montero is still the preferred option for saves in this bullpen, but Graveman won’t go away and may see a chance or two come his way every now and then. Montero is indeed trending up, though, and he is already down to a 2.61 ERA and 0.77 WHIP for the season.
Raisel Iglesias, Los Angeles Angels
Raisel Iglesias, acquired in the offseason via trade with the Cincinnati Reds, shouldn’t be in danger of losing his closer gig given his long track record of success and the assets the Angels had to surrender to acquire him. However, he has been driving fantasy owners nuts with his recent performance.
In eight games this season, Iglesias has a 7.71 ERA and a 1.43 WHIP, with as many saves as losses and blown saves (2.) His most recent meltdown came on Friday, as he blew the save against the Houston Astros by giving up three runs in the 10th inning.
Again, there is no imminent change taking place in the Angels’ late-inning depth chart. But if you can afford it, make sure to stash Mike Mayers just in case.
Liam Hendriks, Chicago White Sox
Hendriks has been baseball’s best reliever in the last couple of seasons, and that’s why seeing him with a 4.82 ERA is kind of an eyebrow-raiser. He has allowed runs in his last two appearances, both on solo home runs.
To be fair, Saturday’s home run by Rangers’ Willie Calhoun was hardly Hendriks’ fault, as it was a 97 MPH fastball way out of the zone.
Hendriks, like Iglesias, isn’t in danger of losing his closer job, not when the White Sox made a huge financial commitment to him during the offseason. But so far, he hasn’t been the most trustworthy option from a run-prevention standpoint.
- New York Yankees: Aroldis Chapman (secure)
- Baltimore Orioles: Cesar Valdez (secure)
- Tampa Bay Rays: Diego Castillo (secure)
- Toronto Blue Jays: Jordan Romano (first option), Rafael Dolis
- Boston Red Sox: Matt Barnes (secure)
- Chicago White Sox: Liam Hendriks (secure)
- Minnesota Twins: Committee between Taylor Rogers and Alex Colome
- Cleveland: Emmanuel Clase (secure)
- Detroit Tigers: Gregory Soto (first option), Bryan Garcia
- Kansas City Royals: Greg Holland (first option), Josh Staumont
- Houston Astros: Ryan Pressly (secure)
- Oakland Athletics: Lou Trivino (first option), Jake Diekman
- Los Angeles Angels: Raisel Iglesias (secure)
- Seattle Mariners: Rafael Montero (first option), Kendall Graveman
- Texas Rangers: Ian Kennedy (secure)
- Atlanta Braves: Will Smith (secure)
- New York Mets: Edwin Diaz (secure)
- Philadelphia Phillies: Hector Neris (secure)
- Washington Nationals: Brad Hand (secure)
- Miami Marlins: Yimi Garcia (first option), Anthony Bass
- Cincinnati Reds: Potential committee between Amir Garrett, Lucas Sims, and Sean Doolittle
- St. Louis Cardinals: Alex Reyes (first option), Jordan Hicks
- Milwaukee Brewers: Josh Hader (secure)
- Chicago Cubs: Craig Kimbrel (secure)
- Pittsburgh Pirates: Richard Rodriguez (secure)
- Los Angeles Dodgers: Kenley Jansen (secure)
- San Diego Padres: Mark Melancon (secure)
- Colorado Rockies: Daniel Bard (secure)
- San Francisco Giants: Jake McGee (secure)
- Arizona Diamondbacks: Stefan Crichton (first option)